In 9th grade English class, Mrs. Johnson required us to write in journals every day for 30 minutes straight. Okay, seriously, I think it was 5 minutes, but it seemed like 30 minutes some days. I'm quite honestly not sure whether she ever read what we wrote or not, because my on-again/off-again boyfriend was in the class, and I'm certain I was paying a lot more attention to him (and M & Ms and Corn Nuts that the band and choir would sell for fundraisers) than to ANYthing I ever wrote in that class. I also have memories of writing while chewing Big Red gum. Come to think of it, it seems that the class encompassed boys and food. Not so different from any age, right? By the way, if you have not ever experienced the fine delicacy of Big Red gum, I highly recommend it for an accompaniment to writing (note: cure for writer's block = Big Red gum).
Mrs. Johnson also had a rule, which I believe is teacher-genius if ever faced with a Satan-spawned booster club who decides to include Corn Nuts as a sales treat. The rule was: no one could eat their Corn Nuts in class unless EVERYone in the class ate Corn Nuts. I truly should not have to explain her Einstein-like theory to anyone, anywhere, who has ever been around someone eating Corn Nuts. However, for the sake of those of you with high-falutin' palates, I'll tell you the reasoning: if you are in the room with said Corn Nuts eater and you are not partaking, the stench is nothing short of noxious. Hmmm....I think I just got knocked out of becoming the next Corn Nuts spokesperson role for which I might have been considered prior to this blog. But the strangest phenomenon occurs (I think it's Newton's 3rd law that states "for every action, there is an opposite reaction") when everyone in the room is eating these crunchy, malodorous snacks: no one is offending by the scent.
But I digress...
Mrs. Johnson assigned us to do this writing assignment every day to get used to writing. Some days, we were assigned a topic on which to write, with titles like, "What is your favorite book and why?"; "What are your summer vacation plans?"; "Why do you care about this ridiculous boy who is sitting beside you that breaks up with you every two weeks and you still take him back every time he asks?" Okay, maybe that last one was just to see if you were paying attention or to see if I was paying attention to anything besides unrequited love (it was not until next year, when we would read "Romeo and Juliet" in Sophomore English class, that I began to see the craziness in caring so much about this silly first love. It was, after all, definitely not worth a knife wound or poison, as far as I can tell).
But, some days, Mrs. Johnson would tell us to simply write about whatever we wanted (free write, she called it). I strongly suspect, although I have no proof to back up this claim, that she simply couldn't think of a topic for us on this day. All those years of Freshmen English, Big Red gum mixed with the scent of Corn Nuts had likely gotten the best of her. Free Write?? What was this nonsense? A couple of the boys in class had the nerve to ask, "But what do write about?" as if "free write" wasn't self-explanatory (I want to feel certain that my love interest would not have been one to ask such a vapid question, but I have a feeling he might have been one of the rebels to do such a thing). Mrs. Johnson had a sarcastic tendency to her; I suspect she must have inwardly rolled her eyes every day at least 10 - 15 times. She answered something like, "You can write 'I don't know what to write on this paper because I have nothing in my mind' 100 times if you would like but you will write SOMEthing for the entire 5 minutes."
But some days are simply like that, for those of us who call ourselves writers. "Ha!" Mrs. Johnson would likely say, in finding out I actually call myself a writer (note that I am not quantifying the quality of writing, but I do love to write), "Oh, really, and you remember being assigned to write in your journal about topics like 'Write about all things that are red' and 'What would a human do if it were really a dog?', and paying more attention to who had an extra nickel so you could buy M & Ms?? REALLY??" But there we were---assigned to "free write" when some days, we freshmen were just more concerned about whether we would get asked to Homecoming or whether we would be given a football mum (never mind...it's a Texas thing, I fear, but I have included a picture for your viewing pleasure).
And today, the first day of vacation with Dave and our sweet Labs, Rudy and Kirby, I was trying so very desperately to come up with a topic to write about. Who knew? My topic has somehow become the lack of a topic. That, I suppose, is what vacation is supposed to encompass: think about nothing, do nothing, and just enjoy. Now, all I'm missing is the Corn Nuts!