Saturday, October 23, 2010


I want everyone to think back to an English class. Any English class. Now tell me, did you like every book you were forced to read for it? No? Well you're weird.

Just kidding. But seriously who has liked every single book they ever read for an English class? Or even half of them? I would have to say not me.

This leads me to the purpose of this post. I was going to write this over the summer, and here is why....

One day I was sitting at my desk and calling route. Michelle was next to me, also on the phone, and Pierra was next to her, updating invoices. I guess there was a lapse in work because Pierra started talking about her new book, Ender's Game. I had read this book, so I stated my (low) opinion. To be quite honest, I thought it was really promising, but then it was really violent and his awful brother was just disgusting and then he kills some bully in the showers and then he saves the galaxy. I dunno it was just super weird to me. So, I didn't like it.

Well Pierra decided to take the opportunity to tell me exactly how stupid my opinion made me. She said that Michelle and I did not have one iota of intelligence between us and that we are prime examples of the public school system's failures.

Whoaaa. Slow down there, partner. No need to get so rude.

So I took the opportunity to tell her that just because I have an opinion different from hers does not make me stupid, and if anything the public school system should be proud that they produced at least two students who have brains that can form opinions, not just mindless zombies who nod and drool over copies of the great "classics." Bam. Go cry.

Classics. I hate that word. Classic means old. Classic means long and boring. Classic means that some annoying person someewhere thinks that by reading this "classic," I will be forever changed for the better.

I was so mad when Pierra called Michelle and I stupid. I am not stupid, and Michelle is like, a freakin genius. It was all I could do to stop myself from walking across the room and bashing my stapler on her classic-loving head.

Here's the thing, I am very opinionated, as I'm sure you can tell. I once wrote a blog about how useless I think English class is, and you are welcome to read it. And I hate how people think their opinion makes them better than me. Pierra thought that she was completely right in saying that I was unintelligent for not liking Ender's Game, or Beloved, or The Kite Runner, but I strongly believe that I don't have to like something if I don't want to, and its not stupid to think that so much as it is stupid to just go along with what you think makes you look smart, which is exactly what Pierra was doing.

Now onto The Kite Runner. I freaking hate this book. It makes me want to throw up I am just so disgusted by it. When I told my English teacher that there was no way ever in this world that I would finish that book she asked me why, and I told it was because the sweet boy who gets hurt reminds me of my little brother Jacob and I don't want to read a book where all these horrible things happen. I had tears in my eyes when I said this, because I just love Jacob so much and ohmigosh, that book is so horrible. So my teacher sent me to the guidance counselor.

I am not the sort of kid who goes to the guidance counselor. I don't have deep underlying "issues" like my teacher thought. In her defense, I think she was trying to do the right thing, but really all she had to do was provide me with an alternate assignment. When I plopped down in the soft, cushioned chair in the guidance counselor's office, my lovely (and I'm not being sarcastic, I had a lot of scheduling problems because I was taking eight classes instead of the usual seven last year so I knew her pretty well at this point and I adored her) counselor looked across the dark wood table at me, eyes concerned and hands clasped. A zen garden was on the side of the desk, and posters around the room encouraged to me "say what I feel" and "not be afraid to express myself." I suppressed an eye roll. I did not need a counseling session. The people who approved this book for the public school system did. "So what seems to be the problem?"

I decided to be direct. "Well, Miss S., we're reading this book in English and I don't want to finish it."

"And why is that?"

I explained, and she seemed to understand. "No one likes to read things that make them sad." I nodded eagerly, relieved that someone finally got that I wasn't like, a mental case. I just hated a book. "But are you sure that there isn't something else that would make you not want to read this book?"

I kind of looked at her for a moment while these thoughts went through my head, "Something else besides the rape, the tearing apart of a family, the lewd happenings, the brutal murders, and the fact that it takes place in what a lot of people call 'Hell on Earth' right now?' I mean, no. Other than that the book was perfectly fine."

"I just really don't like this book, Miss S." I said for the millionth time. "I want an alternate assignment."

I don't see what is so hard about that. I mean sure, it's a little bit more work to print one out and all, but for real, I shouldn't have to beg my guidance counselor for a different assignment when the one that I have makes me feel uncomfortable and sad.

"I know but are you sure-"

Alright. Enough was enough. They win. "You know what?"

Miss S. looked at me expectantly, as if I was about to reveal that I was from Afghanistan and that I hate reading this book because I knew all the people in it, and I had walked the same streets and breathed the same air and even used the same escape route, and that it was just too painful to relive all that.

"I think I'm just gonna read the book."

Miss S. looked uncertain. She really is nice. "Are you sure?"

"Absolutely." I stood up and began gathering my things. "I think I can handle it. Thanks for....this."

"You know you don't need to if you don't want to." She seemed ruffled by my abrupt change of heart, but I was not going to sit through another minute in that office.

I smiled broadly, quite a feat considering my immense annoyance and frustration. "Not to worry. I'll come back if I need to."

Yeah right.

So I finished the book, but my annotations were less than stellar and some of them were quite rude, but they asked for it. If I was going to have to read that book I was going to say exactly how I felt about it.

The other day I expressed my opinion on this book again, and my friend Dave told me that someone had said to him that I was "uncultured" because of my words. Umm excuse me? Uncultured? What the crap I am NOT uncultured.

I believe that culture is what makes a nation great. I love all the nifty holidays, I love the outfits, I love the food, the music, the traditions. I think culture is great. I want to live in Africa for crying out loud. I also want to live in Russia or China. It is so annoying to me that someone would call me uncultured because I do not like a book. One of the great things about  American culture is that we have freedom of speech, and I realize that I'm getting at someone for using theirs, but I just want to say that uncultured does not mean opinionated. I can have my own opinion, and that does not make me stupid or naive or anything like that. Conversely your different opinion does not make you smarter or more cultured than me.

So just shut up and get back to your book club and I'll go do something productive.

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