What Did You Read in High School?

usfpoeI had to stop myself from pressing “Post” last night on my Facebook status. It was 1 in the morning and for some reason I was recalling the memory of my high school English class. This was ninth grade, before I switched to the collegiate high school where I was granted a considerably greater amount of freedom regarding what I could read for school credit. Anyway, in ninth grade, my teacher stood in front of the class and explained to us what her curriculum was like. This was not only an honors class, but was in fact a “gifted” class, filled with those of us who had been part of the gifted program for seven or eight years.

Our teacher informed us that she would not be assigning any books or novels for us to read in her class because she wanted us to “spend more time with our families” (way to go, Florida educational system). She had no real reason to teach us anything, seeing as how we were guaranteed to do well on standardized tests with little effort. In fact, looking back I’m actually appalled at the instances in which my “gifted” class was assigned to an utterly incompetent, uninteresting teacher, based upon the fact that she or he would be less likely to suffer from a class that tested poorly.

All of the above is besides the point, though I thought I would articulate my freshman year experience more fully for added effect, I suppose. Most of the other 9th grade classes were reading Romeo and Juliet or To Kill a Mockingbird (the other classes also got to make a Romeo and Juliet “movie” as an assignment, and I was so jealous that I made my own with a few friends, even though my work wasn’t going to be graded. My friends didn’t know this at the time…). It seems like Shakespeare and Harper Lee are staples of high school reading lists, commonly found in the “Back to School!” section of Barnes and Noble Booksellers every summer and fall.

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Ten Years Too Late: Why I Miss the “Goth” Subculture

graphicsfairy4I missed the “goth” trend by barely a few years. I was born in 1992, and by the time I entered middle school (and was finally riding the “big kid” bus with middle and high school kids), I was eleven years old and the year was was 2003. I remember maybe two or three individuals on my bus, high schoolers, who would saunter down the bus aisle every morning, their eyes downcast and a HIM hoodie pulled up over their heads. Their Tripp pants seemed about four times the size of their legs. These kids reminded me of the piercing-laden, green-haired sales associates at Hot Topic and they scared the life out of me.

As I got older and found myself spending just about all of my free time on the internet (I’ll be sure to compose a super riveting post one day about my shameful DeviantART era), the subculture that to me was “goth” suddenly started to seem much more appealing. From my pre-teen perspective, goth kids were quiet intellectuals, not troublemakers, and they listened to emotionally dark music and read books by Anne Rice and Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (none of this Twilight garbage). And yet, while I find myself oddly attracted to the subculture, I resisted all public association with it (meaning I listened to Evanescence and watched Neurotically Yours at home but at school I scoffed at the “gawths”). Unfortunately, I was born with ghost-white skin and black hair so most of my classmates assumed that I identified as a goth anyway. By the time I entered high school, I was dyeing my hair lighter colors and made a fierce attempt to lose weight and wear feminine clothes. By the time I entered my sophomore or junior year, the goth subculture had faded away. I instead embraced the “scene” style since it seemed significantly more feminine and sexy to me than goth ever had. (Ugh, I feel like this post is turning out to be nothing more than a painful nostalgia trip. “First I was kinda goth, then I was scene, then I was this other obnoxious teenager-label…”).

In any case, looking back I really miss the goth subculture, or at least, what I knew of it from the internet. So many of the goth/alternative kids that I actually knew (not just the terrifying ones on my bus) were actually some of the sweetest, gentlest people I had ever encountered as an ugly, misfit tween. Goth was artsy, goth was smart, it was misunderstood and in a weird way kind of mature.

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