Journal Day!

{unknown photo credit- please let me know if you know!}

I love being a stay-at-home Mom, but there are some days when I really miss being a high school English teacher, too!  Most of all I miss the creative writing. For six years of my life, every Tuesday and Thursday, we had Journal Day. At the start of the year, each child would get a journal of their choice (typically a black composition notebook), and we'd add at least two pages per week. Upon the students' arrival in class on they would see a prompt on the board. They could always choose to free-write, but typically the kids would choose to at least start with the prompt and then let their writing go wherever they wished.  I had no rules for their journals- they could write about whatever they wanted, and although they did get a grade for completing each day's writing, I never gave them a grade on content. At the end of each journaling session, we'd go around the room and everyone could share anything they wanted- at the least just one word, and at the most, their entire entry. Some kids started by just offering up a word or a phrase- "good day" "sad" "really weird mood" - but as the year went on everyone got more and more comfortable. There were so many days I heard something that then prompted me to talk a child after class. Perhaps the one word they shared sounded a bit off, or maybe they shared a lot, and I knew they needed to talk to someone. I found that it was pretty therapeutic for a lot of the kids. I mean, I know some couldn't care less, but I do know there were more than a few that loved it. And I miss those days, I miss the writing, and the mix CDs the kids would bring it to play during those ten or fifteen minutes. The sound of the pencils on paper, the look of concentration. The feeling when one of my "non-writers" would say, "this isn't so hard after all."

So I got to thinking. And I decided that I'm going to bring back those journal days right here.

And if you'd like to join in, I'd absolutely love it.

Here's how it will work- I'll post a prompt, and then write about it below. You can write on the prompt in your blog (feel free to grab the image up top), then come back here and leave a comment with a sentence or two from your entry, and the link.  I know I'd be so honored to be able to read what you write, and I know a lot of others would love to, too. I think this will be a fun way to get a writing community going, and I'm so looking forward to getting to know more of you through your words. All of these prompts come from the notebook I kept in my desk in my English classroom and they come from various places; college writing courses, my own mind, websites, friends and colleagues. I'm so excited to share them here, and bring back the most important aspect of blogging to my blog- writing.  I think this will be a neat way to infuse some creativity into our daily lives too, and inspire each other to write a lot more! So, here we go.

Describe a "first" (first date, first lie, the first time you experienced something, first time in a particular setting, etc). Include as many details as possible to paint a picture.

When I think back to my first kiss, it's strange because in my mind a lot of that night is so vivid, but at the same time so much of it has faded with time. What I do remember, though, is in the small, small details. I was in 7th grade, the age when you think you know so much, but in reality much of what you know is clouded by a veil of naivety.  I grew up in a town with one middle school, so going to a party where there would be guests (boys!) from another town over was as exciting as exciting got in our small New Jersey town. Like most cliched "first kiss" memories, mine did indeed happen in a basement, and did indeed happen during a game of Spin the Bottle. I can remember the couch (brown, tweed-like), the carpet (green, shag) and the lights (dim, so low). I think back and I recall my friend Caitlyn sitting next to me, my friend Melissa across from me, the circle mixed with boys we had grown up with. And in between them, one or two boys we didn't know. We sat there, and although I honestly have no idea whose house it was, whose party, whose negligent parents...I remember my clammy hands, the smell of the Sunflowers perfume I had hastily applied as a last second decision, and the feeling that maybe-possibly this would be it, this would be my first kiss. A girl whose name I can't quite remember brought out a bottle. It was a large soda bottle. Maybe green. Maybe orange. We all sat there, awkward in our early-nineties preteen-ness. Some with braces. Training bras. Chapstick. The aforementioned perfume bought with allowance money from a drugstore. A classmate named Maria spun the bottle first. I don't remember what happened, but I remember that I was beside her, and I kept thinking, I'm next, I'm next, I'm next. In moments like these, it's almost unreal how you can think back and remember the lump in your throat, damp palms, the unsure feeling in the pit of your stomach. Then, oh! My turn. I spun the bottle, and it spun and spun. The maybe-green, maybe-orange vessel turned and turned, and landed on one of the boys from the town over. Eddie. In that moment my pre-adolescent heart was so vulnerable. Thump, thump, thump. The what ifs ran through my head I'm sure; what if he refuses, what if he doesn't. All of those thoughts in a quick second or two. And then. He leaned over. I leaned over. We met in the middle. So awkward, so clumsy. I remember the kiss being soft. And gentle. And tasting like Trident. And feeling like it lasted for minutes when in reality it was a moment. We both sat back on our sides of the circle with small smiles, although inside I was beaming, my heart doing a victory lap in my chest, feeling like I had won the sweepstakes. I would finally be able to say "yes! I have! I've kissed someone!" when Lori and Amy and Elizabeth inevitably got to talking at lunch. It was one of those memories that almost seems to come straight out of The Wonder Years in how it happened, and it's still funny to me that I can remember it with such detail. Eddie. Trident. That basement. My first kiss.