never ever ever ever... so there

Little plaid skirt, Mary janes, wonder woman lunch box, glasses...
Ah catholic school - it was small, it was run by nuns, it was hell on earth for the only kid with glasses in Mrs. Sears Fourth Grade class.

At the beginning of the school year, Mrs. Sears made a very colorful large chart that shown brightly in the front of the class. It had book covers decorating this large pre-Excel spreadsheet. All of our names listed down the left most column, written with love and care in a semi legible calligraphy. The top row was numbered - 1 to 30.

This was our Book Report Chart.
"This year, class, we will read 30 Books each! Won't that be fun? Once a month we'll select some to be read aloud!" I remember sitting at my desk and doodling, "not fun, not fun, not fun" in my homework assignment pad, having already been traumatized by the Third Grade Caroling Incident (4 hour concert, lots of punch, nuns wouldn't let us leave the stage for anything - you do the math) the year before.

As Fall progressed into winter, little stars began to appear on the Chart - one for each report completed. Some where bigger than others - those were for the reports given in front of the class. As some classmates rows began to twinkle more than others, I continued to foster the apathy that drives my need to be the sarcastic goddess that I am ( I didn't know that at the time, but thanks for years of therapy i can recognize the triggers for the pattern). At that time, all I knew was I hated that school, I hated my class mates and I just wanted to get through the next 4 years. My world was so small, I hid in my little Margaret Shell. I would never talk back, I never fought back when I was teased.

Winter came like lion and visions of Christmas danced in my head. PRESENTS!! Mom's homemade breads!!! PRESENTS!!! yeah yeah, birth of jesus, beginning of Christianity, save our souls, yadda yadda.... PRESENTS!!! I was so looking forward to the two week Christmas break - no homework, no teachers, no Tim Deal gluing my ponytail to the back of my chair.
I had not a care in the world and the last day before break was going so well until....

"Before we head off, let's see how our books reports are shaping up."

After a quick round of accolades to the 3 people who already had their 30 reports in (suck up, brown nosed little catholic goodie goodies), Mrs. Sears turned to me. Her long thin-skinned arm rising, her boney index finger in pointed position and ready.

"Margaret, Margaret, Margaret, you only have in 7, you are behind everyone else, you're going to be last"

Something began to warm in my belly, warmer and warmer. It worked it's way up my chest to my neck. The temperature growing and building. I think this was the first time I ever felt fury. I'd never been so angry, so sad, so hated. I don't remember the rest of the day, I don't remember painting ornaments, singing carols, the last bell of the day.

I do remember coming home and desperately asking to go to the library. My mom (who is the coolest, cutiest little brasilian woman you'll ever know) obliged her daughter.
2 hours and 23 books later, I was home and on a mission.
I don't remember what I read
I don't remember what I wrote
I don't remember what I got for Christmas
I do remember trying champagne on New Years and hating it

I do remember, Jan 5, walking up to Mrs. Sears, 23 2-page hand written books reports in hand.
I remember saying very quietly "Here [putting the pile on her desk]. I'm done. I will never ever write a book report for you again, ever."
I didn't look her in the eye, I didn't look at her at all.
I went to my desk.
I didn't look at her for the rest of the year.
I didn't read or write for pleasure again until high school

16 years later, I saw Mrs. Sears at church. She remembered me. She came over and said hello. She told me my fourth grade class was the last year she did the book report chart. ever