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Lively Literature. Motivation for Learning Myrtis Mixon Ed.D

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1 Lively Literature

2 Motivation for Learning Myrtis Mixon Ed.D

3 Using literature? Why? Authentic Interesting Motivating Engaging/involving

4 SKILLS? Useful as content to teach all skills: Reading Writing Speaking Listening Vocabulary

5 What kind of literature have you used? Pair/Share Group share?

6 How did you use the piece? An activity? Was it successful?

7 What novels have you used? In class? Leisure reading in English?

8 What novels did I bring? Charles Dickens? Tale of Two Cities? Emily/Charlotte Bronte? Jane Eyre? Jane Austen? Pride & Prejudice Nathaniel Hawthorn? The Scarlet Letter Mark Twain? Huckleberry Finn Herman Melville? Moby Dick

9 No Why not? They are good but language is dated. hard to read. historical, not current.

10 Why use contemporary? Relevant to high school students Today’s issues Today’s language Lively Engaging ????

11 What is this genre? Fiction with a YA designation: Young adult Novels Short Stories

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13 Let’s jump in Pre-reading? What activities? Look at this book cover Speak A contemporary classic

14 Preview of Speak Melinda busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, so her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t know hate her from a distance. It’s no use explaining to her parents; they’ve never known what her life is really like. The safest place for Melinda to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she admitted it and let it in, would ‘blow’ her disguise. Then she would have no choice. Melinda would have to speak the truth.

15 Clans, Cliques & Outsiders Pairs: Read together and pick out the words you know in this list of clans. Don’t have to understand them all to understand the piece.

16 Clans, Cliques and Outsiders Older students are allowed to roam until the bell, but ninth graders are herded into the auditorium. We all fall into clans: Jocks, Country Clubbers, Idiot Savants, Cheerleaders, Human Waste, Eurotrash, Future Fascists of America, Big Hair Chix, the Marthas, Suffering Artists, Thespians, Goths, Shredders. I am clanless. I wasted the last weeks of August watching bad cartoons. I didn’t go to the mall, the lake, or the pool, or answer the phone. I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. And I don’t have anyone to sit with. [p. 4]

17 Activity 1 Unfamiliar words… Slang? How much to teach? Using Bookmarks for vocabulary words

18 Vocabulary Bookmark

19 Activity 2: Word Choice, Tone, Voice Who is the speaker? What is the conflict that the speaker faces? Why is the listing of different social circles significant? What type of tone is used here? Why?

20 Critical Thinking Questions: Why are the ninth graders treated differently than “the older kids”? Given the circumstances in the passage above, how would you feel? Have you ever felt like the speaker? Describe in detail a time in your life when you feel you could relate. Why do you think the speaker is facing this problem? Is she really an outcast? High school is a time when things like hair and clothes can make an immediate difference in the way you are treated. Why do you think these things are so important in high school? Does this change in life after high school? Why is it important to have a “clan”?

21 Winter Break School is out and there are two days until Christmas. Mom left a note saying I can put up the tree if I want. I drag the tree out of the basement and stand it in the driveway so I can sweep the dust and cobwebs off it with a broom. We leave the lights on it from year to year. All I have to do is hang the ornaments. There is something about Christmas that requires a rug rat. Little kids make Christmas fun. I wonder if we could rent one for the holidays. When I was tiny we would buy a real tree and stay up late drinking hot chocolate and finding just the right place for the special decorations. It seems like my parents gave up the magic when I figured out the Santa lie. Maybe I shouldn’t have told them I knew where the presents really came from. It broke their hearts. I bet they’d be divorced by now if I hadn’t been born. I’m sure I was a huge disappointment. I’m not pretty or smart or athletic. I’m just like them—an ordinary drone dressed in secrets and lies. I can’t believe we have to keep playacting until I graduate. It’s a shame we can’t just admit that we have failed family living, sell the house, split up the money, and get on with our lives. (70)

22 Winter Break Choral Reading? Summarize with your partner.

23 Escape The first hour of blowing off school is great. No one to tell me what to do, what to read, what to say. It’s like living in an MTV video—not with the stupid costumes, but wearing that butt- strutting, I-do-what-I-want attitude I wander down Main Street. Beauty parlor, 7- Eleven, bank, card store. The rotating bank sign says it is 22 degrees. I wander up the other side. Appliance store, hardware store, parking lot, grocery store. My insides are cold from breathing in frozen air. I can feel the hairs in my nose crackle. I even think about trudging uphill to school. At least it’s heated.

24 Escape I bet kids in Arizona enjoy playing hooky more than kids trapped in central New York. No slush. No yellow snow. I’m saved by a Centro bus. It coughs and rumbles and spits out two old women in front of the grocery store. I climb on. Destination: The Mall. I sit by the central elevator. The air smells like french fries and floor cleaner. I should probably tell someone, just tell someone. Get it over with. Let it out, blurt it out. I want to be in fifth grade again. Fifth grade was easy—old enough to play outside without Mom, too young to go off the block. I spend the rest of the day waiting for it to be 2:48, so it’s not all that different from school. (99)

25 Escape Use Shadow Reading. What are teen words for being absent without a valid reason? Cutting classes Playing hookey? ?

26 Lunch Doom Nothing good ever happens at lunch. The cafeteria is a giant sound stage where they film daily segments of Teenage Humiliation Rituals. And it smells gross. I sit with Heather, as usual, but we are off by ourselves in a corner by the courtyard. Heather: This is really awkward. I mean, how you say something like this? No matter what... no, I don’t want to say that. I mean, we kind of paired up at the beginning of the year when I was new and didn’t know anyone and that was really, really sweet of you, but I think it’s time for us both to admit that we…just…are…very…different. She studies her no-fat yogurt. I try to think of something bitch, something wicked and cruel. I can’t. Me: “You mean we’re not friends anymore?”

27 Lunch Doom Heather: (smiling with her mouth but not her eyes) We were never really, really friends, were we? I mean, it’s not like I ever slept over at your house or anything. We like to do different things. I have my modeling, and I like to shop…” Me: “I like to shop.” Heather: “You don’t like anything. You are the most depressed person I’ve ever met, and excuse me for saying this, but you are no fun to be around and I think you need professional help.”  Up until this very instant, I had never seriously thought of Heather as my one true friend in the world. But now I am desperate to be her pal, her buddy, to giggle with her, to gossip with her. I want her to paint my toenails.

28 Lunch Doom Me: “I was the only person who talked to you on the first day of school, and now you’re blowing me off because I’m a little depressed. Isn’t that what friends are for, to help each other out in bad times?” Heather: “ I knew you would take this the wrong way. You are just so weird sometimes.” I know what she’s thinking. She has a choice: she can hang out with me and get the reputation of being a creepy weirdo who might show up with a gun someday, or she can be a Martha—one of the girls who get good grades, do nice things, and ski well. Which would I choose?

29 Lunch Doom Heather: “When you get through this Life Sucks phase, I’m sure lots of people will want to be your friend. But you just can’t cut classes or not shop up to school. What’s next— hanging out with the dopers?” Me: “Is this the part where you try to be nice to me?” Heather: “You have a reputation.” Me: “For what?” Heather: “Look, you can’t eat lunch with me anymore. I’m sorry. Oh, and don’t eat those potato chips. They’ll make you break out.” She neatly wraps her trash into a wax-paper ball and deposits it in the garbage can. Then she walks to the Martha table. Her friends scootch down to make room for her. They swallow her whole and she never looks back at me. Not once. (107)

30 Lunch Doom Activity 3 : Defining the Theme 1. Pairs or small groups. Consider the following: Many say the theme of this book is survival. Or is it being an outsider? An outcast, and how to survive? Can you define survival? What does it mean to survive? How do people survive? Describe a personal survival experience. Are there different levels of survival? What are they? What characteristics coincide and encourage survival? 2. Compare your definitions. How is yours different? Does survival mean something different to everyone? Why? What shapes our ideas of what it means to survive? 3. Write down your personal definition of survival, and then compare it to the dictionary definition. How does your definition measure up? Are there any important aspects that you left out, or that the dictionary failed to mention?

31 Clash of the Titans We have a meeting with the Principal. Someone has noticed that I’ve been absent. And that I don’t talk. They figure I’m more a head case than a criminal, so they call in the guidance counselor, too. Mother’s mouth twitches with words she doesn’t want to say in front of strangers. Dad keeps checking his beeper, hoping someone will call. I sip water from a paper cup. If the cup were glass, I would open my mouth and take a bite. Crunch, crunch, swallow. They want me to speak. “Why won’t you say anything?” “For the love of God, open your mouth!” “This is childish, Melinda.” “Say something.” “You are only hurting yourself by refusing to cooperate.” “I don’t know why she’s doing this to us.” The Principal ha-hums loudly and gets in the middle. Principal: “We all agree we are here to help. Let’s start with these grades. They are not what we expected from you, Melissa.”

32 Clash of the Titans Dad: “Melinda.” Principal: “Melinda. Last year you were a straight-B student, no behavioral problem, few absences. But the reports I’ve been getting… well, what can we say?” Mother: “That’s the point, she won’t say anything! I can’t get a word out of her. She’s mute.” Guidance Counselor: “I think we need to explore the family dynamics at play here.” Mother: “She’s jerking us around to get attention.” Me: (inside my head) Would you listen? Would you believe me? Fat chance. Dad: “Well, something is wrong. What have you done to her? I had a sweet, loving little girl last year, but as soon as she comes up here, she clams up, skips school, and flushes her grades down the toilet.”

33 Clash of the Titans Guidance Counselor: (leaning forward, looking at Mom and Dad) “Do the two of you have marriage issues?” Mother responds with unladylike language. Father suggests that the guidance counselor visit that hot scary underground world. The guidance counselor grows quiet. Maybe she understands why I keep quiet. Mother and Father apologize. I think of them singing a sorry tune and I giggle. Mother: “You think this is funny? We are talking about your future, your life, Melinda!” In-School Suspension. This is my Consequence. It is in my contract. (116)

34 Clash of the Titans Activity 4: Do a mind-map of the different characters in this short scene. Add details that you can guess about the people. Expansion possibilities: Students write role plays of a similar meeting. Act it out. Use Character and Plot Line Bookmarks

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36 My Name In English my name means hope. In Spanish it means too many letters. It means sadness, it means waiting. It is like the number nine. A muddy color. It is the Mexican records my father plays on Sunday mornings when he is shaving, songs like sobbing. It was my great-grandmother’s name and now it is mine. She was a horse woman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse—which is supposed to be bad luck if you’re born female—but I think this is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans, don’t like their women strong.

37 My Name My great-grandmother. I would’ve liked to have known her, a wild horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn’t marry. Until my great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carried her off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier. That’s the way he did it. And the story goes she never forgave him. She looked out the window her whole life, the way so many women sit their sadness on an elbow. I wonder if she made the best with what she got or was she sorry because she couldn’t be all the things she wanted to be. Esperanza. I have inherited her name, but I don’t want to inherit her place by the window.

38 My Name At school they say my name funny as if the syllables were made out of tin and hurt the roof of your mouth. But in Spanish my name is made out of a softer something, like silver, not quite as thick as sister’s name—Magdalena—which is uglier than mine. Magdalena who at least can come home and become Nenny. But I am always Esperanza. I would like to baptize myself under a new name, a name more like the real me, the one nobody sees. Esperanza as Lisandra or Maritza or Zeze the X. Yes. Something like Zeze the X will do.

39 Non-Stop Writing WHAT DO YOU THINK about this piece? (for one minute) NOW: NON-STOP WRITE You write on a topic without stopping, similar to free writing. In class, non-graded, timed writing on an assigned topic--- without stopping. Use “think-three” rule: support the statement with at least three reasons, all explained in narrative form. Why do a writing assignment that is non-graded? Share your writing….

40 Another contemporary classic

41 Preview Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His 16 years have been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (poet Francois Rabelais’ last words.) He heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything- but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama. His life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young: gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, and utterly fascinating. Alaska Young is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

42 Unusual Talents My new roommate came in. “I see you’ve decorated the place,” pointing toward the world map. “I like it.” And then he started naming countries in a monotone, as if he’d done it a thousand times before: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, American Samoa, Andorra, and so on. He got through the As before looking up at me. “I can do the rest, but it’d probably bore you. Something I learned over the summer. God, you can’t imagine how boring New Hope, Alabama, is in the summertime. “That’s pretty amazing,” I said. “Yeah, everybody’s got a talent. I can memorize things. And you can …” “Um, I know a lot of people last words.” “Example?” asked Chip. I like Henrik Ibsen’s. He was a playwright. Well, he’d been sick for a while and his nurse said to him, ‘You seem to be feeling better this morning,’ and Ibsen looked at her and said, ‘On the contrary,’ and then he died.” Discussion Question: Chip, the Colonel, says “Everybody’s got a talent.” Do you? Name some other talents, usual and unusual you can think of.

43 p. 13Meeting Alaska Later, Chip said “And don’t call me Chip. Call me Colonel.” I laughed, “The Colonel? “Yeah. The colonel. And we’ll call you…hmm, Pudge? “Huh?” “Pudge,” the Colonel said. “Because you’re skinny. It’s called irony, Pudge. Heard of it? Now, let’s go get some cigarettes and start this year off right.” He walked out of the room, again just assuming I’d follow, and I did. We walked five doors down to Room 48. A dry-erase board was taped to the door using duct tape. In blue market, it read: Alaska has a single! He knocked once, loudly. A voice screamed to come in. I saw the hottest girl in all of human history standing before me in cutoff jeans and a peach tank top. She told a story about someone grabbing her boobs. The Colonel laughed and I stared, stunned by the force of the voice coming from the petite girl and partly by the gigantic stacks of books that lined her walls.

44 Meeting Alaska “Who’s the guy that’s not laughing at my very funny story? She asked. “Oh right. Alaska, this is Pudge. Pudge memorizes people’s last words. Pudge, this is Alaska. She got her boob honked over the summer.” She came over, her hand extended, then made a quick move and pulled down my shorts. We all laughed! “So, Alaska, sell us some cigarettes,” the Colonel said. And then somehow he talked me into paying five dollars for a pack of Marlboro Lights I had no intention of ever smoking. Discussion Question: Share some nicknames. Why do people give nicknames? Should teen-agers be allowed to smoke cigarettes? Why do they start smoking? Do they usually start smoking to ‘fit in’?

45 More bookmarks

46 p. 95 Why Things Get Screwed Up Alaska came to my room, sobbing. She sat down on the couch, whimpering and screaming. “What’s wrong?” I asked. When she could talk, she said “I don’t understand why I screw everything up.” “What, like ‘ratting’ on Marya? Maybe you were just scared.” “Scared isn’t a good excuse!” she shouted into the couch. “But I told the Colonel about my ratting on Marya. He said he’d never let me out of his sight during pranks. That he couldn’t trust me on my own. And I don’t blame him. I don’t even trust me.” “It took guts to tell him,” I said “I have guts, just not when it counts.”

47 Meeting Alaska ‘I don’t want to upset you, but maybe you just need to tell us all why you told on Marya. Were you scared of being sent home?” “There’s no home.” “Well, you have a family,” “I try not to be scared, you know. But I still ruin everything. I still fuck up.” Discussion Question: Miles tells the story in his own first-person voice. How might the book differ if it had been told in Alaska’s voice or the Colonel’s? Or in the voice of an omniscient narrator?

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49 p. 114 Best Days/Worst Days Alaska opened another bottle of Strawberry wine. I said, “We have to slow down or I’ll puke.” “I’m sorry, Pudge. I wasn’t aware that someone was holding open your throat and pouring wine down it,” the Colonel responded. And then, as if out of nowhere, Alaska announced, “Best Day/Worst Day!” “Huh?” I asked. “We’ll slow down the drinking by making it a game. Best Day/Worst Day.” “Never heard of it,” the Colonel said. “I just made it up. “ Lara asked, “What are the rules?”

50 Best Days/Worst Days “Everybody tells the story of their best day. The best storyteller doesn’t have to drink. Then everybody tells the story of their worst day, and the best storyteller doesn’t have to drink. Then we keep going, second best day, second worst day…” I went first. “Best day of my life was today and the story is that I woke up next to a pretty Romanian girl named Lara” and I kept adding details. “Great day. Today. Best day of my life.” “You think I’m pretty?” Lara said, and laughed, bashful. “That story ended up being a hell of a lot better than I thought it would be,” Alaska said, “but I’ve still got you beat.” “Bring it on, baby,” I said. “Best day of my life was January 9, I was eight years old, and my mom and I went to the zoo on a class trip. I liked the bears. She liked the monkeys. Best day ever. End of story.” “That’s it?!” the Colonel said. That’s the best day of your whole life?” “Yup.”

51 Best Days/Worst Days “OK, my turn,” said Lara. “It’s easy. The day I came here. I knew English and my parents didn’t, and we came off the airplane and my relatives were here. My parents were so happy. I was 12, and I had always been the little baby, and that was the first day that my parents needed me like a grown-up. Because they did not know the language, right? They need me to order food and translate tax and immigration forms and everything else, and that was the day they stopped treating me like a kid.” “All right,” Takumi said, “it’s my turn. I lose. Because the best day of my life was the day I lost my virginity. And if you think I’m going to tell you that story, you’re gonna have to get me drunker than this.” “Not bad,” said the Colonel. “Best day of my life hasn’t happened yet. But I know it. I see it every day. The best day of my life is the day I buy my mom a huge house. And she won’t live in a trailer anymore. I’ll open her side of the car door and she’ll get out and look at this house, two-stories and everything, and I’m going to hand her the keys to her house and say, ‘Thanks, Mom.’” “Colonel, you win,” said Alaska. And the rest of us drank wine. “Now what’s your worst day?”

52 Best Days/Worst Days “Worst day was when my dad left. He’s old…he’s like 70 now, and he was old when he married my mom and he still cheated on her. And she caught him, and she was angry, and he hit her. And then she kicked him out, and he left. I was here at school, and my mom called, and she didn’t tell me the whole story. She just said he was gone and not coming back. I kept waiting for him to call me and explain, but he never did. He never called at all.” I said, “You got me beat again. My worst day was when Tommy Hewitt pissed on my gym clothes and then the gym teacher said I had to wear my uniform or I would fail the class.” Lara was laughing. “I’m sorry, Miles. My worst day was probably the same day as my best. Because I left everything. I mean, it sounds dumb, but my childhood, too. Takumi was next. “June 9, My grandmother died in Japan. She died in a car accident, and I was supposed to leave to go see her two days later. I was going to spend the whole summer with her and my grandfather, but instead I flew over for her funeral.”

53 Best Days/Worst Days “Your turn, buddy” said the Colonel. Alaska went next. She lay on her back, her hands locked behind her head. She spoke softly and quickly. “The day after my mom took me to the zoo where she liked the monkeys and I liked the bears. It was a Friday. I came home from school. She gave me a hug and told me to do my homework in my room. I went into my room, and she sat down at the kitchen table, I guess, and then she screamed, and I ran out, and she had fallen over. She was lying on the floor, holding her head and jerking. And I freaked out. I should have called 911, but I just started screaming and crying until finally she stopped jerking, and I thought she had fallen asleep and that whatever had hurt didn’t hurt anymore. So I just sat there on the floor with her until my dad got home an hour later, and he’s screaming. ‘Why didn’t you call 911?’ and trying to give her CPR, but by then she was plenty dead. Aneurysm. Worst day. I win. You drink.” And so we did.

54 Best Days/Worst Days No one talked for a minute, and then Takumi asked, “Your dad blamed you?” “Well, not after that first moment. But yeah. How could he not?” “Well, you were a little kid,” Takumi argued. I was too surprised and uncomfortable to talk, trying to fit this into what I knew about Alaska’s family. “Yeah. I was a little kid. Little kids can dial 911. They do it all the time. Give me the wine,” she said, deadpan and emotionless. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?” the Colonel asked, his voice soft. “It never came up.” And then we stopped asking questions. In the long quiet that followed, we passed around the wine and slowly became drunker. I found myself thinking about President McKinley, the third American president to be assassinated. He lived for several days after he was show, and toward the end, his wife started crying and screaming, “I want to go, too! I want to go, too!” And with his last measure of strength, McKinley turned to her and spoke his last words: “We are all going.”

55 Best Days/Worst Days Long passage… read it silently. Discussion Questions: How and what does this explain about Alaska? “In an essentially and irreparably broken world, is there cause for hope?” Is this a hopeful time for these teen-agers? How do they react to Alaska’s story? What activity would you use?

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57 Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume Preview: Margaret’s family moves from New York City to New Jersey. Adjusting to life in the suburbs is not easy: a different school, and a whole new group of friends. It also meant leaving her Grandmother back in the city. Everything is changing and there are some things about growing up that are hard to talk about, even with your best friends or your mother. So Margaret finds someone else to talk to.

58 It’s me, Margaret p. 1Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. We’re moving today. I’m so scared God. I’ve never lived anywhere but here. Suppose I hate my new school? Suppose everybody there hates me? Please help me God. Don’t let New Jersey be too horrible. Thank you. Mom explained it to me this way: my father could commute to his job in Manhattan, I could go to public school, and my mother could have all the grass, trees and flowers she ever wanted. Except I never knew she wanted that stuff in the first place. I think we left the city because of my granDmother. My mother says Grandma is too much of an influence on me. She wants to take me to her Jewish temple and my mother doesn’t like that. I will miss her. She’s a lot of fun, considering her age, which is 60. Live

59 It’s me, Margaret p. 9Nancy, a neighbor six houses down, invited me to her house. “Mom, this is Margaret Simon who just moved in down the street.” “How nice,’ said Mrs. Wheeler. “Tell your mother I’m looking forward to meeting her. We’ve got a bowling team on Mondays and a bridge game twice a month.” “I don’t think my mother knows how to bowl and she doesn’t play bridge. She paints most of the day,” I explained. “She’s an artist.” “We’re making our carpools early this year. Perhaps you could be part of our Sunday school carpool” “I don’t go to Sunday school.” My Mom was a Christian and my Dad Jewish, so we don’t do anything.

60 It’s me, Margaret p. 24On the first day of school I got up early but I had trouble eating. My mother said it was natural for me to feel uneasy on the first day of school. She said when she was a girl she felt the same way. My mother’s always telling me about when she was a girl. It’s supposed to make me feel that she understands everything. When she saw me with no socks on, she said, “You know you get blisters every time you go without socks.” “Well then, I’ll just have to suffer.” “But why suffer? Wear socks!” Now that’s my point about my mother. I mean, if she understands so much about me then why couldn’t she understand that I had to wear loafers without socks? I told her, “Nancy says nobody in the sixth grade wears socks on the first day of school.” By the time I got to school, my feet hurt so much I thought I wouldn’t make it through the day. Why are mothers always right about those things? As it turned out, half the girls had on knee socks anyway.

61 It’s me, Margaret p. 63In November, I asked my friend Janie if I could go to church with her. The funniest thing was it was just like temple. Except it was all in English. But we read from a prayer book tht didn’t make sense and the minister gave a sermon I couldn’t follow and I counted eight black hats, four red ones, six blue and two fur. At the end of the service everyone sang a hymn. Then we stood on line to shake hands with the minister. By then I was a pro at it. Janie introduced me. “This is my friend Margaret Simon. She’s no religion.” I almost fainted. Why did she say that? The minister looked at me like I was a freak. Then he smiled with an Aha—maybe I’ll –win-her look. Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret. I’ve been to church. I didn’t feel anything special in there, God. Even though I wanted to. I’m sure it has nothing to do with you. Next time I’ll try harder.

62 Thank you for you time Myrtis Mixon Ed. D.


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