Monday, May 31, 2010

::Celibacy and the Village

Last Thursday night, I joined my sister-in-law, her sister, and their cousin, for a late-night showing of Sex and the City 2.

A new friend, one who doesn't know me well, commented thusly: "I thought you were all deep and intellectual...why do you even care about that movie?"

Now, I have never described myself as deep or intellectual.
This is his impression of me, and it's a kind one, and I'll take the compliment.

As Carrie Bradshaw herself might say, I couldn't help but wonder...

So, I probed my own brain to try to "justify" my SATC fandom.

I certainly do not have the financial means to live as luxuriously as these women live, or the body to showcase their haute couture ensembles (few women do, I would imagine.)
I don't suspect that I share their worldviews, or even their values.
I can see a very valid argument; that this series glorifies hedonism and perpetuates the myth of materialistic satisfaction, that it claims to be pro-feminist, yet actually objectifies the women it portrays.
I can see how it's vapid, shallow, and undoubtedly offensive to many people.

I can see beyond its superficiality, however, and what I connect to is, its celebration of the institution of friendship.
These are women with drastically different personalities (some would argue that they're overly stylized archetypes) who love and support one another.
Their acceptance of each other is not conditional, nor is it afraid to confront self-destructive, unhealthy behavior.

I must admit, also, that there is a part of me - however tiny and ill-advised - that would actually love to be able to traipse around Manhattan in high-fashion dresses and overpriced jewelry. I'd love to flit from a leisurely Cosmopolitan lunch with my girlfriends to a date with a gorgeous man, visiting all the most exclusive nightclubs, hobnobbing with socialites and celebrities.
The problem is, I wouldn't want to live like that.
I could probably only stand it for one or two days.

My own life is much different.
I buy clothes in which I feel comfortable and confident.
They are not runway-worthy.
I wear makeup and jewelry because I genuinely like to.
I style my hair because, let's face it, if I didn't, I'd have a giant helmet of frizz.
My days and evenings are not spent in "glamorous" locations.

But, generally speaking, I like my life.
I feel very thankful for my blessings, and I try my best to recognize new ones.

Every once in awhile, though, it feels nice to indulge a fantasy or two.
And that's why I love Sex and the City.
It's a nice place to visit.
But I would never want to live there.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

::stand and deliver

I was raised by two teachers.
My father taught sixth grade for nearly 30 years.
My mother taught fifth grade for 30+ years.
Since my mother's retirement, she has occasionally worked as a substitute (or "Guest Teacher," as they're now christened).

On December 11, she was teaching a fourth-grade class, and learned that one of the students - Jade - was a second-generation pupil under her tutelage; that is, Jade's father had my mother as his fifth-grade teacher.

At some point during the day, the school secretary received a mysterious phone call. A man's voice asked if my mother was teaching in the building that day. The secretary confirmed that she was, and the man said "Okay! That's all I needed to know!"

At the end of the day, Jade's father came to the school and waited outside the classroom, then presented this bouquet of flowers to my mother:

He told her that they were a long-overdue "Thank you" for being such an excellent teacher and an influential force in his life.

That story, as simple as it is, makes me cry.

This is Teacher Appreciation Week.

The work that teachers do is challenging, frustrating, under-appreciated, and often thankless.
The best ones persist because they are tenacious, because they harbor the genuine desire to enrich young minds, and because they know that their labor is not in vain.

I've always found something very mystical about this - the impartation of knowledge from one to another - something almost sacred.

And in today's educational climate, the responsibilities placed on the shoulders of teachers are more plentiful and stressful than ever before.

In order to perform daily duties, their hearts must be gigantic.

For this alone, our appreciation for their everyday efforts ought to be outgrowing itself.


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