Sunday, December 30, 2007

Self Acceptance

If I have felt naked when showing my artwork, then sharing my writing feels like being naked on my most bloated, broken out, inflamed psoriasis, bad hair day. When I show people my photos I am saying, "I think this looks cool, how bout you?" And the worse someone could say is "I think it looks stupid or ugly, or I don't like it." When I share my writing I am sharing my thoughts and feelings. If someone doesn't like what I write it isn't just a matter of aesthetics, it is a rejection of me.

So why do it? Why put my writing into cyberspace to be judged by an audience? Why not just continue to keep a journal? Yes, blogging is a creative outlet, but is it also narcissism or egomania? Or is it just human nature to want to communicate with other human beings by any mode possible?

Until I started this blog I had forgotten that as a kid I wanted to be a writer. That dream was squashed when I failed the college placement essay test. My ego was too fragile at the tender age of 17. Hundreds of ego deaths later, at the vulnerable age of 41, I am willing to risk again. I am using this creative outlet to express myself to anyone who cares to be bothered. I hope that you like it, but what is most important is that I like it. I wouldn't put it out there if I didn't. What a great gift to myself. I value my thoughts and feelings enough to put them out there! That is something special. Like it or not.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Career Choices

Since moving to Georgia and until recently, if you asked my daughter what she wants to do when she grows up, she would answer "I wanna be a docta cheerleada!" Meaning she wants to be both a doctor and a cheerleader. I don't know where she learned about cheer-leading, but I swear the moment we entered the South she was somehow indoctrinated. I have tried to explain to her that while some people do earn a little money cheer-leading that I wouldn't exactly call it a profession. She is undaunted.
Her goals have recently changed though, as children are want to do. My friend recently sent me a cd of Madonna's Confessions on the Dance Floor. After listening to it and perusing the jewel case, my daughter announced, "Mama, when I grow up I wanna be Madonna!"
While some people may have found this news disturbing my response was, "Me too baby, me too!"
"But you already are growed!" she stated the obvious.
Upon reflection I tell her, "Honey, I don't actually want to be Madonna, cause that would mean I wouldn't be your mama."
"I know, I know mama! You can wait until I am big and I no longer need to be taken care of, then you can be Madonna!"
"Thank you honey, that is so sweet of you to not want to stand in the way of my dreams."
When sharing this story with my Southern co-workers, some gasped in what I can only describe as horror. They don't understand that my feminist sensibilities allow me to simultaneously reject my daughter's desires to be a cheerleader while embracing the idea of her choice to grow up to be Madonna.
She now goes to sleep each night with Confessions on a Dance Floor playing quietly in the background. I tell her that it is not really good sleepy time music, but she insists, declaring with moony eyes, "But, I LUUUUUV Madonna!" I read in the paper today that Madonna has directed her first film. Now if Madonna would just add doctor to her resume.

World Situation: Desperate as Usual

To quote the beloved Kurt Vonnegut, "The world situation is desperate as usual!" But I was more disturbed by yesterdays world events than usual. Heinous crimes are committed everyday, but it is not everyday that a world leader is assassinated. The murder of Benazir Bhutto has left an acidic lump of fear and sadness in my throat. The world is an even more dangerous place now and still we must attend to our day to day chores mostly unaffected in the United States. I wanted to write today, but did not feel I could without first acknowledging this tragedy. May peace find a way into the hearts of all Pakistanis today and tomorrow...

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Ground Rules

Dag Nabbit! I reread my first posting several times, but I still managed to make some errors. So, let this be a lesson in letting go. Perhaps some ground rules are in order. Please forgive me my grammatical, spelling and punctuation trespasses and I promise to only blog when I really have something to say. I take it back, that is too much pressure. Didn't blogging get its name from blah, blah, blah, blog? I promise to forgive myself my grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors and to blog only when the mood strikes me. That is better. Who is this audience I think I am writing to anyway? Family? A few dear friends? Or an intellectual, creative cyber community? Yeah, right!
In my very first blogging experience I actually caused offense.
"BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL?" my father exclaimed incredulously.
"Yeah, so? " was my eloquent response. It seems my parents have never viewed themselves as "bleeding heart liberals", but rather they fancy themselves "radicals". So, I will set the record straight. Being members of the white arm of the Black Panthers in the 70's does warrant the more "radical" characterization. I do recall the FBI jumping out of the bushes to snap photos of us playing in the backyard of our "political collective" home that we shared with two other families. I thought it was hysterical that they would listen to my six year old phone conversations while wire tapping our phone lines as part of their misguided investigation into the kidnapping of Patty Hearst.
So do I filter everything I write in fear of offending, or prompting the FBI to reopen our family file? I heard that you can request to see your FBI file through The Freedom of Information Act, but that if you didn't have a file prior to your request that your request would prompt the opening of one. The paranoia is mounting. I bet my folks regret complaining about being called "bleeding heart liberals" now. In all fairness, and kidding aside, my parents worked toward a goal of social justice and that work as much as anything has shaped who I am today. Their compassion and empathy for society makes me proud to be their daughter and I know as an educator I was hoping to follow in their good works footsteps.
All power to the people!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Yes, Ma'am

"Sweetie, would you please throw that wrapping paper in the trash." says me.
"Yes, ma'am." responds my daughter.
This may seem like a typical exchange between mother on daughter Christmas morning. For me, not so much. Having been born to two bleeding heart liberals and having grown up in arguably the most progressive city in the States ( you guessed it, Berkeley, CA) makes the fact that my daughter now says "Yes, ma'am." an issue. Not necessarily a bad issue, but an issue for discussion non-the-less.

When we moved our family from Santa Cruz, CA to Savannah, GA 19 months ago, I knew that I was going to have to come to terms with my daughter acquiring a "Georgia peach" accent, but I did not realize, how much the social norms would be so utterly different for her, than they were for me. She is also learning to address adults as "Miss and Mister". In the South, apparently, teachers, neighbors, and friends of your parents are addressed as "Miss DeeDee and Mr. Peter". It doesn't matter if the women are married or not, they are called Miss, not Mrs.

My husband says, "There are worse things." Yes, this is true, but it got me thinking about why it was that I was raised not to use these polite expressions. It wasn't that my parents are impolite, but it had to do with a rebellion against formality and conformity. It was a way to express equity amongst the masses and classes. Ultimately, I think it was a political statement that stemmed from the need to rewrite the power structure that was historically in place between "slaves and masters".

Now, don't get me wrong. I hold good manners in the highest of esteem. Life will always be easier for the well mannered; Eddie Haskells rule middle management. I do want my daughter to be highly skilled in the politics of politeness, but, I also want her to understand historical political contexts. Respect should be earned and should not be given because of a classist power structure. That being said, I think that my daughter will grow up in the South forever straddling the tight rope between the social norms of the South and her parents' value system. Hopefully, the two can co-exist peacefully and politely.