Friday, October 20, 2006

new perspectives and points of view

In case you were unaware, I am currently a tutor to a fabulous girl in the DC 3rd Ward located in the heart of Columbia Heights. She is a beautiful black young woman that is a sophomore in a DC high school. She is full of life and energy and spunk - I love talking to her, even though I sometimes feel so uncool and out of touch with teenagers.

Initially I had some serious worries about relating to a young inner city black woman. Even more I was worried that she would not relate to me, would not see me as a woman that could understand her. You know the whole image of "YOU DON'T KNOW ME" was a big possibility in my mind. I felt like I would be able to connect with her if she would be willing to work on it with me, but doubt surfaced in my mind often and I thought that maybe I was being naive to think that I would be able to relate to her. Perhaps I have seen way too many movies like Dangerous Minds ... I was picturing myself as Michelle Pfiffer with Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" going through my head ...

"been spending most their lives, living in the gangsta's paradise
keep spending most our lives, living in the gangsta's paradise

they say I gotta learn, but nobody's here to teach me
if they can't understand it, how can they reach me
I guess they can't, I guess they won't
I guess they front, that's why I know my life is out of luck, fool"

How could I reach her? The coordinators were very optimistic and are extremely supportive and didn't seem worried about it at all. Probably because they were keeping something else in mind, something that binds us all, something that knows no racial or socioeconomic boundaries - the love our Saviour Jesus Christ has for each and every one of us. This love is shared through His gospel and through the organization of the Church. We share our faith - the gospel and a knowledge that Christ was our Redeemer. Once I remembered that my heart was calmed ... I knew that all was going to be ok even if it was a bit of a struggle.

I was pretty sure that this was going to work out well when I saw how vocal and strong she was. She had a voice and views (a girl after my own heart) - I love a strong woman. And then I knew that it was meant to be when we sat down the first day and we talked about the classes she is taking. English and World History! Could it be anymore perfect? I think not. With this affirmation that she and I were meant to be spending Wednesday nights pouring over sophomore text books - I was suddenly aware of just how grateful I was for these subjects. Scattered through out the basement rooms of the church some tutors were going over algebra and geometry - I CAN'T DO THAT! Once again I acknowledge the blessings I am receiving, even if it seems small or silly - no math this semester is a blessing for me. I will be in some real trouble if math class is on the schedule for next semester - which I am sure it is. So I am going to be happy for the now!

Of course, some Wednesday nights are more productive than others ... that's the nature of teenagers and high school and substitute teachers. But every week we learn a little bit more and most importantly we laugh together. My favorite part of learning with her is when she helps me see a new point of view when we stop only reading the words on the page and start talking in more depth. Like the look of disbelief she had on her face when I explained a little bit about plate-tectonics while reading about Japan and it's many volcanoes and its vulnerability to earthquakes. Telling her stories about how different earthquakes move and what they feel like when they happened in California when I was a kid. I am seeing things I have experienced and have learned about in a whole new way!

She teaches me sooo much more than that though! This last Wednesday was particularly insightful. We were reading a chapter of her world history text book and answering the three questions at the end. The chapter was on the practice of slavery. The Atlantic Slave Trade into the Americas as well as the practice of slavery within the continent of Africa. We compared and contrasted the institutions and customs attached to slavery in both situations. As we read about the increase of slavery as a result of the rise of Islam in North Western Africa and to Muslim beliefs in subjecting criminals and prisoners of war to slavery, I saw this look of bewilderment and sadness and confusion on her face. "Why are black people making each other ..." she started to say. I could see her sensor herself in my presence - as if to say "Only white people make black people slaves" ... we used the terms European and African in our proceeding conversation in order to distance ourselves from the sins of our fathers.

I tried to help her understand that slavery happened in various forms in all cultures of the world and that it was an evil plague of human nature ... people have been subjugating others for all of time unfortunately. The criteria and the confines of slavery change in time and space, but it has reared its ugly head for almost the entire existence of man. We talked about why slavery was so wrong and hurtful and how the concept of human rights was something new to this world - the idea that individuals had innate rights as human beings has not always been formulated or accepted. I could see in her face the struggle to understand and I could see that she was guarded on the subject - a black young woman discussing slavery with her single white female tutor. So we addressed the questions at hand and contrasted the practice of slavery in Africa and in the Americas. I learned so much! I learned of the very different forms that slavery took between Africa and the Americas. I saw the emotion and confusion tied to a practice that neither one of us had been around to witness or be apart of. I felt the divide between her and I for being on opposite "sides" of history.

But thankfully the night did not end on that note. In a way that only the optimism of youth can do, she shook off the past once the homework was completed. In true teenage girl fashion, she read me a love poem she wrote for English class, we giggled like girls do, and we practiced signing our names in her notebook.

a sneak peak into the possibilities

I am trying to get the hang of this blog thing ... the right balance between too much and too little info. You see, I am an over-sharer (much like Krista Vernoff). I like to tell stories and they tend to go on forever and ever (sometimes I even annoy myself).

A new friend of mine enlightened me to the idea that this may be due to my background in Anthropology - we like to know context and details and background surrounding events in order to really understand them. More accurately we are anthropologists because we already do this in our personal lives and thus are drawn to a discipline that not only accommodates this logorrhea (p.s. I object to this definition's suggestion that it is often incoherent ... its only incoherent some of the time) but organizes and encourages it. But in all honesty, my over-sharing is hereditary. Between my mom and my dad - I am doomed. We are a family of over-sharers ... that is just the way it is.

So I have a hard time deciding what I should and should not say in my blog ... like should I explore the strange phenomenon of having lengthy incredibly interesting phone conversations with guys I have never before met but tend to never be able to be reproduced in person? (Don't worry these boys are mormons and we have mutual acquaintances). Or is that too personal?

Should I explore my strange fascination with this concept of seasons - because I still get all excited/confused/mesmerized/awe-struck that the weather changes and leaves change and summer turns into autumn and pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes and colors (I guess technically they aren't all pumpkins - I mean squash or gords). Or should I elaborate on my feelings that the Fall always seems so rushed - usually its school starting but since I work and don't go to school its work that is busy ... and its our busy time leading up to a big convention. I always have good intentions of getting prepared for the Fall and decorating (p.s. scroll down to the bottom and check out the pumpkins - I want to carve a pumpkin like that!) and getting into the harvesty mood - but it comes and goes so quickly!

Perhaps it is more interesting to explore the idea of why men feel the need to whistle or yell from a moving vehicle - are they expecting a response? Do they like making women feel like pieces of meat? Is it a power thing? I will never understand. And what about my quest to a fitter trimmer me? I hit the gym AT LEAST four days a week, sometimes five, and I feel great - but will I ever look like I go to the gym five days a week? Or graduate school - will they let me in? (these are the pressing issues of my life).

Anyway - those are a few things on my mind that I may or may not be blogging about in the near future. Just thought I would get that out there ... wet your appetites ... or manage to drive you away from ever reading my blog again. I hope its the former and not the later.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"Well it's all so overrated, In not saying how you feel"

I have made a few personal discoveries, or maybe I should consider them realizations, these past few days ... I cannot now, nor will I ever be able to wear skinny jeans and boots - together or separate. My body was just not made to be adorned in that way - and that is OK. I will get over it. The skinny jeans go with out saying ... I ain't that skinny - I got some curves going on, the ones not emphasized in a positive way by skinny jeans. The boots on the other hand are actually a very sad thing to discover.

I have found a shoe that just doesn't work for me. Unlike my previous assertion - they don't always fit. Boots don't fit me at all in fact. The calf to ankle ratio is all wrong all the time for me. And for the first time in my life there are multiple pairs of boots I actually like! Such is life, no?

Another new discovery - which I should have known was true - is karaoke! I was made to KARAOKE ... singing at the top of your lungs with everyone expecting you to be bad - dream come true! And I am finally at that point where I don't really care about making a fool of myself because its fun. I have an unparalleled ability of knowing words to all sorts of songs, however my singing ability is not quite up to par with my lyrical knowledge. Either way - it makes for a great time. Some of my peeps and I (when I say peeps I mean people that go to my church, aka Latter-Day Saints [LDS] or Mormons) met up at Cafe Japone in Dupont Circle to sing our little hearts out. We had a great mix of songs - a little Kelly Clarkson, RHCP, Michelle Branch, Justin Timberlake, Sublime ... etc. etc. It was a fun one. The music was a bit low, but we made up for it by singing super loud.

The best part was that I told my mom earlier in the day that I would be missing Grey's that night because I was going to do karaoke instead. I told her I was going to be tired the next day and she said to me, "You are only young once - go, it will be fun". You know you are a 23 year old shut-in when your mother is telling you to stay out late on a work night. Awesome. And as is often the case with mothers, she was right ... it was fun.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Survey Says ...

Case and point about the Crocs ... others agree (Insert song - "U-G-L-Y, you ain't got no aliby ... you ugly - hey, hey - you ugly").

Thank you to those who keep me in touch with the world of blogging and celebrity gossip - you know who you are ladies.

Friday, October 06, 2006

"blame it on the rain - yeah, yeah"

It is a wonderfully wet and rainy morning this October 6th ... and really the only reason it is wonderful and not just - whatever - is that I had the pleasure of wearing my new RAINBOOTS! How fun is that! My co-worker has worn her's before and inspired me that I must get a pair of my own. I mean they are great! Your shoes are safely tucked away in your bag, so they are not soaked through by the time you get to work - and your pants! Your pant legs haven't soaked up water all the way to your mid-calf. Hey, when you have to walk twelve minutes from the metro to the office, a whole lotta water can be soaked up by your pants! Not a fun way to start the day.

And so I bought myself a pair at Target. I have had them for weeks with no real occasion to wear them, until today. They aren't just any rainboots, they are polk-a-dot rainboots. What more could a girl that has never ever owned or wore rainboots in her life - ask for? But not only did I have these magnificently cool rainboots to wear, but my bright turquoise rain coat to match!

So here I am with my rainboots on, my jeans folded up a little (the only thing hipper would have been if my pants would have fit inside the rainboots - that would have been sooo in - hehehehe) and my bright trench all tied up ... with my umbrella of course. I was feeling pretty ok about this whole really rainy weather. And just to add to my excitement an older man complimented my rainboots in the metro - no one ever talks in the metro in the morning! How nice is that!

As I am walking to work and thinking about how great it is that my jeans aren't soaking up a gallon of water right now (yes, I can wear jeans to work and not just because its friday ... my office is cool like that) I just smile. What could be better than walking through puddles and not getting wet, holding an umbrella and listening to 'Name' by Goo Goo Dolls and 'Novocaine' by Green Day? Mellow music for a mellow morning.

My thoughts also wandered to a memory of about a month ago. Labor day was spent with some old and new friends hiking about in Manassas and it began to rain a bit (what is it with raining on long weekends here?) While hiking, a few of us tried to think of all the songs that have the word rain and we would sing out parts of the chorus and crack up ... in defense of my awful voice, one of my friends has a great voice and is brilliant at remembering songs. It was tons of fun as some random songs were suggested by some very unexpected participants in the group. 'Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head', 'Candy Rain', 'She's My Kind of Rain', 'Kiss the Rain', 'Let the Rain Fall Down...', 'Its Raining Men', 'November Rain', etc. etc. etc. Ahhh, good times. I can't remember all of them - but if you can think of some others, please let me know!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Christopher and Lorelai ... its like PB & J

They just go together! And they have history to build on! I am rooting for it to work this time. I know he's been unreliable in the past ... but he's grown up now, sort of. And lets face it ... he GETS her. They are just good together. Luke and Lorelai, while their names sound great together, their personalities do not. Too many secerets kept and too much hesitation in every aspect of their relationship.

So I am pulling for them ... for Christopher to get his act together and for Lorelai not to be afraid of loving a man her mother actually likes.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Average Woman Falls in Love 7 Times a Year. Only 6 are with Shoes.

After a rebuke about not posting in "forever" I have decided to re-visit an idea I briefly introduced in my concert posting regarding people watching. But I want to be very specific right now, since the topic lends itself to a myriad of tangents.

I want to address two subjects and explore their adverse and converse affects on each other - the phenomenon of the attractive man seen on the metro ... and the foot ware he chooses.

Some of you may know that I have a thing for shoes. I love shoes ... they pretty much always fit (besides that silver pair that hurt my feet and I ended up trading them to a former roommate for a cute little red corner table - but that was a fluke). They can be worn to match your outfit and your mood and they show off my best feature (at least in my opinion) - my feet, which I know I know, is a really strange best feature because sooo many people just HATE FEET (case in point), but maybe they have just never seen my feet!

Anyway, shoes are just great. However, because shoes can be utilized to match the outfit and/or the mood of a woman, it is hard to tell exactly the type of woman she is by her shoes. Just because she is wearing some pointy black heal does not mean she doesn't own a pair of black Jack Purcell's or Chuck's in hot neon pink. Don't get me wrong, it can be done, but its hard to make a very accurate assessment by one encounter only - simply because the average woman has multiple pairs of shoes.

Men on the other hand - I would argue - do not own as many pairs of shoes and thus it is easier to tell the type of man by his shoes at first glance ... you know he only has - at most - 5 or 6 pairs at any given time at home. I am talking about first impressions on the metro here folks! Now I am aware that there is an upward moving trend in men's collecting of foot ware - especially for my generation as many "metro" men are getting into style and fashion and buying "outfits" - but I am really not talking about those guys. I am talking about your average man on the metro between the ages of, we'll say 20 and 35.

You see, I have this thing with checking out men's shoes ... and it can make or brake the assessment on the man. Sometimes I notice a semi-attractive man first and then take a nonchalant glance at the shoes. Other times I scan the floorboards of the train car and slyly survey the goods from the feet up.

So a man catches my eye, I usually like the tall dark and handsome type, and I sneak a peek at his feet ... often the shoes fit exactly what I expect to see and it makes me feel triumphant. Pegged him just like that. But sometimes I get a surprise - thrown for a loop if you will - a man that has potential to be attractive is wearing the worst shoes ever! Like running shoes when he's not running or even worse - sketchers athletic shoes (sorry to anyone that I may offend - sketchers casual shoes are ok ... but not the male sneakers ... ugh). You see, the shoe can help the man, but the man can seldom help the shoe. Sometimes the shoe makes an average man even more attractive - they show personality. But only a very confident man can make a bad shoe more attractive ... its a hard thing to do.

One example that happened a week or two ago on the metro - and then I will allow any and all to process this silly theory of mine. I am sitting on the train on a saturday I believe it was - which is important because saturday metro riders are usually riding for personal reasons, not business or work related and thus can reflect personal style through clothing chosen to be worn. So I casually scan the other side of the train while flipping through my ipod - Mae, Alicia Keys, RHCP, The Killers, Kanye West, Fiona Apple - and spot a scruffy (I LOVE scruffy) unassuming young man chatting with his friend. He's wearing jeans - not too tight, not too baggy and a simple t-shirt. And so I scan down to the floor for the final assessment ... this will make or break the deal (hahaha ... deal? what deal - like you will ever talk to him or even see him again! hahaha) and he is wearing the shoe I HATE the most. The shoe that looks as though it was meant for gardening or worse - a garden gnome! Little girls, little boys, men, women - tons of people wear them ... they come in every color imaginable. Who knows what material they are actually made of ... and I don't care if they are soooo comfortable ... I can let it go for a nurse or a doctor or little kids ... but come on! A grown man! Anyway, the offending foot ware I am referring to are CROCS. I look over and this hot man is wearing crocs ... THE DEVASTATION ... the sadness ... the disappointment. A waste of a good looking man ... but at least they were black - thank heavens they weren't green or purple or orange.

SIGH ... I am now thinking that this is all very shallow ... it must be derived from my OC upbringing, but I have an interesting point right?