I saw this recipe online. I mean…yum, but what got me was the description the woman gave about her and her husband’s Valentine’s Day traditions. One…I don’t hate Valentine’s Day. I appreciate the chance to celebrate the healthy functioning relationships that actually do exist in the world. And I think we could do a hell of a lot worse than loving love.
Sure, celebrating awkward teenage hormones or societal pressures to marry and settle down, let’s quit celebrating that. By all means. But let’s celebrate love. In all its many shapes and forms. Even (or perhaps St. Valentine would say, especially) when it goes against cultural norms. Which is what I like about this article. She and Jorge tried the traditional American Valentine’s Day and it sucked. So now they go to Target and participate in an inane ritual that makes them happy. Why not? Live your life. Not everyone else’s. Be a little crazy, if you want to. Do things that make other people stare. Or do quiet things that other people won’t understand and will ignore. Whatever you want. Live your own life. You can do traditional if it’s really your thing. But it damn well doesn’t have to be. Find what makes you happy and do it. And ignore all the people who are the same and miserable. Life is a journey and life is never one-size-fits-all. Not just on Valentine’s Day, either. Every. Day. Of. Your. Life.
Do what makes you laugh. Do what makes you smile. Do what makes you cry, if you want. Do what makes you feel home. No matter what the rules or tradition may say. Question, explore, and live, my friend.
Don’t feel stupid if you don’t like what everyone else pretends to love. Emma Watson
I had my first class of my second semester in DeKalb. The walls were covered in skulls and skeletons. Welcome to the Anthropology department. And it was wonderful. The professor was engaging and passionate and the subject seems fascinating. We watched a TED video featuring Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adachie. And it was incredible.
Adachie talked about the dangers of the single story. She talked about growing up middle class in Nigeria and the perceptions we can often get about people when we reduce their complexities down to a single story. For example, they had a boy who worked in their house and growing up all she knew about his family back in the village was that they were poor. She only knew their story as one of poverty and only told a story of pity. Then one day, her family went to visit them and she saw a beautifully weaved raffia basket that the boy’s older brother had made. She was shocked because she had not once stopped to think of them as anything but a poor family in need of her pity. But instead, they were poor, but hardworking complex individuals with immense artistic talent and creativity.
In the same way, when Adachie came to the United States to attend college, her first roommate was perplexed by her. She questioned where Adachie had learned to speak English so well, not knowing that English is the official language of Nigeria. She assumed Adachie would not know even simple things like how to use a stove. She had been told a single story of Africa: the story of poverty and ignorance. That single story kept her from realizing the rich complexities of the Nigerian people, the diversity in socioeconomic status throughout the continent, and the variety of experiences that each person lives through.
Adachie noted that power is not only the ability to tell the story of others, but to tell it as the definitive story of their lives. We reduce people down to a single story, to a concept, to white or black, gay or straight, male or female, rich or poor, and we lose the beautiful complexity that makes life worthwhile. Its not that these stories are necessarily wrong, but merely that they are insufficient. Often they may be wrong. We may write someone off as a particular story to demean them or weaken them. But often, we just refuse to learn or are never told the rich variety of stories that exist in each culture, each land, each heart. And thus we miss the world as it really is.
Please, tell me your story. Tell me all of them. They are undeniably important. For both of us.
“I love old things. They make me feel sad.”
“What’s good about sad?”
“It’s happy for deep people.”
well…i am back.
i am back in illinois. back in my little bed in my little room. back to public administration and public administrators. back to the struggle to be where i am. back to a beautiful city that i do in fact love. back to a job i don’t enjoy but can appreciate. back to a shower that never runs out of hot water. back to four months. back to a vegan diet (punctuated by icecream with my boyfriend). back to forgetting. back to remembering. back to triggers. back to constantly missing people. back to dreaming. back to relying on myself. back to bluegrass. back to asking my shoulders to carry and to hopeful tomorrows. back to books and music. back to a time where it is my choice. my life. my responsibility. back yo a place where it is so hard to be now but now is what we are.
I am just having a thought. And I am writing it down so it doesn’t just rattle in my head all day.
I think if I don’t get into the U of M, I am going to still leave NIU in May. Maybe I could work at the Berry Patch again for the summer. I will travel to Sierra Leone. I will spend the summer doing what summers are for.
And in the fall, maybe I will not go back to school. Maybe I will just find a job and try to work for a year or so and figure out what I really want to do with my life. I could use the time to study for LSATS and apply to Drake Law the next fall. I could think more about if international travel or if staying close to my roots is the better option. I could take some time just to be and figure out what I really want to do without the stress of feeling disconnected or the pressures of deadlines. I could at least take a year to feel the pressures of a working life outside of academia and really learn to feel that that life isn’t for me.
Its not the most practical choice. It wouldn’t do much for my resume. I’d be incredibly poor. But I’d be taking time for myself. To explore my options. To feel like I have possibilities and I am not walled in and resigned. And that might be worth it. I could use a little adventure and exploration.
“We could get in trouble!” “That’s how you know it’s an adventure!”
I have a lot of things to be writing about.
New Years Resolutions, for one. The movie I saw today, for another. And it will come.
I don’t seem to be writing much these days.
I will change that soon, I hope.
Every day is full of possibilities. And love is all around.