Friday, September 24, 2010

Disney has doomed us all.

Fairytales, from the way I've been exposed to them, don't come in many different packages. They start off with a little girl who either has daddy issues, step-mother issues, an evil magical spell cast upon her, or just plain bratty-princess syndrome. They start off with a little girl who usually wants for nothing, but wishes for everything. They start off with a beautiful, young, tortured soul.

As the story progresses, the little princess runs from her problems, sweeping them under the rug until there comes a point when they're staring her in the face and she has no where to turn but to a handsome prince, or a fairy godmother, or maybe a pack of friendly animals. She never saves her own ass. Instead, it's saved for her-- by some guy who she will ride off into the sunset with to get married, have really attractive babies, and then begin another generation of want-for-nothing-wish-for-everything(s).

Life isn't a cookie cutter though. It's not molded into an early onset issue that can be magically healed with one kiss or a magic fairy waving her wand. Life is brutal, it's harsh, yet it's magical in its own ways. Very few people experience trauma, struggle with money, or have an absent parent from a young age. But those that do don't go about finding their fairytale in a systematic way. There is no Pythagorean Theorem that tells them which step to take next. Sure there are some pretty pivotal steps a person has to take in their lifetime; go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, and obviously pay taxes. But how they go about those steps, if they even want to take them all, is entirely up to them.

A pregnancy can occur in high school. Drop out or keep going? Keep the baby or terminate? These aren't things Cinderella had to deal with.

An absent parent can surface in college. Take the easy way out and ignore them? Be the bigger person and forgive easily? Okay, maybe a few of the Disney princesses had to confront poor parenting skills. Good thing for my generation that we don't have to worry about the "you must be married to a prince" rule...or the whole arranged marriage setup.

Life is messy though. Very very messy. And we don't always get what we want. I may not come from nothing in the full sense of the phrase, but I certainly don't find myself wishing for everything. I have hopes and aspirations, of course, but the reality is that not every wish you make comes true. Not every prayer you utter will have a positive outcome. And not every person will want the same things you do. One thing I have to face as a non-Disney princess is the concept of compromise. And boy does it suck sometimes.

I wish I was still young enough to be convinced that coming from nothing means you can wish for everything...and have a pretty good shot at getting it all in the perfect order.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A New Perspective.

I was given an assignment for teaching and learning class the other day and I was told to read the Sunshine State Standards for my subject area and write a response to what I see. The Sunshine State Standards, in a nutshell, are just the hopes and dreams the state sets up for all teachers to follow as they form their curriculum. It's a long list of what a student should learn in a particular content area, in a few school years. The standards are broken down into Pre-K to 2nd grade; 3rd to 5th grade; 6th to 8th grade; 9th through 12th grade. And since Florida, the wonderfully education-driven state it is, decided to re-write the standards over a ten year period, has not yet re-written them for foreign language, I had the opportunity to read the older standards for my subject.

What I find interesting is just how much a student learning a foreign language is expected to know before entering 6th grade. There are things that I didn't learn until I myself traveled to Paris to study for four weeks! Some of the cultural integration and comparative knowledge about grammar and syntax styles just amazes me. I didn't even know schools offered foreign language before middle school, so it was only to my surprise to see what was crammed into six years of school for me.

The reason we were given this assignment was not just to read about the secondary schooling standards. It was to see what students were expected to know by the time they were handed over to us. We are to see what we're up against, and what we'd have to play catch up for. The purpose of this assignment was to see just how disparate some of our students will be upon entering our classroom simply because of a very not-simple issue; literacy. It's just now hitting me why it seemed so many of my peers struggled in French class in 6th and 7th grade. They weren't reading at a level that allowed them to be successful in English class, let alone any other content-area. The structures, grammatical comparisons, and overall use of mature vocabulary didn't make sense to them.

So now I'm left wondering, do I step into a classroom full of struggling students, knowing that the State will be on my back making sure I cover a certain number of standards, all the while my students struggle to read the instructions in English? Or do I step back and consider teaching Elementary level French, and have more time to help my students master the English language while learning a new one simultaneously? I hadn't considered teaching Elementary school since I gave up the notion that I could be as great of a kindergarten teacher as Mrs. Prewitt, but maybe literacy is where I could find my calling. Maybe I could make the difference I've wanted to make in a younger classroom, improving the literate abilities of a very impressionable group of kids.

Friday, September 3, 2010


This summer I thought I discovered my own way to be inspired. I thought I had finally captured my personal method of internalizing the world around me. But I guess not. Since I've come back to reality, to track workouts, to reading assignments, and daily chores, I've felt lost when it comes to expanding my mind. My eyes are wide open, but my heart feels oddly shut off from the world, from myself.

Maybe it's how I perceive my surroundings and there really is a lot to be inspired by walking down US-1. Or maybe this really is a city you live in to just drive right by everything around you, too busy to recognize anything or anyone but yourself. I've never felt so alone, even living in one of the most populated cities in America. Sure I felt alone in Paris from time to time, walking to school alone everyday will make a person lonely. But for the most part, the loneliness didn't bother me. It was my time to think clearly, to feel the sun's rays on my shoulders, to look up at the sky and know I was where I should be. It was my time to buy a Euro-worth of candy, or buy the International Paper, when I know very well that I don't even buy papers back in the states. I can't describe how I felt in Paris, because I just was. In Miami, I feel confused, closed off and sick the majority of the time.

The sickness I feel isn't a cough, and it's not a headache. It's a rising feeling starting in the bottom of my stomach. It's the kind of rising anxiety you get when you've just heard your boyfriend cheated on you, or you might have been caught cheating on an exam. First, the drop comes. Your stomach drops to the floor, pulling your heart down with it, inch by inch. But then your breathing calms you for a moment, and your equilibrium sets in. The nausea settles in at the bottom of your stomach, but quickly works its way to the top. It's an aching nausea that you feel all day something in your world has gone terribly wrong and there's not a thing in the world to be done to mend the pain.

That's the loss of inspiration. That's the sickening feeling I get each and every day, doing the things that supposedly bring me joy in other areas of the world.