Monday, January 9, 2012

THINKING with "A Girl You Should Date"

Remember the time...
- when we made mixed tapes?
- when having our own landline (then pager, then cellphone) made us feel so cool?
- when we used to swap pocketbooks with classmates and friends?
- when we listened to the radio to catch our favorite song so we could jot down its lyrics?
- when we had to research and physically go to the library and actually thumb through card catalogues, books and magazines?
- when we had a library card in hard paper listing all the books we have borrowed (and hopefully read)?
- when we actually had to go and see a friend to find out how they're doing and really spend time with them?
- when facebook, youtube, google, did not yet exist?
- when life was much simpler?

A good friend and I talked about this today after I gave her a peek into my day as a literacy teacher. We wondered why many students seem to be even more abandoned with the No Child Left Behind Act. We chatted about teaching and learning, about how it was "back in the day", and yes, about how old we must be getting since lately we allude more and more to "back in our days, it was such and such...". This then led to us wondering about where our fast-paced lives, all these advancements in technology and changes in education, government-society are taking us. It is all quite amazing and yet scary at the same time. I feel like something is lost in the process of our inevitably moving forward. I wonder what is to happen ( is already happening OR perhaps even what has already happened) to our moral fiber, sense of purpose, substance, empathy, critical thinking, IQ, EQ...

Then tonight, I stumbled upon the following blog post. It does not seem to be directly related to my above concerns, yet it comforted me and deeply resonated with me. It challenges me as an educator to make sure I really do my very best to make sure that my students really read, write, question, challenge and assert themselves.

by Rosemarie Urquico

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero.

That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.