What Does it Mean to be Liberated?

 

Just when we thought we were past all those old stereotypes about women we get quarterback Cam Newton calling our qualifications into question. But, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the POTUS joked about grabbing women’s privates and even his women voters didn’t blink!

So, when I saw this image it made me stop and wonder about what we call freedom. It’s easy to look at women in other cultures and congratulate ours for evolving. I mean, look at us (Americans)! Our women get to be sports journalists and presidential candidates and we can even wear bikinis! Woohoo!

Nevermind that we get paid less and our credibility is often on the line, or that we can be twice as qualified for a job, but lose opportunities to men who are half as qualified.  And, about those bikinis…why is it that we obsess about our bodies, or feel compelled to starve ourselves, or go into debt for surgeries that will perfect our bodies so that we can look more like the super models in the magazines when we put them on?

Oh yeah! To impress those men who refuse to acknowledge our intellect or talent, but love to look at our assets. Right.

Liberty and justice for all. Woo–hoo.

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Get Busy Living!

My sister and I have the unique privilege of sharing our birthday month. Though several years apart, there are only two days between our birthdays, so every year we celebrate together. This year, however, she is celebrating a milestone birthday, which she would prefer I didn’t bring attention to. For some reason this birthday, in particular, has her feeling anxious and her trepidation over this birthday has me thinking about birthdays in general.  I must admit, the older I get, the less excited I am about my birthday too.  Unlike my children who look forward to growing older with great joy, pretty much after 30 growing older became less and less fun for me! Let’s face it, everyone wants to grow up, but no one wants to get old.  But, it’s going to happen to all of us whether we like it or not and as my husband pointed out, nobody wants the alternative either!

So, there has to be a more productive way to look at this birthday thing. If it’s inevitable we have to find a positive spin! I refuse to peer down the tunnel of my future as if it were a deep dark hole of despair! As Morgan Freeman’s character says in the movie Shawshank Redemption I only have two choices: I can either “get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’” and I don’t know about you, but I have a lot more living to do!

So, I see it like this. I’m going to assume that time is like money and I’m going to assume I have at least $100 to spend. I mean, no one knows just how much time they have, but why not plan for the best case scenario? If I’m 40 years old, then it’s like I have $60 left in my account. If I’m 60 years old it’s like I have $40 left. The question is, am I going to cry about the $60 or the $40 I spent already, or am I going to figure out a creative way to spend the money—or time—I  have left?

Get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’…

If you’ll excuse me, I have some time left and some shopping to do!

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Happy birthday to me (and my sis)!

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Is the Use of Letters and Memos Becoming Obsolete?

Today’s Daily Post on “Paper” reminds me that I had an interesting and shocking exchange with a group of students recently when I asked them to include with their end of semester portfolios either “a letter or memo to me” in which they were to explain their writing process and revisions. I did not have any specifics in terms of format other than, you know, “a letter or memo,” which, in my mind, was explanation enough for what format was required.

Although the assignment was not going to be graded according to the format of the letter or memo, I expected to see something that at least resembled the SHAPE of a letter or memo and I didn’t think that I needed to provide a detailed explanation of the letter or memo format in order for these intelligent, talented, savvy young people to know what to do.  These are writers who had created some of the most brilliant creative works I’ve ever read!

Ah, but I was sadly mistaken.

Rather than letters or memos, I received notes and messages from my students in various formats–paragraphs mostly–of varying lengths, on separate sheets of paper with no particular rhyme or reason. I was baffled, but when I raised the issue there was near unanimous surprise! “Oh,” they said. “we didn’t know you wanted our reponses to be in the actual form of a letter or memo!”

“Huh? Did not my instructions to write a ‘letter or memo’ indicate the actual form of a letter or memo?” I was lost, but my befuddlement became utter bewilderment when another student informed me that his concept of a “memo” was a “Post-It” note!

Wow.

So, what does this mean? Have the ancient forms of letters and memos been co-opted by the modern forms of emails, texts, Tweets and other social media “posts”–even Post-its? If I, as an English teacher ask for a “letter or memo” I must not assume that the old forms come to mind?

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Does this mean that technological changes in the way we communicate have made traditional forms unnecessary, even irrelevant? So, not only do we lose paper, we also lose the format of documents that were once printed on paper too?

I’m not one to knock the new forms or formats for communication, but it hurts my heart a little to think that the tried and true conventions might be becoming less necessary to our daily interactions. Letters and memos are still a part of business and I made it clear to my students that they can not disregard them just yet, but their ignorance caught my attention because they have apparently been able to go so long without knowing about or using these types of documents enough to consider them necessary.

I learned about and began using these forms in middle school!

Perhaps future generations will have less of a need for letters and memos in order to conduct business, but somehow, to my 20th century mind and fingers accostumed to the touch of paper and hard No. 2 pencils, this just seems wrong.

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For samples of my students’ amazing works see Woman Enough and Flash fiction: Life’s a Challenge–Face It!