Monthly Archives: March 2014

Siesta

Typically our house is full of sound.

Typically my little brother can be heard playing Rock Band anywhere in the house. He likes to turn the volume up loud. He sings along to Paramore’s That’s What You Get, his prepubescent voice still able to go up the extra octave. It’s his favorite song in the game. Lately he’s been singing it nonstop. Yesterday my abuelo threatened to throw the game away if he didn’t quit singing during dinner.

Typically the sound of arguing tumbles down the staircase as my abuelos yell at my mother, telling her how badly she’s messed up with us. Being a young single mother is never easy, especially in a world where women aren’t supposed to be alone. It would be different if her husband had died. That would at least be respectable. But being an unwed, teenage mother – no matter how long ago it was – is still shameful.

Typically there’s me and my baby sister playing cards at the kitchen table. Uno. Her new favorite game. We play it over and over again, and I became bored with it ages ago, but I keep playing because that’s what big sisters do. She sings and dances each time she wins a round. She cheats. I used to call her out on it, but now I just let her win.

But not today. It’s summer now. And today everything is silent. Everything is still.

Today my brother and sister are asleep in the next room, sharing hammock but doing everything they can not to touch one another. On a day like today, one touch of another human being could set your skin on fire.

Today my mother and abuelo sit on opposite ends of the sofa, not looking at one another for fear a spark may ignite. My abuela, no longer able to keep working in the stifling kitchen, exhausted in more ways than one, is sitting motionless at the table, her eyes focusing on nothing in particular. The glass of water sitting in front of her has already become too warm to be refreshing.

Today I lay in my hammock, the fan above me slowly slicing through the thick, hot air, moving it around, washing me in a warm breeze that only adds to my discomfort. The air coming in through the open window is even heavier than the air already in the room. I should get up and close it, but I don’t. Like everything else in the house, I stay perfectly still. I do everything I can not to disturb the heat that has settled in around me. To do so would only make it worse. I can feel beads of water starting to form on my forehead, but I know better than to try to brush them away. The effort it would take to raise my arm to my head would cause me to break out in a full sweat.

Even the animals know better than to try to move at midday in the summer. The dogs that usually crowd the streets have disappeared in search of shade. Not even the insects are out while the sun blazes above.

I know why the siesta was invented. It was invented for days like today. Days when it’s too hot to move. Days when there is nothing to do but lie and wait for night to fall. Once the oppressive sun goes down, the earth will finally begin to cool and then my world will awake and come to life once more.

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The Road: Questioning Humanity

MV5BMTAwNzk4NTU3NDReQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDg3OTEyODI@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_The Road is a 2009 film based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where hope and the lifespan of the human race is slowly dying. Though I’ve never read the book, I know a lot about it. A professor at my school teaches this novel in her class, and I’ve worked with many students writing essays over the novel for her class. Director John Hillcoat does a nice job of capturing the dismal world the characters find themselves in.

The movie follows a man and his boy as they travel south to the sea. Along the way, they search for food, do their best to avoid cannibals, and continue to “carry the fire.” The boy has only ever known this dying world, but the man can remember the time before the world began dying. Because of this, the two characters see their situation through different lenses, thus affecting their viewpoints and actions throughout the film.

One thing I enjoyed about this film is that even though I knew what was going to happen at each point and how it was going to end, I was still emotionally invested. I was sad during sad parts, inspired during moments of hope, and scared during startling scenes. (Though I didn’t really like the being scared part. I don’t like being scared…Notice there are no reviews for horror films on this site.) I believe that the fact this movie could get to me even when I knew what was coming means those who worked on it did their jobs well.

In the end, The Road doesn’t leave you with a happy feeling. But I don’t think it was supposed to. What you do end up with is a question. Is there still hope for the human race?

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Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot is a 1959 film starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, and Jack Lemmon. In the film, two musicians (Curtis & Lemmon) witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre in Chicago. In order to escape the city and being run down by the mob, the two dress up as women to join a female band on their way to Florida for a performance. In all honesty, I tend to have a hard time with older movies (a product of my times, I guess). However, this movies didn’t feel like an old movie as I was watching it. It was funny and entertaining, and it made me think a lot about how the times have changed… and how they haven’t.

One thing I thought was great about this film was the cross-dressing. For us to live in such a conservative society when it comes to matters of sexuality, cross-dressing seems to have been a part of our culture for quite some time. It was funny to see the two men in the film try to convince themselves to think and act like girls and then, later in the film, try to remember that they have to be men again. Their take on femininity and their realization of how women really act was quite amusing.

MV5BNzYzMDkzNDQ0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzQ0NDQyNA@@._V1_SX214_One factor in films that I noticed has changed in the last 60 years is the leading lady. Marilyn Monroe is still the icon of femininity, beauty, and sex in our culture even after all this time. But seeing her after being used to seeing the leading women of today was quite a shock. Films today put so much pressure on women to be straight and skinny. Marilyn Monroe was neither of these things. She had full curves and her middle was pretty wide. And yet, she was still beautiful. I can’t help but wonder why we have so greatly changed our perception of what women should look like.

Overall, I enjoyed watching this film. Even if you’re not one for older films, Some Like It Hot deserves your attention. It’s full of comedy, action, romance, music, lies, deception, murder, bad guys, and everything else you could think to fit into a single movie.

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Teaching Responsibility

As an instructor of introductory level classes at the university, part of my job is teaching responsibility. Over the years, I’ve found that it’s not only at the introduction level that students need to learn this. I’ve encountered upper-level students who don’t seem to have grasped this lesson yet. And it’s not an easy lesson to learn. There are plenty adults out in the ‘real world’ who still haven’t learned this lesson. So why do I hold that it’s so important?

There are many times throughout my day when students want to argue with me, and listening to them, my immediate reaction is to reverse the situation onto them, proposing the situation in another context with “Let me tell you how this conversation is going to go with your boss.”

Example 1

A student was habitually late to class. I informed her that her lateness was starting to take a toll on her grade. Her response: “You can’t expect us to be to class on time every day!”

Let me tell you how this conversation is going to go with your boss. If you’re late to work one more time, you’re fired.

Example 2

A student wanted to talk to me about a grade she received on an assignment. I told her to come to my office and we could discuss it. Her response: “I don’t have time to come to your office. Can’t you just look at it now.”

Let me tell you how this conversation is going to go with your boss. As your boss, I just heard “I don’t care about this issue enough to actually take the time necessary to fix it.” If you don’t care about fixing issues related to your work, you evidently don’t need the extra responsibilities that come with a promotion.

Example 3

A student got mad at me because I adhered to the rules I outlined in my syllabus, causing him to obtain a low grade on an assignment. His response: “Your rules are stupid!” Then he slammed his fist against the desk and stormed out, cursing at me on his way through the door.

Let me tell you how this conversation is going to go with your boss. If you don’t like the rules, you don’t have to work here. You’re fired.

Most students aren’t like this. Most of them are really good. Most of them quickly learn to take responsibility for their actions and admit when they’ve made a mistake. Most of them are willing to work with me and talk it out when they don’t understand a grade they received or why I have a certain rule. But there are some I worry about.

I hold that it’s important to teach responsibility when students are still students because if we wait until they’re trying to make their way in the business world, it might be too late.

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Filed under Life at the University