We’re in 1977 divided Berlin and a young girl named Patricia manically enters her psychiatrist, Dr. Klemperer’s, office. She curls into the fetal position of his chair muttering of how she was groomed to be “perfect” by the heads of the famous Markos Tans Dance Company. She twitches squirrelishly and sees eyes on everything, tossing albums and books about to avoid their all-seeing gaze. She hears voices in her head. In an Arthur Miller manic episode she shouts “Witches!” and Dr. Klemperer writes down that her psychological state is diminishing. The camera then shifts to a dying woman in rural America as Thom Yorke’s melancholic score creeps into the background. This is Suspiria (2018)– not a remake of the 1977 Argento film, but something meant to hold its own. And while it’s a horror film first, it also supplies a healthy step in the right direction for women in film as well.
It’s 10 p.m. and one of my best friends and I decide to compulsively go buy about thirty dollars’ worth of flowers. We did this often–impulse buying after stressful days at work. Flowers are practical. And so is that nail polish with self-imposed misogynistic names. Spontaneity kept our minds quasi-busy. The moment we sat down—the moment we stopped—that was when our minds would dwell on heartbreak and failure so seemingly ubiquitous in education.
While children sit in holding pens and parents are sent away — while lives are broken — we are sitting behind our screens debating the legality and blame of a horrific situation. We are blending and bending facts to our will when, by definition, facts should be defended as iron-clad objective reality. Lines that do not bend to petty rhetoric. The general argument surrounding immigration and detention is derailing us from the conversations we should be having. Instead of what is right or wrong, we need to shift to something akin to how do we fix this… or what are possible solutions? What is the damage we are causing? In the face of these questions, who did it and who could be arrested for it should be overshadowed by the blatant fact that it is happening in the first place.
According to a press release from last September by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the suicide rate of veterans in the United States is 22% greater than non-veteran citizens. “We know that of the 20 [veteran] suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 are not under VA care,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin in the report. “This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach.” Even without this data, it’s easy to see that war affects all lives intertwined with its pervasive web. Being deployed overseas is not a nine-to-five job; war doesn’t stop for coffee breaks or lunch dates. And, over the last few years, there is an increasing lack of belief in the support the VA can offer veterans returning home; a question in credibility that stemmed from whistle-blowers who, in 2015, made the claim that hundreds of thousands of veterans have died while on the VA’s waitlist for healthcare.
As a teacher, there are always little flashes of light.
Iridescent glimmers after long hours of digging. Dirt under your nails. Grit in your teeth. A rasp in your breath as you are suddenly able to inhale, with clarity in your lungs, a purpose. The scent of rain after a long drought… the kind that lingers in the air and forms steam off asphalt. That makes wilted plants perk up. It makes the waiting worth it.
The thought of hope made tangible is an addiction worth giving into.
And then there is, of course, the sudden fade to black and dust that I often lose myself in. Blinded by bureaucracy and unrelenting tasks. Suffocated by the lack of positivity. The pile of a to do list that hopelessly grows in the face of the illogical. When you are constantly assessing what you need to do, you begin to wonder if you will ever have time to be yourself again. How can you when your day often stretches beyond the uncomfortable limit of ten hours? The weight of students is often combined with the weight of leaving a personal life behind –writing, riding, gardening, adventuring, loved ones. They tug at each other. But you need both.
The rhetoric behind the click-bait title “I Went on a Date with Aziz Ansari. It Turned into the Worst Night of my Life” beacons a bias that is hard to ignore. Unfortunately, it attempts to evade its one-sidedness by milking current trends: predominately the progressive #MeToo movement that began in October 2017 with the Harvey Weinstein scandals. #MeToo is an international narrative of women speaking openly about sexual assault and mistreatment in the workplace–something women are often reticent to discuss amidst threats of unemployment, the ambiguity of sexual violence, and the unfortunate stigma that follows these things.
How language is manipulating our thoughts and why it is drastically important to teach.
The trouble with words is that, regardless of their size, whether they are salient or subtle, they matter. In their weightless form, they can move mountains and manipulate realities. They can inspire genocide and create peace. America’s national parks are built on their formless back. The Nazi Party was founded on their circulation (e.g., all race other than what Hitler deemed Arian were described as parasitic “bastard races” in schools). The anger, or hatred, or disdain you may feel toward our current political situation in the United States could be based on the graceful words from our president’s mouth, or his Twitter.