Saturday, April 3, 2010

Remembering Neglected Dreams

I have a dream that I have had for a long time, and that I frequently put to the back of my mind. But it's always always been there, since I was in high school.

In the ninth grade, I fell in love with literature in one of my English classes. I can remember my eccentric teacher Mrs. Donahue, who squinted at me from her tall stool and asked me, "Have you ever been identified as GATE?" At the time, I had no idea what she was talking about, and up until then, many of my teachers had done nothing but tell me that I was not very capable. Or they were absolutely abusive to me-like the teacher who used to shoot rubber bands at my face and say that I was a menace.

Later I found out that GATE meant gifted and talented education. Mrs. Donahue recommended that I should be moved to an honor's English class. I wasn't sure that I would be able to handle the class because I had somewhere along the line been told that I wasn't very smart.

Looking back I think that if wouldn't have been for Mrs. Donahue moving me to that class, that I might have just been one of those Latina statistics who veers off the wrong path in life.

The first week in Mrs. Donahue's advanced English class, we read "The Scarlett Letter". I loved it and hated it at the same time because it was difficult to read, but also because it stirred anger in me about a woman's sexuality that I had not really felt before. The book sparked anger about how men and women are held to different standards regarding sexuality in this country.

One of the few things that I remember at all about high school were the English classes. I fell in love with literature (and some poetry). Yet I always felt frustrated because I felt that there was always something missing from the materials that we read. It wasn't until the twelfth grade when another one of my teachers introduced us to the genre of African American literature, and from then on my lifelong love affair with African American literature began.

In that class, we read Richard Wright's Native Son, poetry by Langston Hughes and Toni Morrison's Beloved-to name a few. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness struck a chord in me that has sparked my interest in the history, literature and culture of the Congo region.

I had similar experiences in college, where I was mainly exposed to the white canon, dominated primarily by white men. I always felt somewhat fulfilled anytime that I read something by a female writer, yet I can never recall being exposed to any writing by Latina authors. In college I began to gravitate toward African American and Persian women writers because deep in my soul they initiated feelings of a suppressed collective experience that we share together.

In high school, one of my teachers asked what I would like to do when I grew up and I told her, "I wish that I could get paid to sit around and read all day long". Yet at some point in college I learned that it was an unrealistic expectation that I could just sit around and read all day long.

So I became a high school teacher so that I could maybe talk about literature all day long. It was great, except the fact that I was only four years older than some of my students and was working at the same school that I had graduated from, and many of my students were brothers and sisters of my friends and neighbors.

So I moved down to elementary school. And I loved it. I loved teaching reading, writing, and social studies every day to children, although I always wished that I could have moved back up to the high school level or even the college level, so that I could talk about books all day long with adults.

I left the classroom, and became a coordinator and later a school principal until I was finally promoted to a higher position as a manager. I have loved every minute of every job that I have ever had. But it has always frustrated me that I have always felt that I am stifled in my creativity. Even as a teacher, you are given certain materials that you are told that you are to teach, and they ended up mostly being the same literature that had always lacked the diversity that had frustrated me throughout my personal educational experiences. Even though you are able to bring supplemental materials into the classroom, you are still limited regarding the time it takes to include supplemental materials. It's definitely not the same thing as being able to sit around and read whatever you choose to read all day long.

Over the past couple weeks, that familiar tug of "I wish that I could just sit around and read whatever I want to read, all day long" has begun to tug at the back of my mind once again. I have been fantasizing all day long about creating websites about anything, everything, and everyone that I want so that I can talk, write and blog about it all day long. It's beginning to manifest itself in an actual need for me, an urge that it beginning to feel like something that I can actually have the possibility of doing.

Last night I had a dream that I was in Mexico, in a large library. I was digging through books that were published years ago and had been forgotten about, locked in a back room that was only visited by scholars. I vividly had an image of a book by Nellie Campobello, an author who when I woke up that I most certainly didn't believe was a real author. Who would actually believe that there could be a Mexican author by the name of Nellie? I mean, really.

About an hour ago, I decided to google the name Nellie Campobello and lo and behold I discovered that she was an actual Mexican author. I must have seen her name somewhere along the line and stored in deep in my psyche that manifested itself in a dream to me.

This has disturbed me all day, and I have a  nagging and a tugging in my head that this is a sign. A sign from the inner parts of my brain and thoughts that aren't yet visible to my conscious thoughts. I feel that it might be a sign that I am not fulfilling my life in the way that I am supposed to.

I had initially started this blog so that I could blog about my constant obsession that I have had with a certain type of woman in history, literature, art and other representations. But I feel that the name of this blog, and the format of this blog are not completely fulfilling me. I have been brainstorming alternative names and formats, and I am at a standstill. A conceptual form is slowly beginning to emerge, and I am trying to give myself the time and the space to nurture this idea into a reality.

Maybe one day I will be able to manifest my dream into reality.

I Am Currently Reading:
Dreams-Langston Hughes
The Negro Speaks of Rivers-Langston Hughes 

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