When I was in sixth grade, my seat in class was next to my best friend. I brought in sticky foam letters to pimp out our Crayola desk labels, and our desks were super fly. The next morning when we went back to our desks, someone had rearranged the letters to spell different words. Using some of my friend’s letters and my middle name, he spelled out “Marissa Cerone Is Gay” on my desk.
We both knew what douche bag had done that, and it was the only person who ever gave me a hard time about being best friends with the boy I sat next to. I had previously been forced into a group project with that tool, and I learned that he was actually alright, but that he was just extremely annoying. One day after the project, he asked me if I wanted him to go to the dance that weekend. I didn’t understand exactly what he meant. I told him that I didn’t not want him to go, but I had no particular desire to see him there, and that I really didn’t care at all about whether or not he went. So then he said, “So you don’t want to go with me?” Now, that was a different story. I knew for sure that I would not go with him, because he was a tool, and I told him that (probably worded a little bit differently). “So are you going with him (referring to best friend)?” I explained to him that he was only my friend, and that I was not going with anyone. “Well if you don’t like him, and you don’t like me, then who do you like?” I told him that I didn’t like anyone (in 6th grade, “like” is a loaded word. trust me.), and I am pretty sure I basically told him to piss off. “Well are you a lesbian?” I didn’t exactly know what that word meant (Catholic school for nine years hollaaa), but I had heard it before and I knew it didn’t apply to me, so I told him so. I then asked my friend what that meant, and he started laughing to the point of tears (not a rare occurrence…part of the reason we were such good friends is that he rightfully never took me (or anything else) too seriously.) as he explained to me that it was just what people call gay girls. (He was also the first person to seriously tell me to seek psychological help and to tell me what a bong was. He was impressively accurate for an eleven year old.)
So I knew exactly what tool had written that on my desk, and torn up some letters to make a G and an I because neither of us had any extra of those in our names.
I removed the letters and my teacher asked me why I was throwing them out. I told her that someone had rearranged and torn the letters and messed up our names, and that I would just use markers like everyone else. She asked me what they had written, and when I told her, she gasped and said not to worry, and that she would get to the bottom of it. I told her to chill (probably not in those words) because I knew who had done it, but that I didn’t really care. (At that point, I had just had a pretty big emotional outburst in class that involved me throwing a lunchbox across the room. There was a reason that my best/only friend was a boy. Eleven-year-old. Hormonal. Emotional. Disaster. So I did not want anymore attention.) She then told me that she had a zero-tolerance policy for name calling, and then I reminded her of what he had written. He didn’t call me a name or make fun of me, he just said that I was gay. Then she reminded me of how sorry she was about that, and she explained to me that it wasn’t nice to call someone gay. I then remembered hearing the kids on the bus using it like that too, but I still didn’t get it, so I asked her why it was a mean thing to say. “Well, homosexuality is a sin.” I highly doubted that. I mean, she wasn’t the brightest teacher I had ever had, and that was such a silly thing to say. But she was speaking quietly and she seemed uncomfortable, so I just told her who did it and moved on.
I mean, my uncle was gay, and he wasn’t a sinner? I mean, he was to the extent that all of us are, but he didn’t commit the kinds of sins that people have to whisper about? But…my parents didn’t like it either. They didn’t whisper about it or anything, but they were angry with him for telling my brother about it. I just kind of figured that out, but I figured out lots of things about people when they thought I wasn’t listening. Anyway, she couldn’t be right about this. “Gay” was just the word people used for people who love other people who are the same gender. It was just like another kind of love…Being gay could not be a sin. I would ask someone else.
I asked my friend, and he didn’t know. We never really talked about these things in a religious context, so I didn’t know. When we got to my English class, we asked the teacher, and she was a little startled. It was odd (was going to use the word queer- there is a time and a place, my friends) how she spoke quietly as well. She told us that homosexuality was taboo, and absolutely a sin.
In that moment, I felt a little sick, but more confused than anything. Only a few weeks prior I had learned that sex was more than a synonym for gender, and I knew what being gay meant, but I didn’t know it was wrong.
Maybe you could say that I didn’t think it was wrong because I didn’t perfectly understand the biology of it all, but I don’t think that’s it at all. I think I just didn’t understand it because it seemed silly. It seemed stupid. I wanted to know why it was wrong, but I could not ask my teachers. They didn’t seem like they really wanted to talk about it. I couldn’t ask my parents, because I was 11 and they were my parents, so I kind of just wondered until I was home alone and could Google it on the desktop in our kitchen.
What I saw scared me so much. No, it wasn’t porn. It was something about why it was sexually wrong, and I didn’t really understand a lot of it because I just did not know enough about sex to get how everything worked. It didn’t scare me because of that, but it scared me because it seemed really angry, and I still could not wrap my head around why it was so wrong. (I have tried finding the site but I can’t find it…it’s from pre-2007 so it’s probably in the depths of web somewhere that I do not have the time to delve into.) This was the first time that anything about my religion did not make sense to me, and I just assumed it was because it was about lots of things that I didn’t know about.
That was it for my curiosity for a while, because every time I thought about that I felt sick. I would get knots of embarrassment in my stomach whenever I remembered how I had unknowingly asked about such a taboo topic, and I was mad at that stupid boy for tearing up my letters and writing that on my desk.
The realization that “gay” could be used as an insult made me sick in the same way that “retarded” did. My mother raised me with the awareness of how hurtful of an insult that was, not because it’s not nice to the person you are referring to, but because it’s incredibly disrespectful and just cruel to the people who actually are mentally retarded. Imagine…people commonly using your condition as a joke, or an insult? My mom is particularly sensitive about these things because her sister has Down’s Syndrome, but she also told me not to judge people who use it because they probably just don’t know any better. As a child, I had a particular hatred for curse words, and I would literally feel sick when people used them around me. It wasn’t that I never heard them at home (obviously, if you know my parents, you know how that is definitely not the case, and I have since gotten over that as evident by these blog posts), but the fact that you would choose to use a word so horrible that I am not allowed to say it made me sick. Hearing racial slurs still puts a little knot in my stomach, because I feel like you are hurting someone that I care about. Even when used humorously, I believe far too much in the power of words to accept that something is ever “only a word” and that is cannot do harm.
When “gay” and “retarded” are used as insults and any kind of ethnic or racial slur are used at all, you are saying that there is something terribly wrong and undesirable with that group of people. “Gay” and “retarded” are different from terms in regard to race because the first two are not negative in their essence, and it’s fine to use them properly. However, most ethnic slurs are literally created as a means to degrade a group of human beings, and I just don’t know how we can call ourselves decent human beings while we still use these words on the regular. I am not a hippie who says that “Love is the answer,” I am not a Christian who is telling you to “Love thy neighbor,” and I am not a pretentious teenager (Well, I try) who thinks that I know the solutions to the problems of society. I am just a human being that believes that any kind of term coined for the sole purpose of putting down people that I love is a crime against everything I believe in, and that every time you make a joke and use those hurtful words, you are widening the gaps that so many individuals have fought to bridge throughout history.
I could think and write about that forever, but my point is that when I first learned that being called gay was an insult, it resonated a lot more with me than it probably does with most people for a few reasons. I was not raised in a house where that was an insult, so I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know that homosexuality was something that was so undesirable to enough people for it to become a common term of offense. And finally, although I hadn’t considered it so thoroughly by that age, I still had the awareness of the power of language and the societal implications of derogatory terms to know that either something was wrong with me, or something was wrong with everyone else.
If in my 11-year-old innocence and naivety I found it ridiculous that calling me gay was actually meant to hurt my feelings, then perhaps we should all just take a second to wonder where that little brat learned that calling someone gay was an insult. Bingo.
And don’t get me wrong, my parents do not think less of any human being regardless of that long list of things that make us all so vastly different. However, I even see in them the manipulation that is the result of hearing these words, making those jokes, and saying things that only harm. Even if you think something is hilarious and you just have to share it with someone, don’t. Because somewhere along the line that joke or comment will land on a pair of innocent ears. And what that child hears will shape his opinions about different kinds of people, and what a crying shame it would be for him to think it’s okay to think less of any group of people because of you. That kid admires you, and looks to you as an example of how he should live his life. “As long as it’s just a joke. I don’t really mean it.” Even if whatever you are thinking is fall off your chair hilarious, keep it to yourself. Every time you say something that degrades any kind of human being, you reinforce the idea that it’s okay to think that way, to place the worth of any group of human being below another’s. That kid is getting it from music, from his friends, from TV,…please don’t reinforce those bigoted influences with your own words.
I am going to do something new…I think I am going to create a soundtrack of my life thus far. I know I’ve only been alive for 17.5 years (…almost) but I just think it’s be cool…I have very distinct associations with the memories I have for different times of my life, and I just heard a song that I post about that basically screamed FIFTEEN. Haha…and I already know who are going to be the artists for 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9. I must have been such a pain in the ass now that I think about it…
I have had the same schedule for 3.5 months, and I still forget that every Tuesday I get an hour and a half between my Marist classes. I swear…every single Tuesday it comes to me as a pleasant surprise. In this case, my forgetfulness is wonderful. This morning I had a psychology test and I met with my calc tutor last night, so all night I wanted to write a post and watch the new How I Met Your Mother (which I heard Sam watching downstairs…so I had to put in my earphones because I am THAT easily distracted) but I had to go over the problems from Calculus and study for my psyc test. BUT NOW that I have 2 hours (I finished the psyc test early) I can write a post and do some Christmas shopping! (online, of course.)
My Secret Santa is so hard to shop for….ugh. I have looked at so many thing that this person would like but I just can’t decide. I think I’ll go to the mall after microeconomics and hopefully I will be inspired to buy something. I got one thing last night, but I need to buy more. Many companies’ standard shipping policies are 7-14 days, and 14 days from today is December 20! We are exchanging our Secret Santa gifts on Christmas Eve because that’s when we see my mother’s family, so that only gives me 3 more days to find the present if I am ordering it online. Grr…oh well. I’ll find something.
My psychology test was pretty easy. The only questions I was unsure of were what the function of Freud’s ego is (apparently the answer was link to reality…yeah I put emotion or something…woops) and whether something was “external” or “extrinsic.” I put extrinsic, and apparently it was external. Oh well.
In English we are reading “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. I kind of like it…it reminds me of some conversations with my friends. Anyway, apparently it’s a “satire of the human condition,” and it seemed to me like the reactions and responses my English teacher was looking for were similar to those that Ms. Raines was after. The difference is, that Ms. Raines wasn’t looking for any specific answers, and she loved it when we brought up points that she’s never noticed before. Even if she thought we were wrong, she was just happy that we were forming our own opinions and thinking for ourselves, which I loved. I loved knowing that I could just let things kind of brew in my head for a little while and then share some weird little revelation and draw connections and that we were supposed to be doing that. She encouraged us to think for ourselves, and then confessed that once she’d successfully created her English monsters, she knew she’d have to deal with us arguing and thinking for the rest of the year, but she loved it because she’d accomplished making us into students who could successfully analyze literature and support our arguments.
My current English teacher just seems to be looking for specific answers. Like, he will ask what we think, but he will only be happy once someone has said what he was thinking. I am not saying that is wrong in any way, I mean he is an AP English teacher so he probably knows his stuff. It’s just not the kind of environment I enjoy learning in. I know this is tacky but I do genuinely enjoy learning when it’s about something I have interest in and I really do like talking about classic lit and reading it and thinking about it and writing about it, but I just wish my English teacher would kind of form the class around how we saw things, rather than how he saw them. Then again, I have to remember that this is a freaking AP class. I hate the AP system to much…this is not learning. This is standardizing. This is not truly comprehending and learning how to create, but simply learning a formula and how to plug in the variables. I do not like learning formulas, because I think there are an infinite number of solutions (the fact that I just saw my calc homework problem from last night with the answer of infinity flash before my eyes is indicative of some damn good studying). I really do hate AP…the purpose is to learn the formula, crank it out for the exam, and get out. There’s no real growth there….just the understanding of the formula. Nothing that will be of any significant benefit to us in the future, other than how to do what is expected of us.
This is why I need to go to a good school…one where students do not just “get by.” Therefore, I must not be one who just gets by…I have to go above and beyond because I WANT TO. Because those are the kinds of professors I want, and the kinds of students I want to be surrounded by. Those who appreciate learning for learning’s sake, for the sake of growth and progress and understanding.
On a completely different note, did you know that gold car holders get free refills of brewed coffee and tea at Starbucks? How freaking amazing is that? I can get the Christmas blend! SCORE. I am at Starbucks by the way…I also decided to embrace the fact that we are already 1/6 of the way through December and I bought a gingerbread biscotti. It’s actually supposed to be biscotto, because there’s only one, but I’m a bitch like that. Oh well.
Also, I found the perfect homework song. I read what kind of music was best for studying, and some sources said classical, others said opera, but one that I found very interesting just said music that you know very well, because you won’t be thinking about it. I thought about that and it totally made sense…so I used to listen to Gavin Degraw and James Taylor because I can pretty much write out every single lyric on their albums. James Taylor, however, evoked too many memories for me. There’s a lot of nice imagery in his lyrics (“and the berkshires seemed dreamlike on account of that frostin”…oh berkshires….) and I don’t know…I think because I have listened to that so much ever since I was a baby, I associate too much with the song. So that didn’t work, but then Gavin Degraw didn’t work because I listened to his album when we were at the Château de L’Isle-Marie and all I can think of is lying in my bed in the freaking coolest life-size French dollhouse-esque room, smelling that weird April must, and thinking about those things that 15 year olds think about (well, some of them…) (okay so maybe just me…) and I would get a little emotional. So Gavin Degraw failed, too.
THEN, I rediscovered Be My Honeypie by The Weepies. I first saw the video a while ago, and I recently rediscovered it fell in love with the video all over again. Then I downloaded the CD, and I fell in love with the song. I downloaded it on December 2, and I have listened to it 121 times so far. The lyrics are super simple, I have no associations with the song, it isn’t super deep or emotional, and the music is so simple. Thus I can listen to this thing for hours and it provides enough of a dose of happy to prevent a little study-angst while still being simple enough to not distract me. I swear…it’s the perfect homework song. I am listening to it now, because it’s awesome. And it’s raining outside, and I need some happy honeypie if I don’t have any sunshine.
Back to WFGodot… the two concepts we (well…he) talked about from the book today are:
1 Basically, the caption of my blog title. The more we know, the less we know that we know. So like…the more we learn, the more we are aware that we really don’t know anything. Learning to become aware of the fact that we don’t know jack shit. Basically.
2 Although the slave Lucky is initially perceived as unlucky, he is supposed to be perceived as the lucky one because he does not have to make any decisions. So, kind of like because Lucky does not know anything, he has no problem making decisions because he thinks he knows everything PLUS the fact that he does not have to make any decisions equals his not having to deal with the anxiety of making decisions and judgement calls like Vladimir and Estrogon (not estrogen…estrogon. although I feel like there was some intent there…in making Vladimir a Russian name and Estrogon similar to estrogen…so we have a Russian and a woman. later we also have a crazy man (named “Pozzo,” which I would pronounce as poh–zoh, but my teacher says as pah-tso, which is how the Italian word for “crazy” is pronounced. hmmm…), and then there is a slave. So we have a Russian, a woman’s name, a crazy man, and a slave, and a boy who remains nameless. Idk…seems like the names are important. But my teacher does not think so. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, they are not of importance.). In case I lost you, I was talking about the second concept we were “introduced” to today which is basically that Lucky is lucky because he does not have to make his own decisions and because he does not know enough to doubt himself. There you go. Bam.
I have two problems with the manner in which we learned about these (of course I do. When do I ever not have a problem with anything.). The first is that my teacher talks about these as some sort of incredible revelations that Beckett made by which we should be completely impressed and in awe of this understanding (whether it’s Beckett’s, my teacher’s, or our understanding that should impress us, I do not know). I do not mean to employ the hipster/pseudo-hipster (debatable) mantra of “I knew/did/heard/saw/ate/smoked/used/wore that before it was cool,” but it’s not like we are a bunch of children who could not have come up with that on our own, and I in fact named my blog after one of those concepts. I’m just saying…I chose my blog caption for a reason. I realized that the more I learned and grew, the more I doubted the truth of what I actually knew and the more I developed a desire for knowing and learning and experiencing. It isn’t that I want to feel smug or awesome or that my ego needs any more inflating (pshh…yeah right), it’s just that I wish people wouldn’t assume us to be these two-dimensional kids who need to have everything fed to them. I love the fact that I do not go to high school for the majority of my day, but this morning’s class reminded me of why I left Lourdes and why it is that I have to work my ass off in college to make sure that I don’t have to surround myself by people who assume my incapability…I don’t know. I just don’t know.
(I just got another coffee for 0.54. Gold Card FTW.)
The second problem I have was with how my teacher also assumed us all to think like him in the sense that “we enjoy being like Lucky…it is easier to move with the bell and be told exactly when we have to pick up our backpacks and go to the next class and be told exactly how to dress and what to say than to make decisions on our own, because as we learn, the uncertainties we develop will only cause more doubt in our decision making and therefore just cause more anxiety.” Basically the point we were supposed to get is that having expectations and a specific purpose is more important/valuable than freedom, which Lucky does not have. I’m so sorry if I am not explaining this well…I can wrap my head around it but not really get it out in one piece. My huge problem with this is that he assumed it to be true for all of us…and kept saying things like “we” and “you.” I don’t know whether I am just getting caught up on a technicality and he was just generalizing because it was faster and easier, or if he genuinely meant to refer to all of “us,” but I really don’t like that. I don’t know if I am being a sensitive bitch about this or if I am right, but I just wish people would stop assuming that we all think the same way, because we most certainly do not.
I left the bells and backpacks because I NEEDED freedom to be happy with myself. I need to be the one making decisions for myself, or else I will just become a mess. I am fully aware that there is an incredible amount of doubt and uncertainty behind all of my decisions, but you don’t let that stop you from MAKING them! Come on, guys. Yes, of course it’s generally easier to be told what to do and what you are expected to do, but that’s just to shut everyone up. Okay fine, tell me exactly how clean you want my room so I can do that and you will shut up. Tell me exactly how long this paper should be so I can do it and you will shut up. Tell me exactly what is considered a crime so I can avoid it and you will shut up. Tell me exactly how much eyeliner is too much for you so I can do that and you will shut up. But as far as what you do with your own time and your own life…of course freedom is better. Your own ethics will stop you from doing the things you know are wrong, and they will help you be the person you want to be, but to understand the law and avoid conflicts between your own subjective morality and the law’s definition of a crime is important so I can just obey it and everyone will just shut up about it. I do not like being told to do things (Obviously…and this is a big problem for my parents. Sorry, guys. Love you.) because what sense is there in living if you do so by everyone else’s standards and not your own? Will you really be happy then? Yes you will have shut everyone up so you can live peacefully, but how much personal satisfaction will you have with your own life if none of your decisions were your own, but just the product of fulfilling expectations and leaving with the bell? I don’t know…this is too long and I have to to go microeconomics. I just don’t know.
Updated play count: 146