Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Molding Hearts, Reading Books, Being Happy

I began to think about my heart as a lump of unmolded clay, but with a hole, much like a doughnut. It beats and beats, and normally is satisfied, with a good meal, with a cozy night's sleep, with the sunshine and a mild breeze. But there comes a point when you meet someone, that the clay around the whole forms an exact image of that person. The strange property of this clay is that, when those people go away, the imprint of their being rests forever, but other people can still form imprints as well.

In my heart, there are two imprints, and they remain forever a molded part deep inside me. Whenever they come back in my life, they will fit perfectly, as if some part of a puzzle resolved, a picture brought back into clarity. And although there might be others that will imprint themselves into my heart, those two will always remain there.

I find it amazing, on these social networks, how much people hate reading. Time and time again I see profiles that, when it asks what their favorite book is, they answer, "I hate reading," or "Who has the time?" or something else, sometimes a vulgar response. That is the quickest way for me to close that profile out and discard it like so much spam into my inbox. I think I might have an answer for this. I was helping a customer, a adolescent black male (African American...this isn't a police report, and Glenn Beck is right, he's an American that happens to have distant African roots, and I'm describing him as having dark or black skin, so there ) anyway... he was probably a junior in high school, and he was looking for a book to read for school. He selected a book from the computer about the movie National Treasure, which was actually a kid's book, about a 4th grade reading level. But that's okay... I have taught kids that were in middle or high school and read at that level... I understand that. So as I was walking him back to the kid's department, he was talking on his cell phone. He told whoever it was that he was at Borders looking for a book, to which the person on the other end exclaimed (I suppose), "A book!" He told the person that he wanted to actually read something, even though a "brother" with a book was usually called gay. This took me by surprise. I've known from teaching experience that it is not popular in most cultures to be intelligent, or to succeed in school work. But I've also given an 8th grader, a black male, an 88 on an English test and watched him jump up and shout to his friend on the other side of the room that he made a B on his grammar test. Totally out of character, and it is one of the best memories I have from teaching. Students want to learn, they want to read, but the idea that doing so is socially unacceptable is keeping many of our kids from being the best people that they can be. The further accusation that someone that reads is "gay" is also unacceptable. The gay people that I know are very intelligent and literate, this is true, but the logic argument that thus if you read, you must be gay, is totally flawed.

As a footnote, I was not able to find the book, which frustrated me no end. I told him that I'm sure he'll be able to find something to read. As I got up and was going to suggest something else, I found that he had already left and was walking out. Doubly frustrating was that I found the books later in the cabinets under the board books where I store books.

Little things that make me happy:

After cracking open the eggs at breakfast, being able to throw the shells half way across the kitchen, and hit the trash can (no, I am not a basketball player), with kudos if I can bounce it off the cabinet, off the wall, and into the can. :)

Being able to pull my belt off my pants without it getting caught on one of my belt loops (happened today, actually ) Yes, I know, I'm weird.

The perfectly made mocha javakula at the cafe, with no ice bumps and a perfect sweetness (well, most good food will make me happy.)

Turning off the microwave right when the 1 goes to 0, leaving the clock blank, but not having sounded the "squealer" as my grandmother calls it. And similarly, waking up one minute before my alarm goes off and not having to hear the stupid thing.

And for those millions of people reading this (yeah, right), what little things like that make you happy?