Thursday, September 1, 2011

Prehistoric Matron

The Matron LOVES her Gender and Women Studies class! In fact, the Matron LOVES the entire GWS department -- because she is the only person in it! Yes, yours truly gets to play Department Czar. Good times. What's not to love about Total Control (okay, okay, within institutional guidelines), her favorite state of being.

Most of all, she loves her students. This class is, coincidentally or not, entirely female. They are mostly young -- certainly, all younger than she is. With just 20, she can do more than memorize names but actually know people. Amazing, all around.

Just two weeks in, the students are lapping it all up: feminist theory, Marxism, post-structuralism, all drawn in introductory, broad Matronly strokes designed for the eager but uninitiated. Wonderful. All is good. There is much discussion of 'micropolitics' and how those everyday exchanges regarding gender, sexual preference, class and race are related to and help create larger social and economic processes and ideologies. Perfect attendance and nobody bolts for the door the second the class leaves.

Today, the discussion turned toward identity politics.

Matron (note the careful use of 'in part' which is a handy phrase in case you forget something or get it partly right): "Identity politics, in part, grew out of the political movements of the 1960s and early 70s. Political, economic and social change was changed fueled by activists' identification with a certain group of people: African-American and to a less visible and less applauded extent all other groups of non-white people, female, workers, etc. This is a generalization, but whereas we see a lot of political fervor today about the economy, in the sixties there was political fervor over identity and the rights of people defined by certain identities."


Student raises hand: "Do you mean the NINETEEN sixties or an earlier century?"

Here, picture the Matron with raised eyebrows, lecture paused.

Matron: "Of course, the 1960s. Everyone here is familiar with the political upheavals and social transformation of the sixties and early seventies, right?"


Matron, who is a big believer in cutting to the chase in the classroom: "Who here has never ever heard of an era called 'the sixties' and the political changes that happened then?"

Every hand shoots up.

Guess who is constructing a history lesson about waaaaaaaaaaaay back when in the last century and feeling like the dinosaur who belongs there.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Last of the Bunch

As of 1:02 a.m. on Saturday, August 27, the Matron has two teenagers in the house.

He Who Cannot Be Named (HWCBN) is well into that tumultuous decade -- he will, in fact, soon begin the art of Driver's Education. Be still, Matronly heart! She won't indulge in driving jokes as she's pretty sure you've heard them all and, like her, been taken aback on the freeway when noticing that the driver beside her appears to be, uh, ten.

HWCBN also has gainful employment. He is building computer networks, web sites, and actual computers after resourcefully posting an ad in a neighborhood online site. That boy has been busy! He also spent a month in Chicago and officially towers above his mother. College? Already a topic of conversation and a light on the horizon. Three years go fast in mother years (sorta like dog years only twice as speedy).

Scarlett is the new teenager. She's been remarkable since she was 8 and landed her first show. This is the child with an agent, big ticket theater credentials and head shots. And her own blog. Having been graced with that great female gift, Uterine Tracking Device (UTD), she can locate any lost sock, shoe, toy, ball or book in the house -- just like her mother. Her father, the Official Laundry Man of the household, can no longer distinguish between his daughter's clothes and his wife's.

John holding up pair of black stretch pants: "You? Scar? How can you tell?"

Matron: "My pants aren't quite so ornamental. Notice the glittery stars up and down the leg?"

John: "Uh, no."

Honey, that's because you are a MAN.

But with all this grown up fuss -- the newly minted teenager daughter just back from New York and the eldest of the pack headed out daily for his job -- somebody got lost in the Big Kid Shuffle.

Merrick: "I'm bowed."

He is eight. His brother is wiring invisible elements into something that will someday be called a hard drive and his sister is at rehearsal for the next play. Even if they were home, they are slowly fading into something elusive: more thoughtful, quieter people who resemble adults more than children. His world is still being 'security' for his dogs (Merrick looks good wearing a badge and a Nerf gun while walking Satan's Familiar) and climbing halfway up the tree.

So abandoned -- and in ways he cannot yet appreciate but are just emerging -- Merrick has taken to hanging around his mother more. Today, he pined in her office as she tried to type out comments on student work.

Merrick: "SIGH."

He languished. Moaned. Stared pitifully out the window.

Merrick: "Mom? Do you have time to take me to the cownew stowe and buy a suckew?"

Matron: "Hmmmm. . . . I'm working."

This time the sigh was genuine and it pierced her concentration. And heart. What's 15 minutes in mama years?

Not only did she take him to the corner store, she did the UNHEARD of and drove the three blocks, letting Merrick sit for the first time in: the front seat. Yes! She threw the air bag warnings to the wind for three two mile an hour blocks and let her baby get a taste -- a tiny taste -- of big kid life. He loved it.

They chatted about the different view, the texture of the seat, the way the window worked. They commented on the lollipop options or lack-there-of and settled on lemon drops. Landscape changes in the neighbor's yard were duly noted.

Best three blocks this mama has had in a long, long time. She wishes those fifteen minutes really felt like years. Just flying.