Forgotten Art: Giuliana – Ayden 2

A reply to: A letter from Ayden

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Hi, Ayden. Thanks for answering all my questions! Now I know lots about you!

What do you want to know about me?

What’s it like to have so many brothers and one sister?

I only have one brother, and I am the sister. I think I would like to have four brothers, especially if they were little. Then, it would be like having a club at home every day.

Now for the club report. I guess I should say, “Now for the Now! report!”

Now! Reporting for duty! Listen Now! It’s Now! Or Never! Would you like to be in a club called Never? When do we meet? Never. Where are you going? Never. That would be Nowhere. We could have a club called Nowhere Never Noway. Going to club? Noway! Where does it meet? Nowhere! When does it meet? Never.

Actually, it meets Now!

Anyway. So, I thought I would tell you about some of the other kids in the club besides you and me.

First, there is Fatima. I think you will like Fatima. The kids at school used to tease her because she has holes in her shoes. They called her “Rag-Foot.” And she wears a hijab which makes her look really cute. But the stupid-brains called her “Rag-Head.” So now they called her “Rag-Foot Rag-Brain.”

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I told them to stop and I sort of punched them. Well, not sort of. I punched them. One of them, I punched in the stomach really hard and it was all squishy! I hope that doesn’t make you mad at me. It was really fun! Then I realized maybe it’s stupid to think it’s fun to punch kids, even if they’re mean kids. So I said I was sorry. Because I was. I wrote each of the mean kids a letter. In the letter, I said that I had fun punching them. And maybe they had fun calling Fatima names. But just because punching them was fun, that didn’t make it right.

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And just because calling someone who has holes in her shoes and wears a hajib names might be fun, that doesn’t make it right. Because if what’s fun makes someone else sad, it’s not really fun tomorrow. It’s only fun today. Because tomorrow, you have to look at a sad kid, who might feel really bad, and that’s not fun.

But Fatima isn’t a sad kid anymore.

She’s happy.

After dinner, she and Billie Jang and Billie Jang’s mom and me meet up in the square. If you lived here, you could meet up in the square with us.

We have story contests. Fatima told a story about a girl who turned into a pumpkin.

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Billie Jang’s mom told a story about an artist who painted sunflowers.

Billie Jang’s mom also wears a hijab, but she calls it a scarf because she wears it for “artistic reasons” not “religious reasons.”

I think I wear my T-shirt with the plum blossoms on it for artistic reasons, but I wear the rubberbands for practical reasons.

Billie Jang says she wears orange overall-shorts for fun.

What do you like to wear, and do you wear anything for art or for practical or for religion?

I wish you lived in our city so you could play with us after supper. I would like to hear your stories that you tell!

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Later, Ayden! Do you have a nickname?

Bye,

Joo-jee

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Whisper 1.5

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Drawing days are so much fun. We sit outside the building and sketch from life. It pours down rain, but aside from Ann (my knee-socked dorm mate), none of us care. We’re too into the drawing to mind the wet, even as our notepads get soaked and our pencils rip holes in the paper.

Derek sits as far away from me as possible, so I take that as a sign to pay attention to my work, and not to him.

You never know. Maybe he’s sitting behind you so he can draw you!

After class, I call Cid to see if he wants to catch a film with me. I hear there’s a neat independent film showing.

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We’re talking, then I notice a guy performing magic tricks for tips. He’s making pigeons disappear and flames turn into roses. I head over to watch, but then Cid comes storming towards me, looking very angry, like he’s going to yell at me. Is he mad because I left our conversation to watch the magician?

I want to break that pattern that’s happened with Chauncey and Derek, so I deflect.

“Let’s head in to get good seats!”

Half-way through the movie, Cid mutters something about “worst time ever” and he leaves the theater.

I stay to watch the rest of the film. I’m so engrossed in it that I hardly even register that Cid left.

When I step out of theater after the movie’s over, though, it hits me. I’ve been ditched.

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I feel like I lost a friend. This makes the third guy who became my friend quick, started to become something else, and then rejected me. Bummer. I think I’ll just forget about guys for a while.

It’s OK. Being alone is pretty neat.

While I ride home, I think about the film, “Corduroy Glasses.”

I’m not sure what the film signified. I think it has something to do with perceiving reality through a warped world view, so what one perceives isn’t really reality–whatever that is–but one’s culturally defined perceptions.

I think about taking off my corduroy glasses. Isn’t that what college is all about? To learn what is one’s culture, what others’ cultures are, how our cultures inform our world views, and then to begin to make conscious choices about what we might want to discard and what we might want to preserve of our own cultural heritage, precepts, and constructs?

God! I am so excited to be here! No wonder I always wanted to come to college! Who needs guys when we can take off our glasses and look at the world, as if for the first time?

Yay, independence!

There you go!

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When I get home, Derek calls and invites me to a party. What? I thought Derek hated me.

Cid lives in Derek’s dorm, so maybe I’ll see him there, and I’ll be able to talk with him, and we can re-establish our friendship. I bet he wouldn’t think “Corduroy Glasses” was such a dopey film if he knew what it meant.

What happened to “Yay, independence?”

Cid is streaking through the quad, yelling at the top of his lungs.

I realize that know may not be the best time to talk with him about culturally constructed world views.

Inside, I notice a cute guy with long dark hair. Oh. It’s Anoki Moon. I’ve heard of him. I feel an instant connection to him, like maybe I’ve known him in another life.

He’s surrounded by girls.

Are the corduroy glasses on or off right now?

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When the women head over to the keg, I approach.

“I feel sirens going off,” I tell him, “but I’m not heeding any warnings.”

“You’re Cathy!” he says. “I heard about you. Derek and Cid don’t stop talking about you.”

And I feel all kinds of awkward.

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Anoki and I begin bonding over our shared vegetarianism. He tells me he’ll get me a great recipe for veggie burgers that he has up in his room. Before he does, the two women come back from the keg. One of them looks really mad.

“Burgers!” She yells at Anoki. “Not bloody salad! You should be eating burgers, fool!”

“OK, so first of all,” Anoki says,”I would never eat bloody salad. And second of all, where do you get off deciding who can be vegetarian and who can’t? It’s my body.”

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It’s time for me to go, anyway.

Just once, I’d like to have a peaceful, friendly conversation with somebody, where nobody gets mad, nobody gets insulted, nobody gets offended, and we all find common ground and appreciate each other.

That’s a great goal. Don’t lose it!

So far, all I’ve encountered has been conflict. I’m kinda into peace. I’m hoping to create a peaceful world. And I thought that a lot of people my generation agreed with me. But how are we supposed to create peace when we fight with each other? We need new sets of corduroy glasses.

I get home and just as I’m getting ready for bed, I notice some strange lights outside.

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Holy uh-oh!

I feel my corduroy glasses being ripped off my head!

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Next thing I know, I’m standing out back of the dorm, with a weird feeling in my head and all these strange sensations in every orifice. Ugh. What happened?

Relax. Breathe. You’ll be OK. Once you truly succeed in escaping your culturally constructed world view, your memories of these events will return. Until then, just know that you are home now, and you are safe.

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In the distance, I see a figure riding away on a bicycle.

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I guess life still feels random to me.

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