Archive for November, 2016

Playful

Posted: November 23, 2016 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

playful

 

My fun-o-meter needs frequent re-calibration.   I love to laugh, but I’m not naturally playful.  I go through life as if there might be a pop quiz any moment. I need to be encouraged out of my daily rigidity and regimentation, invited to participate in the gleefully goofy. Luckily, loved ones in my life bring me these indispensable opportunities in abundance.

About a decade ago, I began a holiday family tradition of Christmas games with my entire family: my mom, six brothers and sisters, their six spouses, and their fifteen offspring.  It’s a full room. My intention was to encourage my family to enjoy the time we spent together, not just get in each other’s way in the buffet line. Nevertheless, my inner educator tended toward handouts and formal games, amusing, but still somewhat restrained. Game playing has been expanded and enriched by my more mischievous relatives.  Last year, my sister Barbara lead a ridiculous game that involved lying on the ground and manipulating candy canes without using your hands for no apparent purpose. The image of my family members wriggling around on the floor is, in a word, unforgettable.

Spending time with my favorite seven-year-old in the world is all fun and games. He has limitless energy. We play every minute: Boggle and Scrabble and hangman, indoor basketball, and anything outside when the weather is warm, and made-up games aplenty. At Cubs games, we climb up to the top of the stadium to enjoy the view. In order to get back to our seats, we spread our arms like airplane wings and soar down the ramps at Wrigley Field; I can’t imagine a better afternoon.  After a few hours in his adorable company, I am energized and exhausted, younger and happier somehow, too.

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One of the most lovable attributes my friends share is silliness. I’m not sure how these bizarre people found their way into my life, but I remain forever grateful. This past Sunday, I enjoyed a living room filled with laughter as I hosted some members of my Urban Family for Friendsgiving.

When I invite my friends into my home, they invariably find the opportunity to tease me (which I long ago mistook for affection). Their antics are nothing if not inventive, tormenting me via remarkable means.  For instance, when my friends Jenny & Jen visited the spring after college graduation, they waited until I fell asleep to hide the elaborately decorated Easter eggs I specifically asked them not to touch (foolish mistake). They sought out places that no sane egg hunter would ever consider; thus, I was forced to locate the eggs and then re-hide them, much to their fiendish delight.

My Urban Family in Chicago has taken a cue from this strategy, and in my absence or distraction, they have collectively re-arranged the artwork on my walls, stashed candy canes all over my apartment, replaced knick-knacks on different shelves, and even re-positioned large furniture. The fact that I find these stunts hilarious is hardly a deterrent, but I confess their absurdity makes every event more enjoyable.

silliness

To encourage conversation in my classrooms, I bring a ball of yarn or a set of light-up balls (spheres, if you prefer to avoid the giggling the word “balls” can produce, even among adults). Throwing spheres around class may seem childish, but I don’t consider that an insult. Letting silliness enter into our work and learning and relationships provides a tremendous way to simply enjoy being alive.

In dark days, laughter becomes even more crucial. When the world becomes too heavy, remember to add a little levity.

 

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Liberal Tears

Posted: November 10, 2016 in Uncategorized
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By Tricia Lunt, English Faculty

November 10, 2016

Dear sister,

Yesterday morning, you sent a text asking how I was feeling. This graciousness in you compels me to explain my sorrow.

Because I love you, I want to more fully describe why fifty percent of the voting population was and is disheartened by the 2016 election results.

Yes, I cried many tears.

These were derisively described as “liberal tears” by a colleague (one I respect and like) whose support for Trump shocked me.

Yesterday was filled with many such unpleasant surprises.

Knowing the power of re-appropriating language, I welcome the label “liberal tears” for the ones I have shed over the past two days. I have always been proudly liberal.

I cried at 3:00am when I discovered the outcome and was unable to sleep, fearing the uncertain future for so many Americans: POC, LGBTQ, immigrants, Muslims, and countless others who feel at risk.

I cried walking in the door of my college, where I teach a wonderfully diverse population of students, many who now feel undervalued and unwelcome.

I cried when I left work at 8:00pm, tired from a disappointing and demanding day, proud to pass protesters on the streets of Chicago.

I cry as I write this now.

Like yours, my vote was cast not only for a candidate, but for a value system. What I value above all is equality and social justice. I fear that these values will be undermined by the impending administration.

My fears have already been sadly justified as Vice President-elect Pence has stated his intention to work to eradicate hard-won rights for the LGBTQ community.

I fear for our environment, too, as cuts in funding and worse, for the EPA are planned.

“And, so it goes,” as Vonnegut said.

I tell my students who are looking for a second chance that I do not have a time machine.

We cannot go back. We must move forward.

In order to do that with integrity, I must reaffirm that when a person expresses racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic sentiments, and others listen, but do not reject these words, or pretend not to hear, they are in complicit agreement. This type of silence erodes humanity.

If you do not voice your opposition to the evils of racism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia, you are tacitly supporting these ideologies.

The words of Martin Luther King ‘s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” are sadly still apt, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” The frustrations and sadness being expressed stem from a place of true concern for the safety of others.

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Thus, I must be more forceful in my rejection of prejudices, whenever and wherever they occur. I will continue to support and educate. I will speak out against hatred in every possible venue. I will donate more money to organizations that protect rights, especially the ACLU, Teach Tolerance, and Planned Parenthood. I will listen to those who need to speak.

Two weeks ago, our brother asked what I wanted for our country; this was my reply, “logical and reasonable leadership, inclusion of people from all cultures, religions, and sexual orientations. I care about social issues, always have, that is my voice and my vote.”

That will always be my reply.

I am glad I saved those words to share with you (I am rather sentimental, as you know).

I hope that clarifies why I could never vote for Trump. How any woman could bring herself to vote to Trump, I cannot possibly fathom. The reasons for my choices are something I wanted to convey.

Whatever changes republicans attempt to make to this country—which is already great, thanks to incredible work of a host of immigrants from all over the globe—I will work to ensure that none come at the cost of undermining basic human rights for all.

I simply cannot and will not sit by and let a person, group, or party espouse and insight hatred. I love and respect all people, even those with whom I bitterly disagree.

This country is divided, of that there is no doubt. This country is changing, which is in large part responsible for the divide.

It is also true that we are all in this together; I cannot hope for four years of colossal failures because that wouldn’t serve the common good. What I do hope is that messages of love, tolerance, and acceptance will break through the walls erected against acceptance.

I continue to hope for a better future (and leave the praying to you).

More importantly, I will work for a better future by raising my voice in protest and in support for those whose rights or basic humanity would be denied.

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With love, always,

Tricia