Monday, October 24, 2016

How To Be a Good Senior

Absent any interesting stories about maladies that have befallen me or those I love, today I'd like to discuss the weather, Leonard Fournette, & the book to be discussed at tonight's book club meeting, Emma Chapman's How To Be a Good Wife.

How about this weather we're having? I wore the season's first turtleneck to school on Friday. It was as amazing as it sounds. Heat always make me a little irritable, but heat in late October pushes me to my breaking point & I cannot tell you how happy I was to slip on that turtleneck Friday & then - yes - turn on the seat warmer in my car. I didn't really "need" the seat warmer in the way I hope to legitimately "need" it soon, but it was symbolic & really, when is it not soothing to sip coffee on the way to work while the seat beneath you slowly warms your backside?

How about Leonard Fournette? I mean, DAD GUM. The Tigers don't play this Saturday. They'll take the field again in November to face the Tan Man, whom LSU hasn't beaten since Reagan was in utero. As many of you know, Reagan will turn six in December. 

These are scenes from Tiger Stadium in November of 2010 on the day the Tigers last defeated the Tide. Also, I am in one of the pictures, as is my fat, fat face. I note that I was eight months pregnant; drunk, happy Tiger fans attempted to rub my belly as we made our way to our car after the game . . . & I was so happy I didn't even care.

In addition to Friday's turtleneck & Saturday's performance by the Tigers, a few other noteworthy things happened last week, namely my niece's third birthday & my inaugural meeting with a special new man in my life. 

Maisie turned three on Thursday & so we had a little family celebration at Chick-fil-A. My picture-taking desire/skill has taken a nosedive lately what with teaching & ill health, so these sad shots are apparently the only pictures I took during the party, as I discovered later when scrolling through my phone. 

I know. Like I said, sad. Fun was had; memories were made. You'll just have to trust me. 

Saturday not only ended gloriously, it began pretty spectacularly as well. A month ago my family gathered at my aunt & uncle's house to celebrate my Papaw's birthday. I noted how fantastic my aunt's flower beds looked & asked her for the name of the man responsible for said beds. On Saturday morning, after a week or so of playing phone tag, Mr. Wonderful Yard Man came by the house & looked at our sad, disastrous flower beds & told me how much it would cost for him to transform the flower beds. I said, I love you! Sold!

I am not a marriage counselor, but I think How do you feel about weeds? On a scale of 1-10, how deep is your need for perfectly edged flower beds that are visually distinct from the lawn? are questions that ought to be covered in premarital counseling.

As promised, I'd like to tell you a little about this month's book club book, which the ladies & I will dissect tonight in between mouthfuls of queso. In her debut novel, Emma Chapman introduces readers to Marta, a housewife who's struggling emotionally after her only son moves out of the house. As the novel progresses, it becomes apparent Marta isn't coping well at all with the changes in her life, & what unfolds is a psychological thriller of sorts that leaves the reader grappling with questions about Marta's sanity, as well as the intentions of her husband, Hector.

I enjoyed reading the book. While I was not totally satisfied with the ending, How To Be a Good Wife is an impressive debut novel. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the novel is how Chapman weaves advice  from a book Marta's mother-in-law gave her when Marta & Hector married throughout the book. As you may've guessed, the novel shares its title with the book Marta was gifted, How To Be a Good Wife. It contains gems like these:

Your husband belongs in the outside world. The house is your domain, and your responsibility. 

You must persevere when cleaning glass, mirrors, and silver. The smudges cling on: they do not want to be removed.

Before he arrives home, freshen your make-up; put a ribbon in your hair. 

Never hurry or nag him along. His time is precious, and must be treated as such.

Always wait for him before you begin eating: he should always come first. 

Let him talk first. Remember that his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Take small mouthfuls of food, like a baby bird, and make sure to chew daintily with your mouth closed. 

And on & on throughout the book they go until the reader, like Marta, wants to throttle Hector (who is at best inattentive & selfish, at worst a potential kidnapper who brainwashed his wife). 

Today begins Homecoming 2016 for me & my students. Their senior year is marching on, & with that in mind, & inspired by Ms. Chapman's novel as well as some thoughtful discussion in which the senior girls & I partook on Friday, I've compiled a list I'd like to share with them. 

Here are five suggestions I have for my seniors. Read them & take them to heart in order to make the most of the remaining months of your senior year. 

(1) Burn Bridges
In a few short months you'll be moving on to bigger & better things. You'll likely no longer see any of the people who plague you now, be they faculty or those pesky underclassmen, so why even bother with fake niceties any longer? You're tired of all the rules, & come May, you will be so free because everyone knows adults in the real world can do whatever they want, whenever they want, & face no consequences. Believe me, dress codes & drug tests (& really any accountability at all) are things of the past once you leave high school. We hate paying our taxes & cleaning up our kids' vomit, but at the end of the day, what my adult friends & I cherish is the freedom to leave our shirttails untucked & walk around in public with our bra straps showing. 

(2) Close Your Heart
This year feels like an ending; in some ways, it is. Now is a good time to close yourself off to people, to experiences, to ideas. To quote Simon and Garfunkel, you are a rock; you are an island

(3) Make Major Decisions
Now is the perfect time to sink your teeth in & doggedly refuse to reconsider decisions that might potentially affect the rest of your life. I've seen your school pictures from last year, & even though some of you can't decide on a hairstyle that works, do not let that deter you from deciding you will be a lawyer, or a doctor, or an accountant, & you will marry so & so, & you will never _______________. It is always better to stick with a bad decision than risk someone labeling you an indecisive flake. 

(4) Cherish Your Clique
This may be common sense, but it's so important I couldn't leave it off the list. It's your senior year; some of you have spent five or six (maybe even ten) years ignoring some of your  classmates & now you're in the home stretch. Do not waste a moment of this, your final year of high school, getting to know someone new. You probably won't even see them next year; what's the point? Cliques form for a reason, you know? Reinforce those boundaries, even if it requires a few snide looks. If you find yourself genuinely bitten by the inclusivity bug, step away, take a deep breath, & find a familiar hand to hold until the moment passes. In ten years when you all gather for a reunion, I guarantee you your adult self will be incredibly proud of the effort you made to form & maintain a clique. 

(5) Focus on You
It's your senior year. You know how important you are, & everyone else needs to know it, too. You are, after all, the star of the football team, the head cheerleader, the guy who scored a thirty-five on the ACT. How can people lavish you with praise if they don't know about your numerous accomplishments? Be demanding if it is necessary; you won't regret making a few enemies if it means you get your way, & you are constantly the center of attention. Remember, you can't spell senior without the I.

Above all, take yourself incredibly seriously because if you don't, no one else will. 

All my love,

Mrs. Z


No comments:

Post a Comment