Taking a Step Back: Reflections and Ruminations

I’m worried, dear readers.  I’m worried about the issue of tone.  I teach composition at a lovely community college, and I constantly talk with my students about using the proper voice and tone for the content of and audiences for their papers.  But it seems that I’ve forgotten my own lessons.

As much as I want this blog to be fun, to examine the stigma I am taking on but still remain light and sometimes comic, I am beginning to realize that that tone may come off as hurtful–as if I intend to “make fun” of trailer parks and the people who live in them.  And though it’s not my intent to make fun of anyone, I do recognize that past entries may be perceived in that way–and I also have to, reluctantly, admit that at this stage in my journey to understand the weight of my decision to move into a trailer park, I may in fact BE making fun of trailer parks.  Because that’s still where my mindset is.  But I honestly hope that changes.  I don’t want to be classist.  But to work toward not being classist may mean first admitting, again reluctantly, that I am indeed classist.  I don’t like that about myself.  So, this is hard.

Where is all of this coming from, you may be asking. Well, I had my first encounter with a reader who didn’t know that I wrote this blog.  What I mean is, I was able to receive feedback from a reader who had no preconceptions about the author (me). One of my colleagues and friends read the post about the sale without knowing that I wrote it–and when she found out that I am the one behind this blog, she felt relief.  Because she didn’t want to be reading a blog that joked about classism (my words, not hers)—but knowing that my intent is to learn and grow made her feel better about what I’d written.

I find this eye-opening. And painful.  I have always considered myself to be a loving and kind person, who judges no one as being “less than.”  I think we’d all like to think that about ourselves.  Discovering that I do in fact judge people hurts.  And I want to fix it.  And I’m beginning to see that it will be a long journey.

In fact, I’m beginning to see the weight of my decision altogether.  And I’m interested at looking at that decision from all different aspects and within many different contexts:

Have I considered that though my salary puts me in the middle class, my disposable income is really more in the realm of the working class?  How does that change my perception of myself and my situation?

Have I considered that though living in a trailer park may be within my means, there are many people, possibly in my very own trailer park village, for whom living in a trailer is living above their means?

Have I considered that owning one’s very own mobile home might be someone’s dream?  How does that change my perception of my living situation?  What are my dreams?

Have I considered the effect of my upbringing on my decision to live in a mobile home?  The fact that my parents admittedly once lived in a home above their means, and got themselves into a lot of debt?  That I remember having to leave that home as a little girl, and how upset I was and how ashamed I felt in admitting that we had to move to a smaller home because we couldn’t afford the other one?  Or what about the fact that I am trying to avoid getting into too much debt now, so as to avoid repeating my parents’ indebted fate?

Have I considered how having gone to expensive private institutions for both undergrad and graduate schools might have changed my perceptions of what I could expect from my job/life/income?  Do I feel disappointed?  Do I own that disappointment if it’s there?  (Because I’ve certainly not yet owned that I have some classist feelings…)

And all of this is only about me.  There are more things to consider in terms of my relationship to CF, and what I want for our future together.

I have much to learn, about myself and about the people around me.  I have many internal battles to fight and apparently a lot of humility to learn, attain, and practice.

So I’ll end with an apology.  I’m sorry I’ve mislead you, dear readers, into thinking this journey will be all fun and games.  I hope you’ll learn with me, and maybe even help me understand and turn away from my classist tendencies.

Until next time:  May all your homes be happy, and all your relationships be kind and honest!

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About Cathy G Gilbert

I am veggie-loving, community college professor who lives, teaches, and writes in Central IL.
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