Thursday, May 13

Columbus, Culture and Coffee

It is God who has made us and not we ourselves, we are his people and the sheep of his pasture, and no matter what you believe about religion its good to remember that we are not of our own making. We are motes of dust on a tiny planet that spins so fast around a star in a solar system so vast that our minds can't comprehend it. And one day our planet will implode and all will be lost. Not just the insignificant among us, me and this blog, but Bach, Mozart, Picasso, Churchill, Gandhi and yes, even Angelina Joli.

Staggering when you think of it, or just one more reason not to dwell on things that can not be changed. There are truths that are universal in the American classroom. Exercises we all deem to be rather silly, yet these are things that somehow endure as long as our Earth survives. The 5th grade history project seems to be one of those things. Alex decided to do her history project on Christopher Columbus. Columbus was a pirate and tyrant who sailed off and bumped into the Bahamas, had no idea where is was, and to his dying day believed he had reached the Indies. By the time Columbus was lording over the Natives and torturing people in the name of European gods, the Vikings had already been here and gotten the T-shirt. But we don't celebrate Viking day and ask our children to write reports about them. They weren't a major center for trade or home to any good PR firms. As a parent I often wonder when it is my cue to step in and tell my child her teachers are lying to her. A split second thought on this one and I decided that today will not be the day that I burst her bubble. There are bigger things to worry about. After all one could argue Columbus as we honor him, is more of a folk tale than a history lesson. What jerk goes around shouting that Paul Bunyan didn't really have a blue ox?

The best thing to do in this situation was to keep my mouth shut and go to the library. I had been meaning to go looking for an Alexander McCall Smith book (filed under McCall, not Smith) that was in the middle of reading when my friend's copy was mysteriously misplaced. I was concentrating on looking at the books on the selves, not really listening to conversations around me. People of all strips gather at our little library. Its a popular place for kids to work on projects and for tutors to teach students math. I was focusing on finding McCall Smith when Alex can up and asked me for a pencil. It was when I turned and started talking about pencils that I notice just who had been talking behind me.

A group of 6 women were there practicing their English with a tutor who was guiding their conversation, filling in gaps and encouraging the shy ones to speak up. They were all married, most had children. I guess that makes sense. I don't think I would ever voluntarily chose to live in a country where I didn't know the language all by myself. If I wasn't following a husband, I'd have to at least one friend go with me. I slowed my search so I could ease drop on their broken conversation. It was riveting. A boy one month from being two years old. A women married one year and still not with child. Another not sure if she wants children or not, but everyone assured her that yes, children are the ultimate blessing. Of course, they of these eager mothers were Muslim (or else just like the look of the hijab) and the unsure women was from Finland. Cultural differences perhaps?

Now I know that there should be a life lesson mixed in here somehow. When you put these two stories end to end they beg to become a "teachable moment" as our President would say. But honestly I'm writing this post at work at 9:07 because our coffee lady is late in making our coffee for the fourth time this week. I'm rebelling. I know... in the grand scheme of the universe .... its not our pasture.... but I'm seriously over it and out of caffeine. I'm not one who takes slackers to task, but if you are going to be a procrastinator with no intention of getting your job done on time, you need to not be the person who is in charge of the coffee at a law office. That my friends, is some sage advice you can really build on.


The Bug said...

Your last line had me laughing out loud. Thankfully my boss (an attorney) has his door shut for a call. I was in charge of making coffee at a few jobs - & I don't even drink the stuff. I warned people - who knows what you'll be getting here! But miraculously when you mix the right amounts of things it turns out...

You know what's really cool about motherhood (in any culture)? It's that most mom's think that being a mom is the best thing ever. EVERYONE should try it! And that's great - but I know it's not for me - so I'm with Ms. Finland.

Not gonna start on Columbus, who was an ILLEGAL ALIEN. Humph.

Katy said...

Oddly enough, there are no coffee making supplies on our flour. The coffee lady holds them hostage on her cart. I think that's part of her job security. That and most lawyers don't come in until after 9:00 anyway.

Yeah, those moms who think kids are he "BEST THING EVER" are weird. I mean, kids are great, but honestly the meaning of life does not hing on ones ability to procreate.

Violets are Blue said...

Paul Bunyan didn't really have a blue ox?

Next thing I know you'll be saying that Cookie Monster didn't really eat all those cookies!

I confess, I'm a sucker for folk tales & legends, but history's true stories are just as amazing.

Thanks for your post, have a great Friday!