Thursday, June 8, 2017

survival kit.

welp, my flight to atlanta leaves in exactly one day and twenty hours. i'm so excited to back in the states and sleep in my bed and take a shower without fear of a scorpion coming in (this is a true story). 

i thought it would be cool to make a post of all the tools that have helped me survive these past three weeks.

 

face stuff: 
pixi glow tonic 
cover girl mascara
covert girl lipstick 
nyx by cream 
almost healthyglow foundation
soap and glory wonderbrow 

can you believe this is all the makeup i brought? i can't. i knew it was going to be hot but i truly had no idea. the tonic was nice to use in the morning and i'm glad i didn't bring toner because of how harsh it would have been on my skin. the almay foundation was supposed to gradually tan my face (because i didn't bring bronzer) but that did not work at all. my lashes and brows have been on point though so i guess that's all that matters.

 
 
 

the tools: 
headlamp
sunscreen
bug spray 
fanny pack
water bottle
hammer
steripen 

all of these tools have been crucial, almost like another limb to me. the headlamp was awesome because of how dark it gets in the village (the sun sets at 6 and there are no street lights) i didn't really wear it on my head though because the bugs would go straight for it. so maybe just a flashlight next time. 

this bug spray saved me. i've been here for three weeks and have gone hiking several times. as of my second to last night i only have four big bites. that is awesome. id recommend the brand because it never bothered my skin which is good considering how much i used (i've gone through four bottles). 

my beautiful fanny pack. extremely unattractive but definitely a necessity. i should probs get street cred since the brand is patagonia. 

the grayl and steripen (the flashlight looking thing in the last photo) were amazing. i never worried about safe drinking water so that was cool. looked like i was performing science experiments the whole time but knowing my water was safe to drink was such a good feeling. if rei is reading this, ben from the camping section of barrett parkway location really knows his stuff. 

the hammer has helped me kill scorpions. so there's that. 

 

honorable mentions:
misquito net
baby wipes
dry shampoo 
deodorant 

my beautiful misquito net, i could write all day about this thing. it was easy to set up and it kept all the bugs out. i slept so well knowing that the creepy crawlers were not going to wind up in my bed. unfortunately it is incredibly flammable. i won't hold that against it though. 

i would say the baby wipes are important when traveling to a third world country because of the scarce water supply. we are supposed to get water every three days but there have been days when that did not happen. the wipes were a huge help when showers were not possible. (can i sound any more attractive) 

aerosol deodorant came in clutch because it's so hot here that regular deodorant will melt in your armpit and flake off all over your clothes and chair (this is also a true story, but not to me thank goodness) 

 

other than having every piece of gravel stuck in my shoe at all times, the chacos were awesome. 

the nix was such a good book, perfect for those nights you can't sleep because the rain is too loud (we have a tin roof here). 
 

my sweet little Bible. it is the amplified edition and has been with me since freshman year of college. the heat got the best of it but i'm hoping i can fix it with duct tape once i get back to the states. i recently purchased a new Bible from #shereadstruth which i love but the amplified translation is my favorite. 

well that's all! i'll hopefully be writing my last post while waiting for my plane to arrive! 


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

the weeknd.

the power has gone out for hours at a time each day this week. i never noticed how much i depended on those fans pushing hot air around the room. it was 119 degrees, how much of a difference does that fan actually make? it makes a huge difference. 

we have also been out of water for the past three days which means no showers, laundry, and even flushing the toilet is a no go. 

if you have never worried about taking a shower or flushing the toilet you need to praise the Lord. 

so anyway, the weekend was fun but the days following have been tough to say the least. 

after school let out on friday we went into the city to get a manicure. the salon wasn't exactly like the ones in the states, there were no massage chairs and the tub to soak your feet was a rubbermaid container instead of a heated jacuzzi. regardless, it was nice to finally be out of the village and my total cost was 350 limps or 15 dollars. 

after the salon we walked down the street for dinner at a 'mom and pop' restaurant which was really just two tents, a grill, and patio furniture set up along the road. i have found that this format is common here, food permits are not necessary so really anyone can choose a median or street corner to start up their grill and make some cash. while concerned about the nonexistent health score, the dinner was actually really good. i have forgotten the name but i had a tortilla with queso and pork. 

we headed to the beach the next morning, a spot called tortuga bay. i really liked being able to set my hammock up between palm trees and read my book, 'the nix.' we went on a banana boat and it wasn't until the boat took off for the horizon that i realized how terrified i was. i just knew i was going to fall off into the water and be carried away by a shark. i knew it. well, i actually did end up falling off the boat. shocker. when i made it out of the water and was just floating there i was afraid that no one noticed that i was gone. i know how silly that sounds but whatever. as i yelled for help i saw that another girl was in the water with me. so there i was, floating in the middle of the ocean waiting for the boat to loop around and pick us up. it was kind of cool. 

i enjoyed the second half of the ride so much more. i had already survived my biggest fear so what else could happen?  

after church on sunday we went hiking. there was an abandoned house waiting for us at the top which kind of freaked me out because i made the mistake of watching 'blair witch project' one time and i had to convince myself it wasn't the same house. i'm a moron.

 
 


           

Friday, June 2, 2017

hammers and fanny packs.

it's difficult to feel pretty here.

well, it's hard for me to feel pretty in the states too, but here it's on a different level. 

i smell like a strange cocktail of heat, bug spray, sunscreen, and days old clothing. my hair is free in its natural state and for most that is a good thing but for me that just means frizz.  top all of it off with my nike sneakers and fanny pack and it takes all i can to not run and blend in with the wall. 

this is where i am supposed to say that this trip has taught me that i am fearfully and wonderfully made and that i am beautiful no matter what instagram says. 

nah fam. i have not learned that at all. 

there are wordly treasures that i can deal without such as: fancy cars, snapchat glasses, designer clothes, an extravagant wedding, extra guacamole. but damn y'all, i just want to feel pretty.

a week into my trip, the homesickness only comes when it is time to go to bed. that's when i long for the comforts of home the most. things like air conditioning, a spider-less bathroom, and water that won't kill you. last night i saw a scorpion chilling on the wall above my bed and we had to google how to kill it. the internet was not helpful in the least and the only advice it gave us was to either pack up and leave or burn the place down. we started googling facts about scorpions to learn more about our nemesis. things like if they were fast, if they can squirt their venom, can they survive without their tail. we decided to stab it with a broom and then hammer it once it was on the ground. after a few practice stabs we succeeded in destroying the thing. 

today i learned that mean girls is almost as universal as beyoncĂ©. i just assumed being mean wasn't possible here, the village is only three streets, there is only so much drama that can happen before everyone stops talking to each other. 

i was grading papers during recess when minely came in and sat at her desk. it isn't unusual for kids to skip recess because it's 104 degrees here on average so i didn't think anything of it until she burst into tears. she told me that throughout the day she and the other girls were joking with each other by hiding one another's things (a workbook on the slide, a pencil next to the boy she had a crush on, that kind of thing) and everyone was having fun until suddenly they weren't. minely hid yajiara's headband and the spirit of regina george descended upon the playground. the other three ganged up on minely all the while minely couldn't figure out why things had changed so quickly. 

i couldn't answer that because i am still not sure why it happens even in my own life. i have been blindsided by so many friends over the years. there are definitely friendships that i can point to and say, 'yeah, me and my huge mouth ruined that one' but there are others that have gone unsolved. we were friends one day and the next day we weren't. 

i brought the girls together and told them that playing around and joking is fun but once someone gets hurt it needs to stop. the headband was returned, apologies were exchanged, and they were all rushing out the door to enjoy the rest of recess. 

if only everything was that easy to solve.

during their nap time i caught yoely passing a notecard to jeremy. she smiled as she handed me the notecard, she thought she was slick because it was written in spanish. the note was in too much slang for me to figure out on my own, but my google translate app is super cool and helped me out. what i read shocked me. yoely was telling a boy all the reasons why he could never be her boyfriend. the list was mean and even racist. i was stunned. this girl is so cute and sweet, it broke my heart to know that she could say such things. 

as it turns out, the boy didn't even want to be her boyfriend, he liked yoely's friend  genesis. he wrote genesis a love letter and she was about to throw it away when yoely asked to read it. yoely offered to write a letter back to tell him to leave genesis alone. 

hearing that crushed me even more. yoely created drama that wasn't even hers to begin with. how many times have i done that over the years? you'd think i'd cook more considering how much i love stirring the pot. it's hard seeing your flaws in someone else. 

it was even worse when i and the principal had a conference with yoely and her mother. i think the mom was more upset that we wasted her time.  

and that wasn't even the end of my day! we played a game of kickball with the other grades during p.e today and the ball hit minely square in the face and knocked her over. this poor girl couldn't get a break today. the boys kept imitating her reaction throughout the game and i realized the embarrassment of being hit was more painful for her than actually being hit. i told her to laugh. i told her that she couldn't let them see her cry because that's what they wanted. if she laughed along with them it would stop being funny. you can't give your enemy content (like tears, a response, a screenshot of how you blocked them) because that's what they feed on. 

i don't know if that is what you're supposed to say to a ten year old but we both laughed and kept playing the game. 

 
   

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

and brick killed a guy with a trident.

i couldn't open the door, it was too dark and i had left my headlamp in my backpack. i joked about how we would have to sleep outside instead, and that's when we saw the glow through the window. our room was on fire. 

the door opened and i stumbled inside to asses the situation. a whole corner of the room was in flames, an overhead fan caught fire and fell onto my bed. 

it was terrifying how helpless i felt. there are no fire departments here, just you and a bucket. the other girls ran to the school to grab the fire extinguisher only to find that it was empty. i threw our suitcases out onto the porch in hopes to protect our passports. 

we cut the power off and doused the room in water, shirts tied around our faces to keep the smoke away. 
as quickly as it came, it was over. my pillow and misquito net were the only casualties. i stayed up all night thinking about what would have happened if i was in bed like i usually was around the time the fire started. 

i made myself sick. i couldn't believe that an hour beforehand i was obsessing over a dauchsand labrador mix and watching 'speed control two: cruise control,'  the absolute worst movie, while my room was burning. 

we packed up our things and headed to a friend's house in the city. 

monday morning was hard. i was unsure of where we were going to stay and how i was going to replace the misquito net and pillow. thinking about how i was sad about those things made me think about how i should be grateful because it could have been worse and how there are much worse things happening to others. this cycle of thought continued well into the afternoon. i was ready to call it quits and head home all over again.

i bribed the class today with songs for good behavior. they all got to write a song they wanted me to play on the board and we would listen to it as long as they were quiet. we listened to 'swalla' about 8 times in a row. they were so sweet today, even the boys gave me a hug and told me they loved me before going home. 

i spent the whole day thinking of how to get a misquito net. it had provided so much comfort and i knew i wasn't going to sleep without a new one. i really thought that buying one would be as simple as going to the drugstore but after several calls i learned that only one store in the city carries them. 

i asked one of the leaders to drive me and she said yes but i could tell she didn't want to. i prayed the rest of the day that i would make it to the store before they closed at 8. we left at 3. after a few errands and a series of unfortunate events it was 7:38 and we were parking in front of a supermarket. she told me that she was pretty sure the store would have what i was looking for. i was beside myself. how could this be happening? i prayed that i would somehow find what i needed inside. after 40 minutes of combing the aisles, a girl in the group appeared with a canopy netting. while not exactly what i was hoping for, i was so relieved i began to cry. i will never know why the leader acted like she did, but i do know that God used her to show that He will provide my needs no matter how silly. 

go ahead and click: 
also, the youtube in honduras is a little strange so if you can't pull up the video search for:alex aoino, "one dance"

p.s the title is from my favorite line of  'anchorman' 
'there was a man on fire and brick killed a guy with a trident.' get it, i told you about the room on fire.....
i may be stretching the joke a little thin but it's my blog so whatever. 

 


  
 
    

Saturday, May 27, 2017

cherry icees.

oi dios mio. today was so good. 
we went into the city of san pedro sula today (about an hour drive from our village of el doradito) and had dinner before going to see pirates of the caribbean. 

contrary to popular belief, honduras does have a metropolitan area and people there are well off. from what i have gathered so far, the government is very rich and the people are very poor. not unlike the states but on a more extreme scale. city living is similar to atlanta because of the mix of the very rich and very poor. the rich live in beautiful mansions behind high concrete walls complete with a watchtower and a guard armed with a machine gun. the poor live against those high walls underneath cardboard. 

my lunch was a pop tart and a handful of raisins (i just can't seem to get on the rice/bean/egg wagon) and was disappointed that dinner was at a coffee shop. ya girl needed a burger. the shop was less of a starbucks and more like a panera however, and i had the most incredible turkey panini and caramel frappacino. 

after dinner we walked through the mall to get to the cineplex for the movie. the malls are so fancy here, there are decorations and fountains. i couldn't help but laugh when 'empire state of mind' came on over the radio, apparently the allure of new york has worked its way into all cultures. 

 i was so full from dinner but knew i need to enjoy everything while i was there so i bought a cherry icee. i have given up soda a while back but an icee at the movie theatre is definitely my weak spot. 

we got caught in a rainstorm on the way back to the village and our little mazda van took a beating. i stayed up wayyyyy after my bed time (i'm usually asleep by ten) to watch the lightening strike the mountains. i got a few videos and once i figure out how to post them i will. 

as i was getting ready for bed i saw a black blur move along the baseboard. i asked a girl for a shoe and as i put my glasses on to kill the spider i saw that it was much much larger than i thought. i screamed immediately and caused everyone to panic. it was not a tarantula but it was definitely the largest spider i have seen yet, almost the size of my palm with its legs spread out. we brainstormed ways to kill it and i thought we could sweep it out. a girl went to grab the broom but another spider of the same size was standing next to it! i was terrified, we were surrounded! we asked a boy from the dorm next door to kill them and begrudgingly he did. praise the Lord. our adrenaline was pumping at that point and no one could go to sleep but i was better off because i got to sleep under the saftey of my misquito net. i will post about all of the tools i use to survive here later on. 

 

 

   

Friday, May 26, 2017

snowy.

first things first, i didn't plan on being a teacher. things don't typically go very well when i am in charge. 
after failed attempts of leadership for a high school newspaper class, a college literary magazine club, and a sorority, i have realized that authority is not my calling. 

i thought my role here would lean more to the administrative side as the school prepares to close for the summer. i was not expecting to be leading a group of fourth graders through the rest of their classes. 

i was scared of them. they are all so small and they talk in spanish so fast. one would say 'ella' and the others would begin to laugh (yes, because ella means girl in spanish). i was told that the school used physical punishment when things got out of control (wall sits, running laps, push-ups). something about telling one of them to do wall sits seemed uncomfortable to me so i ended up letting them do their own thing. boy was that a horrible idea. 

i remembered how excited they were when another girl in the group took their picture and decided i could try to do the same. this is a story all about how instagram saved my life. the boomerang app absolutely blew their minds and they spent all afternoon asking me to record them doing tricks so they could watch the videos. i can't seem to link videos from my phone, but once i do i'll post them. 

after the madness died down and they returned to their workbooks, a girl named minely asked if i could help with her spelling. she asked what 'snowy' meant and we looked at some pictures from google. she whispered that she wished she could go to the states and see snow. it may have been the leftover homesickness but i began to tear up. not only may most of them never see snow or go to the states, there is an incredibly high chance that some of them never even make it out of their village. 

later that afternoon the class asked if i would go on a hike with them to see the lion in the mountains. they laughed when i told them no way and said that the lion was friendly. so this is a story about how i hiked a mountain with a bunch of ten year olds. 

let me make one thing clear: the honduran mountains are not anything like kennesaw mountain. there are no signs, maps, benches, or paved roads. there is nothing but bushes, palm fronds, and a steep, uphill climb waiting for you here. an hour in and we finally made it to the top. there were too many trees for the photos to do the view justice, but it was worth the climb. by then i had forgotten all about the lion until a child pointed out a graffiti'd rock with a painted lion on it. the kids could not stop laughing, they thought they had tricked me. 

we have now finished up for the week and i am excited about seeing 'pirates of the caribbean' tonight (movies come out a week earlier here).


 

 




 
    

Thursday, May 25, 2017

despacito.

my journey to Honduras began at a quik trip. I was waiting in line to pay for my coffee when I felt the need to pay for the things for a woman behind me. I really was going to do it, but somewhere between the thought and approaching the counter I chickened out. I noticed that she was talking to other people in her group and wasn't sure if they were all buying things and I was afraid of it becoming a big deal. I paid for my coffee and headed out the door knowing that i should have gone through with it. that afternoon I noticed a post on Facebook asking for volunteers to teach at a village school in Honduras. I got the same feeling from that morning and when I saw the post again a few days later I knew that it was what I needed to do. 

I signed up for this trip because I am desperate to learn how to live a life with eternity in mind. I have built a world around reality television, money, social media fame, and contouring my makeup all the while knowing it was never going to last. 

I have lived for myself these past 25 years and I am ready to live the rest of my life preparing for eternity which is how I have ended up here, writing this post under the safety of my mosquito net. 

being brave is hard. all of my preparation for the day I arrived in Honduras did not prepare me for the reality of being here. the heat is oppressive. it's a force I never felt before. it's like gravity, holding you down where you are, effecting your movements. trash lines the streets, and ash from the fire in the sugar cane field fills the air. 

I have cried my way through the past two days here. 

I am homesick. I long for air conditioning, a clean shower, and bravo tv. I want to be in the same room as my family. typing this brought the tears back all over again. longing to be back home overpowered my reasons to stay until God used Justin Bieber to remind me that I'm where I'm meant to be. after dinner on my first day, the group and I left to go to a coffeehouse outside of the village. the van bounced around on the uneven dirt roads and the windows were rolled down because the van lacked a/c. justin bieber's song "despacito" came on over the radio and while everyone pretended to groan about how cliche the pop song was and how it will never be as good as the original, it wasn't long before we were all dancing and singing along. if you ever wondered what I was doing the night of May 23rd, I was riding through a valley in Honduras and singing to "despacito" as loud as I could. it was in that moment I felt the peace of doing the right thing. I knew then that I would have to get over being homesick because there was no way I was going to leave. 

i have learned quickly that I am not here to be comfortable. I am here to show love to a classroom full of fourth graders and help them see the power of education. I am here to meet with God and learn to trust in Him for the most basic needs. I am here to store my treasures in Heaven. 


 
   

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

turn of the century.

welp. i am twenty five this week. 
the goal was always to make it to twenty one, and i never really thought of what came after that. i've had this overwhelming feeling recently to buy a house or do something considered 'adultish' because i am one now apparently. 

fortunately for me, i do not yet have enough money to buy a house, so i decided to write a list of goals for the year instead. 





learn what healthy looks like 
make it through a game of bowling without a gutter ball
go on an adventure 
stick with a bible study plan
finish #notetoself 
join an intramural game 
try out for the atl dance team
convince someone to hire me 
go a month without spending money 
learn how to do or make something 
pay off the highlander 



while it was fun to put on paper, this to/do list is incredibly intimidating to me. it calls for days at the gym, focus, self control, confidence, and all of the guts and nerve i have and a little more. im not the best at making friends, interviews give me hives, days come when id rather watch all the netflix, and the thought of leaving the soil of the good ol' usa is enough to make me vom. but all of this said, i know accomplishing these things will set me up for where i want to be by my twenty sixth birthday (which is, by the way, to be a bomb ass bowler.)

i've included my favorite 'get hype' songs because they've already been on constant repeat. 

so lets do this, lets get hyped. 



Monday, February 20, 2017

#notetoself

so there i was, my very first day of graduate school with my quicktrip coffee and swedish fish. the professor announces that our semester long project would be to write a 'how to' book on any topic we wished. our final grade is self publishing the book through amazon (thankfully the sales or lack thereof will not be included in the rubric).

ya'll, this class is technical editing. i thought i was finally going to figure out what all of those editing symbols meant and learn how to writer user manuals for ikea products. 




start a hot yoga practice 
create a roller derby league 
be the ultimate hostess 
create a marketing campaign 
become a morning person
a guide to urban development 
direct a high school drama department 
jump to conclusions 
how to buy a car 
navigate awkward scenarios 
create a new employee handbook 
be an adult 
start a new business 
sell things on ebay 
write your own magazine 
understand the economy 
apply to graduate school 
use essential oils 
navigate kennesaw parking 
interior design 
choose a wine 
skydive 

well, here we go. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

hometown glory.

in the spirit of keeping up with the blog, this is an essay i wrote for my english class the last semester of my undergrad. the topic was to choose and defend an interpretation of the short story "The Dead" by James Joyce. the story was my favorite from the semester and i would 13/10 recommend finding a moment to read it.

hometown glory. 

It did not come as much of a surprise when the majority of the class had an opposing view on the character of Gabriel Conroy. It was ironic and slightly poetic how everyone else despised the one character I sympathized for all year. One said that it was the description of Conroy that grossed her out, “the high color of his cheeks pushed upwards even to his forehead…and on his hairless face there…bright gilt rims of the glasses…. His glossy black hair was parted in the middle and brushed in a long curve behind his ears… (Norton, 2284).” So Conroy looked like the classic computer nerd who ate lunch in the library, I do not think any of us in room 224 dated the quarterback when we were in high school. I could be wrong about this assumption however, just like my classmates are wrong about the personality and moral character of Gabriel Conroy. I read the research, I know that most if not all of the literary critiques and reviews do not fall in my favor, but my goal is to add another voice into the mix, to prove that Gabriel Conroy is rather just painfully shy, insecure, and madly in love with his wife.
According to Daniel Schwarz in his writing, Gabriel Conroy's Psyche: Character as Concept in Joyce's ‘The Dead,’ James Joyce,
created characters who were metaphors for himself, who were the means by which he explored and defined identity. Joyce’s fiction draws upon the actual-the life he lived-and…he creates masques for what he fears to become…and his appearance, like his character, is a version of what Joyce feared of becoming: bourgeois, conventional…(Bedford 103).”
Joyce feared that if he did not get out of Dublin, his hometown, he would become Conroy, a man in unfashionable dress (no one quite understood the practicality of the galoshes) who was painfully shy, and forced to be with company he did not particularly like. Those fears mimic the ones that most of us have once we graduate high school, that we will not be able to escape and will be forced to hangout with the Mr. Browne, the one who was always trying to spike the punch at Prom, and the Mary Jane, the girl who got the lead part in the play because of her parents’ connections rather than her talent, of our town. This is a rational fear to have and one that Conroy must have had as well when he went off to University. Unfortunate or fortunate, Conroy was called back to Dublin to take care of his three aunts, orphaned cousin, and support their music academy. “Gabriel has a desperate need to be needed, and we realize that he is a family caretaker of a kind; he has been reduced to that role and he relishes that role. Kate says to Gretta: ‘I always feel easier in my mind when he’s here’ (Bedford 107).” Conroy is a family man, he left his University and his like-minded peers, came home to work as a schoolteacher and help out the family business. His freelancing at the Daily Express is not a political stance as rudely assumed by Ms. Ivors, but an outlet for him to keep up with his passion, writing.
From the very beginning of the story, Conroy is introduced as an anticipated house guest, “they [Kate and Julia] wondered what could be keeping Gabriel and that was what brought them every two minutes to the banisters to ask Lily if Gabriel had come…he was their favorite nephew (Norton, 2283).” He is also shown to be in a cheerful mood with the use of “he said in a friendly tone,” and “said Gabriel gaily (Norton 2284).” These descriptors are used in Conroy’s conversation with Lily, the caretaker’s daughter, as he is giving her his coat and goulashes.  Gabriel’s intention was not to offend her when he mentioned marriage, “O then,’ said Gabriel gaily, ‘I suppose we’ll be going to your wedding one of these fine days with your young man, eh?” He was desperately grasping at straws for small talk for the younger generation is strange to him and the weather had already been brought up.
When Lily “glanced back at him over her shoulder and said with great bitterness…”, Gabriel is embarrassed for saying the wrong thing and clueless of how to respond so he hands her some money and leaves the situation as quickly as possible. Joyce writes that Conroy literally runs away, “he walked rapidly toward the door,” and “almost trotting to the stairs, (Norton 2285).” Conroy is shocked and at a loss for a comeback, a quite often personality trait of mine, and while I do not have the monetary resources to pay off everyone who hears me say something embarrassing, the need to disappear immediately is something I can relate to.
Schwarz does not approve of the way Conroy retreats into his own head to review his speech. “when Lily distances his efforts to charm and to be fatherly with what he takes as a rebuke…he characteristically finds refuge in self-importance and begins to look at his speech (Bedford 106).” Conroy is nervous about his speech, he has stage fright. He likes the quote from Robert Browning but is certain that no one is going to understand it and then think of him as a moron. He comes off as pompous because he is worried about his higher education, not because he believes it makes him better than everyone else, but knows that if he does not use layman’s terms, he will be regarded as a pompous man full of insecurities. “He would only make himself ridiculous by quoting poetry to them which they could not understand. They would think that he was airing his superior education (Norton 2285).” This is a rational fear for those returning home for winter break, a question everyone loves to ask, “what classes are you taking,” often has the answer everyone hates, “Survey of British Literature and Thermodynamics.” For college students with family members who did not follow the path of higher education, this question is often easier by leaving it at simple “English and math.”
There are a few small personality traits of Conroy that are often misconstrued by those looking to paint him as self-aggrandizing. He is polite and courteous to Ms. Ivors as she accuses him of being a West Briton. “He wanted to say that literature was above politics. But they were friends of many years’ standing and their careers had been parallel, first at University and then as teachers: he could not risk a grandiose phrase with her.” He thinks about past conversations and analyzes them. He is seen later on still thinking about the exchange with Ms. Ivors, “perhaps he ought not to have answered her like that…but she was trying to make him look ridiculous.” Rather than a heated comeback, he replied in a way that made Ms. Ivors claim that she was joking and dropped the conversation, “trying to smile he murmured lamely that he saw nothing political in writing reviews for books (Norton 2291, 2292).”
He employs a sarcastic humor at the dinner table, “Now, if anyone wants a little more of that vulgar people call stuffing, let him or her speak,” and another “I’ll engage they did, said Gabriel, but they forget my wife here takes three mortal hours to dress herself (Norton 2296, 2283).”
Schwarz accuses him of narcissism, “Gabriel is paralytically self-conscious. Isn’t part of Gabriel always standing to one side watching his behavior? He thinks he is being watched and talked about more than he is (Bedford 109).”  I find this accusation hard to stomach, for while it is true, he does review his behavior and worry about what others will say, but it is presented as a trait of an inflated ego hoping to shake off insecurities, rather than a common human trait shared by practically everyone.
The majority of readers interpret the story as a metaphor for colonization and Conroy as the classic chauvinist who does not want to give up his ruling as the patriarch of the family, this is a shame for they miss out on the romance of it all, they are blind to how much Conroy loves and adores his wife. When he arrives at the academy, he tells his plans of hiring a babysitter for the children back home and reserving a fancy hotel room in the city. He marries Gretta without his mother’s blessing and admires her for helping his mother despite the fact, “Some slighting phrases she had used still rankled in his memory; she had once spoken of Gretta as being country cute and that was not true of Gretta at all. It was Gretta who had nursed her during all her last long illness (Norton 2289).” While in conversation she often distracts him; “she broke out into a peal of laughter and glanced at her husband, whose admiring and happy eyes had been wandering from her dress to her face and hair.”
It is common to read his admiration as possession as if he saw his wife as property. The classmates came to a consensus that he was feeling lust, not love, but I see the writing contradictory to that opinion, “at last she turned towards them and Gabriel saw that there was color on her cheeks and that her eyes were shining. A sudden tide of joy went leaping out of his heart,” and  “Gabriel’s eyes were still bright with happiness. The blood went bounding along his veins; and the thoughts went rioting through his brain, proud, joyful, tender, valorous (Norton 2286, 2289, 2304, 2305).”
When he and Gretta arrive at the hotel room, it is painfully obvious to the reader that Conroy wants to have sex with her. He gets nervous at the thought, “thumping of his own heart against his ribs,” and rather than make the first couple of moves, he wants to see that Gretta wants him just as much as he wants her. This is where the entire story falls apart. There is a sensation of horror as Gretta waxes poetic about the boy of her youth as she and Conroy walk through the empty streets of the city towards the hotel.
            Many harp on Conroy and his reaction to Gretta’s confession of a great love, mainly because he fails to do much other than watch her fall asleep as he sits by the window. This is the scene that confuses me the most when others say how pompous and rude he is, for my heart aches every time I read it. Throughout the entire story, Conroy falls in love with his wife, thinks about how beautiful she is, has flashbacks to times of love letters and other sweet memories, he cannot wait to take her back to the hotel so they could be alone and he can finally say everything he had been thinking at the dinner and hear the sweet things she has thought in return. “While he had been full of memories of their secret life together, full of tenderness and joy and desire, she had been comparing him in her mind with another.” To find out that this is not the case at all and that not only has his wife been swooning about another man all night and quite possibly throughout their entire marriage is painfully shocking and enough to make one ill. It makes me wonder if you could ever truly know someone or better yet if you could ever truly know that they love you. Here was Conroy still in madly in love with his wife after all this time only to be left staring at the snow, questioning if she had ever really felt the same, if he had been competing with a first love even after all these years. I cannot fathom why I was the only one in the class who could have understood the brevity of this scene. Joyce brought tears to my eyes as the story closed, “his soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead (Norton 2310, 2311).”
It is difficult to see the opposing interpretation of Conroy’s character, for he embodies the very traits shared with other leading characters in both book and film. He is shy, courteous to others, supportive of his family, in love with his wife, and finds a way to pursue his passion despite the circumstances keeping him where he is.  


 'and i know it's true what you said, i live like a hermit in my own head, but when the sun shines again, ill open the curtains to let the light in.'













                                                                                                                                   


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