You get sad Gabe today.
Today ended an era in my life that I will never forget. Today was my last art history class.
Yesterday, I got a chance to hang out with Blake for a little bit and while we were together I showed him my art history notes. I told him the story of the “creation” of Rome. The legend is captured in this sculpture:
So you’re probably wondering how two infants suckling on a she-wolf symbolizes the foundation of Rome.
Here’s the story according to my art history professor: Mars, the Roman god of war, raped a virgin. The woman was thrown in jail because when an all-powerful god rapes an innocent mortal, it’s the human’s fault. While this woman is in jail she gives birth to twin boys, Romulus and Remus. When the king finds out about the twins he commands that they both be thrown in a river to drown. While Romulus and Remus are floating along in the river, the gods intervene and bring them to shore. A she-wolf just happens to be walking by and decides not only to not eat the babies, but to take them under her wing and care for them.
When the boys grew up, they were not feral children despite being raised by a freakin’ wolf. If you want to learn a little bit more about feral children you should probably get a hold of a copy of this edition of Mental Floss magazine:
Anyway, Romulus and Remus grew up not as wolf-men but as educated societal men. They decided that they wanted to build the greatest city in the world but could not agree on a location. So they asked the gods to intervene and help them decide on a location. The sign came in the form of a flock of birds. Apparently Romulus saw twelve birds and Remus saw six, so they continued to fight about it until Romulus was like, “You know what? I’m done with this.” and killed Remus. With Remus out of the picture, Romulus constructed this city and named it after himself, hence why we call Rome, “Rome”.
What’s interesting about this story is that the Latin word for wolf also just happens to translate to “prostitute.”
So either way, the founder of Rome was either the son of a bitch or the son of a hooker.
When I finished telling Blake (who had recently learned about Romulus and Remus in his history class) this whole story he said something along the lines of “If they taught us stuff like this in history class, I think a lot more people would pay attention.”
It’s true, if all of my professors taught the way my art history professors teach, I probably would have attended a heck of a lot more classes.
I did not want to take Art History, I had to take it to fill a general education requirement in order to graduate. I was overly disgruntled about taking the class because it only fit in my schedule at the same time the “gender and communications” course met, and the gender com class just also happens to be taught by one of my favorite professors. Needless to say I wasn’t thrilled to be there my first class. But as the course continued, my interest in the subject quickly formulated.
One of the things my professor stressed early on in the course was that we have no written documents that tell the history of a society that existed thousands of years ago. The only thing we have to base our assumptions about ancient cultures is the art they left behind. Every piece of art we examined in the class told a story that would otherwise be completely unknown.
As the course progressed and we started learning about Romanesque and Gothic architecture, especially churches. The thing I learned about the symbolism behind each column, how the windows were reinforced so that the buildings wouldn’t collapse, the history of the beginning of Catholicism, blew me away. (I’m going to save my stories for another blog post)
I know this sounds absurd, but over the past fourteen weeks or so, I’ve come to realize that taking this art history course, kinda changed my life. When I was dating my last girlfriend (who was an art education major) we’d sometimes go to art museums and look around. I thought these trips were, for the most part, really boring. I never saw the significance of ancient paintings and sculpture, granted I was definitely impressed by the fact that they made such stellar work without any modern tools or guidelines. But now that I’ve taken art history I feel like I understand the world better, I appreciate history a whole lot more.
I’m glad I took the class. I wish I had time to take more classes with that professor… and I’m going to miss it.
Now I’m going to switch the topic abruptly.
I don’t know if any of you have noticed but I’ve been kind of avoiding talking about the future, my future specifically.
I don’t know if I ever openly expressed this on my blog before, especially because I’m not the biggest fan of showing negative emotions or feelings online, but it was probably at least a little apparent that back when the semester was first starting up, I was very much done with being at ESU.
I was already the poster-child for LGBT issues on campus but then I added “anti-bullying” spokesperson to my repertoire. I felt like I was on the verge of crashing and burning. I had spent all summer trying to figure out who I was and the moment I got back to ESU I had to put my personal issues aside and focused on making my community a safer and better place. Instead of tying all of my loose ends in a knot so that they wouldn’t get tangled while I worked on other things, I cut them loose and they tangled faster than ear-bud headphone in my pocket.
I’ve been confused all semester (and pretty much my whole life) about who I am and where I fit in on campus and everywhere else. I was so tired of being recognized by everyone (my peers, professors, administrators, community leaders, campus police, etc.) as the epitome of everything LGBT. I was starting to doubt if there was anyone on campus besides my roommates, and Carly and Aimee, who knew Gabe and not Gabe, former president of PRIDE and the current student representative for the PASSHE LGBTQIA Consortium.
At the beginning of October I met a woman, Anita, who is the head of the Monroe County PFLAG chapter who is helping me organize a local support group for transgender people, two of the people in the area just happened to be trans-identified teenagers. I also started working with a local high school’s gay-straight alliance and I realized that I work best with teenagers. I never thought I’d ever want to work with youth because I don’t really like little kids. I didn’t like little kids when I was a little kid and my distaste for children has only grown with age. But I’ve noticed a shift after middle school in most kids when they stop being kids and they start being young adults. This shift was pointed out to me by one of the student in the poetry group I briefly worked with last semester. She said to me, “I’m not a kid, don’t talk to me like I’m one.” I hadn’t even realized that talking to high school students like they’re still in fifth grade is completely degrading. So I stopped and I started talking to teenagers as if they were my peers, because they are.
And I’ve noticed that when you talk to teenagers like adults, they have a tendency to not only respond like adults, but they start acting more mature.
We don’t give teenagers enough credit. In the nine months that I’ve been concentrating my efforts on youth advocacy, the students I’ve worked with have taught me more about the world then all of the material I’ve studied over the past three and a half years (minus art history).
I was stuck in a rut, everything I wanted to do during my time at ESU is either done or in the final stages of development. The reason I was so miserable at the beginning of the semester was because I was a poster child without a poster. When I started focusing my attention on the East Stroudsburg community and let go of the East Stroudsburg University community, I felt like I fit in much better. I started spending a lot more time off campus, I’ve met so many wonderful people, I feel like I’m making a difference again instead of being the same old broken record.
I decided near the end of October that I wanted to go to grad school for social services, concentrating on youth services. And I noticed my feelings about ESU shifted a little. Every time I would think about grad school I would always catch myself saying something along the lines of, “I wish I could work near ESU, live near ESU, but not go to grad school at ESU.”
The past month or so, I’ve started to search for a graduate program to hopefully attend next fall but it hasn’t been an easy quest because I had a lot of specific requirements that needed to be met.
1. I need a place to live and I needed to live with people who I could trust.
2. The college needed to be a teaching college, not a research college. If I’m going to go to class, I better have a professor teaching it.
3. The school needed to have exceptional resources for learning disabled students.
4. The school needed to be trans friendly.
5. The school couldn’t be more than two hours away from my home in New Jersey and three hours away from ESU.
6. The school needed to have the major I wanted to study.
I searched and searched but I was coming up empty so I did something logical (for a change) and I talked to my academic adviser. We talked for over an hour about all of my options.
And after talking it over with my parents last night I’ve come to a decision about where I’m going in May.
Yup, after fighting with myself for a long time about it, I realize that the reason I have such strict standards in place for my future graduate school is because ESU set those standards for me. I can’t expect any less because I’ve never had any less.
So despite the fact that we’ve already had snow here and I hate being cold, I’m sticking around for another two years.
See you all tomorrow!