What up Right-Railers! Here is your long-awaited new Rumpus Room; deepest apologies for the delay.
Feel free to blame my job, my friends force-feeding me belated birthday gins, and Nick Swisher.
This week's topic is pride. Most of us got some, for one reason or another. And I don't mean in the way that we all feel a degree of pride for our dear White Sox. I'm talkin' personal pride here.
I was recently digging through boxes that traveled with me from Chicago and have remained unopened for the majority of my four years in Seattle. I was looking for sheet music so I could tickle my new digital piano and I came across a bunch of college books and notebooks I kept during that time. The rediscovery of a certain notebook transported me back to one of my proudest moments.
I'll share the story of that moment here, and hope that in addition to our usual off-topic abuse of this thread, some of you will also share an experience in your life that makes you proud.
As a film student for most of college (before writing commanded my focus), I took a course that focused on the works of Spike Lee and August Wilson. It was an elective unrelated to my film degree, but especially piqued my interest due to the Spike Lee portion of the class.
On the first day of the course, we gathered in our theater-like room and I couldn't help but notice that for the first time in my life, I was the minority, the only white girl in a class of about thirty young adults. As an example of my super-white upbringing, my 8th grade graduating class had but one African American member. Good ol' Reggie.
There were only two other Caucasians (dudes) in the Lee/Wilson class, and the three of us sat in the back of the room for the entire semester and mostly kept our mouths shut. We were practically flies on the walls. I tried to participate at the beginning of the semester, but it seemed like my very long arm was invisible since I never got called upon in class discussions. So I gave up and settled into my role of observer by the fourth week.
The class proved to be very entertaining and I especially loved the Spike Lee film-screening weeks. My highlight was perhaps during "School Daze," when everyone was out of their seats doing "Da Butt" during that scene.
'Twas awesome, and I can almost assure you that's not what happens when the same film is presented to a room full of white people. Not saying, just sayin'!
Anyway, about three weeks left in the class, the teacher explained our assignment for the final: a ten-minute creative oral presentation that somehow merged our major studies and the material we'd covered with regards to Spike Lee and August Wilson. I was already getting into writing, so I opted to at least go the route of words for the final. But I also didn't want to just write something and read it to the class in extremely boring fashion.
Two weeks of class left to go, my token white buddy Lance leaned over to me in our usual seats in the back of the room and asked what I was doing for the final. I had no idea. Hadn't thought about it much. An hour later, I leaned back to him and informed him I'd figured it out; I was going to write a rap. He laughed and shook his head. "No you're not." By the end of class that day, I had a page of the rap scribbled in my notebook. I sure was!
The final week arrived and I had all three pages of my hand-written rap memorized. I gave the written copy to my professor so she could follow along and catch all the clever references. She looked at me like I was crazy. In that moment, I felt like she was probably onto something.
I stood alone in front of the class with nothing in my hands and without a visual aid to offer them. I was wearing a t-shirt with the words "Please don't eat me... I love you" surrounding a cartoon pig holding flowers. For the first time all semester, I met the faces of everyone who sat in front of me. Most of them looked upon me like Where'd this girl come from? Like they didn't even know I was back there in the shadows of the room the whole semester. I was suddenly overcome with nerves. My limbs were shaking.
I introduced myself and explained that I liked to write and therefore, had prepared a rap. I also took the opportunity to warn them I was white. The room burst into reactions; mostly laughter, whispers and overall disbelief. After they hushed and took the edges of their seats, a few seconds of silence passed as I prepared myself to begin and tried to swallow the knot in my throat.
I broke the silence by informing the class, "I don't even have a beat, soooo you'll have to bear with me."
A few seconds later, I began rapping. I made it through the whole thing flawlessly, only pausing out of necessity when my rhymes were so well-received that the class was laughing too hard for me to continue. I finished and received an enthusiastic standing ovation from everyone in the room. They were flabbergasted, they loved it, they requested an encore. I was still shaking, but more at that point from relief, elation and pride.
Lance welcomed me back to my seat shaking his head, "I can't believe you just did that." Glowing with a huge smile, I replied, "Dude. Me. Neither!!"