Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Dinner Party Question

Not the same Dinner Party, but a really good one...
Judy Chicago

Recently, I was asked the question that you hear about, but you never think you'll actually have to answer. The dinner party question - If you had a dinner party and could invite any 5 people in history, living or dead, who would you invite and why?

I thought about the ones most people might say [Jesus, etc], and while yes, I'd like that very much, I talk to Him a good bit already, and the others aren't as central to who I am. So, after careful consideration of the question, here's my answer:

1. My Aunt Shelley - my mom's sister. She was killed in a car accident the day before her 19th birthday. I was 7. I've been told that I'm a lot like her. So much so that I wasn't allowed to drive or leave home on the day before my 19th birthday. Things changed when she died, and I remember the change. I remember as a young child thinking that she was someone I could always talk to, and I have wanted her presence a number of times as I've gotten older. I also remember childhood prayers where I prayed for her after she was dead... but really, it was more of trying to talk to her.

2. Jane Roland Martin - a philosopher of education. I was taking a philosophy course the first semester of my doctorate and thinking, "Oh my God - what have I done. This is AWFUL!" Trying so hard to figure out Plato, Hegel, Locke, Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism, Existentialism, etc... I had the thought that if this is what I'm going to be doing for the next 4 years, then I will never make it. What on earth did this have to do with getting a doctorate? I struggled with the material, reading all the recommended books as well as the required books, doing massive searches through academic databases and journals trying to find ANYTHING to help me figure out ontology, epistemology, and axiology of these philosophers and these -isms [not sure I would do well with it today, to be honest], and I came to a chapter in one of the books that was by Jane Roland Martin. And things started to click. I finally felt that I was reading something real as opposed to something so esoteric as to not have real meaning in the world. It's what led me into re-examining the word "feminist" as something other than a bad word, and helped me to recognize that one of the things I had internalized was that women are not as good as men - from what is taught in school, who is taught, and how it is taught, to even how I was treated at church, and in some ways in my marriage. Helped me to frame some questions that I had never dared frame before. Started me on the path of framing questions that I needed to frame, not just professionally, but personally.

3. Emily Saliers - one of the Indigo Girls. Some of her song lyrics just pierce me. The Wood Song, All That We Let in, Fleet of Hope, Prince of Darkness, Lay My Head Down, Love Will Come To You, Virginia Woolf, Watershed are ones that I will listen to over and over again. I would like to get in her head for just a little bit.

4. Nicholas Sparks - he writes brain candy books, really, but damn. Anyone who can give me a good cry like that deserves a piece of homemade chocolate cake.

5. Martha - my piano teacher. She would eat up the conversation between everyone at the table, laugh, and provide questions or insight that is wise. An old soul with a young heart. A true blessing in this world - any time spent with her is a gift in and of itself. She's currently a librarian at a school on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico, and how she ended up there is fascinating. She came to see me after I bought the grand piano because she needed to play it and to hear me play. She chuckled at some of my mistakes, and reverted back to giving me direction like she did when I was in high school. I miss her and love her dearly.

Intriguing question. I wonder what my answer would be in a few months or years.

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