November 18, 2013

O Me! O Life!

Today's Gush is inspired by Walt Whitman's O Me! O Life! 
in one of my favorite films, Dead Poets Society

If you haven't seen the film, do yourself a big favor! It is the story of Professor John Keating, a New England boarding school alumnus who returns to teach at his alma mater. His unconventional methods inspire his students to think for themselves, to love literature, to write, to express themselves, and to carpe diem, seize the day: "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman:

'O Me! O Life! 
..of the questions of these recurring; 
Of the endless trains of the faithless -- 
Of cities fill’d with the foolish; 
Of myself forever reproaching myself, 
(for who more foolish than I, 
and who more faithless?) 
Of eyes that vainly crave the light -- 
Of the objects mean -- 
Of the struggle ever renew’d; 
the poor results of all -- 
Of the plodding and sordid crowds 
I see around me; 
Of the empty and useless years of the rest -- 
with the rest me intertwined; 
The question, O me! so sad, recurring 
What good amid these, O me, O life? 

That you are here --
that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, 
and you will contribute a verse.'

What will your verse be?"

Here is my verse, my gush:
(revised from a poem composed in February)

C'est moi

I am...
a teacher,
a mentor,
a colleague,
an innovator,
Tech Coach,
American Literature teacher,
Madame, prof de français.
Does my career define me?

I am...
a traveler,
a sailor,
a reader,
a writer,
a photographer,
a linguist...
Sometimes I speak, write, think in English.
Parfois je parle, écris, pense en  français.
Do my interests define me?

I am...
fair with freckles,
a blue-eyed brunette,
petite, curvy...
Does my physical appearance define me?

I am...
Do my attributes define me?

I am...
a perfectionist...
Do my faults define me?

I am...
a wife,
a sister,
a daughter,
a niece,
an auntie,
a godmother,
a friend...
Do my relationships define me?

For the first year of my life,
I didn't have a name: I was Jane Doe.
Miraculously, I was adopted,
given my name: Melinda Marie Larson.

Melinda: gentle, sweet

Marie: the French variant of Mary
"Star of the Sea,"
A name for a girl who grew up on the water,
 for a woman still most content upon it.
I was named for my maternal grandmother.
I was named for Mary, the Blessed Mother.

Larson: A noble surname, ethnic and geographic
Son of Lars, Scandinavian for Lawrence,
A laurel, fragrant, ever green,
A wreath to adorn the heads of heroes...
I am child of noble victors,
of Door County Scandinavians.

My name is a gift itself.
I wasn't born into the Larson family.
I was adopted, chosen, given this name.

In high school, I was Mindy, in college, Mel.
When I started teaching, I was Mademoiselle.

In 2005, I was married.
I became Mrs. Eric Horne.
I struggled with social convention,
with "taking my husband's name."
He was considerate and appreciative.
He was disappointed.
He, too, desired to share his name with me.
I added a hyphen,
and the gift of another name.

I am Melinda Marie Larson-Horne.