Sunday, May 20, 2012

Praise from Expected Places

Since I've been buying new clothes over the last 3 months, I've also been getting new praise: the 20-something receptionist likes my big hoop earrings and my see-through shirt and my earth-toned shirt; the waify doctoral student likes my mary-jane shoes; one professor thinks I look "elegant" in my red/black shirt with poppies on it.

I am grateful for the clothing attention, of course, because I've been looking/feeling haphazard and poor for the past 3 years, but still... it all reminds me of my initial month at grad school back in '94: the profs initially not liking me or what they thought my work would be like, UNTIL... (1) I wrote a gay-themed poem, which my gay professor thought was bold and interesting. I was a favorite of his ever after. (2) I edited down a poem a Chinese feminist professor thought was way too wordy. I then looked up her work in the library; after my editing, my poem looked/sounded JUST like her work. And after I edited it, I became a favorite of hers ever after.

It's kinda sad, knowing just what people want and how to give it to them. You get REWARDS for meeting expectations, but... I don't really WANT those kinds of rewards. I mean, I DO want to be told that I look nice and that my poems are good... but that I look nice because I wear the same mary-janes that someone else wears or edit down to the same type of poems that a professor writes?

I've never slept with anyone for approval, but I imagine that it's the same type of thing: You like the approval, but how you got it is so stupidly, obviously suspect and not meaningful.

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