Thursday, November 3, 2011

Marxism and my Manicure

This weekend is my college's annual fundraiser dinner dance. At work we refer to it as the Gala. At home, I call it Prom for Adults. In preparation I got a manicure tonight. My shiny red nails look awesome. I should do this more often.

I had been warned about the limited English at this particular salon. I am NOT GOOD with Asian accents. I work with some great people who's native language is Chinese. I am always asking them to repeat themselves. I always feel like such a jerk.

So I walk into the salon and ask the lady at the counter for a manicure. She had to ask four times if I wanted fake nails. She finally had to show me the display for it to sink in. I was short on time and I was a bit frustrated.

This is where Marxism comes in, kind of. This semester I am enrolled in Adult Education in the Social Context. At home, I call it Marxism and Socialism in Education. It's a class about power, alienation, oppression, revolution, and hegemony.

Did you know that Disney is the devil? We had an 300+ page book on it. Next time you watch a movie, think about how they depict the villain. They are usually not American, speak with an Eastern European accent and don't reflect the white, middle-class ideal. Food for thought.

It's a good thing the class is required because there is no way I would have ever chosen to take it. It's been painful. Not just because I appreciate capitalism, but because I never took philosophy or sociology in my undergrad or Master's programs. It's pretty deep stuff and it takes forever to read and actually understand. It's all abstract and I prefer practical. Even though I don't like it, I'm glad I've been exposed to it. It's made the Take Back Wall Street coverage much more meaningful.

Before this class, I would have been very frustrated with my nail salon worker. Not mean, but internally frustrated. Instead, I spent my time thinking about our exchange from her point of view and how frustrated she must be living in the Midwest. I tried to do something that I am not good at. I tried to empathize.

My husband and I went to Spain for a week in June. We don't speak Spanish. The last three days we spent on the Mediterranean coast at a hotel. We didn't hear a lick of English. People looked at us funny. If there is an "American" look, we must have it. It was very lonely and we were ready to come home.

This must be how my nail salon lady feels every day. And she doesn't get to go home. Maybe this class wasn't all bad.

P.S. I am not the lady in the bikini:).

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