Midvale School for the Gifted Alumni Association

Monday, October 04, 2010

Not a Pretty Girl

Ms. DiFranco is going to show up quite a bit in this endeavor, so let me set the stage with this heavy hitter.

In graduate school, I took a course called Curriculum and Instruction, and one of the assignments in this course was to develop our personal educational philosophy regarding curriculum. By the end of this course, my life, as I knew it at that time, would have fallen apart; at this point, I was just trying to leave work early enough to make the class on time.

The introductory work to this assignment was to come to class with simply a personal statement; a piece of art, literature, music. Something we felt defined who we were. At the time of my studies, I was working part time at the Gap, and was friends with a girl who insisted I start listening to Ani DiFranco. I'd heard her album "Dilate" and I enjoyed it. She was insistent that I go further into her catalog. So, I had recently picked up the album, "Not a Pretty Girl". I listened to that album, alone, in my study room in the apartment I shared with my husband at the time, and I suddenly realized she was singing my life. From the brazen "Shy", which was NOT directed at my husband, to the plaintive and remorseful, "Sorry I Am", which was, every note seemed to echo an experience I was living at that moment. Two songs stood out from all the rest, my "theme"song, "32 Flavors" and the title track, which I initially thought to be my soundtrack. And it is, when I'm angry and trying to prove a point. It took me a while to discern the difference, but at that moment, I took "Not a Pretty Girl" as my own.

If you look at the lyrics to this song, it is a woman asserting herself in the face of adversity, a woman saying, I can handle this, and I can handle you, despite what you initially believed. And I needed that song at that moment, because sitting in the back of that class was a woman who, as a girl, was on the fringes of the group of girls who TORTURED me throughout elementary school. So, on my assigned day, I brought in my portable stereo, and my Ani cd, and I hit play, stood at the front of the room with my arms folded and stared down the room. I'm pretty sure that's the day Thom decided he was in love with me, and speeded the unraveling of my life, but that's another story for another day (and another song, too).

So, the fierce side of me loves this song. The fierce side of me will stick this song right in your face and force you to take note. The fierce side of me has never believed she was a pretty girl, and is still surprised when someone says otherwise. Still, put me down, punk. I am not a kitten stuck up a tree somewhere ;)

Not a Pretty Girl - Ani DiFranco

MP3 File

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Midvale School For the Gifted

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    "So I walk like I'm on a mission, 'cuz that's the way I groove. I've got more and more to do, I've got less and less to prove. It took me too long to realize that I don't take good pictures 'cuz I have the kind of beauty that moves..." Ani D.
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