"For I had come to hate the world / This world that always hated me"

Three factors have diminished my love for Les Miserables over the years: 1) the cast’s performance at Clinton’s inauguration; 2) taking modern French history and studying La Salette and Rue de Bac; and 3) falling in love (part of me hoped I would die like Eponine).

As I go through my annual Lenten depression, those lines echo in my brain. For those who don’t know, they’re from Valjean’s monologue at the beginning of the Schönberg and Schönberg musical, after his forgiveness by the bishop:

Take an eye for an eye!
Turn your heart into stone!
This is all I have lived for!
This is all I have known!

My attitude towards “the world” has always brought me back to first grade. At the end of the day, a few minutes before the bell rang, the teacher would tell us to go to our cubies and get our “wraps.” As the other kids put on their jackets and shoes and got their belongings together, I would struggle with my laces and zipper. Then the bell would ring, and I’d struggle to get up, as all the other kids began running out the door, knocking me down in the process.

My elementary school class was probably the best peer group I’ve ever been in. From middle school through graduate school through teaching, I’ve had to put up with classmates (and now students) constantly making fun of me.

In elementary school, they didn’t make fun of me as much, but I still knew I was different, weaker, than they were. I hated it. I voted to excel in academics because I would always lag behind in everything else. I became the “class clown” to compensate. I got away with it, because a) I was smart, b) I was cute and c) my teachers felt sorry for me. So I would never get in too much trouble at school, even if I deserved it sometimes.

I have lived a life of being hated and mocked. And I have never seen the point in men’s rules.

Why should I have to dress a certain way, act a certain way, speak a certain way, just to try and please people who are still going to make fun of me, no matter how I dress, speak or act?


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