Live and Learn

By Luis Bahena
City Times

I always find myself asking the question, “How much can people find out about you by learning about what you do?” This question was most recently raised by a small assignment I had in my English class.

For my English class, we were told to bring in an article to share with the class on our next meeting. We had been short on time so the teacher didn’t really announce what type of article to bring.

We had read a chapter in our text book about photojournalism, so I assumed we should bring in an article that is accompanied by a picture.

I hadn’t put much thought into my assignment until the day before class. I was at home when I realized that I had to look for an article. I have a lot of magazines at home ranging everywhere from health and fitness, men’s fashion, electronic gaming, movies and television entertainment, and Vogue.

I looked through a few magazines before I found an issue of Vogue from September. Vogue’s September issue is usually pretty big, in this case, it was around 700 pages.

The cover featured Kirsten Dunst in the portrayal of the Marie Antoinette. This was in reference to Sofia Coppola’s latest film, Marie Antoinette.

I got interested in the article regarding the once-queen of France. The article was about Marie Antoinette’s fashion sense and style, and how she basically revolutionized the fashion scene in Versailles back in the 18th century.

I was so entranced by the article that I decided to bring this in to share with the class. It was also accompanied by beautiful pictures of the actors from the movie photographed by the famous photographer Annie Leibovitz.

As a safety precaution, I decided to bring in my Vanity Fair magazine, around 500 pages, as well since it had this really nice ensemble of photographs telling a story, also photographed by Leibovitz.

So there I was in class, with two huge magazines in my desk, when I decided to pull my view from my magazine to look at the room and see what my classmates had brought in. To my surprise, almost all of my classmates had brought in articles of current events.

When the teacher instructed us to just introduce the type of article we had brought, I felt so out of place, being the only student who brought in an article about fashion, while all my other classmates decided to bring articles on the war in Iraq, or something regarding a suicide pilot.

It was in this moment when it hit me, “what will my classmates think of me? How does this circumstance shape their perception of me?” I felt it was an interesting thought, and I realized how disconnected I was from current events.

Yet at the same time, I defended my disconnectedness by formulating reasons why I was indeed so disconnected. For instance, I work full time, I’m a student part time, and I have too many worries such as car and insurance payments on top of my already plethoric amount of bills.

I realized that although my article was very different from those of my peers, I was ideally content with what I had decided to share with my classmates.

Sure, it was very irrelevant to what everyone else had brought in, but in a sense, it was a reflection of my interest. I wasn’t going to feel embarrassed for myself for expressing my interests and opinion on a subject that was a little unclear to begin with.

It wasn’t until we began with our sharing of articles that our teacher revealed to us that she had wanted us to bring in something “controversial.”

I said to myself, “My article is controversial, not many people liked Queen Marie Antoinette. She was eventually beheaded!”

By the end of class I didn’t put much thought into what my classmates might have had thought about my article. Besides, somehow, the discussion in class had turned to a discussion regarding celebrities. I think I may have been responsible for steering the conversation towards that direction.

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