Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"When I get home..."

“…you’re so dead” or worse, “grounded”. I never liked to be on the receiving end of that kind of phone call from my mother; I was at the prime peak of my (then, young) teenage life, constantly wanting to hang out with my friends, or stay out late at a party – “because I’m fourteen now, mom”—so of course, a ‘natural’ dislike of being grounded always accompanied my adolescence.

I’m not going to lie – I built ‘forts’ more than once in my young life whenever I was stuck at home, and to this day the simplicity yet strength of my chair/blanket/pillow forts remains unrivaled to this day (probably because collegians do not have dorm forts or fort wars).When I was eight (or nine…or thirteen), forts were a way to keep out the ghosts, the boogeyman, or mom who wanted you to do (insert chore here). Now I kind of wish I still built forts in my apartment back home –they remind me so much of what being “grounded” now means to me.

Yes, to children, being ‘grounded’ means no parties, TV, toys, until however long it takes for you to “go to your room and think about what [you’ve] done” (which, coincidently, always varied depending on how long mom felt you should ‘think’). For me, ‘grounded’ seems to imply ‘having a foundation’ or even having something helping ‘keep your feet on the ground’. In a sense, I have some kind of (sub)conscious urge to be grounded once in a while: it would give a chance to be at home, a chance to go to my room and think about what I’ve done.

Though I originally wanted to title my paper “what’s in a name”, I still think that much of what Jasmine/Jyoti/Jane goes through is still applicable in the context of my (tangent/anecdote). There is so much power that comes in a name, and in knowing someone’s name. When [your] mom, dad, figure of authority in your household calls (‘summons’) you by your full name, you know something’s wrong, and chances are you’ve ‘done something wrong’. When your name gets called out at graduation, when you’ve scored a basket or a goal, or even when your name is said at your wedding, that person becomes empowered – people like hearing their name associated with something good, some achievement that recognizes what that person has done and gone through.

There’s the scene in Jasmine, where Karin tells Jasmine that she “wrote [Jasmine’s] name on a piece of paper” then “lit it with a match” (202); though the scene itself is complex, the notion that burning a piece of paper with a name (the name of someone Karin “blamed” for her divorce from Bud) could offer some sort of relief or release stress is striking.

Everywhere Jasmine/Jane/Jase has been, she has been “given” a name; she has “had a husband for each of the women [she] has been” (197). In kind of a similar manner, we too are given different names or titles depending on where we are: e.g. “sir”, “Dr.”, “Mister”, and last names only or nicknames. I think what matters is what we are named by the people we love and who love us: Jasmine notes to Taylor “I have family (Du) in California” (239). Jasmine herself seems to be proud (or at least aware) of each of her ‘names’ – they have, in essence, define her and hold much of her storied past. I guess I would advise to use names carefully…you never know when you’ll be calling your kids or your friends kids by their full name and how much of an impact “grounding” them will really have.

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