Sunday, December 26, 2010


I took a course called "The Nature of Drama" during my undergrad time at WSU, and one of the plays we read was Albee's "Zoo Story," a very fine two-character, one-act play. In it, a character named Jerry interacts, torments, cajoles the other character. I remember the discussion about this play, which is strange, because I don't remember much about my undergrad classes (or anything else, for that matter), but this discussion stuck in my head. We discussed why Jerry was driven to act as he does, and the professor said that it was because Jerry was ignored. People probably looked past him when they crossed paths with him. And that when people are ignored and marginalized, they are driven to desperation. The professor commented that the worst thing that one person can do to another is ignore him/her.

Years later, I would have to agree with this. I get ignored quite often in the course of my career. I feel my voice is barely heard. The students I teach probably have orders, instructions, and pleas shot at them all day, and they have developed the armor of apathy. I think half the time they truly don't hear me. I sometimes have to yell at them, and then they finally pay attention, but that always makes me feel wretched. But being ignored is worse. And I think women in particular get ignored more as we get older. We no longer have "high and tight" to our credit, and of course that matters most in a male-oriented, youth-obsessed culture. So as a woman ages, she becomes invisible. I would think a rare species such as myself (over 40, no husband, no issue) would command a little more attention, but because I don't have a little nucleus to command like most women, I think I get ignored more.

The worst is when I am marginalized by people who I thought cared about me. Some people probably get louder, more insistent and clamorous and become impossible to ignore, but I've never been like that. I think that when I get ignored (by people who I thought cared about me), my soul agrees. It curls up in the tiniest corner possible. It hopes that someone might notice its suffering, but it is so quiet, so silent in its corner, that no one pays any attention. And it gets smaller and smaller. Eventually it will just evaporate and leave no trace.

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