As I enter the second half of my life I find myself less motivated to fine-tune my language skills, preferring to focus on getting across the main idea and finishing off my message with gestures and (admittedly clownish) facial expressions. I might get the article’s gender wrong when I order my coffee, but if I still get the coffee who cares*?
My indifference certainly applies to German’s fiddly rules about genitive/dativ/accusative, but it also applies to English. I was just abut to look up the difference between stalactites and stalagmites, but then I realized that a.) I was going to forget the difference again fairly soon anyway, and b.) knowing won’t change the effectiveness of my communication. When I shout, “Jesus gay, people, RUN! There’s a stalagmite about to drop on your heads!”, you’re not going to look down, are you? You’re going to scan the ceiling and run like hell.
(OF COURSE I looked up stalagmite just now! Otherwise the joke wouldn’t work. Also, I was right – stalagmites grow up from the floor, stalactites grow down from the ceiling. Now we know. Doesn’t that feel good?)
My first boss, Deb, was amazing. She was kind and fierce and wise and competitive and compassionate and beautiful. She knew when we needed a champion, when we needed a lecture, when we needed a smile. She was absolutely clear, in word and deed, that she would fight for what’s best for people. She believed in our work, and showed us the difference our busy clinic made to our community and to our client’s futures.
When she told me that she had a special task for me, a job that needed my careful attention, I was so proud it felt like my heart was bursting. I was 23. The job was filing forms. I did it perfectly, grimacing with concentration even though I was pretty confident in my knowledge of the alphabet.
I spent the next 15 years at Planned Parenthood, filing ever-more-important forms, happy to be fighting the good fight the way that Deb taught me.
When I hear of churches that don’t allow female priests, I think of Deb and how much they’re missing. When I despair over Donald Trump as President, I remember Deb’s leadership and realize that middle management makes the fucking difference anyway.
It means so much to me to have Deb in my life now, even if it’s through Facebook and 5,000 miles. It chokes me up to think that I’m in her life, too. Thanks, Deb, for 10 months of direct supervision and a lifetime of pride, and hope, and love. You are amazing.