I had been in China for six days and had not caved once. I was looking for what I felt was the perfect memento for my trip. After drinking espresso with my colleagues at the base of the Great Wall, I wandered into the back of the store…then through a corridor, and into a room I didn’t know existed. It was crammed with Chinese antiques from the floor to the ceiling.
There wasn’t a soul in sight so I had the quiet luxury of taking a moment from my traveling group to wander the aisles. Armor, pottery, furniture, weapons…as I slowly stepped through the history of China and its artifacts I began to think, “Perhaps this is where I’ll find my memento.”
And I did. On my second trip around the room, my eyes rose to the glass encased artifacts behind the counter and I drew in my breath. “Stop, Kelly. They’re going to be too expensive.” I was already talking myself down from the purchase and didn’t even know their cost, much less their value.
As I peered closer, I knew which one I wanted. There were three doctor dolls behind the case, of various materials and sizes. And, of various levels of detail. But the one I wanted was ivory and so delicately carved that I could see the twists of hair in her bun.
It took almost an hour to buy her. I had not bargained so zealously for anything on this trip. Twice I walked out of the store. But in the end I had a turn of the century Chinese doctor doll, a certificate of authenticity and confirmation from the government regarding its validity, and a smile on my face.
I had found my memento and she had found me.
Why was she so important, you might wonder? Well, the reason was contextual. I was traveling with a group of marriage and family therapists and we were working with hospital and university training programs for the brand new and emerging field of family therapy in China. And…a theme kept emerging from these meetings.
“Our students want me to teach human sexuality classes to help them with their patients, but we don’t have those classes in China. And, I don’t want to teach them.”
“Most marital problems in China are written off as sexual problems, and because of that, couples simply get a divorce. You can’t really help sexual problems.”
“It is still difficult for females to have discussions about sexual issues with their doctors, let alone their therapists. We normally don’t talk much about such things.”
I first became familiar with Chinese doctor dolls when I watched the 1989 dark comedy, “The War of the Roses.” I’ll never forget that film. We had taken a friend who was going through a divorce. The movie was about a horrible divorce. I’ll let you guess about the success of our evening out.
In the opening scene, Barbara shows up at a Nantucket antique auction and outbids Oliver for a Chinese doctor doll. The conversation over that piece brought them together, and it was the last meaningful shred of their marriage that was shattered into a million pieces right before they killed each other in a long, drawn-out and tragic divorce. Continue reading Without Words: My Chinese Doctor Doll Has Come A Long Way, Baby→
Note – the content in this post is consistent with a PG-13 rating. Thanks.
I’ve been teaching “Human Sexuality and the Family” for four years and I still find myself surprised about what seems to surprise my students.
Thinking back to my predisposed assumptions regarding what students would, or would not, think through out loud in the classroom now seems ridiculous to me.
For some reason, I honestly believed college students were more sexually savvy than what I now know them to be. Perhaps this was because of the overt and raucous behavior I would occasionally witness among groups hanging out together on campus, cracking jokes and making continuous, “That’s what she said” interjections.
Perhaps, my misconceptions were because of insecurities on my own part. It could be that I was intimidated by their attempts to be intimidating…attempts to set up defenses so strongly reinforced that my own fears would keep me at bay from helping them learn what they were afraid to discover.
This group behavior I mentioned, however, tended toward simply masking the struggles and insecurities of thousands of young academics finding their way to adulthood – the majority of whom have little ease or comfort when it comes to really processing their own learning about human sexuality.
I thought it might be helpful to pass along some of the most tangential questions students tend to dwell on over and over. Understanding what students in their early 20s think about, find curious to discover, or debate about in the classroom could be helpful for our society to continue a dialogue that students seem willing to have. Therefore, I’ve prepared a few points drawn only from my single perspective in one classroom about who, what, and how sexuality is deconstructed and then reconstructed throughout a semester.
Students are highly curious about the “next life stage” and what that might mean for them and an intimate partner.
Last year during one of my “Human Sexuality and the Family” lectures, the students happened upon some information in our textbook they found especially intriguing. Evidently, there was a study cited examining why those our society deems as “attractive” women might choose to marry (again, what our society deems as) “unattractive” men. The debate heated up when pop culture examples were named by various class members. I think Woody Allen and former wife Mia Farrow were one illustration used as evidence to make their point. Okay, I could sort of see their reasoning on that one:
But then, they hit me where it hurt. They actually brought up the name of Garrison Keillor and his wife.
I’m sorry, but at that point they had trodden upon my sacred ground. Seriously, Keillor is one of my literary gods. Only a genius could write statements like:
“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.”
And even though I like cats, I wailed away about the beauty of his voice, his humor and his written word. They didn’t care…and I probably lost the argument. My students are excellent debaters. But as I began reviewing my Facebook page this morning (this was very early, pre-earthquake time), I began thinking about Keillor again because one particular comment caught my eye. I thought, “Okahoma is like Lake Wobegon, only – – it’s not fiction.” I then decided that perhaps I should occasionally write up a “news report” of sorts in the Red Dirt Chronicles. True stories. So, I’m starting now. And although I can only deign to approach the outskirts of Garrison Keillor’s shadow when it comes to wielding my proverbial pen, I believe I can count on our fair community to make up for what my writing loses.
Volume 1; Taxidermy and Interior Design: Domestic and Industrial
The Cherokee Hills “middle-aged plus a few years” Sunday school group drove to Meers, Oklahoma this past weekend to enjoy a scenic journey and eat a meal together at the famous Meers Store and Restaurant. Jim and Cina Gailey decided to drive separately because their shiny red T-Bird was well suited for this sort of thing.
But then Jim decided he was tired of driving, having already done that quite a bit earlier in the week. So they unloaded the car, and jumped in with the rest of the crew. 90 minutes later the entire entourage was standing in line, admiring the landscape and general beauty of the hamburger establishment.
Once inside, everyone had an enjoyable time ordering – laughing, joking and generally enjoying every minute of their outing thus far.
Their laughter died down, if only temporarily however, when they looked up and saw what hovered above them menacingly, as if to say, “Mess with me and I’ll drop the whole load on your plate.” Yes, the covered-in-dust ceiling fan became quite the target of concern at that point. Is dust bacteria-ridden? How much has to fall into your food before you should actually begin worrying? These questions and more haunted at least one or two of the more cleanliness-occupied Sunday-schoolers.
It wasn’t long, however, before the attention-limited group found another focus. Mr. Deer was hanging on the wall above the party to their left, and he also needed a good dusting.
“Dusty,” the ten-point wonder buck. Oh, and for those of you outside of Red Dirt Country, those hooves below are a gun rack.
Ah, poor Dusty. He looked much older than his years because layers of dust had been accumulating for ages on his whiskers, nose and face. Just about the time everyone’s stomach was churning over the sight, however, the food arrived. And just for the record, there is a reason why people keep going back to that joint in droves, in spite of any fossilizing dust accumulation.
While the group was eating, they were entertained with the fine art selection hanging on the walls. Notice the dusty frame and even the dusty slatted wood? The interior design theme of “Dust O’ Plenty” was consistent throughout the entire venue!
But the fun had to end at some point. Here is evidence of the fact that the food really is quite amazing…
On the way home, Red Dirt Kelly graciously kept her husband’s full attention by taking no less than thirty or forty shots of the wind turbine farm just west of the restaurant.
Later that week, a local Realtor posted a Facebook message asking her friends whether or not she should “…leave the mounted deer heads on the wall when staging her new listing to be sold, or take them down?” Several chimed in about the virtues of taxidermic interior design. Others wondered if perhaps the prospective buyers might be put off by the sight, just in case the deer in the home was bigger than that shot by them looking at the house. It might not be appropriate to demean their hunting skills right off the bat. Red Dirt Kelly, of course, chimed in about the virtues of dusting the deer heads, whether or not they were left up or taken down. The Realtor assured her they were well dusted and looked great. Appeased, Kelly sighed with relief and signed off until the next day.
When she signed back on this morning, however, she was met with another quandary posted by the same Realtor. Here’s the text of the actual post:
so I am about to do a preforeclosure inspection and house is stil occupied and he is a cop so if I carry I have to disclose it. figure that sets a bad tone. I guess if I am not on fb in an hour…it didn’t go well.
For those of you outside Red Dirt Country, “carry” means “gun.” I’m not sure how our gun-packin’ Realtor came out on that deal, but if I find out I’ll let you know.
In other news, a 4.5 earthquake shook the Red Dirt in our heartland today. Hordes of citizens immediately took to the Twitter air waves and began sharing their, “I was doing THIS when the 7.5 quake hit!” banter. Jokes were made about Gary England watching the quake on Doppler radar, and about the fact that Hefner Lake condos were evacuated as a preventative measure against a catastrophic Tsunami.
Then the Tweets died down, the people resumed their daily goings on, and that’s about all the news in Red Dirt Country this week.
Stay safe, dust your deer, and we’ll see you next time. Y’all come back now, ya hear?