haunted by the ghost of a homework assignment

About a hundred years ago when I was in the fifth grade, I had to do this project that drove me absolutely mad. I was assigned a historical figure and had to present an “autobiographical” oral report. Now that I’m grown I recognize how cool the project was, and the impact it has had on my life, but at the time I was bitter. Super bitter. My classmates had some really cool people, and I was assigned this old lady:

The problem was that I would have to dress up like her and give an account of my life and there was nothing sexy or exciting about dressing up like Aunt Bea, you know? My friends who had Susan B. Anthony or Pocahontas got to wear costumes; I got to dress up like my grandmother.

Now as an adult, I recognize that Eleanor Roosevelt’s politics don’t line up with mine, and that her personal life was a bit scandalous depending on what you read and who wrote it. Still, she did some amazing things that I admire. I find a kindred spirit in her work for human dignity through civil rights activism and her work with the poor. Her writing, too, inspires, if not always because of the content, certainly in the scope.

In the end, though, what I appreciate about good ole Eleanor is the inspiration I find in the multitude of quotations that pop up on the internet. Nothing says posterity like Bartlett’s Quotes on-line, whether or not context matters. Context or not, she says some good stuff.

As I face some new challenges, both professionally and personally, I find myself inspired by this interesting woman.

You must do the things you think you cannot do.
~Eleanor Roosevelt

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