See that? Everyone in the world can see and hear (and judge) my use of the “f word.” Same thing holds for all the content I create here in my Final Year of Teaching chronicle. Oh my, what will happen when my students and colleagues read my blogs? The truth will out?
I will use codenames and other devices out of sheer respect, of course. But will I let this notion of public writing infringe on my truth? then why write blogs at all? Logic people, Reason, people. So yes, I will not always say the “right thing” to keep in “good standing” whatever the fuck that means today. I’m hoping this year is my last one (of course, if I suffer a financial disaster of sorts I might be staying on ….augh…nothing in stone, now or ever, yes? ) Will I censor my blog according to the appropriateness? Perhaps, but I pray I call myself out on that very thing. I’m trying to keep track of a career from the inside out. (See website name, okay?) I plan to tell the truth.
So yes, today, August 14, was excruciating–listening for hours upon hours to folks’ drone on and on. It’s not that they are boring (they are) or that what they have to say is completely dull (quite the opposite) but most of them are NOT good speakers, their material is cliche and flat. They would defend themselves, rightly so, “We’re not performers like you, LePell, we’re just sharing our truths, not flailing and dancing all over the room.” Guilty as charged. Okay…
What’s so hard is the passivity of it all. I know we can “chat” in zoom room and if we’re really sharp, maybe we can write or read online while folks are talking. We can certainly “disappear” easily enough. That’s rude, but necessary sometimes.
It was grueling. No chance to join in the conversation.
I’d Never Do This To My Students…talk at them for hours. I barely talk for 5 minutes before getting another voice in the room.
It was so hard to be so passive, especially when the subject was so fiery–we spent ample time on BLM and Police Brutality. I scribbled down delicious new words and phrases: “Intentionality. Holding space. Village consciousness. Transformative Justice. (yum), allies, othering (I love that one), heteronormativing …(.yes, it’s a verb now too), deepening my ally self, an old fav, paradigm shift. Restorative Justice. Re-imaging the imagination. Lots of videos and speakers, more charts, more stats, more people to hear from. BUT…I just sit at my little desk, trying not to get a back ache. I can’t do “passive.”
I’m sorry, I just can’t do it well. I get up, walk in circles, do some yoga, look at the clock again and again. I eat way way too much, nibbling to fill myself up, because I am so quiet when I want to speak so much. Okay…big fucking deal LePell…”feelin’ a little shushed?” “Welcome to my world,” they might say. Okay, I hear you…big violin.
I applaud the community at my college for so fully adopting the use of THEY as a pronoun. THEY are doin’ great. My ears still pring with disturbance (I make up words) because for 55 years I’ve been trying to master grammar…only to fuck with it when I feel like it…indeed, draw the fucking vase before you try to do Pollickism (That’s a good one, ya think?)
Anyway, by the time the last meeting was underway, I inevitably leak a little built up energy in the form of a comment on yet another new…what do you call it, “program?” something about student pathways, some other whitewash academic speak for rushing our students through, get them in, get them out… blah blah blah, that is not going to make for compelling words. I grow all snarky and pissed off. Duh, I’ve been sitting in silence for hours! of course, I am cast as the sharp and shrill fury of the room. Okay, I’ll take it. I have to. Today. It’s a part I play, knowingly, consciously. But I don’t want to be holed into one role, so I’ll change my tone and maybe my costume another time.
I try to be nice. I do. I really do. It’s no one’s fault. Such warm and well-meaning folks at my college…it’s the Institutionalization…I’ve been IN it…I like to be IN it, and have been IN for nearly 30 years. Most people speak so positively when things get institutionalized, worked in, baked in to the institution. That scares the shit out of me.
So glad the day is over. Students on Monday. The ones who don’t give a shit about what we say in meetings or what agenda items get worked on or what task force is charged with what task. They come back to the classroom…the zoom room now.
I go back to imagining all their wonderful optimism; I inhale it. I get a little tingly. Surely, they will arrive fully equipped to learn, new supplies, new pencils, new hairdos…They are ready and eager…are they not? I have believed this for more than 28 years. I have imagined it each Fall for decades.
Oh yeah. Fuck it. If someone I work with takes the time to read my blog, or my students poke around here…HA! that’d surprise (and delight) me…no one is that curious. I hope they prove me wrong. Sigh.
Hmmm. First day of class in 2 days. Yay. For now.