Again, I ask for help…
Be present and alive…that’s all I ask.
That’s a lot. I know.
Disappear with great great effort to appear…
I appear first “present and alive…”
So I can slowly disappear.
It’s a rhythm thing.
Take a leap baby…it’s in the language, the paint. Bold, Italics, all those little
For the page.
The page, the room, it’s all the same
But I go to the cemetery now.
Not to die, to walk among the dead.
August 20, 2020
It was awful yesterday.
My film class.
I teach a class in film analysis. Yep, that horrible job of having to watch films and talk about them together. Poor me.
Never tolerate a complaint from me on this, okay? I get healthily paid for showing evocative films, guide my students through details of content and form, which is often a beautiful experience. But it was awful yesterday, just awful.
Zoom bombers—again—they made it “in the room” again yesterday, after having appeared there on Monday as well. They come in hollering terrible words, words I don’t even want to quote here in this blog, porno words, but worse, racially charged words, a spray of verbal bullets around the room. Zoom “bombers” is perfect nomenclature.
As instructor, I can “remove” them, but during this first week, it’s hard to slide so fast between screens and know who is who. The Zoom bombers use names I might not have on my roster and while I’m staring at all my students, I can’t immediately know who is legit, and who’s trickster. I don’t have my roster memorized, not yet. I’m fast but not that fast. It’s a big group. At some point, I managed to remove most out of the zoom bombers—techie vandals, who throw verbal grenades. They explode into the room and throw around all this horrible horrible language. In addition, yesterday someone threw a photo of a penis on one of the thumbnail screen shots. I’m just barely hanging by a thread, when one of my students points out this disturbing image on the screen. It’s a big class…I’ve got nearly 40 little tiles of faces in front of me, and the zoom bombers snuck in between, using fake names.
I’m not crying “victim” here. Yes I am. Yes, I am…I am….
I’m angry and pissed and hurt and I feel like it’s my fault. I’m trying to assure my students that they have landed in a class that they are going to love. Now they see a room fallen into chaos, and I don’t have the techy savvy to fix it fast. My rapier wit is useless against this barrage of offensive images and words. The coarse language hurts me, I feel it in my arms, my legs, my chest.
It was awful.
It messes with my usual paradigm: I try to wow them in the beginning. I want them to go home, chat with their family member(s): I imagine, I construct the narrative for them.
“I have this film class…looks like a totally cool class with a whacky teacher who manages to call on everyone, and really listen to what the class members say, plus, she makes us really think about stuff.”
That’s all I want. It’s enough. For now.
I try to wow them into constructing that narrative and maybe more so…I do this in all my classes…get them early, I want and need their buy in, and their trust. This way, as the semester unfolds, I can work less hard in keeping their interest, because they have already chosen, already perceived that this class is gonna work for them. They make that choice. It’s a powerful choice and may last over the next 15 weeks.
It has nothing to do with course content, or course form. It’s more fundamental, baseline perception, a construction of reality.
Back to the zoom bombers – they “won” for a few precious minutes, but it really damaged my belief, my energy, my positive joy that I was spreading, spreading the good news of thinking. The lesson of the day, which is to deconstruct genre together, was only a minor minor success. That discussion is usually top notch in my class, totally interactive, funny, smart, curious, passionate on lots of levels. Yesterday I was walking through mud, looking at my clock, “get me out of this hell” is what I was thinking…did It read this way? Did they, the big clan of young people (the older women too), get that feeling too? God I hope not. I tried to fool them. I tried a few tricks to fool them. How can they construct that narrative I want them to, when our class was bombed today? Here’s how it might go now:
“oh I have this film class, the teacher totally fucked up, because all these people came in, even with a photo of a dick…that’s right, we had to look at dic pic along with hearing the ‘n’ word, and all this other mean and embarrassing stuff. My teacher tried to handle it, but she didn’t really fix it. I don’t know… I don’t know if I want to go back to that class…Not sure I trust her to keep control of the space.”
Oh my god, I hope I’m so wrong.
August 21, 2020
No zoom bombers but serious tech issues with one of my two classes, again leaves me in quite the opposite state that teaching usually invokes. Passive, yes, passive construction for the passive feelings of not knowing how to fix the tech problems that arise where I’m flying between tabs to try to bring everyone into the room, my writers and actors, the ones with whom I am most “friendly,” with whom I am the least formal…theater kids, ready to put on shows – this class puts on the original plays, “Emerging Work,” the program I have built in my career at the college, something I’m leaving behind after I go, I hope. But this morning is not the place to talk about legacies. I’m just trying to get through the hour and a half, with more than 8 students—half of them did not “get into the room.”
If I have to fight the technology, I will never find the beautiful rhythm that I have for so long been working on, using as the rhythm section of my orchestral, jazz trio, my rock and roll, you name it, the kind of music I employ, I live in, I create while teaching… That sentence is so passive I’m almost tempted to cut it…but it reveals the problem…I’m not in the driver’s seat of the class…The technology is winning. I have no groove. My rhythm section doesn’t even have a bass player today. The chords! the Chords! give me some solid chords.
Another Big sigh.
More soon, my dear readers…at least I can type on WORD. When WORD fails me, my WORD WORLD crumbles. It is standing, and I am here, writing to you…for this, I am grateful. More soon.
I will look into better equipment…?