Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fallen and Lost

Yesterday, I took a sub teaching job at a high school in Columbia, a dance class. What unfolded was the day from hell. I got to the school and realized that the teacher I was working for had neglected to tell me which space was hers for parking, and spent 10 minutes driving in circles until I found another teacher who could point me in a direction to an empty space. By that time, I was late arriving in the building, and classes were going to start in 5 minutes. I checked in with the office, and was handed a piece of paper telling me where to go, and then when I asked where the classroom was located, the woman brushed me off with an irritated, "down the hallway over there" and I headed out. I walked "down the hallway over there" and found no dance studio at all, but ended up locked in a corridor and unable to get out. I banged and banged on the door, bruising and cutting my hand, finally getting someone to let me out. This teacher led me to the proper classroom, and I walked into a room full of bitchy 15 year old girls with attitude seeping out of their pores.

Plans? Nope. This teacher didn't leave a single note for what I was supposed to do. I called the office once, then again, asking for them to find some kind of plans. They didn't. Finally, when a particularly bitchy foursome put on their ipod and proceeded to blast gangsta rap, I went over and told them to kill it. They were nasty, and probably deserving of a good ass-kicking, but I just walked away. I finally was told by the office to put on a video...which one, they had no suggestion. I found something and put it on. The bitchy girls continued to be bitchy, and loud, and then proceeded to direct their bitchiness at me. I went to them and told them they were too loud and that they were being rude, and that if they felt the need to continue, I would happily have them removed. They continued, and I put another call into the office to have them removed. At that point, the office decided they needed me in another classroom. I happily took the switch.

Math class. I did have a couple free class periods, which is rare at this school. They tend to really use sub teachers for all they can, with little appreciation. Finally the fourth period class arrived, and I was only one of three teachers in the room. The other two took care of things, while I sat back and pretty much helped with discipline. This was a class full of kids who were barely passing Algebra, and some felt the need to share with the whole room that they were, in fact, failing the class. I have rarely been in a classroom like that, full of students who are so rude and disrespectful that they will outright disrespect teachers to their faces, shouting and making threats, using obscene language at top volume, and generally refusing to participate in the class. It was like being in a circus, or a zoo. And in spite of my usual intentions to find the ways that kids are not being served and respected, all I could think about was how this class of students was a joke, and how unevolved they were. They were, for the most part, just not very smart, and it is a huge dicouragement to me when I consider that these are the "average" kids in one of the best school systems in the country. If this is "average" then there are a large majority of kids in this country with this kind of point of view. They don't want to learn, they just want to play with their electronic devices and feel like they are entitled to certain things - entertainment, respect, and no responsibility for themselves. It made me angry, and hopeless. There was no spark evident in most of these kids - no spark to learn, to fulfill their potential, to contribute something of themselves to the world. Just to get what they want, and if they don't, they'll pitch a fit.

I was slated to leave the school before the last class of the day, but the office called me at the last possible moment - the end of the previous class, after the bell - to tell me they needed me in another class to cover. They gave me a room number. When I asked who it was, and what class, I was told they had too much going on to answer those questions, to just go there. I was once more put off by the disrespectful, demanding attitude of the people who run this school. Part of me definitely wanted to go to the principal of the school and tell them my experiences there. But the other part of me said "fuck it." I can simply refuse to go there.

I left the school feeling edgy, aggressive, and pissed off. I had a huge headache. I was hoping that getting my hair cut would help with the day, and then had planned to go to DC to meditate. I ended up having an impromptu afternoon coffee date with a friend, which was a blessing, for sure, and then went off to have my hair cut. Which was also a major disappointment. The haircut was adequate, but not good - especially for the cost, and set off a whole new level of sadness, since my amazing stylist of many years died suddenly back in the winter. I left in tears, feeling crushed by the day. I didn't go to DC, I just didn't have the energy for anything more. I spent the evening in tears, wondering why I even bother to try to do anything at all.

I am still sitting with that. Why fucking bother is the question in my mind right now. Why bother going to get my hair cut and paying a lot of money for it when what I get is mediocrity. I could have gone to the Hair Cuttery, or just dreadlock my hair and not even think about it at all. Why should I bother to go into schools with an attitude of compassion and listening and wanting to contribute when I am faced with bitchy, entitled attitudes of children who don't have any desire to grow beyond their childish demands. Why should I bother making any contribution at all to a culture that is shallow and immature, that seeks entertainment and the most fancy, shiny new device, seeking happiness in material garbage? Let the fucking culture die a poisonous death. I don't care. I won't feed it, support it, help it along, or contribute to it in any way. Let it rot.

Which leaves me feeling lost and confused and full of sadness. I feel like a fish out of water. Sure, the water is poisoned, and I don't want to be in it. And now, I'm mostly not in it. But where am I? And what do I do now? I am not at all regretful of my path. I know who I am, I know what really matters in life, and I know that I want to cultivate my life from those points of view. But how do I do it if I feel like I am doing it alone? I don't have the energy for it. Not to swim upstream in the very poisoned water I have made such effort to pull myself out of. I don't have any answers at this point. I feel lost.

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