Saturday, July 28, 2012
Once I had a job offer to relocate to Manhattan and become a rock journalist. I gave it up.
Once I only wanted to be a celebrated academic, a great scholar of literature. I gave it up.
Once I wanted to live in Spain and never come back to this mess called America. I gave it up.
Once I vowed to never marry or have kids. I gave it up.
Once I was on the road to getting my first book of poetry published. I gave it up.
Once I decided that I'd never speak to my father again. I gave it up.
Once I had a stable job, enough money to buy a house and financial security for the rest of my life. I gave it up.
Once I thought that family was the most important part of life. I gave it up.
Am I sorry? Am I glad? Does it matter?
It's just life. We all give things up. And we aren't always better because of our choices.
Whether I'm depressed or happy or angry or bored, I'm still here. I won't always be here.
The body has to give it up.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
The wife of one friend asked me about my job. I told her that it sounded a lot better than it actually was. She talked about prestige, and I reiterated my earlier point--all of that was frosting on a cake that needed a few more eggs. My job is not my identity. But it serves as one to those who don't know me, because that is really all they have to go on.
I'm now teaching yoga classes--mainly yin yoga. I can talk about that part of my life with so much joy. But when it comes to my day job, I slip into negative thoughts. I think about the salary cuts and wage freezes, along with the increased work load. I see the inequality between administrator and instructor. It mimics what Jonathan Shay calls the betrayal of what's right. Moral law gets flushed down the toilet. Let me give an example:
One instructor had a facebook page. He is a man of very dry wit. Some people aren't keen on this approach to life. In March he was brought up on charges of harassment. He had made no direct references to anyone, showed no images of coworkers, nor was he trying to expose any dark secrets. Our front office had spent months tracking his page, gleaning it like Ruth and Naomi in the fields for possible nuggets to use against him. They call this work.
If one is offended by internet content on Facebook, he/she can flag the page. Moreover, if it is a work matter, the rules at my job specifically say that the offended party must confront the alleged instigator. If no resolution takes place, then it goes to the department supervisor. If that fails to solve the matter, then the incident(s) should be brought to the administration. We all had to take harassment tests, so I remembered these rules specifically. Oddly enough, the front office did not. They bypassed all, save the last one.
My friend got two lawyers, one for criminal law and another for employment harassment. They saw no case. Furthermore, they saw cause for countersuing, as it appeared that there was an intent to destroy this man, not to solve the problem of possible harassment.In short, it wasn't business--it was personal.
It looks like my friend will be fine, aside from the damage to his reputation with the pitter-patter of gossip. It also seems that certain powers are very embarrassed by this incident, as it had nothing to do with students, it reeks of entrapment and it shows the fine line between basic civil rights and authoritarian employers. How can you give to Amnesty International with one hand and stifle legitimate expression with another? Contradition: thy name is pettiness.
My friend has a Ph.D in English Literature. All he ever wanted to do was teach, write and construct curriculum. College gave him the means to fulfill his promise. But the working world doesn't care about your inner goals. Even above profit, work aims for order and obedience to the dominant ideology. Unfortunately, people are messy and emotions are even messier. Subjectivity is all about illusion--in the workplace, in relationships, in belief systems. As long as we see what we want to see, we will end up seeing nothing at all.