Okay, graduation is over, and just in time for the end of school, some of you will notice from a certain missing post that yes, Amy Lane, showing a learning curve the shape of a dead vampire’s heart rate did, indeed, screw up her almost perfect record this year of not shooting off her big fat mouth on the blog and getting in trouble for it at work.
You’d think I’d know better. Hell, I PRAY DAILY that I have learned better. Alas, I don’t know better and suffice it to say that the same monsters who hid in the library closet and ran tales to me were just as happy to run my BLOG to the last person I wanted to see it. And now I’m in trouble.
And I deserve it, and that’s all I want to say about that. (Really. I don’t think I can say any more on the blog without pissing someone else off and making it worse–and what I really want to do is run back on campus and make it better, but I have to wait until Monday.) Anyway the whole incident did make me think, in a way that’s been niggling in the back of my mind all year, about the difficulty of people (okay, maybe just me) forming attachments in this profession.
Teachers spend their day with their students.
I mean, I know it sounds obvious, but really–who are we supposed to bond with? It’s supposed to be our classes, isn’t it? We’re supposed to be there for our kids. And when I first started here, that’s what I really loved about our staff–we bonded with our kids. But there’s a couple of problems with putting all of our emotional eggs in this basket.
A. The kids come and go. And as much as I love them, and as much as I love it when they come to visit, the fact remains that the people I love most about this job desert me a lot. It hurts.
B. The teachers (at least in our school for a while) also come and go. For a short, blissful time, I had several teachers on campus that I could shoot off my big mouth to and they could help me come to my senses before I went and did something just this stupid. They have since gone, and although I still have Lady in Red, she is just as busy, and just as isolated, and just as cross campus as I am. There’s no dodging into the classroom next door to talk to one of my few remaining buddies–she’s 1/2 a lunch-period away.
C. The people left in my department are good people. They are smart and funny and wonderful. They are also mostly all men with a mentality swept in a 180 degree arc from my own. They think I’m from Venus. Most of the time I think they’re from Mars. Sometimes, I think they’re from hell, but mostly, really, it’s Mars. We respect each other (I mean, if nothing else, Venus does have her own gravity and mass, right? You don’t want to get in her way when she’s having a hormonal nadir) but we don’t always understand each other.
D. The kids are kids. They are all about the drama–even the best of them–and it’s easy to forget that we are not all about the drama as well. I’ve seen old and gray men get caught up in the uber-angst of a really charismatic, drama-ridden high school student. The fact that I get caught up in the sturmunddrang without even realizing it goes without saying. As adults, our peers can be the mirrors of our behavior, to show us what is outrageous and what is sane. As teachers, we (I) often forget that our students may serve as our mirrors, but they’re more like funhouse mirrors–their perspective is often skewed by their youth, by the hermetically sealed school culture, and by the fact that we spend five hours a week locked in a tupperware petrie dish with them. Bonding with them to the exclusion of adults is easy, but it sure isn’t wise.
The absolute loneliness of these circumstances was brought home to me by a series of moments that I think the powers that be will forgive me for talking about.
A. One of my all time favorite administrators is retiring. I respect this guy about as much as I’ve respected ANY authority figure at ANY time in my entire life. (My clan isn’t big on authority. This total awe and respect was something of a revelation for me.) As he gave his (brief, informal, lovely) last words to us as a group, he said, “Take care of each other. That’s one of the things this staff needs to work on.” I wanted to cry when he said that, because when I was thinking about it, I couldn’t pin down one person on campus who needed me to help take care of them.
B. One of my colleagues from Mars (who has said outright that he doesn’t give a shit about the blog, period) was in his room and I went to talk to him about my latest disaster.
“You fucked up,” he said, shrugging.
“No, no. You fucked up.”
“But…that’s not fai….”
“You fucked up.”
“Fine, I fucked up.”
And then we talked about something else. And this encounter made me feel so much better than anything all day. Why? Because I fucked up, and he was still willing to talk to me. Now it’s very possible that any of the other men in my department, or even the very young women, would be willing for me to come in and shoot off my mouth and to, you know, be friends? But I don’t have a lot of time to invest in those friendships–I don’t go out after work. I spend 15 minutes of a 45 minute lunch in the staff room. I’ve known this guy for 13 years, and he can say “You fucked up,” and we both know that we still have to work together and it gave me, at least today, the sort of freedom that really good friendship does. But I don’t know how repeatable this moment is–and I don’t know anybody else this could happen with. This moment was serendipity, pure and simple–well placed but, well, isolated.
C. Another colleague brought his wife to graduation tonight. She loves paranormal romance and she ran up to me saying, “When’s Bitter Moon II coming out?” and we started talking books and authors and things we loved about books and authors and book stores and… and… and…
And her husband turned to me and said, “Look at you light up. I don’t see you light up like that at lunch. You come into lunch and you look like you’re going to kill someone, but right now you’re all lit up inside.”
“Oh,” I said, thinking about it, “There’s nobody at lunch who would give a shit about these things.”
And now I’m back to isolation again.
Of course, none of this is meant to excuse my initial fuck up, right? But it is starting to make something else, a sort of terrible, uncomfortable truth, very very clear to me.
I just wish I knew what to do about it, that’s all.