More peace, spiritual assembly, and meaningful movement.
Class. Not many left this term. Am I upset. A little. I’m here, though, and I’m moving… They don’t care, the department, the full-timers, the administration and certainly not those shiny high-tower pig trustees and the “board” they form. Getting to the office this morning I can only think about that, even this morning when both kids were rioting and protesting everything around them and in life all I could see was the classroom last night. Going over how Black Boy ended and what narrative means, tossing ideas from one side of the classroom to the other. That’s my place, but now not. And not the physical of it, but what it embodies, the classroom—thought and freedom, liberation and ascension of self and more toward what you want from life. It’s more than learning for me, more than reading a book and answering questions, more than essay assignments. It is the classroom, but not. Not at all. It’s where you feel your story deciding itself and with you certain directions. No idea what I’m saying, post-kid upheaval, but I’m seeing them get older and myself get older and everything moving forward, and moving faster than I am right now, this morning. So…. The students, their notes, this one student taking notes and highlighting in different highlighter shades, little marks as to bring her attention to one point and another. I’m more a student than them, I often feel. This morning I feel like I’m behind in a class, or something. Like I need to make up something, get credit for something I’ve missed. Is it not having a class? I mean, does it bother me that much? In a word, yes. But then, no. I’m relieved I won’t have to go to campus and walk down that outdated hallway and to the conference room that looks and smells and feels and then again smells like something from the 80’s.
When I saw myself teaching, in high school when taking Mr. Sullivan’s Creative Writing course, I didn’t see this. The adjunct thing. I promised myself I wouldn’t write about this anymore, but this morning I’m wondering why… why can’t I have what I envisioned? You can. Just with different framing, I guess. I need to assemble self, snap out of this, snap out of it quicker than quick. I need to re-write this present, put self in the classroom—What if the students were reading this? I think. What would they think of the character, Mike, what he’s feeling now? What if I were reading, while I write about me reading but then more a reader than the present writer? Clear, Mike needs to shift a few masses and belief movements. Be more free and wild, FREE in his writings, teachings. And just ‘cause you’re not at an institution anymore does NOT conclude your teaching, academic, thoughtful life. I’ve said all this to myself before but not with this sharpness of zeal.
Before beginning my workday, typing here in the breakroom as I often do, I see the syllabus. The day, a class. Hours 1 through 8, and past. What happens in each? I’m not going to write it out like an actual syllabus, but in sight I have certain points I have to hit…. Shit, more of the promissory notes. Just be in moment, retreat into writing so you don’t have to retreat as the JC is. And yes, they are the ones retreating, not me. They don’t have a section for me, and that’s the push I needed. To fall further into these pages and offer what I offer to students with more encompassing edge. Getting caught up.
Richard Wright, and reading his book with students, has reminded me of the self, and what it can do for the character, how things can be reshaped when you request such of self. However many meetings I have remaining with English 100, I’m set to spring into a more rewarding and exploratory angle of my book, books. My frames and stories and settings, senses. Everything around you is there not so much for a reason, but for furthered reasoning and so you can punctuate and self-prove in your own reasoning. So, there’s no more scheduled classes for me. So what. I schedule my own. MY, OWN. The way I speak in the classroom, now, will be the way I write, the way I note and decide more knowledge for Self. SRJC will determine NOTHING for me. Why did I ever feel upset about not having a class, ever? This isn’t the first time. Past terms, I’d nearly, well, not so much beg but much closer to begging for assignments than I’d ever want to be. Calling and asking if something had opened up, if there were any sections that somehow I could fit into my, at the time, wine industry life. Now, at the tech company, my schedule is more predictable and more aligned with ubiquitous work models and weeks than the wind world. Means, I can only have a single night section. There isn’t one, and I move on. That simple. No more thinking about it. Only notes on today, and what I want to learn, what ideas I want to share. And that’s how I’ve always seen “teaching”, as a genuine and humble sharing of ideas and not some tight accordance to a course outline and reaching a word count for sakes of reaching it, a number, a count, a contrived demand.
We need to see ourselves as answer mills, that we can get to destinations with principle autonomy. That overthought and wondering which way to next turn and whose permission do we land to move…. Just stop. Stop. You are your best educator, your most excited and lively, hungry student. This whole matter with the Junior College is only a matter as I’ve made it a matter. What if I stopped? What if I halted? What if you just didn’t give the momentum to what you do? What if you saved it all for yourself? All the angst would be axed, all the stress would stop. So this morning, let’s promise each other, to catalyze our own revolt, our own re-write. For ourselves. No department, no office, no institution, nothing on outside. Here we are, and we move.
Knowing that life is here and then not, you’re thought clear, again taught. By self to self. Nothing and nowhere, no one else. Today teaches me… no more compromise.. no more approval need, not that there ever really was one. I’m just hearing the day speak, I’m listening, I’m composed and decides, sensible and vast. Only answers in this room with me.
time. No time to waste and no time to wait. All minutes are instructional, all times in your story narrate something to you, teach, they demand your direction and response. Gems compile right in front of you. Eyes should be ever present nets. Catch everything.
Notes to catch up on, and other directions pushing and pulling this morning. On a fast, for I believe 16 hours. For no other reason than discipline. Last night the discussion with students on Wright’s Black Boy coerced me to re-think memoir, to rethink writing in its principle territory. Writing, especially memoir or personal essay, or “creative nonfiction” a genre or type tag that I frankly loathe as what nonfiction isn’t in some degree and walk creative?—Demands more honestly. More boldness, more rawness and the moment itself in all its obtrusiveness and oscillation of concentration and code.
People walk into the room, this breakroom, I think new hires as I’ve never seen them before. Or– Friend Taj walks in. I tell him what I’m writing about more or less and what we spoke of last night in class on Wright. The Human dimension and collection of facets, emotions, observations. I tell him about the student last night who said he can’t relate to the characters in the book as he didn’t live as they did, or didn’t see what they saw. I disclose to Taj how I asked the student “Do you love anything?…Have you ever felt pain?…Do you have a mother?” The student I think felt a bit overwhelmed or confused maybe by my response, but I stood by my point and I at least wanted him to consider it. Taj sees where I’m going with the thought framing and delivery. He’s since left the room, after getting his tea. Now a lady makes coffee or something from one of the machines, and I think fixes it or installs a new filter, something.
I’d be not much a memoirist or narrator if I didn’t put to page I was again sparring, fencing, or just plain boxing with a mood this morning. Similar to the one I felt yesterday before the Pinballing piece, and very akin to what was over me last week. And, honestly, I’m bored of feeling like that. I need Newness. I need be crazy and more wild and flight-prone. Just taking off and not asking permission from any control tower. The JPR project here at work very much was not so much a cause of the mood but a set presence in the mood’s movement. I stop it all, taking this 30 minutes or so to this seat, these keys, going over in head what was discusses last night, and that one student, AGAIN, reading for class and having us wanting more of the words, more story, wherever it was going. And that’s just it, he had us not knowing but wanting to know. There was not so much excitement but obvious atmosphere and personality in the characters and what they may have been doing, or not doing. This student not only shows promise as a memoirist, essayist, but as a teller, narrator, truth-teller.
Now, I plan the day. This fast I’m on, what notes I have to input, and how the book’s going to tell EVERYTHING.
-Coffee cooling in old tumbler, black, bought as xmas present
-More people walk in for either eats or free coffee—eats, as I can’t see them, obstructed by newly-built wall which denies view of fridges
-Me, Mike Madigan, only one in here, certainly the only one writing memoir, story, any poetic effort to capture a Now
-No more oscillation, new code
-Sip coffee again
want to learn more about your story, and why you are where you are, doing what you’re doing.
After a day of collection, and a week of ceaseless collision.
You rebuild and reconnect with self and your music.
the best, most present and relevant instructors.