So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

31 March, 2010

The flesh endures the storms of the present alone; the mind, those of the past and future....

I was unaware that a particular bullying and cyberbullying case had led to a bunch of local action before it was drawn to my attention recently.

I am incapable of commenting on the particulars of the case; I haven't looked into it. I honestly find the whole subject more than a bit triggery, so I cringe and hide when it comes up, a lot, rather than put too much thought into it, to trying to figure it out, trying to empathise.

You see.

I spent about ten years almost entirely unable to cry.

It's still hard for me, and I'm more likely to get a piercing headache that feels like my eyes are being crushed out of my head instead of tears, along with the driving need to shed tears and no capacity.

Tears would prove that they had won.

And that was even more unbearable than what they put me through.

So I held my tears until I was safely off the bus and away, out of sight, out of earshot, held them until I got home, held them, held them back, probably fooling nobody but that didn't mean I didn't need to try, until I could do nothing but hold them, frozen into veins of ice in my heart that have never fully melted.

Somewhere in there my parents tried to talk to the school administrators, who said "Boys will be boys" and shrugged; sexual harassment and at least borderline assault were nonevents. (And I look at the person who commented on the article I linked who wants to know what caused the "recent uprising in bullying" and wonder what fucking planet they're from. Nobody has ever cared to fucking stop it. I mean, the closest I've seen to any general awareness or giving a damn about it was post-Columbine? And maybe they're doing something about it in Massachusetts because of this poor girl.) Things like getting invited to a slumber party at an address that didn't exist ... well, the gash left by that hope that someone was interacting with me in a manner other than mockery didn't even register as something that needed a bandage, in amongst everything else.

I've said before that nobody escapes childhood unscathed, but some of us had a rougher time than others.

And I sit here thinking, "I have a child. I have a child. My gods, I have a child."

She is eight months old and I am terrified of school for her. I flail helplessly at all kinds of ways of doing schooling for all kinds of reasons, but a lot of them come down to this:

I'm still bleeding.

Somewhere deep in me is that kid who cannot cry, who views every human interaction with distrust because they all turn to ash and mockery sooner or later. That touchy agitation jumps too far, too hard, at any slight, any dismissal, waiting for the signs that it will turn into the knife twisting in the gut.

I'm still bleeding.

Even those people I trust most completely, most utterly, can make me jump. A bad day, a moment of distance, and I'm braced for the snap. Sometimes that bracing is worn smooth and old, a bare lump of awareness, something where I can ask my lion "Are you okay?" rather than half-hiding, half-cowering in the far corner of the room because I assume something's going to shatter and leave me bereft and laughed at, catching the sudden horrific backlash of a joke half my life in the making. I don't believe it will happen - but there's that sliver of horribly twisted, broken person in me that knows it has to be prepared.

I'm still bleeding.

My baby is so innocent.

I'm so scared.

26 March, 2010

Right-Wing Irony Oops

This in from The Moderate Voice:

Conservative thinktanker David Frum was fired soon after his criticism of Republican obstructionism over health care reform, with his boss claiming, well, y'know, times are hard.

Turns out a lot of these policy wonks have think tank jobs ... for the health coverage.

22 March, 2010

Nose to the Grindstone

A friend recently linked to this article, titled 'Why Self-Discipline is Overrated'. Which ... I recognise me in it, despite the fact that I have kind of terrible self-discipline.

Though I certainly internalised the notion that moral rectitude is in part measured by how good one is at knuckling down and doing What Must Be Done.

But one of the things that it reminds me of is the style of "schooling" intended to shape children into good, obedient workers, rather than critical thinkers, innovators, or even well-informed and knowledgeable citizens. Under some bits of the history of school development, none of those things are actual desired goals - which explains why the system stinks at producing them. No, the system is supposed to produce "self-discipline", pretty much.

But the stuff about going to college? Portrait of the blogger as a teenager. And a few other people I know, besides:

Dutiful students may be suffering from what the psychoanalyst Karen Horney famously called the “tyranny of the should” -- to the point that they no longer know what they really want, or who they really are. So it is for teenagers who have mortgaged their present lives to the future: noses to the grindstone, perseverant to a fault, stressed to the max. High school is just preparation for college, and college consists of collecting credentials for whatever comes next. Nothing has any value, or provides any gratification, in itself. These students may be skilled test-takers and grade grubbers and gratification delayers, but they remind us just how mixed the blessing of self-discipline can be.

I was a nerdy kid. I'm still an autodidact, pursuing levels of in-depth knowledge on subjects of interest to me - but of course those subjects fit remarkably poorly into any instructional pattern. I was bad at most of my homework, because - as the article notes - so much of it is utterly pointless, and that much was evident to me from the age of, y'know, seven or so.

But in college? I had no idea what I was doing. I had nebulous goals for the future, none of which were dependent on a degree, but getting a degree was What One Did and An Important Experience, so I tried it. (It didn't work out, but that's neither here nor there; I both know people who, like me, went from "stressed to the max" to "broken" and people who scraped through with a degree they found meaningless aiming them at a life that didn't feel like it went anywhere.) The whole value in college was the "discipline" of it, and the "won't it feel so good when you've accomplished". I had no space for finding the place to learn - and do - what I loved.

I didn't even figure out what I wanted to be doing for something like ten years after I dropped out. Because I didn't have the tools; I just had the discipline thing (and the knowledge that I kind of fail at it).

I think of this now, for two reasons - one, that I'm having a major shitfit about the conservative/discipline approach to living and the way it devalues more spontaneous and intuitive attitudes right now, entirely unrelatedly, and two, because I'm seriously considering how I might want to actually go back to school. And ... what I want is a particular Master's degree. And to get that, I ... need a BA. So I've been trying to find something that I can do, that fits in with my life, that is also work that I love, because if I have to hit this particular hoop, I want to do it for more than the discipline.

(In a fit of irony I'm trying to make sure I get at least a post a month up here despite being profoundly occupied with Little Foot. Discipline! Perseverance!)