OK, let's talk about being unemployed.
Or, specifically, about ME being unemployed.
Technically, I can't go into details--officially, on paper, I was laid off. The reality is different, but after long consideration (and yeah, I consulted a lawyer), I decided to sign off and take the unemployment for a bit because, with the exception of the relationship I'm in, my life is a fucking disaster ATM.
I had a dual reaction to the job ending. On the one hand, I was relieved that I was out of there. I no longer loved my job like I used to; I no longer felt that I worked in the best office on the planet. On the other... on the other, I was no longer a part of a community of which I had been a part of for more than half of my life--22+ years of my life were spent as a member of the Lesley community.
While I was there, I did some amazing things, and I no longer need to be diplomatic about some of them. See, working in academia can be seven kinds of hell if you're not a professor or an upper-level administrator. There is an embedded prejudice against those of us who possess skills but no piece of paper--an attitude that if you haven't enslaved yourself to the establishment for a significant portion of your life to create A Unique Contribution to Human Learning (aka a Ph.D., or, as so many of us disdainfully call them, a Piled Higher and Deeper because too many of them aren't worth the paper the three copies they were printed on; there are exceptions to this--a dear friend, Roger Stritmatter, comes immediately to mind. His dissertation on the Earl of Oxford's Geneva Bible is a part of a revolution of thought on the Shakespearean authorship, and I remain in awe of his dedication and devotion in completing it, and have never forgotten running into him in downtown Amherst right after he returned from DC after examining the book... the moment a historian LIVES for, the discovery of a generation... But I digress into Shakespearean geekdom) you aren't worthy of notice or being taken seriously.
I take exception to that attitude. Mind you, I'm still paying off the debt for my useless BFA, and I don't know if I have the patience to undertake a terminal degree, either MFA, MLS, or Ph.D. (and, yes, dearest blurkers, I have at least three theses that are Ph.D. worthy. Sad, ain't it?). I KNOW I don't have the patience to play politics, and sadly, that is 75% of the process. To me, that's also a major fucking waste of my time and money. I am NOT forking over thousands of dollars for the privilege of kissing ass to some over-inflated egomaniac who thinks they know it all. They don't. Having a degree is meaningless if you don't keep on learning, if you don't keep an open mind and keep exploring, keep educating yourself and have the attitude that you ALWAYS have something new to learn, and sometimes my darlings, what you have to learn is that teaching is a two-way process--in the act of sharing YOUR knowledge, your students have MUCH to teach you, if not about your subject, then about yourself as a human being. And if you're too fucking arrogant, too fucking scared, too fucking insecure to be open to that, YOU SHOULDN'T BE TEACHING, ASSHOLE.
Gods, that felt good to say. REALLY good. And there are some people who know me well who are reading this who know who that was aimed at. One of the things I did at Lesley that remains a very proud achievement is the founding of their undergraduate Shakespeare company. Yes, I said "founded"--I did not, as publically reported, co-found it. I founded it. I was the one who named the company and gave my all the first season, including almost losing my job. I laid the groundwork that was built on when the company was revived in '93.
I was NEVER a theatre student of the professor now attached to it. I took two of her literature classes; nothing more. She had nothing to teach me in theatre, except, in the end, by negative example. I hope she has changed; I have heard she hasn't. That mades me sad; we were friends once.
I gave almost ten years of my life to that theatre company; by the time I left, I didn't know if I could ever do theatre again, I was so hurt and burnt out and betrayed. I've done very little theatre since then because my heart just wasn't in it. If you want to know why I am so
enamoured of Jim Jefferies, it's because his work... his work vindicated mine. After being told by this "friend" how wrong I was to think the way I do, to see someone up on stage--on fuckin' HBO, ferchrissakes!--spouting out the same kind of wrong shit that I've been writing (privately) for years... vindication.
The other great thing I did while there was being a part of the Staff Representative Advisory Council and spearheading Staff Development Day. Three years, and no regrets only pride and sadness that I couldn't finish out my term. I miss my compatriots on SRAC. But I am fiercely proud of what we managed to achieve in three years.
It hurts that I won't ever walk across campus knowing that I belong there. Academia... academia is an ancient culture. It's almost like belonging to a monastery or a cloister (no surprises--academia began with the Church)--you are a part of a dedicated community, a community with a shared purpose, an enclosed environment that many people join and spend their entire adult life as a part of, with the knowledge that they are safe and welcome.
I no longer have that.
It's painful--like a part of me is missing.
It's also AWESOME--LIBERATING! I no longer have to go into that place every day, no longer have to endure the personality issues, the politics, the silliness, the baggage that made the last few months there a soul-sucking burden.
There are people there I will always be in touch with--friendships began that I hope will endure. And there are other people I am joyful I will never, ever have to see again--their presence in my life was distasteful, horrible and unpleasant. And now... now, I can move on.
The next chapter is beginning. This week is all about organizing--making lists, figuring out a strategy, and getting a schedule. I have to get Mum settled; I have to find a new job; I also need to finish my rewrite and get my standup act on its feet.
And, of course, I also have a relationship that I want to invest in.
So, this song is over, but a new one is beginning. I'm looking forward to having y'all singing along.