misssylviadrake (misssylviadrake) wrote,

Self-acceptance: doing teaching tasks, going on trips, controversial subjects

Dear friends,

I've not made an entry for a few days. I will be journalizing today. Sitting here making my lesson plan, I know I teach to make the world seem realer.

I had been thinking about the past where I have taught (going back to 1987, that includes 3 colleges) and various opportunities I passed up where I might have made some kind of patron who would have helped me to get a contingent position but to tell it takes so long and in the end I am not sure I could have pulled it off. In most of my experiences when I tried that I failed and just wasted my time and somehow was humiliated. I was invited to do lots of work as an adjunct a couple of times and probably what was on offer perhaps eventually would be a contingent full time position (that's 4 sections) but it was not a sure thing and I know of others who took it up and never got anything; you had to know how to manipulate.  At these meetings adjuncts are at a severe disadvantage; just about anything can be said to you and I'm sensitive. I did have a few full timers who seemed to like me but none would help me and I did try a couple of times and they seemed not to know what I was getting at at crucial moments. The one interview I had for a contingent position had such a person there and I lost the position because I couldn't talk the talk (as you put it) of deconstructionism. I understand the concept and how to do it, but do it in plain English and that wouldn't do. I remember sitting there silent knowing I lost by this silence.

A friend called this the brutal realities and politics of contingent positions. Somehow that made me feel better.

Tales of 10 years ago these are. Now we have a new anti-literary scholarship and reading, strong imposition (with edged talk, overtly aggressive and territorial) in charge -- a product of our ugly times?  what people can get away with?  I saw this in the 1970s with people put in charge of composition departments at CUNY; precisely the same sort of people only different gender.

A good counter essay for what is going on not just where I teach but all over the US now: Lessons to be Learned from Paulo Friere by Henry Giroux in Critical Pedagogy: as the Mega Rich perspective (controlling it for their interest) take over education in colleges.

Jane Freilicher (born 1924) , Serenade (1993)


We also talked on Aspergers with Women about the difficulty of going on trips and one woman asked advice. I wrote: It's hard to help someone else because one needs to know more specifics than really can be given on a list.  As a general rule since following a routine is very important for me (I call this my "routs" -- Daphne DuMaurier used this phrase so we have a famous novelist as our validation here) so I try to bring things that enable me to replicate my routs. Books I love. I take some of my work. I know people cannot understand that, but I love my literary work and get bored and restless feeling I'm losing or wasting time. I don't do it all the time on the holiday but there are often stretches of time ... Nowadays my computer laptop with favorite DVDs of movies I enjoy immensely -- like costume dramas of older novels by Andrew Davies :) I watched all of Little Dorrit two Xmases ago and it made a nervous time much easier. A desperate time in Room, 1994: I read all of The Last Chronicle of Barset which I found in a battered English copy in a Roman flea market! I still have my copy.

I have a hard time preparing; I cannot get myself to know the dates quite or times as the whole thing is half-dreaded by me, but I have found if I force myself and know how we are getting there it's a help.  For the first time I went to a conference without my husband but with my younger daughter (I've never gone alone) and I forced myself to make an itinerary for her and me. We reall followed it and it made the days so much easier. Well now what are we to do now?  We had a couple of bad incidents where I was thrown and at a loss but generally I was okay partly helped by this itinerary.

I am better off when it doesn't go on for too long. 

To some extent I can't get over it -- like Mr Rogers said children can't get over some kind of fears; they are primitively there. When my daughter was scared she'd go down the plug, there was no way you could reason her out of it. We bought her a happy apple toy to jingle; someone stayed in the room with her the whole time (we might have done that anyway -- but we carried on past a young age).  So I know I get lost and feel frightened away from familiar territory I know. That's just the way it is, and I feel intense relief to get home -- even if I've had a good time.

So maybe one also has just to grit one's teeth and do it :) and live with these feelings. If I may move out to a large generalization when I finished my posting and hit send and now I've read some responses, I think a big measure of comfort might come from self-acceptance.  One problem in our society is people are taught, pushed into hiding themselves (for protection), pressured into conformity as if conformity no matter what is a good. It isn't.

Just accept that you are going to feel X, try to deal with it as far as you can, and where you can't, just live with it. Don't berate yourself. Make jokes if you can as you carry on.

That's not defeatist advice; it's advice for a brave victory of self-acceptance.  A ending stanza from an old English (Anglo-Saxon poem) translated by Michael Alexander (I used to teach this):

Courage shall grow fiercer, clearer the will
the heart fiercer, as our force faileth ...
Though I am white with winters I will not away,
for I think to lodge me alongside my dear one,
lay me down by my lord's right hand.

One could extend this to other troubles of being Aspergers.  Self-acceptance.  Not that this is easy. In fact today many of the thoughts that went through my head that had nothing to do with teaching materials or now my project or my life here in this house with my husband and daughers are regretful, self-berating, remembering what I did or didn't do and attempting to re-justify what I did to myself -- because the outcome has been far less than satisfactory. And had I had say decided differently, I cannot say the outcome would have been better.  So ambiguous is life.

Extending out on controversial subjects (which came up too) as someone for whom cyberpace life has meant a good deal, for whom it has changed my life for an immense good over a period of 14-15 years. I was thinking how I do present a happier face here (and elsewhere) than I really experience but can't help myself.  I would be more closely truthful than I am but long instilled social inhibitions and caution (fear of what others would say, might think, could do) shapes what I do write. Funnily enough on this list I seem more cheerful when on others (at least in the past) I have often been accused (by neurotypicals I'd now say) of not being "light" enough, of being maudlin or pessimistic or (this is a word with strong negative connotation in social life) cynical.

So in short I care. I care what comes on lists.  For a few years even I was active enough to be on listservs all day, "hanging around" so to speak. No more. I post in the morning and come back later at night to write friends and blogs. I sometimes surf for news. Otherwise my use of the Net is professional: as a teacher doing things, preparing, as a scholar researching, read, write, take notes, put things on website.

So, I am with the two women listowners that contoversial subjects not only must be part of our terrain but necessarily are. As Aspergers people it's central to us to question the norms of our society, as these are inimical to us and in fact what makes Aspergers a serious disability. It's a group of norms that makes as Aspergers person fail a job interview. The person comes with all the skills necessary to do the job well, she has the credentials, the letters and is not hired because she does not appear social enough, has not manipulated a social question in a way pleasing to the neurotypical she's faced with.

Extend this out to many facets of life.

More generally, avoidance of political/controversial subjects is to take sides. That's what's not understood. I'm not talking about what party you vote for or who; avoiding that is superficial.  It's rather that not to discuss contoversial or politicized subjects (of whatever) is to be on the side of the status quo, on the side of the establishment. When, for example, people discussing a book on a listserv don't discuss its politics in this larger sense of attitudes towards basic things in life, they are being conservative in the basic sense -- not questioning things at all. And ofteh they then misrepresent what makes the book interesting or important.

Freilicher, Her Casement Windows (1974)

Tags: life-writing (mine), listserv life, teaching

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