I am feeling regimented and controlled to within an inch of my life. It’s coming at me from every angle and I’m feeling a distinct desire to run. Or drive, anyway. What I really need is a mountaintop, solitude, and a cool breeze. Or maybe a nice sunny spot at a river. Or…wait. A river running through a mountain range and no one but me and a thermos of coffee. Plus some water because coffee dehydrates. And maybe a good work of fiction. Hunger Games maybe, since everyone and their mother, or in my case daughter, is posting about it on Facebook or exclaiming about it on my couch. And a notepad; I’d want a notepad in case I get inspired and about a half dozen super-sharp pencils. And a chair. And a blanket for when the inspiration to write gets replaced by the inspiration to nap. OK this spot by the river in the mountains will have to be easily accessible by car since I have too much stuff to carry, but this road is really only known to me…and maybe some boy I used to date…but he moved and forgot about this place. But not me; he would have said he’d never forget me. He would be thinking of me whenever he sees forget-me-nots, and how much fun we had getting zen at this place in the mountains by the river. Oh, and cheese. I’d also have to have cheese with my coffee and water…no…not cheese—bread. No. Fruit! Coffee, water and fruit. There. Plus a few pieces of dark chocolate.
Up here on this open, breezy space in the mountains with the river running past just below me, cuppa joe in my hand, I am reminded of my post from a little while ago about how you can’t step into the same river twice in family life…actually I’m trying to think of anything except how regimented I’m feeling and, since my therapist and I can’t seem to get me to meditate with any regularity, I’m having a hard time just being here, despite how beautiful and peaceful it is in this place I made up. What I’ve got waiting for me when I drive back down that undiscovered access road after my fruit and water and chocolate are gone are people and policies that want to control my every single move. I’ve got academic administration injecting its toxicity into the lifeblood of my teaching, insisting that I only use certain verbs for certain classes when I plunk out my “learning outcomes” which I must articulate just so, so that we can assess, assess, assess and then document, document, document that assessment for people who haven’t been in an actual classroom in forever, if ever, and who wouldn’t go near one now with a ten foot pole. (I’d like to make a comment here about that pole, but I won’t.) You may have noticed a conspicuous absence of passion or zeal for teaching or love of the subject matter in any of this stuff about learning; that’s because college pedagogy has been polluted by people who don’t really, finally, care about teaching—the heat and energy of ideas and the fire that can be ignited about movement and change—because what they are positioned to care about is documentation of teaching, which is altogether different. And altogether extinguishing. And also neither interesting nor fun nor liberating nor what I or my colleagues busted a hump and went into big fat debt to learn how to do.
And if I happen to have driven down from this riverside mountain place with blanket and chocolate on my secret road on a weekend when I’m not working and also miraculously managing to not even think about work, what I will reckon with instead are the ways in which the politicos and freaks are regimenting my body. I will feel mauled by all the discussion about my uterus and my genitals and what I am permitted do with them and how the only one who doesn’t have right to access and control of me is me. Once that beautiful and mighty river isn’t drowning out the arguments in my head about how Emma Goldman and Margaret Sanger could come back today and start their work all over again, from the beginning, using the exact same speeches and letters, because we’ve been thrown back an actual century in the fight for women’s right to personhood, I’d have to confront more blisteringly idiotic and stupefying legislation about women not being able to use birth control pills to—guess what—CONTROL BIRTHS and having to provide documentation (my favorite) that they are not using it for that purpose to their employers (HIPAA anyone?) and could risk losing their jobs if they are sexually active and want to control their fertility. All of this reducing the very real social issue of controlling births and planning families and the very personal issue of women’s sexuality and fertility to a discussion of what one astounded blogger referred to as whore pills.
So I am feeling regimented. Constricted. Confined. Bound. And I need to go for a very serious and very unaccompanied drive to a very open and airy and breezy and sunny and rivery and mountainy place where people have gotten up out of my business.
*Image provided by DreamsTime