I Don't Know What the Fuck This Is

How I Got Fired

What does it mean when you wake up at 6am after going to sleep at 9pm and then watch 3 and a half hours of Veronica Mars?

Let’s put aside the fact that I’m sick. That my head is pounding and my nostrils feel as though I’ve been trying to snort flubber. That my back doesn’t have muscles that aren’t in knots anymore. That I really need to do laundry today.

Let’s put aside the fact that Veronica Mars made me cry. Twice.

Let’s focus on what’s important. That I was illegally terminated (2c)* from a job that I was good at and passionate about.

Let’s focus on the fact that two days ago I gave a 16 year old my bracelet pretending that it had no emotional significance to me just because I had used the bracelet as a distracting device throughout our sessions, and by allowing her to wear it I was giving her a tool that will help her do better on the ACT, yet I was forced out of my only substantial income because of this blog. Because this blog is somehow so outlandishly offensive that I cannot appropriately teach children.

Defending the validity of my writing’s social and political value is something I could do in my sleep, so I won’t bore myself by doing it awake, but rather I will discuss our society’s unfathomable obsession with forcing people to fit into a box.

“It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the love affair I have with my penis. People hate my love affair. People don’t want to like the relationship I have with my penis – they want to think it’s clichéd and annoying and that I just want to gross everyone out.” This was one quote specifically pulled out as inappropriate “for an educator working with teenagers.” This quote is from a blog entry about being uncomfortable. About how making people uncomfortable through art is important because we need to be more comfortable being uncomfortable. Because being uncomfortable is holding us back.

You don’t have to agree. Neither does the mother whose daughter I was supposed to teach before she called in the tutoring agency and demanded my termination. That’s okay.

Mr. Rush was my theater teacher in High School. He both considers himself a Christian and was one of the best teachers I had. Do I agree with the fact that he believes in some magical drunk Jew who thinks he can walk on water? No. Does it matter? No. He wasn’t teaching me how to think, he was teaching me how to read Shakespeare – and he knew a lot about reading Shakespeare. My job as an educator was to teach test prep and math. I am great at both of those. I taught a kid who was counting on his fingers in order to add two plus three to do eight digit long division in 3 one-hour sessions. Does the fact that I struggle with masculinity affect that ability to teach? No.

I’ve been asking a lot of rhetorical questions that I’ve been answering for you with the simple sentence of “No.” Is that because I don’t think you know the answer? Maybe. I worry because I’ve lost complete faith in humanity. I’ve lost all ability to trust that people are good and that they can judge circumstances with reason. I’ve taught in some form or another for 6 years. Sometimes for good money, sometimes for no money, sometimes for very little money – always because I care deeply and passionately about education. Because I didn’t necessarily get the education I thought I deserved because teachers were too quick to judge my lack of note-taking or my curiosity. Also because I was a bratty little child who got easily pissed off when teachers judged me and started judging them back. As I said, I’ve been working with children for 6 years and have never had a complaint about the way I dealt with children. I have received many compliments and thankful letters, but never a single complaint. Now I have. From a person who I never taught. From some woman who derailed my entire life because she made the assumption that writing about feminism through a male perspective (which will necessarily include references to my penis) says more about my ability to teach children than the 6 years I’ve spent teaching children.

I haven’t told my parents because I don’t want them to worry, and in reality they need not because I’m white in America with a college degree. I’ll be fine. I’ll get another job and in 4 to 5 months I’ll be back to teaching enough to pay rent. But I shouldn’t have to do this. I shouldn’t have to hide one thing I do in order to do another. They have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I’ve never ranted about masculinity in the midst of teaching derivatives. There’s no reason to. I’m not hired to discuss my penis. I’m hired to discus math.

I’ve always said that safety and privacy are the two things we worry about far too much. We fight wars for “safety” and only end up killing more than we are saving. We demand constant “privacy” despite the fact that the only reason we are embarrassed is because of the person who is judging us, not because we are actually ashamed of what we do (and if you are actually ashamed then you shouldn’t be doing it).

Our world is changing and information about people is far more easily accessible. We have to adapt to this change because we can no longer hide in the dark and pretend that all people in positions of authority have perfectly clean lives that agree with all of your sensibilities. Does the guy who gives you your morning bagel agree with your position on gay marriage? You don’t know? Why not?

I understand that teaching is different because you are trusting this person to take care of your child, but as I said before I’ve been teaching for six years and that should far outweigh the fact that I make jokes about my dick when I’m on stage in front of a bunch of drunk college kids.

At this point I feel like I’m going in circles because I’m too mad. I don’t get mad. I typically get passionate. The two things I will get passionate about at the mere mention of the subject are comedy’s place in society as a method of broadening our understanding of the human condition and teaching.

Am I not allowed to do the two things I’m passionate about? I guess this is one more rhetorical question to which the answer is “No.”

*Thanks Daniel

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7 thoughts on “How I Got Fired

  1. ew. as a middle school teacher with a book coming out for teens that includes (OMG!) profanity, drugs, and the occasional penis (double OMG!), I can identify with this post to the point that I really struggled with the question of using a pseudonym–except why should I? What does my writing have to do with my ability to teach, as you point out? It’s a sad business, this judging.

    (here via grace, btw! *waves*)

  2. Well, if nothing else, you’ve managed to wring some great writing out of a shitty situation. This was a pretty powerful post and argument.

  3. Ben says:

    Why fight it when you could blog about it? This turn of events subconsciously inspires Nisse because it means total strangers are reading his blog and becoming uncomfortable! By that logic, perhaps total strangers will read this post and become enlightened! Maybe even former employers will read this post and become enlightened and hire him back.

    Well I don’t know. I hope so.

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