Off the Rails

In the spirit of random dumping, here’s a picture of Oliver with a bow.

One of my first degrees, Lore, tells me that I should just take Oathbound completely off the rails sometime, just for the hell of it.  “Just post grocery lists.  Or rant about a bad date.  Or make up some kind of witch trend and see how many people you can get on board,” and she laughed sort of maniacally.  She’s got a taste for the weird, and she loves it when people get strange just because.

Blogging has come to be its own genre, with its own formulas, and it gets a little confining sometimes.  I love it, really (and I’m not going to fuck with Oathbound, although I can hear Jason Mankey — hi Jason! You’re awesome! — saying, “But you CAN write about other things!”), but I think Lore has a point about blowing off some writing steam.  I need to work up to doing it on such a large platform, though.  I know my Patheos friends would welcome other kinds of material, but there’s definitely a particular voice and a particular style that dominates.  I think I’ll just have to sort of mentally work up to putting the off-the-cuff stuff there.

Honestly, when I get home from work, I just don’t really have the energy for much.

I work at an impoverished urban school with a student body that’s more than 95% African-American and Hispanic.  Our kids are several years behind in terms of performance, and it’s my job to teach them to read at grade level.  This task, by the way, is literally impossible given the total lack of support from our district and the State as a whole.  Without educational resources, parental support, or even a safe place to do their homework (many of our children are homeless or live in volatile foster situations), it just isn’t going to happen.  A lot of kids are migratory.  Many don’t speak any English.  We do our best and try to at least be a source of positivity for these kids, but the situation is dire any way you look at it.  And the educational gap is getting bigger every year.  Our children are also routinely involved in neighborhood violence.  Police are everywhere all the time.  The school-to-prison pipeline is a real thing for these kids, and it’s a daily heartbreak.  And that’s without even getting to the absurdity that is teacher education, pay, and retention.  It’s amazing to me that more people–people with children, especially–aren’t angry about public education.  It’s like no one cares.  Or they only care insofar as they don’t actually have to do any work to change anything.

So I don’t really care about Pagan drama when I get home from work.  It’s just not relevant to, dare I say, “real life” most of the time.  It’s a Maslow’s Hierarchy thing.  I like to engage with categories within Paganism, authenticity, history.  It’s intellectually stimulating and personally challenging.  I love the conversations we have, and the opportunities to learn.  But if I’m going to get angry about something at the end of the day, it’s never going to be over who’s a real witch, or whether or not someone’s god is being defamed on the Internet, or what Christians think about Satan.  It’s never going to be over whether or not Pagans can be atheists, or what the gods are really like.

Interesting, sure, sometimes.  But other things are more pressing.  And I’m tired.

I’m also a little voyeuristic.  I want to hear about what people’s personal lives are like.  One of the things I loved about Livejournal a hundred years ago was watching total strangers (with common interests) freak out about the same stuff I was freaking out about, other places in the world.  Dating, family drama, having kids, problems at school or work, wanting to try something cool they read about in their newest witchcraft book, being nervous because they were going to a new community for a ritual, pissed off ranting about people I’ll never meet, lamenting that no one understands.  It was gold.  It made everyone — no matter their religion, their subculture, their kink, their trauma, their whatever — look totally human.  Learning from each other happened naturally, and everyone seemed to feel less alone.

I have narratives in my head about some of the other Patheos bloggers I’ve never met in real life (actually, all of the bloggers I follow, on whatever platform), especially the ones who barely write about their personal lives.  It’s like fanfic.  Our blogs make us look so polished and together most of the time.  I like to imagine what the freakouts might look like.  My freakouts and fuckups have been pretty spectacular in the past.  All of those blogs about finding a good coven, building community, and whatever have all come from real life experiences.  Most have been super messy.  Maybe someday when I’m drunk I’ll write more about that.

Right now I have to finish this moronic assignment for my teaching program.  Then I have to go to the grocery store because I’m out of basically everything except for cat food, which helps no one but Oliver.

I also need salt, tuna, granola bars and snacks to take to work, some sort of fruit so I don’t get scurvy, and maybe something to eat for dinner that doesn’t involve pouring milk over a bowl of cereal.  Which I’m also out of.


9 thoughts on “Off the Rails

  1. My Grandmother was an English teacher, 7th grade, in the Appalachian Mountains. Your story is another side of the same coin. She use to say her job was to teach kids, who’s own parents couldn’t read or speak well, to read and proper grammar.. then she would shake her head and smile. Then she would say her “work” (she was a S.Baptist), was to smother her children, that’s what she called them, with God’s love while she had them. She did what she could, food, shoes coats, and hoped she could plant a seed of inspiration into some of them. This story and your frustration is so familiar. I think just being around someone so different from their norm can have such a profound affect on kids. Unfortunately it only comes to light, in hind sight, after they are grown. She had quite a few search her out to thank her years later.

  2. Chris Mann

    Oh… you’re one of those greedy school teachers that I hear about who suck the system dry in one of those publicly funded Obama-teach school. Always teaching things that people don’t need to know. Why do I need to know the subjective and objective/ singular and plural forms of “you”? How is that going to help me survive? How is that going to help win at Grand Theft auto while I’m stoned on my couch? How is that going to help me keep up with the Kardashians?

  3. We should have a chat sometime. I am a teacher at an impoverished inner city school, too. It’s my first year teaching, in fact. I don’t think I have ever read anything that better summed up my life this year than “Other things are more pressing. And I’m tired.” Maslow’s hierarchy indeed! It is hard to get worked up over Craft shenanigans when you’ve put in a 60+ hour work week and haven’t had time to go to the grocery.

    I hear it gets better. Some people in my coven are long-term educators, and they seem to have developed a balance. They give me hope it is possible.

    (And who the heck is it that is coming up with these moronic teaching program assignments? I could not even manufacture a molecule of caring for my last one and entirely fabricated my response. First time in my entire academic life I have done such a thing. No one cared…I guess that is good?)

  4. I absolutely love when other bloggers share their real lives and the nitty gritty. It makes me feel like I’m not such a failure for dealing with the same kinds of stuff! Thanks for taking time to post the “not all sunshine and roses” bits.

  5. Really, you can share grocery lists on Oathbound. 🙂 But yeah, there’s a Jason no one gets to see at Raise the Horns. What I really want to do is write more on the Gardnerians blog (anonymously, oh wait, I just blew that).

    I know you are super busy with work, writing a book, and various other things. I will be in North Carolina the weekend after Samhain for super-sure now and if I don’t see you while I’m there I’m going to be a very unhappy camper. Ari might even let me pack some of our Scotland Scotch purchases to share with you.

Say words at me.

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