26 May 2011

Rain and Earthquakes

The semester is just about over.  I'll be teaching a summer class, but I will have a few days off in between.  Hopefully, it will be enough time to regroup, or whatever you want to call it.

Not that it's been a bad semester.  At least, not for teaching, anyway.  And people at my second job have been treating me well, for the most part.  I really wish it could be my full-time job.  

But that job has been unusual in some ways.  I guess that's inevitable, since it was the first place in which I was hired after my surgery.  And it's also the first place in which I'm working without my history as Nick.  I have his expereinces and abilities (such as they are), but I have not been talking about them as much as I had been.  And, at the new job, I have not talked about my gender identity to my students, though some know about it.  I mean, out of a few thousand students, faculty and staff, it's hard not to believe that at least one hasn't typed my name into a Google search bar and come up with this blog, among other things.

Has it made me a better or worse instructor?  I'm not sure.  Somehow I feel, though, that in not disclosing the fact that I lived as a guy named Nick, or discussing some of the experiences that were part of it, my life has become subliminal source material  for my teaching.

And even though some people on my second job have been very warm and friendly toward me, I still am scarred by some of the things that happened on my other job, where I've worked for the past six years.  I have experienced various betrayals and back-stabbings and, every day, I have to walk by the security guard who sexually harassed me.  

In the meantime, I've had three students in one of my classes whom I would swear were sexually molested or assaulted.  Actually, I know one was:  She told me herself.  But for the other two, I can sense the violence so intensely that I'd be willing to bet that something happened to them, probably when they were children.  One of them, whom I'll call Rachel, wrote her paper comparing Desdemona's relationship with Othello, and Emilia's to Iago, with that of an abused woman to her abuser.  

The thing is, she seemed to know, very intimately, what it's like to be a battered spouse, or anyone battered.    And she has the painfully diffident look and manner of someone whose sense of herself is debased daily by those with whom she lives.

Rachel uncannily reminds me of a girl I knew in high school.  I'll call her Norma.  She had that same look and manner Rachel has.  Another trait they have in common is their intelligence:  Sometimes I think it must be painful to be as smart as they are. 

I hope to see Rachel again.  In some way, I'd like to reassure her that things--and she--are going to be all right or that, at least, they can be.