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kate-winsletso i recently dragged t-bone and my lovely friend L. to revolutionary road (*spoiler alert*) which stars my amazing and wonderific girlfriend kate winslet. hubba hubba. my life, it appears, seems to be at the crossroads of some kind of feminist revolution. i know. heavy dude.

it is a little like teaching my students about feminism. it is a pretty eye-opening experience. the stuff about feminism is familiar – it is theory i have been immersed in since i began my post-secondary schooling. rather, the eye-opening bit is about young women’s (and men’s) reactions to feminism. i have been grappling with why feminism is such a difficult topic since i began teaching and feel as though i might have gotten a smidge of insight after watching revolutionary road.

you have to understand that i was completely and utterly vibratingly excited about revolutionary road. after seeing kate winslet win for best actress on the golden globes, i vowed to see it as.soon.as.possible. and i did. but i didn’t have the reaction to it that i expected. it left me a little cold. even though it was a beautifully written and acted film, i was untouched. perhaps because it was  familiar tale. suburban couple. hate lives. disaffected from social roles. gendered complications. the end. i simplify, but this is ultimately the jist. kate was powerful as april. leo was beautifully weak in his role as frank. but their lives and their constraints seemed so far away. another lifetime when divorce was unthinkable and choice had yet to be fully fought for. don’t get me wrong. t-bone and L. thought there were resonances to he present day – questions like: what is truth and what is the truth of your life? are you living your truth? is your (gendered) role your truth? and it fundamentally asks you to question beliefs about the past. who was strong and who was weak. what weakness can turn people into. what the social constraints on lives can lead people to do. to be.

but resonate? not for me. at first i was angry. i really wanted the film to speak to me. to bring a larger truth to bear on the realities of the everyday. and then i wondered, isn’t this the problem that students have with feminism? aren’t they waiting for the punchline, the relate-ability, the way in to what once was? i mean yes, it is hard to understand our lives in terms of the past, but it isn’t impossible. nor should we think it is self-evident. we need to dig into the past to find answers to our present. and if we think those answers – or questions – will be easy to formulate then we’ll be left a little cold. a little distanced. perhaps it is the nature of our society. our individualism. that makes us want without giving. take without asking. and maybe, just maybe, revolutions don’t start with having all the answers. or having readily available all the ways something relates exactly to our individual experiences. sometimes we need to dig a little deeper. and not demand that the surface deliver our truths.

pantyhosei went to godforsaken edmonton recently to interview for a teaching position. i want to pause here to apologize to everyone i know who lives in godforsaken edmonton, anyone who enjoys it there, and anyone who knows or loves someone who lives there. the prairies are…interesting. that aside, i survived my very first interview and i want to chronicle what went wrong, what went right, and what i learned. here goes.

first of all, my beautiful and wonderful friend L. came with, and that made everything lovely and delicious. she was even trying to be like “edmonton is nice,” “edmonton seems safe and friendly,” and my personal favourite, “i’m sure if you lived here long enough you would find food that was good…really.” needless to say, we both kissed the ground when we returned to vancity. and may the gods of karma strike me down, i can’t see myself as an edmontonian. but i grew up in a small town in ontario. i have perspective. i am not saying i’m better than all that. i am saying sometimes you can see yourself in a place. sometimes you can’t. such is life. that was what my eighth-grade teacher used to say. such is life.

whatever the f*ck that means.

as someone who exists mainly in sweats and the occasional fabulous (yes, i am going to grant myself some fabulousness, so there) outfit when i actually leave the house, i managed to begin the day by shoving my finger through my tights (which were more like pantyhose but i don’t want to admit that i was actually thinking about wearing pantyhose because they are seriously scarring as a fabric, a concept, and a crotch-dropping reality), thereby creating a massive run that could not be hidden. luckily, i had some knee sock thingys that did the trick but showed my knobby knee-caps when i sat. first point goes to murphy’s law. i managed to spend a total of ten seconds with the head of the department before blurting this fact out. i think i managed to hold out well.

second point goes to me because i kicked ass in my interview and i am going to go so far as to say that i kicked ass during the entire TEN HOUR interview day. yeah, that’s right kids. i had all the answers. i was my spastic self. and it all seemed to come together in this glorious performance that by the end of the day i was convinced i couldn’t replicate. but, after my 9 ounce glass of wine (everything is big in alberta), i was sure i could withstand another full day of attention with ease. since seriously it is how i try to negotiate my whole life – that is, trying to attract copious amounts of jacks-attention – it really should (and apparently does) come naturally. points to jacks. for reals.

third point goes to thai food. i don’t think i have to remind anyone that i have a baby stomach, but needless to say, nerves, baby stomach, and thai food is a toxic nauseating mix that almost killed me. yeah, that’s right. i almost died a spicy death. sounds hot. but not.

the last billion points go to me. just cause i am proud of my kickass self. and job hunting is fun, albeit ridiculously stressful.

tell me great interview tales – i would love to hear the chronicles of your pantyhose ripping and such.

okay. go.

i love to teach. as exhausting and challenging as it is – i can’t friggin’ help myself. i find it lovely and delicious. splendorific even. i am just wrapping up an intensive three-week course where i get to teach my passion – i get to teach students about gender. there is something beautiful about teaching people something different about something so intimate. something that is seemingly so “natural.” eyes widen. hearts and experiences open. teaching is transformative. and that’s why i can’t get enough.

i have long joked that the children of teachers cannot escape the call of educating. it is akin to being called by god, called up from the minor leagues, possessed by that which you cannot help yourself from doing. and i have been thinking lately about why teaching is my calling. i think it has something to do with the fact that it combines all of my interrelated spastic properties. teaching is a performance – which i love. teaching is (can be) transgressive. and ultimately, teaching can transform the lives of individuals by generally making the world more livable. i don’t know if my particular brand of teaching does any/all of these things. but teaching is beautiful and the effects of its affects may never be measured.

think of that teacher that you had that you loved. you love them because they did something to you. viscerally. they changed the way you think. they gave you information that could never, ever be taken from you. they gave you a sense of self that was real. tangible. they called on and accepted your very being. some might have changed your worldview, others might have crushed it. but all this transforms one’s very being. it alters opportunities. knowledge engages the soul. that is why the harbingers of said knowledge are so intimate a memory. so decidedly important.

i complain. i struggle to do my best in this short span that challenges me as the instructor as well as my students. i worry. i try to engage even those students who looked bored or who don’t invite a change of perspective. i don’t relish marking papers and assigning a value to work that my students have laboured over. i don’t see myself as a specter of future import in the lives of students that share three intense weeks in a hot classroom learning that their bodies, themselves, could be different. and perhaps that through that difference, oppression could be lessened. but i have learned something about myself that is perhaps more profound than what i could hope to teach. i have learned that i am a teacher. no matter how spastic.

teaching is really an extension of who (how) i am. it has meant over the past year that teaching has made me confront myself. my wants. desires. needs. teaching has transformed me through the circulation of knowledges about power, selves, and pasts. being a teacher isn’t what defines me. but it is an integral piece of who i believe i am. and a passion that even the greatest fear cannot eradicate.

[whoa. holy deepness.]

so the summer is rapidly passing me by. there were house guests. there were cat emergencies (five hundred dollars and a kitty enema later, we find out bianca was just constipated). there was/is teaching a three-week intensive course that no tenured prof would touch with leprous fingers. such is the life of jacks. and strangely, she has nothing significant to say. that is why she/i? – who talks about themselves in the third person? seriously – will give you one of my random posts that mean nothing and simply waste your precious, precious youth/old age/time spent with love ones who actually give something back. here goes…

  • so i ridiculously love teaching. and not just any teaching but the kind of teaching where you get to forward your own personal and political agenda that is ingeniously hidden in the fancy schmance thing called a syllabus. i routinely go off about something and then announce to my students that i will indeed get off my soapbox only to return to it once the next question is asked. drunk with power you ask? power! i say. let me tell you something about power!…
  • i have recently noticed that everyone in canada now says “thanks so much” instead of a simple thank you. i have two bones to pick about this – first, canadians are infinitely too nice; and second, i coined that phrase and i want proper recognition for it every time anyone uses it as in, “thanks so much, copyrighted 1993 by jacks.” that is not too much to ask, is it?
  • i don’t think i have successfully had a tan since i moved to vancouver four years ago. my pasty skin glows and i feel shame exposing (imposing?) the white brilliance of my legs on the unsuspecting masses. should jacks fake and bake? jacks thinks yes. thank god i don’t own shorts. an for everyone who does own shorts, one question: why?
  • big brother has begun again and i fear i that am not properly addicted to this season. is it because everyone in the house is unlovable? jacks says yes again.
  • i think i might have hermity traits because teaching forces me out of the house everyday, whereas when i am not teaching, i sit alone, all day, writing my dissertation. shockingly, i long for those days of loneliness and desperation for human contact. oh, where have you gone?
  • things that have changed since moving to vancouver (the four year reflection redux remix):
  1. i now look forward to camping instead of thinking it was some kind of punishment for not flossing regularly (there is a connection there – i leave it to you to find it)
  2. i regularly tell my students how privileged they are and i throw around the term elitism in my classes like it is a term of endearment
  3. summer consists of equal parts rain and weather that can’t decide if it wants to simply be hot and humid or to burn the province down
  4. i have morphed into a microbrewed beer fan (also known as a “beer douche”)
  5. too much tofu finds its way into my food. too much i say!
  6. i have recently discovered that i like soy milk and green tea. like, together. in a latte. what is happening to me?
  7. i miss seeing my niece and nephew grow up. i am disembodied aunt jacks over the phone. i fear that they do not know or fully appreciate the fabulousness of aunt jacks. one day dammit. they will.
  8. i love wearing dresses
  9. i am a fan of the out-of-doors
  10. i love living in a place that people visit and that when they visit they don’t mind sleeping on our living room floor on cat hair filled mattress just be in van…and near us, of course

that’s it. jacks out. (but loves and misses her one reader – yup! you! – tremendously).