Friday, February 16, 2018

Someone Slams a Door at Work, and I Think...

Greetings faithful blog readers,

I feel like I've said this before, in other ways, but luckily this is my own blog, so I can repeat myself if I want.

And I have something more to say. Before I even saw this list, I was aching. As I made our Valentine's Day dinner while Brendan was teaching his night class, I felt anxious waiting for him to return. I felt sad for families I didn't know...I didn't even know how many families to feel sad for, but whether it was one or one hundred, I knew it was already too much.

I'm always anxious in the days after a shooting, and there is less time between them now, so I guess you could say I'm anxious most of the time. Yes, I've talked to a therapist about it, but I never quite feel comfortable at work. Do you?

Yesterday, I was in an all day student success session, and I heard a door slam...it happened twice in a row. Only I didn't know it was a door slamming. I always assume the worst now.

In an instant, I thought about the time of day, Brendan's location on campus, how far to my car, how far to the nearest exit, how long since I talked to my mother, my father, Brendan's parents, our siblings. I had meant to call my brother yesterday. I wondered if I could run at 33 weeks pregnant, and if so, how fast. I felt my throat close. I wanted to scream. I wondered if our baby could still make it if something happened to me. I thought about how I could shield my stomach with my laptop; maybe that'd give her a better chance. The meeting paused for a second. I'm not sure if other meetings are like that, but I know that every educator has had an experience like this one...

because...

We've had the student that was withdrawn and asked to bring back a psychiatric evaluation before returning. I still get chills thinking about a student who declared himself a terrorist in my classroom and wrote a series of strange accusations and threats to my co-worker. I felt sorry for him at the time too, and I knew he was not receiving much needed medication for his schizophrenia, but I was still really afraid.

We've had the student that makes us nervous enough to request a police officer in class. My last request? Just last semester.

We've had to question whether written work is concerning enough to report. Especially if you teach a course like creative writing.

We've had the mandatory training exercises for "live active shootings," which conclude with the honest truth that there isn't a whole lot you can do should someone bring an assault rifle to your place of work.

We've heard co-workers tell us about student threats, or we've witnessed the threats or been the target of them.

We've had students tell us when they cannot afford much needed medication, or have been shamed by someone else into not taking it, or have turned to self medicating instead.

We know how tough it is to be a young person. How sometimes the things that happen seem so insurmountable. How sometimes you just feel so alone, scared, hopeless, and angry.

We know how easy it is to get a gun; heck, we know you're allowed to bring one on campus now.

All these thoughts are floating around in our heads.

Then it's just a door slamming. And for a second, I want to burst into tears. It's bad to feel this way at work.

It's painful to live in a country where we have an obvious problem, but we do nothing to address it.

It's tough knowing you've made the decision to bring someone else into it.

It's outrageous hearing people tell me (and my colleagues to) "learn to use weapons" and that if we don't we're "allowing ourselves to be victims." I teach English, writing, and the love of literature. I am not bringing a gun to work with me. Who is "allowing" this to happen? Whose job is it to pass laws to make us safe? Who pays those people money to make sure they don't pass laws?

It's heart-wrenching to see a child plead on television "you're like, the adults; you need to do something about it."

I. Want. To. Do. Something. About. It.

I'm sick with wanting to do something about it.

What about you?

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