Saturday, March 23, 2019

Mandescending and Mindfulness

You've heard the term "mansplaining," and I really like it. Whoever coined it was pretty smart. The definition is basically a man explaining to a woman something that the woman is either more knowledgeable about because it's her lived reality as a female, or something she has trained to do and knows how to do already.

For instance, my daughter The Fair was filming an event the other night with high-end equipment she is well trained to use, and some dude tried to tell her how to set up the tripod. Really?

I'm going to add a new term of my own: mandescending. This is where a man is condescending to a woman and dismisses her out of hand, even though her concerns are serious, maybe either health- or job-related.

Yesterday my school district had a professional development workshop, and part of it was yet another session on how to use the baffling new web site for which the district spent tons of money to purchase a full package. The web site does a gazillion tasks but is about as user-friendly as a potted cactus. Every time we get a demonstration, the same guy comes. He's yet another of those paid consultants who spent a few years in the classroom, couldn't wait to get out, and saw this web site as a ticket.

Honestly, I'll be the first to admit that if I had trained as a teacher I would have been looking to move into corporate somehow after five to ten years. The teaching profession is poorly-paid, overly scrutinized, underappreciated by the public, and physically and emotionally exhausting.

Part of what makes it exhausting is trying to learn the web site du jour.

To return to my narrative, I was attempting to keep up with the blistering pace of this man's presentation, and as usual I fell a step or two behind. When I asked why my page didn't look like his, he came to my station, flicked a few buttons, and said, "There you are." And sniffed with derision.

I went to the vending machine and bought a Snickers bar. First one I've eaten in two years.

The joy of the Snickers soon abated, but my fury has not.

This country treats its elders with condescension. Or mandescension, you decide.

In the summer of 1979, I was working in the Milton S. Eisenhower Library of the Johns Hopkins University. I had a job with a special archive of psychiatric documents that belonged to a prominent Hopkins physician named Adolf Meyer. In order to prepare a documentary list of the voluminous records this man kept (which included extensive correspondence with Freud, Jung, and other psychiatric luminaries), the university purchased a word processor. It was the first one any of us had seen.

A technician wheeled the word processor into our office space and showed the lead archivist how to use it. But then an interesting phenomenon occurred.

One by one, the oldest professors in the Hopkins community dropped by to see the word processor. These were men (of course, it was 1979) who had probably written multiple scholarly tomes, using Royal typewriters or even legal pads. They wanted to see the machine in action. And so did I.

A few years later, I found myself working for a publishing house, preparing copy for encyclopedias. The work was done with pencil and electric typewriters. Then the company bought two word processors, but no one was particularly interested in using them. Having had a little bit of exposure to one, I gladly accepted a spot at the word processor. I got a raise.

I know I should have kept up with computing. I know I should be more capable when it comes to new web sites. Perhaps it shouldn't count that I was the most proficient with technology when certain workshop presenters were probably learning to use the potty.

I know my mental capacity isn't what it once was. I don't even write for this site like I used to. But to be dismissed with such thinly-veiled disdain was a nasty jolt. I'm old. I'm obsolete. I'm female. Thanks for reminding me.

But wait, there's more.

After being humiliated in the web site training, I had to go back into a general faculty meeting for both of the Vo-Tech campuses. When both campuses get together, it's a lot of teachers. A good two hundred plus, I should think. We fill an auditorium.

The rest of the long day was spent in mindfulness training. We had to ground, center, follow our breath, feel our feet on the floor (mine were cold), yada yada yada. Be in the moment, and if your thoughts drift, pull back to breath.

First of all, when I do this practice, it is tied to my religion, which I firmly separate from my work responsibilities. So I deliberately let my thoughts go as haywire as they wanted to. Here's the short list:

1. Wow, that guy is such an asshole! Karma's gonna come for him when he's 60, for sure. I'd like to be there when he gets confused over the communication system between himself and teachers on Mars. He won't have tenure. Maybe he'll get fired! Maybe a woman supervisor will tell him, "You're all washed up. Hit the road!"

2. I wonder where that mindfulness facilitator got her dress. Is that drip-dye, tie-dye or some other process? I like the way it drapes too.

3. Damn, I wonder what's going on with this student teacher I got assigned all of a sudden! Did she flake out on her previous assignment? What's up with that? Why did I even agree to do it?

4. Getting old sucks. I'm so tired all the time. I'm sick of people. I don't want to go out for lunch. I don't want to go to the gym anymore. My body is so weary, and my feet are cold. Why don't they turn on some heat in here? Dammit, I thought about putting foot warmers in my shoes, and I didn't do it! Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.

5. I wonder if I should pull back the ivy in the back yard just a foot or two. But grass doesn't grow well, and Mr. J never mows the lawn. Isn't the ivy better? But pulling the ivy would be good exercise. Yeah, but you know how annoying it is working with that English ivy. Yeah, maybe I'll just leave it. But if I had a nice straight line down the back, I could put up a stone border, like a rock wall ... what, am I supposed to be feeling my back against the chair? Fuck that. Fuck this whole thing.

6. I think I'll stop by Woodstock on the way home and see how they're doing. It's sort of on the way. Let's see, if I take Haterfield-Berlin Road to White Horse Road, and then ... that leads right to Springdale. Easy! Because it's such a long slog up Route 73. Oh! Why does everyone have their hand up in the air? Did I miss something? Who cares?

7. I can't believe I'm hungry after wolfing down that Snickers.

8. Donald Trump is an asshole. All powerful men are assholes. Geez, even Bernie Sanders couldn't run a tight ship. But this country will never elect a woman. Women won't vote for a woman. I wonder why that is? But I know it's true.

9. Camping or a hotel? I'm too old for camping! I'm not sleeping in a tent on the ground. But the hotel is so expensive. I could use that money to improve the front porch, so I don't have to look at the disgraceful, hideous house across the street ... Is it time to go yet? FUCK! Another two hours? I can't even. Like, camping isn't as bad as all that. You wake up in the cool morning air ... snap, I would have to buy so much equipment. But then I would have all the equipment, and I could use it again! Yeah, use it again to go camping. I'm done with camping! I spent my whole teenage decade in a tent! You know what else I'm done with? Mindfulness! Just another trendy stupid thing our school district is flirting with. You'd think they would train us on what to do when angry parents start shouting in our faces.

10. Whoa, look at the shop teachers! They are giggling like kids. Welding and mindfulness: perfect together.

If you've gotten this far, I know you get the drift.

Readers, my stats tell me that I have had over a million page views here at "The Gods Are Bored." I think a significant number of those are spammers of the pornographic variety. Still, someone has been reading my drivel. If that is you, do you want me to bake you a pie?


Ol'Buzzard said...

A pie would be nice.
As we grow older our hard drives exceed capacity. It doesn't mean we aren't as bright as we once were - actually we have more in our memory banks than younger people - it is just harder to access. And as far as new info, we can evaluate its value against all the other 'new, innovative BS we have seen come and go in the past." And decide if it is worth our time to download.
Teaching is a burnout profession, as you have mentioned. As an occupation it should pay better.
the Ol'Buzzard

anne marie in philly said...

I have been reading you, but I don't need a pie. FUCK MEN! and yes, I DID vote for hillary in 2016, and I voted for a female as my new federal house rep.

Josephine Boone said...

If you just happen to be baking a pie, I would love a slice, thanks! I also voted for Hillary; and if she makes it onto the ballot, I will vote for Elizabeth Warren. I really enjoy your blog!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

I hope you left Mr Mandescending a blistering comment on the course evaluation form!

Anne Johnson said...

Oh my goodness, yes indeed, I blistered him, the web site, and even blamed him for the bad weather!