Unemployment, ie What I Did Not Write About: Reality Sinks In

For the weekend, I had no feelings of sadness. I called my friends and family and told them how the last day had gone. I went to the library and rented Superman and The Wrath of Khan on DVD.

On Monday, I went back onto K12 Jobspot to apply for jobs. At this point, I still felt very much as I did during the summer. However, as I logged onto the website, I quickly realized two terrible facts. First of all, I realized that all of the teaching jobs had been filled over the summer. I suppose I knew that intuitively, but I had blocked out that fact until that moment. Second of all, I realized that I was far less free to travel than I was over the summer. I had signed a year lease, and I was not sure if I could get out of it.

I applied for a number of substitute teaching positions in the local school districts and applied at a substitute agency that my friend had recommended. I also applied for unemployment benefits, which I had never done before. The process seemed to be a little cumbersome, if I remember correctly.

It was around that time that shame began to sink in about being laid off. I know that it was false shame; ie, I was laid off for lack of work, not fired. Even so, I began to find it difficult to tell people that I had been laid off.

Perhaps I would have felt differently if I had not had cancer the previous year; I felt cursed.

It was not until I visited Cleveland again that I really began to realize what had happened. I stayed at my mom’s apartment and we talked that Friday night. As we talked, I suddenly broke down. I don’t know what either of us had said to trigger it, but I completely fell apart. My life seemed pretty empty at that moment. I had gone through all of the effort to get certified to teach, and I had nothing to show for it. Far worse, my life seemed even worse than it would have been if I had not taken the job.

When I was in high school, I read a hypothesis that said that revolutions do not start when a nation hits rock bottom. Rather, they start when conditions start to improve, and then they threaten to get worse. This may be melodramatic, but that was how I felt at that moment. It is far worse to have something and have it taken away from you than to never have it.

The weekend was not a total loss. I went to the theater to see Richard III, which I reviewed on my blog. At the end of the weekend, I returned to my apartment in Not Cleveland. Very soon, I would have interviews for substitute teaching jobs.

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Angela GHEORGHIU – Je veux vivre – Roméo et Juliette

It is a little strange seeing an adult women play Juliet. Nonetheless, this is still gorgeous.

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Mary Magdalene in Contemplation by Guido Reni

This is a fascinating image of Mary Magdalene. Guido Reni’s paintings remind me of Peter Paul Rubens, both have a strong sense of sexuality in the artwork. Mary Magdalene is shown in religious contemplation, and yet she is topless.

Mary Magdalene in Contemplation Guido Reni

In Guido Reni’s painting, she is both a saint and an erotic object.

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Tall Case Clock by Jean Pierre Latz

This is an amazing piece that I would love to take home with me.

augustus III clock Jean Pierre Latz

Do you think the Cleveland Museum of Art would let me?

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Films About Women 31

1 Hunger Games : Catching Fire

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is, in some ways, the film that spawned this series. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence and this was the first film starring a woman to be the highest grossing film of the year since The Sound of Music. The film continues the story of Katniss Everdeen as she fights to stay alive amidst a corrupt dictatorship government in a futuristic America. Jennifer Lawrence was still fresh off of her Oscar win earlier that year and had been launched into celebrity status. This film confirmed her power as a box office draw.

Katniss Catching Fire Suit

This film was also important because it shows what happens when a film becomes successful in modern Hollywood. Catching Fire is the sequel to The Hunger Games, the third highest grossing film of 2012. As a result, Hollywood made a sequel with a much larger budget. The film feels much more expensive and there is a far greater use of CGI in this film than in previous films. The use of CGI is another hot topic in films today. Catching Fire is able to bring to life the more exotic Hunger Games setting for the Quarter Quell due to a higher budget. However, the film also looses some of the realism of the first film. District 12 feels less authentic. I am putting this film on my list because I like it and I also think it is a good film to think about the state of Hollywood films today.

2 League of Their Own

In the aftermath of the 2015 Women’s World Cup win, people are once again discussing women’s professional sports. This film makes it clear that this has been a very long conversation. Gena Davis stars as a woman recruited to play professional baseball during World War II. The film fits in very well with the narrative of Rosie the Riveter, as women began to take jobs that used to be the province of men. Gena Davis is far and away the most talented player on the team, and yet, she is nonplussed by the fame and fortune. Her sister, on the other hand, suffers keenly in her shadow.


Tom Hanks also appears as the manager of the women’s baseball team and is remembered most vividly for his line, “There is no crying in baseball!” I also love the scene about the sexism in the outfits the women had to wear. The women discover they are going to play baseball in short skirts, as opposed to pants. When Sepp Blatter was asked how to improve the popularity of women’s soccer, he suggested that the women wear shorter shorts. Every Olympics, people engage in a discussion about the sexist portrayal of beach volleyball athletes. The times may have changed, but the issues have not.

3 The Red Shoes

This is Martin Scorsese’s favorite film. If that doesn’t make you want to see this film, then I really don’t know what to say. The Red Shoes tells the story of a young, talented ballerina who dreams of becoming a principal ballerina. She is accepted into a company and quickly falls prey to two men. One of them desires her as a wife, the other desires her for her talent. This makes the film both a love triangle and an exploration of the terrible choice that society demands young women make: be loved, or be yourself. This is in stark contrast to the experience of men. Men, in order to be loved, must become self-actualized, successful, and pursue their dreams with abandon. Women, on the other hand, must suppress their true selves, abandon their dreams, and neglect their talents if they desire love.

The Red Shoes has a wonderful fantasy ballet sequence and the color restoration is beautiful. Martin Scorsese brags about the quality of the restoration, and rightly so. The director cast an actual ballet dancer in the lead and she acquits herself quite well as an actress. I am glad that the director chose to do so. When Natalie Portman won an Oscar for The Black Swan, (a film that won’t be on my list, vastly overrated) there was a small tempest in a teapot when it emerged that she did not actually do the full body dancing. This is not the case in The Red Shoes. The lead actress actually dances in the movie.

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Unemployment, ie What I Did Not Write About: The Last Day

I came to the last day of school. I felt a wide array of emotions, from relief and excitement to fear and sadness. Mostly though, I think I was exhausted.

As I came to school, I was still planning to tell my students at the end of the day. However, the other teacher in my grade level had asked me if I had told my students yet. The reason she asked me was she was putting the names of my students on desks in her classroom earlier in the day, during one of her planning periods, which were earlier in the day. She was worried that my students might hear something during lunch. I decided to tell my students at the beginning of the day.

I explained that, because our class was so small, they were going to be combined with the other class. They asked me what I was going to do; I explained that I was going to be a substitute teacher at various different schools. They asked I would still be working at their school; I explained that I would not.

I spent most of the days with worksheets for my students. I used the remaining worksheets that I had and kind of marked time until the day’s end. That day, I felt completely like a substitute teacher and had no interest in much of anything. I did not care if they stood in line; I did not care if they worked quietly. At the same time, I felt guilty about that. Most of the students at my school were on free or reduced lunches. I remember one day a girl brought in the documentation for her family’s income ( a standard practice for schools providing free or reduced lunches.) The girl lived in a family of six, and her family earned less than me. (I earned $30,000 a year.) I had sent home homework for one students which included a coloring activity. One of my students responded that he did not have crayons at home.

I mention the last item because that was one thing I did during my last day. I interrupted the students during their computer class and asked if I could see him privately. I brought him back into my classroom and asked him if he had crayons at home. He shook his head so I handed him a box of crayons. I asked him to put the box in his backpack and go back to his class.

I spent a small part of the day telling the other teacher little details about my students and tried to enjoy their company. Unfortunately, I had already begun to disengage completely. For the last part of my day, one of the deans informed me that the school had purchased us pizza and pop. I tried to be grateful. In a way, I was. At the same time, I was losing my job, a reality that was becoming more and more real. I was about to lose my source of income and my health insurance. To think that pizza and pop would somehow make up for that was ridiculous.

I did have one last trick up my sleeve though. I had spent the week writing goodbye letters to each of my students in a journal. I had purchased a lot of writing books and I decided to give each student a blank one as a gift. I wrote them a letter at the front of the book, wishing them well and giving them some advice, mostly to work hard. I also paraphrased the saying from The Help “You are kind. You are smart. You are good. You are important.” The students were happy to receive the books and they were genuinely excited to receive a letter.

The day came to an end with a terrible sinus headache. The headache made me feel nauseated and I could barely even eat my pizza. When the gym teacher asked if I wanted to take my students out one last time to the bus, I declined. My head was killing me, and I no longer felt as though they were my students.

As I sat in my room, now mostly empty, one of the guardians came into the classroom. She was worried about how her nephew was behaving. She was having trouble controlling him at home. (She had recently received custody of him from the state.) I was honest about how he behaved in class and she was voicing her frustrations with his behavior and what she could do about him. I hated to interrupt her but I finally broke in and explained to her that I was no longer her nephew’s teacher; I had been laid off. “That’s a shame. I really liked you, ” she said. God bless her. I promised to inform her nephew’s new teacher.

I left the classroom for a reason I cannot remember. I believe it was most likely to say goodbye to my mentor teacher. When I came back, I was shocked. One of the instructional coordinators had recruited several other teachers to pillage my room. They were grabbing items off the shelf and out of my cabinet. “Those are mine!” I shouted, horrified that they were pillaging indiscriminately. True, some of those items were not mine, but some of them were. They were not interested in asking what belonged to me or not. They also said nothing to me. The vultures were circling.

The instructional coordinator removed all the items that belonged to the school and left. She did not say goodbye, she did not say good luck, or anything. I thought back to a time when I worked with a young man who was terminated for cause. We said goodbye to him as he was escorted outside and wished him well. I did not expect them to offer me a shoulder to cry on; I would have rejected such an offer anyway. I did, however, expect to be treated with respect and civility, or at least acknowledged before they came in to pick the meat off of my carcass.

I have to give a special shout out to the janitor. He came into my classroom to remove one of the bookshelves. He shook his head and said, “I feel as though I didn’t even get a chance to miss you.” He asked me about my plans and I said that I was going to sub. He wished me luck and assured me that I would find something soon. He is truly a great human being, kind and professional, and I will always think of well of him.

My friend came and stopped by to talk to me. She gave me some advice about subbing; she had done this for a couple of years.

I packed up my materials and packed them into my car. I donated the remainder or my prize box to another teacher. With that, I went home. I did not bother to unpack when I came home. My head was killing me and I was exhausted. I went home, changed my clothes, and crawled into bed for a nap.

At that moment, I was not unhappy. I was not happy per say, but I was deeply exhausted and thankful to be free of a terrible place. It seemed almost like a desperately needed vacation. I was looking forward to sleeping in and having a weekend without any grading or lesson plans.

In a way, the reality still had not sunk in; I saw nothing but relief and I was confident that I would find another job soon.

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Why I Write Films About Women

There are times when I wonder how much longer I will continue my series Films About Women. I am thinking that I may take a break from that series next March. I may take it up again at a later time, but I will likely need a break. It takes time to find and watch the films. (Hey, that will be two years.)

And yet, there are moments when I feel galvanized to keep going. I was listening to Bosspyants in my car this week. Tina Fey is very funny. However, she tells a story about Second City, the famous comedy troupe in Chicago. Tina Fey loves Second City. She refers to it as her cult. And yet, the directors of the troupe would frequently refuse to schedule two women to be in the same scene. After all, as they said, “No one wants to see a scene with two women.”

No one wants to see a scene with two women.

Later in the book, Tina Fey proudly proclaims that 10 million people watched her and Amy Pohler perform Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton in September 2008, and that the man in Second City could go shit in his hat.


There’s another reason why I am doing this series. Last year, when I was subbing, I spent an afternoon in an elementary school class. The students were no older than 3rd grade and they had to write a paragraph and color a person. I handed out the sheets to color. A few minutes later, a girl came up to me, furious and frustrated. “Why are the pictures always pictures of boys?!”

I didn’t even know how to answer her. Well, I knew how to answer her (Patriarchy! Sexism! The Feminine Mystique!) but not in an age appropriate way. There was nothing I could do to quell the pain and anger in her eyes. Fortunately, she asked me, “Can I give him long hair so he is a girl?” “Of course!” I answered. (And while we’re at it, I’ll get you some bras that you can burn!)

I guess, in my own way, my series is in the same vein as that little girl. I may take a break from the series next March. But until then, I’m going to give help the little girl give the pictures long hair.

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