Lessons learnt as a full-time sub in Minneapolis Public Schools

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Many months back I wrote a piece to the effect of being “retired from full-time boss work” which had a few people ask me what I was going to do with my time (as if retiring from boss work meant not having a family and household to take care of). I probably even gave out the impression that I was retiring from working full-time for money period.

*sigh*

If only.

Truth be told, I’m unlikely to ever be able to stop working for money. Just learning to enjoy the gig economy is all.

Which brings me to being a pedagogical ninja for a public school system that, much like the larger society it grew out of, has its head up its ass.

I’ve observed a lot, and I need to vent a little.

So here are some lessons I’ve learnt being a full-time reserve teacher in a city I love and a public school system that my daughter will be entering next year:

1) The schooling system does not give a damn about the emotional and mental well-being of the child: I believe schools ought to exist for one reason and one reason alone – to create a safe, carefree, daily community that fosters play and curiosity. Sadly in Minneapolis, academics and scholastic numbers count for pretty much everything in the public system. Kids being happy and content count for jack shit. From K-12, this is a tragic, undeniable observation I have made in our schools – and it’s hardly a national outlier – rather I suggest that this is pervasive across our country. I’ve seen numerous elementary school schedules that have 5 hours dedicated to topics like literacy, math, and reading, while 20 or 30 minutes is afforded to recess and free play. I’ve seen supposedly “good” teachers stress their every minute of every day on worksheets and curriculum adherence, like proselytizing martyrs, while oblivious to bullying going on in front of their eyes. I’ve asked hundreds of high school and middle school students whether they like school, and not one time have I received an answer in the affirmative. Our children are miserable in our schools. Our teachers get even more miserable trying to implement an ass-backwards system that they seem to buy into only because it’s the only one in front of them. It is not working and the shittiest part is that there is a simple policy that can be implemented across the system that would resolve a lot of the stress factors. Which brings me to a second tragic observation about our school systems…

2) There is way too little play time and way too much stress, when it should be the exact opposite (like I said, head up ass): That schedule I talked about in the previous point – that’s the norm, and it is not working for our kids. We are not wired to sit in a goddamn classroom for so many hours at any age, leave alone as developing children. The primary way in which children learn to problem-solve, push their boundaries, develop social skills, and foster a strong sense of self is through play. Long periods of free play and semi-structured activities involving running, jumping, climbing, hanging, imagining, dancing, competing, laughing, singing, helping, supporting, simulating, building, negotiating, re-building and more. It is the primary foundation by which neural development takes place and should constitute the majority of a child’s time in school. When there is a strong foundation of play, only then can there be stimulating challenges set up to develop specific skills that will aid these children in sustaining themselves in whatever society they navigate as adults. Those challenges can be structured into an academic curriculum but, even then, should be for no more than short bursts of time as opposed to long drawn out bore sessions, stressing out student and teacher alike. And speaking of stressed out teachers…

3) Students need to be taught by caring adults with similar experiences and not entitled suburbanites who take themselves way too seriously: Seriously, is no one worried about the missionary-school-like racial demographics in our public schools? Why aren’t our children being taught by a teaching population of similar experiences, backgrounds, and journeys? Why aren’t teaching licenses incumbent upon these critical factors in student-teacher relationships. Racial parity is a major concern and will remain a major concern for years to come at the rate at which things are changing. But it’s not just a race thing, nor should it be. I’ve seen many white teachers doing an amazing job, usually by going against the grain and internalizing what it means to be a white ally to these kids. Equally importantly, they often appreciate the urban experience themselves. Just as important as race or background, city kids need to be taught by city adults, not adults who’re drawing a city paycheck in order to maintain a suburban lifestyle, figuratively but often literally as well. I have no problem with my bi-racial child being taught by a white teacher (and frankly don’t have much choice in the matter). But I know that there are sections of white society who are anxious and fearful of America becoming less white with every passing day. Teachers rooted in this fearfulness create a crappy experience and environment for a primarily racialized student population. Furthermore, because they’re vested in the norm, they’re accepted, even celebrated. Then there are sections of white society (a thankfully increasing trend) who embrace diversity, difference, and change in multiple ways, with all its accompanying struggles. White teachers coming from those backgrounds are less interested in maintaining a racist system and more interested in creating a nurturing space in their classrooms. I’m absolutely cool with my daughter being taught by one of them. Because ultimately, and this is the most sobering point one can internalize as a public educator…

4) The most important factor in the safe, healthy development of a child is a nurturing, stable home (and even good schools matter little in that development): Boy, are there teachers, good and bad, who have a grandiose sense of self. It takes one to one for sure. We educators think we’re going to change all kinds of young lives, with no small amount of ego-stroking, when we forget that school actually accounts for a lot less in a child’s healthy development than we might imagine. I’m not suggesting that schools cannot play a significant role in a child’s healthy development, just that the significance is way over-stated in our culture and that overblown sense of self-importance is fucking up our schools. I think it’s useful to internalize (the often bitter truth) that a nurturing, stable home is overwhelmingly the most important factor in a child’s healthy development. Now, a lot of kids don’t always have that. This is usually due to the ravages of capitalism, racism, and generational trauma. But with the kids in our system who experience this, they usually only get educators wringing their hands at the lack of learning taking place, resulting in the imparting of greater discipline, creating even more marginalization. Instead, a realistic understanding that schools be safe, carefree spaces for kids and nothing more, might actually result in the public system putting honest efforts towards achieving it.

Ultimately, regardless of the level of influence schools might have in any child’s life, what is clear is that stress, structure, and excessive discipline only feature as negatives for the children. Let’s stop messing up our kids and give them ample time to play, feel safe, and just be kids, for crying the fuck out loud.

AOC, Ilhan et al…we got some W.I.POC warriors in Congress

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Yeah, I’ve decided to hitch on what I see as a rather kick-ass W.I.PoC bandwagon in Congress for a while. Mostly because I’m a news junkie and I’m tired of seeing old, white rich dudes rape and plunder their way to wealth and power. It really is a dampener on my infotainment binges.

Not to mention that fact that this wretched cesspool of predatory capitalism and misogyny that’s destroying our planet needs some voices up top fighting the good fight (until we can tear it all down that is).

Yes, they’re all politicians and they’re all eventually going to disappoint sooner or later, but at least with AOC, Ilhan and other immigrant women and women of color in Congress, I’m absolutely certain that they’re not going to sexually assault someone.

I also truly feel like they give a shit about stuff beyond personal gain. I’m not suggesting their egos and ambitions aren’t at play, but I have always found that women in power are able to at least care about others around them to a greater degree than men in power.

Not being a sexual predator and furthermore, actually giving a shit about people around you, is in fact a rather low bar, but it is one that I would like all of my elected leaders to first cross before making any policy changes.

And it seems like most old rich white dudes not named Bernie Sanders are incapable of the same.

So yeah, AOC, Ilhan, et al…you have an utterly useless voice of support in me – a fringe lefty who cuddle-tortures his pets and considers the criminalization of cannabis to be backward as fuck.

All hail our W.I.PoC warriors, wherever they fight those good fights and blaze those good trails.

Brothers and fathers and allies alike – unite in defending the matriarchy.

Capitalist workaholic cultures in the non-profit industrial complex

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My alleged career in public health, social services, and education in various North American cities has spanned almost a decade and a half. If you take into account work that I did in India prior to and alongside that career in the States and Canada, then that’s a good two decades of labor in these sectors that I can claim as a badge of honor and failure in equal proportion. Essentially this was work in various organizations that exist within what INCITE! brilliantly classified as the non-profit industrial complex.

From anecdotal evidence it feels safe to say that a lot, likely the majority, of social justice activist-type people tend to find paid work in social services, health, education, or some combination thereof. Many, like me, thus end up building low-wage careers in the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC from here on out), which for me includes both public and private organizations and those pain-in-the-butt, dual ones. And like me, many also build these careers kicking and screaming because really what other choice is there for so many of us in a capitalist economy?

For the most part we do this to the detriment of our health and personal lives…all in the name of finding a job that at least partially enriches our souls.

I am of the opinion that the major reason for this hit on our well-being is the shitty, pro-capitalist, Jesus-complex-bearing, workaholic culture that exists within vast parts of the NPIC.

This is not nurturing for our society and communities.

Now make no mistake, I’m not dissing the work done by many of the organizations within the NPIC. There is genuinely good work happening with quite a few of these non-profits, whether in subversive manners or not.

But why oh why can’t this good work be done without adopting oppressive work cultures?

It is so very rare to find a non-profit that adheres to the simple truth that having a nurturing, caring, anti-capitalist, and anti-perfectionist work culture – based on building egalitarian communities – will in reality benefit the cause in the long run.

I will say this though. I do believe that this self-aggrandizing, oppressive, workaholic mentality is a manifestation of settler-colonial patriarchy. Not only are we better of without it, we must actively fight it for the sake of our children, families, and communities.

Because it’s the people we love who suffer the most when we’re forced to spend the overwhelming majority of our waking hours selling our labor for sustenance.

I have said it before and will say it again:

Fuck capitalism.

9 scary reasons Donald Trump can become president in November

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Ok, I’m going to come right out and stake my claim on this prediction – it’s one with a very small chance of actually coming true (but I think that “small chance” is getting bigger by the day):

Donald Trump will become the next President of the United States.

Please note that it is Friday, May 27, 2016 – over five months away from us actually finding out whether or not this prediction comes true.

I’m not saying that this is a good thing, if it comes true that is. Not by any stretch of imagination. I’m just saying that it’s going to happen. And I’ve been feeling like this for quite a few months now. (Bless the intrepid soul of my long-suffering soulmate and life partner who has to hear my incessant geopolitical monologues.)

And here are 9 really scary and true reasons why this is going to happen:

1. The alternative is a neocolonial, predatory capitalist, Wall Street puppet: Hillary Clinton is exactly that. She charges $250,000 for speeches sallivating over Wall Street, the transcripts of which she’s likely embarrassed and/or scared to release. She’s the scion of one of the richest dynasties in America. She oozes elitist, 1%, white privilege. She has been mongering after that power for decades now, and had to wait for her husband to get his scummy hands all over the presidency first – because even among the elitist, privileged white one percenters of the world, patriarchy still holds bloody true. As does the fact that…

2. The US is ripe for a new age fascist movement: The demographics make for quite the possibility of a neo-fascist, American nationalist movement, even multiple regional ones. The fact that the US is quite rapidly un-whitening is making a lot of white people angry (it’s actually expanded upon as one of my points below – I am nothing if not repetitive). Not to mention rising tensions in some of the larger urban sprawls with what is, in effect, a police state. Authoritarianism, power, profiteering, militarism and demagoguery are celebrated with fear and nationalism. A large section of the Republicans and right-wing independents are cashing in, and probably going to regret it in the years to come (but that’s another story). Even so, they are helped by the candidate they have to face in the general elections, I mean…

3. Hillary is just pathetic. And so is Bill: Hillary and her god-awful husband are just so uninspiring and soulless, history will never forgive them (did folks catch his condescending engagement with the Black Lives Matter activists?) They seem to operate the Democratic Party like it’s their own personal fiefdom – I mean, what the fuck are these super delegates all about for crying out loud, and why are they all going for the Clintons when it seems like the actual voters are pretty evenly split between Bernie and Hillary? The Clintons are one of the biggest reasons, if not the biggest reason for Trump getting into the White House. Because Bernie would have wiped the floor with Trump in a general election – but Hillary and Bubba just had to have it their way or the high way. And speaking of pathetic…

4. So is the Democratic Party as a whole: Seriously, America deserves Trump if the majority of the people aren’t capable of moving beyond fascism and fascism light in terms of political parties to choose from (especially if we go old-school for this point with our definition of fascism – as the complete merger of private mega corporations and the state). The Democratic Party defines spinelessness. And worse, they are probably less democratic than even the Republicans (hell, even Hitler was elected democratically, remember). It is quite possible that had the Democrats been forced into accepting the people’s verdict – which like it or not is what the crazy right-wingers over on the Republican side did – Bernie would be the nominee and, I repeat, would have wiped the floor with the Teflon Don come November. But it’s not just the political system…

5. US pop culture is addictive, mind-controlling, garbage: There is no way that a candidate like Donald Trump could come anywhere close to this kind of power unless it was in a country where vapid pop culture ruled the senses. From American Idol to American Sniper to American Pie and everything in between – US pop culture is the Great Population Mind Control Experiment of the 20th and 21st centuries, even threatening to take over the hyper democracy of the internet with viral videos and target tweets. Critical thinking, argumentative discussion, constant questioning, democratic thought, and free speech all take a back seat to pure, unadulterated sensory excitement. Half the country is voting for an orange haired, virulent buffoon who also happens to be a misogynistic, capitalist thug – and they celebrate that shit! How the hell can it happen without American pop culture?

And speaking of pop culture, it’s really when you peruse the comments of news sites online do you realize that…

6. Angry white people are still the majority of the country (and they are getting angrier by the day): I love it when people say white people are going to be a minority in the US in 2050 or something. I mean, even if people of color end up as more than 50% of the population, white folk are still the largest demographic, i.e. still in the majority (unless you think Blacks, Latinos, East Asians, South Asians and Native Americans are all one demographic – and if you do then you might want to read, like, a book or at the very least a Wikipedia article or something.) Those white folk who don’t like seeing the un-whitening of America are angry and getting angrier still, despite having it better than well over 90% of the world’s population. Can you imagine how they will feel when shit starts actually unraveling economically, environmentally, and politically? (I can hear the collective shudder of millions of bleeding heart liberals as we speak.)

And just in case you were wondering if I was only picking on right-wingers, fear not, for I do believe a major reason for the upsurge of right-wing populism under the likes of Trump is also because…

7. Progressives are yet to, en masse, support movements like Black Lives Matter: Yeah, until white progressives and male progressives learn to abandon the Democratic party and the liberal elite (not to mention white privilege and patriarchy), and cede total control and leadership of the progressive movement to women of color and trans people of color, including radical, groundbreaking movements like Black Lives Matter, we’re going to be dealing with human refuse like the Trumps and Clintons of the world for a while to come. And…

8. Frankly, if it doesn’t happen now, it’s going to happen some time soon: Seriously folks, America has been heading in this direction for a while. I think a bunch of people were a little taken aback by all the hope that a highly gifted, dignified, and honorable black president gave us, especially when history had just been made and the speeches were just so very mesmerizing. But then more black people got incarcerated in the years to come. More undocumented immigrants got deported under cruel circumstances. And many of us realized that, no matter how talented and egalitarian a person might be occupying that office, it’s still the office of a brutal imperialist power.

But the real cherry on top of this prediction cake is that…

9. The betting houses just lowered the odds on a Trump presidency: Always a useful bellwether to pay attention to.

The bookies, man, the bookies.

So come November, don’t say I didn’t warn you lovelies.

(Methinks I’ll keep my Canadian passport nice and not-expired…just in case.)

If we have to sell our labor, let’s find ways to make it more tolerable

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I hate the fact that I have to sell my labor in alienating, stressful ways in order to help sustain myself and my loved ones. I’ve been doing it for well over a decade, and I know I’m not alone in this sentiment, seeing as we all exist in a colonial, capitalist world mired in patriarchy.

Don’t get me wrong. I have a good job working as a trauma therapist in a community health centre, and am certainly very grateful that it pays for life in general.

But that still doesn’t deny the fact that there are at least a hundred other things I would rather be doing. Topmost on that list is hanging out with my pregnant partner, our cats, and our burgeoning community. It is so very painful to say goodbye to her every weekday morning before we both head to our respective workplaces. It hurts deep in my gut to spend so much time away from her and our loved ones, human and non-human.

But we all need sustenance.

For me sustenance is healthy food, clothing, and shelter, as well as the security that it will be there for the perceivable future. In an ideal world, we’d all be living in intentional communities comprising of friends and loved ones, sustaining and caring for each other, wherein the labor involved in feeding, clothing and sheltering ourselves would’t have to be so onerous and might even be fun because it’s done alongside people we love, minus alienation and insularity.

I hope we never stop fighting for this ideal world. Because capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy should never be taken as a given. They are socioeconomic systems that suck the life force out of human beings. Love and joy are afterthoughts, while stress and suffering are seen as normal. And that’s simply unacceptable.

But we can’t just fight, can we? We actually have to sustain ourselves while fighting this good fight (quite possibly for a victory only to be tasted many generations from now). Intimate partners work for the sustenance of each other. Parents work for the sustenance of their children. Community members work for the sustenance of their loved ones.

And this sustenance almost always involves selling our labor in one way or the other, often with dollops of tension and strain. So how the hell do we make it more tolerable?

Some thoughts on the matter follow. For starters…

Let love be the primary driver for going to work (not career advancement): In my line of work, burnout is common. Because banks tend to be quite unsympathetic when the mortgage payments aren’t made on time, and landlords don’t hesitate to kick someone out when the rent isn’t there on the first of the month, it means that there are times when I have to keep working even when burnt out. During those moments, it is only love that keeps me going. I literally visualize what my salary helps pay for – the sustenance of loved ones – and it helps no end. My partner, our little one, and our community of humans and non-humans. I see them, and the pain goes away.

When I’m running on nothing but fumes, love fuels me in a way nothing else does. Neither money, status, or acclaim can come anywhere close as a motivating factor when the stress levels rise and burnout is imminent, if not well and truly complete. Love does indeed move mountains, and it also gets me the hell up on god-awfully painful Monday mornings.

But then there’s the stress of the job itself. For that, among other things, I suggest we strive to…

Build community and friendship on the job (even if it’s via the whole misery-loving-company thing): This is tougher than it sounds, but it’s so very important. I’ve written about this before, and I do believe it’s one of those things that really sticks it to the man, so to speak, because it goes against the very essence of alienated labor in a capitalist society. We’re supposed to erect barriers around us, become productive professionalized automatons, and not share friendship or solidarity with the people we share a good portion of our waking lives with.

That’s bullshit.

Making friends, even one or two, and building a caring community, no matter how small, is really important if you don’t want to feel like absolute crap going to work. You can have each other’s back and share in each other’s pain. You might even have a person or two whom you actually look forward to seeing when you get to work, which makes it slightly easier to endure the pain of leaving your loved ones in order to sell your labor. The friendship and solidarity has to supersede the work however, in order for it to be truly nurturing. You can’t compete with each other or try to outdo one another or have trust issues and still be friends.

But friendships are hard to come by in capitalist, colonial societies. They can take time, and can often be frustrating (even if ultimately rewarding) endeavors. So, during the day-to-day, when you have no one to rely on but yourself, don’t forget to…

Find ways to “zone out” and de-stress while on the job (maybe even find ways to relax): Do not be a workaholic. Do what you need to do, but don’t go overboard. There’s a really messed up pedestal that workaholism is placed on in our society, and that pedestal is emblazoned with the words “Maximum Productivity To The Point Of Ulcers And Break Down”. Don’t fall for that crap. It’s more important to play the long game. If you have family and community whose sustenance you are committed to, then it’s equally important to remember that this sustenance needs to take place over the long term. And that means you have to find ways to de-stress, zone out, and yes, even relax, while on the job so you live to fight another day. If this is impossible in your job, then seek one where there are greater opportunities for this. It’s worth the effort to prioritize low stress levels in any job search, even if it comes at the cost of some money.

Ways to make the job more tolerable is one thing. But the stresses tend to follow you home. No matter how many platitudes we might hear of “leaving your work stress at work” it hardly happens that way. Stress is stress. It’s not an on-off button. If it were, life would be the easiest thing.

But there are ways to handle the stress that we take home with us. Love plays an important role here too. So remember, next time you get back home from work (and in an adequately relaxed state of mind)…

Talk about the stresses of the job with your loved ones (rather than bottling them up to the point of frustration): Verbose as I am, my motor mouth tends to vacillate between silly buffoonery and deep political anger (picture an obnoxious clown wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt). I often make the mistake of bottling up my day-to-day stresses. Sometimes the more overwhelming it gets, the more I bottle up, until I have some kind of break down. It happens subconsciously. I feel it’s some deep-rooted sexist crap around, ironically enough, not wanting to seem weak or vulnerable. Indeed, It’s safe to say that the vast majority of my mental health issues and negative behaviors is due to my internalized patriarchy. (Dudes are so messed up.)

But without fail, each and every time I have a heart-to-heart with Sus about the stresses I’m feeling, I am better off for it. She helps me get a better grip, do away with the stresses that aren’t worth stressing about, and get a healthier perspective on life. I still instinctively bottle up my stresses (like I said, dudes are messed up), but it’s now at a point where I just feel stupid when I catch myself doing that because there’s such an easy, healthy way to de-stress.

This then helps us…

Ensure that unhealthy ways of relaxing are only done with loved ones (and in moderation of course): Booze and greasy food are topmost on my list of unhealthy relaxation methods. Binge-watching television shows on my laptop hovers up there too (though I do believe there can be a healthy side to it, especially if it helps one get the necessary mental break to rest and heal from trauma, anxiety, and depression – if that’s you, then binge-watch away my friend).

I always find methods of relaxation that don’t exactly scream “clean living” are best done with loved ones. They are far more relaxing, and they don’t end up being a crutch to hold on to when the stress is overwhelming. As someone who fought off serious alcohol abuse following the loss of my younger brother over a decade ago, I know what such a crutch looks like and it’s a constant struggle, with varying degrees of success, to prevent myself from going back there. Ensuring that the dopey buzz of beer and the salty fat of takeout is only during fun social occasions with loved ones makes that struggle way easier. Even binge-watching television has a far more salubrious effect when actively done with a loved one (it’s one of the excuses I make anyway for Sus and I indulging in so much of it).

There is another side to the relaxation coin however, which shouldn’t be neglected. It’s not just unhealthy ways of relaxation that need to be engaged with. So while you have that occasional evening of drunken, gut-busting revelry, don’t forget to…

Make a long list of the healthiest ways you can relax and de-stress (and actually follow it): For me this includes regular exercise (even if just 5-10 minutes a day), long walks where I can daydream (and imagine myself as a brooding superhero in an alternate universe), writing and blogging (not to mention the occasional shitty podcast), music (listening, learning, and criticizing), television (especially stuff that makes Sus and I laugh or think, but mostly laugh), a little martial arts here and there (nothing macho, just fun stuff), hanging out with friends and loved ones (even the occasionally irritating ones), invoking the divine feminine whenever down (the whole liberated spirituality thing), erring on the side of joy and laughter (I mean, why the hell not?), cooking loads of really good, delicious food (taste in no way needs to compete with health – humanity would probably have died off a long time ago if so), receiving wise counsel from our cats (their fail-safe solution for de-stressing me is to have their bellies rubbed and their daily quota of cuddles met), and finally, lots of sugary, milky, black tea (the tea is just an excuse to get a sugar high – just ask any South Asian surreptitiously adding that extra spoonful.)

Remember to always privilege love and joy, my friends. The job is just a means to that end and nothing more.

Now go have some adequately debauched fun with a person you love.

 

There is a sickness running through our society

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We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture

  • Sriram Ananth (sriram.writing@gmail.com)

There is a sickness running through our society – and we need to heal from it with love even if we have to go through some pain in order to do so. The sooner we begin, the better. Some of us have already begun, or at least we think we have. The problem is that our society, for the most part, doesn’t realize that it has this deeply malevolent sickness. And that’s because it’s currently being held at bay. The symptoms are being managed, so to speak.

This sickness is currently being held at bay via a heady and mind-numbing mixture of patriarchy, nationalism, and colonial entitlement.

But the true insidiousness of this sickness is that it’s being held at bay by the very entities causing it in the first place. They cannot afford to let the sickness erupt and thus manage its symptoms. By doing that they ensure we as a society never realize we’re suffering from this sickness and prevent us from finding ways of healing from it.

The symptom-management drugs are prescribed and handed out for free by the powers-that-be.

(I swear, I didn’t really intend for that to rhyme, because if I did I should be slapped in the face).

Seriously though. Just check out any commercial brand name, 24-hour “news” program, or vapid entertainment show that essentially keeps stating over and over, in a myriad different ways and with only so much audacity:

“Our Western society is the pinnacle of mankind and we are the greatest people on earth!”

It’s good prescription crack, no? Just hearing that must make any member of Western society positively giddy with all that artificial dopamine (especially those who can really claim nationalistic and, dare I say it, racial membership in that society).

The idea that we in the West – the US, Canada, Western Europe, Israel, Australia, what have you – are more civilized, more peace loving, and more free, than the rest of the world is such a powerful, heady drug that it could provide an artificial escape from the most insidious trauma and cruelty.

And make no mistake, my siblings wherever you may find yourself free and loved on the gender spectrum – there are vast, deep-rooted, and vicious forms of trauma and cruelty across the length and breadth of our glorious West, our Great Global North, our politely civilized society. No less than any other part of the world. Of course, there will be enough to show that we have it way better than others (you know, after stealing all their shit, but who needs those mundane details, right?) And if you’re talking wealth and entitlement, we’re certainly number one in that regard.

But get this – despite growing up in a so-called Third World country and immigrating to a so-called First World country, I see no less trauma and pain in the US or Canada than I saw growing up in India.

It’s just better hidden and more efficiently sterilized in the West, is all.

Yeah, we need to throw that shitty prescription crack away, and smoke up some regular ol’ natural, honest-to-goodness, anti-oppressive, freedom fighting, weed grown straight out of our beautiful, soul-nourishing, life-force-giving mother earth.

Of course, the weed I’m talking about is the metaphorical kind – wink, wink, nudge, nudge and all…

So, friends, comrades, loved ones, lend me your metaphorical lungs, for it might just be time to light up.

It might just help us see the sickness in our society.

And it might just get us going on the healing process.

Make note of these 6 types of condescending co-workers and reject their snot by laughing at them behind their backs

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going to clown college

As this Anti Oppressive Healing series has evolved over the last few weeks, it has been an absolute blessing to be noshed on by the ever-benevolent writing bug. From a goal of two posts a month when this series first started in March 2015, and the hope of getting to three posts a month in about six months of posting; I am now very fortuitous to be averaging a post a week for the last five weeks and I hope to keep up with this new pace of writing and publishing. It’s been such a lovely learning experience and it helps me remain committed to improving by doing. After many years of having a bloated, taking-my-writing-way-too-seriously ego getting thankfully deflated, I feel grateful to be in this liberated head space. It helps me clear away the haze and do my level best to keep producing work that tries to remove the “wannabe” in my self-imposed identity of a “wannabe healer, writer, and mama elephant.”

Long may this writing bug sink its emboldening fangs into my hitherto oafish brain so it may shake those verbiage-plodding neurons free from their privileged priapean perturbation.

(May it also always make me re-read jargony crap constructed utilizing nothing but an online thesaurus and a prayer.)

Now, I do believe the reason I am in this liberated head space is partly because of blogging.

Blogging, with it’s potential for free expression, limitless creative possibilities, and liberated thought- not to mention unfettered consumption and distribution – is tailor made for a wannabe healer-writer (healter? heriter? hwriter with a silent h?) trying to get some much needed improvement for his craft, as well as write and publish as much as he can without worrying about getting paid for it.

I feel compelled to mention that I am of the inviolable belief that all artistes need to get paid for their work, and I will always fight for everyone to get a fair wage for their creative/artistic work, but I’m privileged to have a life where I can exercise the option of writing and publishing for free consumption/distribution, without worrying about making a living from it because it’s what I need right now to get better. So I just plan on attempting a steady assembly line of posts for anyone out there who’s interested, and for as long as I can. As of now they will all come under the umbrella series, and focus, of Anti Oppressive Healing, but I’m sure that will evolve too.

Ok then. Enough navel-gazing and product-peddling. If you’ve stuck it out thus far with this post, please know that I appreciate you bearing with me as I gazed unabashedly into my unflattering and very-much-not-follicly-challenged belly button while sheepishly pointing you in the vague direction of other posts I have on this blog (sidebar to your left, b t dubs).

On that rather pleasant note…

This post continues in the Healing from Work vein of articles within the series. Only this time it’s trying to reject the hurtful actions of condescending co-workers utilizing that defiant cynical side of ours.

Now, obviously it’s based on condescending co-workers I have interacted with in previous workplaces or continue to interact with in my current workplace. But for obvious reasons I will not give away names or markers of any sort, suffice to say these generic types of condescending co-workers will be recognized by many of you.

And how best to deal with such cosmic ass-warts?

I believe the best way is to mentally reject them. I don’t mean cease interaction, for that might not be a luxury all of us have. What I do mean is that we reject the condescension of these co-workers in our hearts and minds, and commit to not being defeated by it. I’ve already written about investing as little of our souls as we can when selling our labor to capitalism for our sustenance, so I won’t repeat those points.

With this post, all we’re doing is coming up with a list of identifiers that mark out condescending co-workers who need to be rejected in our heads so we can then heal by laughing about them behind their backs.

Before we do that though, our generic colleagues are going to need generic names (and this article needs, you know, a thing). You need these names and many, many more you should strive to come up with on your own. They are your tools of resiliency to deal with those officious office  mates of yours. So let’s discuss a couple of options to get the juices flowing.

Perhaps Sanctimonious Sam? Could that be one of them?

Or if that’s a bit too meh, maybe Sydney Self-Righteousness? It certainly has a certain oomph to that surname.

But if that’s too many syllables for you, you really can’t go wrong with the delicate flow of Peyton Pomposity though now can you?

(See, I gotta be honest, all I did right now was a google search for synonyms of the word ‘sanctimonious’ and vaguely gender-neutral christian names on the net and strung a few of those bad boys with the same starting letters together. I’m going to follow that as an m.o. for this article fyi. I’m also going to take the opportunity, in this particular parenthetical segue, to finally admit that I am a pathetic con job of a writer. Hell, the only reason I even come out of this hack artiste closet is so I can then seek lazy refuge in meta humor as opposed to actually trying to be a better writer. Whatever. It’s therapeutic. Plus, when hipsters do it, no one complains, and most of those assholes have trust funds, so bite me.)

Ok, that was cleansing – and probably disturbing. I’m not sure. Lets just quickly move on to the six common types of condescending co-workers before I go postal with a BB gun in a Kensington Market coffee shop.

For instance…

  • You know that Goody-two-shoes Gabriel, the sniveling little suck-up, who never fails to note down all the times you went on vacation or took time off? Ol’ Gugga will never fail to bring it up in the snarkiest way possible when you return to work, which is the real kicker. (“Oh, hi there! Haven’t seen you in a looong time. Wish I could take time off like that too. Forgot you even worked here for a while. Lucky for you your supervisor’s office is all the way on the other side of the building, am I right? By the way, how did it go last week, you know, with the birth of your first child and all?”)
  • Ahem, simultaneously we don’t want to forget how Bobby Bootlicker – that giant pile of priggish pus who never fails to highlight their work, occasionally repeating a project or two from a couple of different angles, almost always at all-staff meetings and only when the bosses are present. Usually this is done by raising a hand during Q&A, and providing a surreptitious, albeit astoundingly detailed, reconstruction of all the work Bobo did as a lead up to asking a question. They will then conveniently forego asking a question but they will crack a dainty little joke about being a hopeless workaholic. (You can then feel the earth’s axial tilt shift ever so faintly as every eyeball in the room rolls upward in remarkable, albeit exasperated, unison. The goddesses in the sky look down in sympathy as a collective sigh of indignation then descends upon the meeting when Bobo flashes that impossible smile – impossible because it’s being performed by lips vacuum-sealed on the ass of a program director.)
  • But heavens forbid we forget that slimeball, Pharisaical Fadnavis. The duplicitous drool of that duplicitous drooler can be smelt a mile away. P-Fad will always be a picture of politeness with you. Always “on” 24/7, this source of angst will display a propriety that would make Martha Stewart’s heart glow like black granite in the prairie sunshine. P-Fad bustles with a bumblebee earnestness and buzzes, martyr-like, about how helpful they are to everyone around them, though the jury is still out on who exactly “everyone” is. Like Bobo though, rest assured the tone gets positively joanofarcian in those preciously public all-staff meetings with all the bosses present.
  • Ok, enough of that, because now it’s time get really filthy, like bottom of the barrel type stuff, when we recount that slice of smarm, Wheedling Waleed Bin Talal? (More like Wheedling Wally B Buttwipe, am I right?) Now there’s a walking ball of brown-nosing bullshit. Seriously, how can so much of that brown gold be slung with the bosses with nary a stain nor stench? Wally B knows how, let me tell you. Those laboriously shined shoes and immaculately creased trousers will not allow it any other way.
  • Wally B induces the nausea, but can I have a “fuck me, not this asshole again” for Unctuous Ulysses? That Jesus-Loves Me-bracelet-wearing, beatific jive joker – always fresh faced, well hydrated, and with a gleaming smile. Unfortunately for the rest of us this smile emanates from the face of a person who’s ego isn’t healthy enough to attempt moderation when applying that tempting teeth-whitener the previous night. He doesn’t talk about his pompous piety. This literal leap of faith doesn’t need to. It blooms from his being, radiating outward, washing over us like the healing aromas emanating from a landfill. He jades and jehovizes those of us going to hell, making our souls impatient to get there just a little bit sooner so we don’t have to smell his eau de parfum.
  • And finally, can we ever conceive of a list of condescending co-workers without referencing the one we all love to hate the most, your favorite office pest, Vainglorious Venkatanarasimharaju? This is the one who thinks that the office would fall apart without him, yet even a friendly query on what exactly he does in order to keep this office so brilliantly functioning will be met with the kind of exasperation that you do not want to be facing from The V2 Rocket. Nothing more needs to be said about this puddle of piss – primarily because I’m running out of steam thinking about these people and doing google searches for adjectives describing their sorry asses so I can hack out this post.

I think it’s best now for all of us for me to sign off with this very simple mantra…

Remember to never allow the insecurity and inadequacies of your condescending co-workers defeat you.

Your best bet would be to look at your work life via the lens of an over-the-hill but well-adjusted Looney Toons character who doesn’t take their work too seriously and possesses enough cynical zeal to treat some of your more cloying colleagues with the intentionally cartoonish disdain they deserve.

Now, seriously, don’t forget to clock the fuck out before 5pm and go have fun with your loved ones.

And do give a big smile to Paulus Publius Pecksniffian Poopy Pants on your way out.