Time For A Rest, Yet No Rest Comes

When I started this post days ago, I wrote this: the past 36-hours have been a whirlwind of helping activities at the college combined with a mind-numbing, heart hurting, crushing realization that the life in education I’ve been helping myself and others to build, curate, prune, and fill with love is being ripped from my hands in one fell swoop. I have always been open to change and embracing it with the mind of an alchemist who reveres the work of melting new precious metals together to morph them into something new. It can feel like magic!

But what happened yesterday [in context: yesterday was May 26 and it’s now June 2] in the midst of doing many things that I do in a day, was to discover that someone could shred my department in the blink of a two-hour meeting on Zoom and empty it of many of the teachers who give it life. Hmmm. How do we teach everything with just three of us and one of us has numerous other duties as Chair? As it started to sink in slowly that this was going to present a formidable task, my tired (no, exhausted) mind couldn’t work quickly enough to process the Fall schedule that is already published and has many students enrolled in all our courses.

“Why?” You might ask.

“Why?” We all asked.

Aside [on May 27]: I’m playing bang on a can | music for airports | brian eno rather loudly with the open patio glass allowing fog-tinged air to tickle my nostrils. (Wearing a mask all morning into the afternoon sucks.)

For the past academic year in our department meetings, we were upbeat and excited to share the collaborations we do for other departments. BEMA is EVERYWHERE was our call out. So many of our faculty and staff do myriad tasks and projects for and with other departments usually including our students in the collaboration so they can learn, real-time with real clients, the value of teamwork while nurturing the feelings of group accomplishment and success.

Next aside, now on to 90’s Trip-Hop Essentials with Beth’s plaintively sweet wail of Portishead Sour Times filling my room. Ahhh, now this is where I’m at. It’s just right.

Feeling a bit chewed up with my heart twisted today and this suits the vibe. The previous sonic aside featured some perfectly ambient backbone with melodic repetitions weaving throughout. Sound emitting from various instruments timed at intervals that slightly alter the rhythm. I love these quiet and artful thought-provoking works of music and sound…delicious to my tympanic membrane and cochlea.

It’s now June 2 and I’m in southern California staying at the loveliest AirBnB with the sweetest and most accommodating host. As I type, there is a pool reflecting the beauty of a backyard garden filled with flowers, birds, and bees. This is so necessary for me right now. I’ve spent the last 3 days in meetings and talks about how to save my department from the most massive cut ever to our faculty and programs. I have been in shock for days, but showing up to the front lines to fight for every last idea I could bring to the table to change this horror that has been unfolding before me since May 26th.

I can’t believe that after I have calculated every move I can make given the very tiny box we have been put into: only three of us left to teach, no overloads, and the one audio teacher is the dept chair with a considerable amount of other work which covers most of the teaching load I am allowed; we are totally screwed. We can only fulfill our Film, Television, and Electronic Media Associates Degree for Transfer and a Certificate of Achievement in Video Editing and Post-Production. THAT IS IT out of 11 certificates, three of them audio certificates. NO MORE AUDIO? What the living hell? I’m a 35-year veteran of audio and I’m now the chair of a video department? I am livid and deeply sad all in one fell swoop. It’s the same gut-punching sadness I felt when I lost my wife who I was madly in love with and my record label business in the same year back in 2003-4. It’s that same kind of numbing sadness. I walk around here in southern California in a stupor. This was supposed to be my time to celebrate my first year as department chair and attend the NAMM show which is my favorite of all audio conventions mostly to see old friends and associates while playing with new gear together. Instead, I feel like I’ve been through a medieval blood-letting of leeches all over my being. Oh, and I’ve been leached as well (emptied, drained).

In conclusion, I feel an obtusion on my brain and my heart. I don’t know where to start because it feels like I’m at the end…

gold, silver, mercury, copper, lead, iron, and tin – my alchemy fades.


About danaj33

writer * department chair of Broadcast Electronic Media Arts and audio faculty at City College of San Francisco * music composer and producer * always in discovery mode, learning, living, loving, and laughing.
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