Anger Here Is All You Possess

The title is a lyric from the song, The Edge of America.  I adore this song.  Simply adore it.  I have for a long time but did not love it when I first heard the album, Big Thing.  I believe that I started to love it when I made an emotional connection to it.  This emotional connection was a simple one.  I felt like the song spoke of my students.  Let me give you some background here.  As you all probably know, I have been a teacher for the past 16 years.  16.  Like many teachers out there, I went into the profession to make a difference.  Sounds simple, but it was anything but.  I planned to be a Social Studies teacher (History/Political Science/Sociology) but that didn’t happen.  Instead, I found myself being a special education teacher through a long term substitute teaching job.  I discovered that special education was not quite what I thought it was.  It was broader than the images I had in my mind and much more intense.  Yet, at the time, it made perfect sense, especially for the school I worked at.  You see, my students, for the most part, struggled, behaviorally and emotionally.  Academics were the very last focus for many of them as the majority of them struggled with the harsh realities of life.  Many of these realities were ones that I was lucky to have never had to deal with.  My students dealt with every social issue, imaginable, from poverty to racism to abuse to mental illness to drug addiction and more.  Yet, they were just kids, trying to make their way in a world in that seemed harsh and unjust.  Many of these students of mine seemed to fit many of the lyrics to this song.  They lived in the city (“concrete beach”).    They didn’t have anything to lose (“there’s nothing left to lose”).  Anger certainly was often the most prominent emotion (“Learn to love your anger now, anger here is all you possess.”)  It wasn’t easy to teach these kiddos, but, for a long time, I felt supported in my work.  I felt rewarded for my work from the kids themselves, from their families, from my school, and from the public.  I felt successful.  Unfortunately, this feeling of support has not been there for awhile.  
Where did the support go?  This is a complex answer and one that isn’t part of the scope of this blog.  Let’s just say–all areas of support have decreased.  Some areas have been not just unsupportive but harmful.  Last year, I interviewed at other schools with the hope that switching to a new building with a fresh set of staff and administration as well as a different population of students would re-ignite my desire to teach, my desire to make a difference in this way.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that I now know that the song at the center of this blog isn’t necessarily about my students (current or former) but instead is more about me and where I’m at.  I’m at the edge of America.  I’m part of an educational system that is undergoing dramatic changes.  Even worse, I’m part of an educational system that exists in a state in which teachers and teaching have been undermined at best and openly attacked at worse by the people in power, at least from my perspective.  
“This is where it ends.  There’s nothing left to lose.  Nothing to protest.”  This is exactly where I’m at with my profession, my career.  There is plenty that I should be protesting but I can’t.  This is the end of the road for me as an educator, as a teacher.  I decided I was going to be a teacher at 16 and now, at 38, I’m ready to walk away.  I gave it my all for a very long time.  I fought.  I protested.  “Paradise is lost.  Recognition never realized.  Salvation lost among the crowd.”  Like Duran asks, I do wonder, “Where is your nation now?”  While I ask that question, I am walking over the edge to whatever comes next, whatever my next career will be.  As I ponder the unknown of my future and listen to this song, I can’t help but to think about how John Taylor must have felt in 1997 when he walked from Duran.  Did he feel like I feel?  I have many mixed emotions.  While I’m ready to go and really have been for a few years, part of me is filled with sorrow.  This big part of who I have been will no more.  Did he feel that way, even when he thought he was making the best choice for himself?  Another part of me is just scared.  I don’t know what the future will bring.  
I know that I will need to be focused on getting a new job.  While I don’t want to decrease everything that Rhonda and I do, I have to be realistic, too.  This blog isn’t making us any money.  Our book could but that isn’t out yet.  The convention is just an event put on by fans for fans.  I may have to pull away from this–I don’t want to.  (Unless, someone, somewhere wants to pay us!  I would gladly accept that job!!)  Yet, my main goal must be finding a job and, eventually, my next career.  For now, I’m looking at political/non-profit organizations.  Wish me luck.  I’m going to need it.  Maybe then, with a new career, a new me, I can walk away from the edge.  
-A

13 thoughts on “Anger Here Is All You Possess”

  1. Wow, so many changes for you! While it seems sad and scary, you should be excited about what the future holds. Hang in there, and try to enjoy the process of finding a job and figuring out what to do next. Just remember in the end, that you'll be much happier and accomplished. Good luck!:)

  2. Hey Amanda, as someone who has just changed careers to great effect, I would hope to reassure you that you will be absolutely fine, in fact better than fine. Make sure you present your caring and educating skills alongside your political campaigning experience, and don't play down your Duranie achievements either. The dedication to and building of this blog, the convention, and even your tour file show off your writing and organisational project abilities. And make sure that any application which requires a photo gets one of the ones of you and your mate Obama! Remember you're selling your considerable positives and don't be modest! You deserve every success coming your way, and your honesty, dedication and hard work ethic will shine through in an interview. And believe it when you hear new and unexpected things about yourself – I'm so grateful to the boss I've just been working for for spotting potential in me which I didn't know I had, and for giving me such free rein to explore it that I've just been offered another job in the same org which will allow me to develop these new skills formally. I wish you the very best of luck with your new adventure. Bryony x

  3. Good luck first off and hope you could soon walk away from the edge …
    I am impressed the guys, in every line up and with Arcadia or the Power Station tried to make lyrics that could reflect people's problems.
    I still believe music in general is the voice of the weak ones and Live Aid was the biggest example of what I am referring to.
    Artists are not politicians, but they speak for us.

  4. Dear Amanda,
    You have made a difference in the lives of many young people. Years from now, you'll bump into them and realise what a wonderful thing you have done by teaching. And yes, it's scary to walk away but better things await! You will fly, my friend. Have faith.

  5. Thank you for your kind words. I do believe that I have made an impact on my students and truly do hope that I can find something else that makes an impact in a different way. I like the idea that better things await and that I will fly! Thanks again!

    -A

  6. I've kept very quiet here, but I just wanted to say how much *I* appreciate that so many people have taken the time to express support for Amanda. I don't think this is a very easy time for her, and I really think it's wonderful that so many of our readers care enough to send support. We are really lucky. -R

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!