A year ago, I had a piece about Labor Day post. In it, I voice something of a polemic about the strained regard in which workers are held. Now, a year later, with support structures falling away and complaints about “nobody wants to work” echoing more and more loudly, I know that I would be apt to more…emphasis and urgency if I were to return to such a thing in earnest.
My building anger is fanned somewhat by my looming return to the classroom–I start back teaching tomorrow. Ostensibly, there is some organization to the labor of teaching, although Texas being Texas–I know, believe me–the power of that labor is…limited. Sharply.
Yet this year, I can raise my fist in solidarity once again, being no longer management or administration. I can raise my voice in support of the workers of the world, of which I am one once again, and gladly. And I can continue to work towards a world in which the work a person does, any person, rewards them fairly and offers them the chance to support themself and their family.
Read the previous entry in the series here. Read the next entry in the series here.
The next chapter, “The Tawny Man,” opens with what seem to be Fitz’s later recorded musings on the Old Blood and its presence in the lands claimed by the Six Duchies. It turns to Fitz rehearsing the passage of time while Hap is away, things going generally well despite Fitz longing for something else, for which Nighteyes chides him.
They are interrupted by the sudden arrival of a mounted visitor, whom they are surprised and elated to see is the Fool, almost unrecognizable for his golden hue. They begin reconnecting almost immediately, returning swiftly to their old friendship, and the Fool makes a brief loan of his fine horse, Malta, to Fitz, who delights in the brief ride he takes upon her and returns to his home to find the Fool preparing dinner. They sit to eat and confer, the Fool noting that he has returned to Fitz to employ him again towards creating a better future. The Fool also notes being exceedingly wealthy from adventures near Bingtown amid their conversations, and they give each other broad information about their years apart. The Fool presses for more, noting that he will be staying, and they go to bed, the Fool offering his old teasing once again as they do.
I do note with some amusement that the Fool named his horse Malta. It’s another clue about something that emerges, as memory serves, more fully and explicitly in the text of the present novel; the book’s old enough that spoiler warnings don’t really apply, but I’ll still hold off on the discussion–even if it should be pretty obvious at this point.
I’m taken more by the depiction of the friendship between Fitz and the Fool that presents itself in the present chapter. It seems to me an enviable thing, even if I am not entirely sure how I ought to read it. After all, it is a work of fiction, and fiction focuses and accentuates by its very nature; done well, it gives the appearance of truth without pretending to be the truth, denying that it is the truth in its very name, but that does force the question of whether any or all of what it depicts is, in fact, a lie. Can such friendships only exist between such as the Fool and Fitz, neither of them beings that could exist in the readers’ world? Or is the friendship one of the most human things about them, the impossible characters made to seem more true because they have something which some share and to which others aspire? It goes to the very value of fiction as a practice; it is a question with which I grappled and will soon help others to grapple with as I continue to ponder what focus my classes will have, generally and in this instructional year…
Inoted not long ago that I am soon to take up a new position, teaching high school English in Burnet, Texas. As I write this, as it is published, I remain where I have been these past four years–and it is just over four years–the Hill Country Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Inc. (HCCADA), a substance use disorder treatment center in Kerrville, Texas. I am grateful to the organization for having afforded me the opportunities it did, for giving me a chance to make a living or myself and my family, and while my exit has been quicker than I’d like–I was recruited with some urgency–I wish the organization and its employees, my coworkers, all the best as they move forward.
I’m leaving more or less as a new fiscal year for the organization gets underway; it begins today, in fact, although I will be on site through 3 September 2021. I like to think I’ve left the organization in a good position–I know I have financially, having brought in more money during the just-ended fiscal year than I had any right to do, and building maintenance ought to be caught up for a good long while, now. I’m confident that my successor in the leadership role will be able to make good use of the situation, helping HCCADA to make it through at least another thirty years.
It’s true that I have some mixed feelings about the whole thing. I’ve been in leadership at HCCADA for some years, now, and I’ve had a great degree of autonomy in that time. I’m familiar with the rhythms and the needs of the organization, and I’ve got a good working relationship with the people the organization needs to have on its side; it’s a good place and a comfortable one, and there’s always some regret in leaving such a situation behind. Again, it’s been a good job, and it’s been good for a while; I’m not being chased out or undercut, so I have only appreciation for what I’ve had here.
That said, as I noted in my initial announcement, the classroom calls, the Crystal to my Skeksis. I have wanted to teach for longer than I now remember, and even my willing departure from the classroom at the end of 2019 was…a loss, as those closest to me know. No, I am going back home in a significant way, and while my visit (?) to the “real” world has been a pleasant one, all visits have to end sometime.