Friday, June 30, 2006

some of the thoughts i had on friday

There my thoughts went--ssshhwwooooop! Gone.

Today I decided that I am mad.

Yes. I'm mad at graduate school because it sucked the life out of my writing. I'm mad because it feels good to be mad at something other than myself. I'm mad because I DON'T KNOW HOW TO WRITE ANYMORE! I'm mad because I can't even THINK...and grad school seems like the best culprit to place the blame on.

But damnit....

The only problem is that my anger has holes in it. My arguments don't hold up--mostly because of this teacher, who helped me survive my academic struggles in more ways than he probably realizes...and also because of some really incredible people/writers/fellow students that I met along the way. I'd like to blame the past 2 years of school for my serious lack of equilibrium and my inability to write--but... let's face it: it's not completely true.

Today, as I walked down the sidewalk along the lake with wolfie pulling my arm out in front of me in her desire for squirrels, I started thinking about the many ways my life has changed since I last felt "normal." Ok, ok...I've never been "normal." By normal I mean: when I last felt like I understood myself and my position in life. Grad school would make for a great scapegoat for obvious reasons. But I kept walking down the street with my beautiful wolfie pulling me along behind her and asked myself: when was the last time I felt normal?

The image that came to my mind first was of me sitting in the camper that I lived in while building my house. I collected rainwater to bathe in and wrote on an old clackity-clack typewriter because I did not yet own a computer or, for that matter, even have electricity. I lived with my dog and my cat and spent my days building and working and writing and with a few of my very best friends.

After that it all got complicated--not necessarily bad, just complicated. And busy.

For the past month I've been working a lot, but making my own schedule. It's been a pretty serious transitional time for me and lately I've been trying to figure out who I am OUTSIDE of school. I'm trying to figure out who I am as a writer and an artist--and, well, as a person too.

Today I worked at the gallery and was amazed by how absolutely hectic/crazy/spazzed-out people are. I was just watching people talk to me--their words flying a mile a minute, their eyes darting, bodies jerking--trying to talk and do ten things at once.

Interacting with people makes me feel exactly the same way I did when I stepped off the plane after 9 months in India. The feeling: What the hell is wrong with these people? What is their hurry?

But this is the American Way. And, I'm sorry, but the American Way sucks. Uuh--it hurts to watch. No wonder I feel like I'm floating off into space. No wonder I can't keep my feet attached to the ground or my mind focused long enough to get through even one coherent thought.

Whatever the cause of my difficulties with writing lately...I've decided that I'd be a lot better off if I gave myself the space I need to work out my issues of being deathly afraid of competition, being deathly afraid of failure, being deathly afraid of not starting, being deathly afraid of....I don't know what my fears are all about or, for that matter, where they came from in the first place. I never used to be afraid of anything (except worms and snakes, that is). ha! Worms and snakes are nothing compared to these new-found fears that seem to have crept in on me when I wasn't looking. Anyway, these so-called fears are getting on my nerves. I'm bored with them and they get in the way.

Alright. Fine. My anger's gone. I'm not mad any more. Writing is good like that.

I just wish my life would slow down long enough for me to catch up with myself. But who knows--maybe that's what's happening now.

7 comments:

deirdre said...

I agree, this American life is too busy and soooo spoiled. We're all in such a hurry all the time. I worry about taking more writing classes, that it might change how I write or how I feel about writing. I've heard some stories. Maybe some workshops would be good. You could dip back into the magic. As for the fear part - I'm a big ol' chicken, and finally am not ashamed of that.

Mark said...

"This teacher" (thanks so much for the compliment) has received far more than I've given you.

Graduate school didn't teach you how not to write. It just complicated your thinking. There is a word for that; the word is "growth." You've been growing. Growing causes aches and forces new perspectives, which themselves make you less comfortable with the old ones and force you to new accommodations.

Lots of changes in your life in a short time means discomfort. Artists milk discomfort. Keep writing; keep painting. I can't testify as to the painting, but your writing is coming along just fine. Read your own blog.

Sharon said...

I agree with you about people 'hurrying' too much. Since I've been retired, I spend lots of time on my screen porch in the summers. Just sitting and breathing in the fresh air, the pines, flowers, grass... I used to take a book with me, but have learned that just being out there with my little dog (she naps on the chaise lounge) is renewing...
Give yourself time to adjust to each new stage in your life.

erin said...

i was given a high compliment from someone from georgia once who told me, "you talk so nice and slow for a yankee." i feel like you do, that people talk and move too fast, and often i find myself racing to catch up, and in the process saying and doing things i don't mean.

mark's right. right now your brain is just trying to deal with all the stuff that has been accumulated over the past two years - now that you finally have time to look at it. on top of that, with the moving and everything else - no wonder you feel scattered!

i think you're doing fine. the pieces will fall together. you're one of the strongest women i know - i imagine one of these days you'll wake up and tackle things head on. in the meantime, don't give yourself a hard time :)

Mardougrrl said...

God, Jessie...we SOOO need to talk. The first 3 cups of coffee are on me.

"Interacting with people makes me feel exactly the same way I did when I stepped off the plane after 9 months in India. The feeling: What the hell is wrong with these people? What is their hurry?"

Yes, I had the same experience upon returning back from India...that things moved fast here, but there was a lot less sensual pleasure. But that might be because my eyes skim over the familiar and India forced me to see.

".I've decided that I'd be a lot better off if I gave myself the space I need to work out my issues of being deathly afraid of competition, being deathly afraid of failure, being deathly afraid of not starting, being deathly afraid of....I don't know what my fears are all about or, for that matter, where they came from in the first place."

Yes. WHY WHY WHY have so many smart people (and yes, I am bold enough to include myself here) succumbed to these fears and WTH can we do about them?

If someone has an answer, please share.

But IA with you...I think facing the dragons will teach you how to co-exist with them somehow.

gkgirl said...

fear and expectation
are alot to handle...
maybe you are just having
an adjustment period,
maybe it is transitioning...

either way,
i hope that things
fall back into place
for you soon
and your words come for you
easier..

paris parfait said...

You're right Jessie about the fast pace of American life. That's one thing I appreciate about Europe - people slow down and actually enjoy their life - they don't live to work, but work to live here. I think you'll find the balance you want and your writing will reflect that. Don't be scared - you have a real talent. We're all scared at times, but have to work through that fear to create.