Tuesday, May 30, 2006

fed up.

I want to go on a vacation. Vinny and I have not been on one in 2 1/2 years, not since we went to Italy for our honeymoon. Actually, that is the only vacation we have ever been on together (not including the time V. picked me up from a cross-country bike trip at the very, very beginning of our relationship).

Our lives have been completely dedicated to school and the few weeks out of the past few years that we weren't...we were broke. No time, no money. This seems to have become the story of our lives. I have one word for this:

In my mind I am anti-planning a trip that we are going on soon. Anti-planning means that I don't know where we're going or what we'll do when we get there. But what it does mean is that I'm going to call my mom to ask her if she can watch the cats; I'm going to load up the car with all our camping gear and wolfie...and we're going to go. Somewhere. Anywhere.

My husband doesn't know about it and I'm going to surprise him. He reads this blog and will therefore receive ample warning before our departure to start packing his bags.

Life is short. And we need a break. We need some time away together. And I think it will be good for Anu, too. She's never been on an extended road trip.

I want to leave now. And if the flower shop wasn't still a mess--I would.

I need a break. I really, really do.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

bear with me...it's hot out and i've got pollen on the brain.

80 degrees--it's too early in the morning for that temperature. I am a winter soul at heart--and the only one I can find to agree with me around here is my wolfie, Anu. I just finished brushing another bag full of hair off of her. She was pant-panting like a maniac and so I set up my great-grandma's old fan in the garage to keep her cool.

It is old, metal, and turquoise--very vintage and very cool. It's also loud, but I can't bring myself to get rid of it because it was, after all, my great-grandma's, and is one of the few things I have from her. I thought Anu might be afraid of it because of the sound, but I was wrong. I plugged it in and PLoP! She's been sitting in front of it ever since.

Thus began our day.

At this very moment, I'm drinking some wonderfully strong coffee out of my favorite porcelain blue, brown, and white cup with elephants. Today I got extravagant and even put the cup on its saucer. There is something luxurious about drinking from a cup with a saucer.

Days like this, I like to pretend that I am somewhere far away. Today I'm in India. It is dusty and hot. There are sounds of birds and traffic. I am not yet quite familiar with these summer time "in-town" sounds and so it is relatively easy for me to transport myself. This is the first summer I've lived outside of the country in 7 years. It's easy to experience things in new ways if I put my mind to it.

Right now, I am content with a slow start to the day. I slept in because my head is in a pollen cloud...and soon I will make my way to the flower shop where I'll keep plugging along at putting the place back together. It's a 2-story store. I finished the upstairs a few days ago. Last night I completely tore the first floor apart. There is not one thing in its place. And, ok, I'll admit--I love that feeling (the potential for a new beginning?). Today I'll paint some more and then it will be time to put it all back together. It's a big place and will take a few days...but I'm using Memorial Day weekend to my advantage. This way I have an extra day to let it look like a cyclone went through before I have to make it safe again for customers.

But today, however, I wish I didn't have to work. As much as I don't like the heat, it does feel good. It forces me to relax and slow waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down. There is the whir of the fan at my back and the soft movement of the curtains. There is another cup of coffee to be had and a dog to give back massages to and a lake to take her swimiming in (she's so spoiled). Best of all, there are books to be read, savored, enjoyed. I'm in an introspective mood. I'd like to wander and lounge and consider the nature of small blossoms, leaf shapes, and clouds.

If only I could live in my imagination just a little bit longer. Wouldn't it be nice?!

Friday, May 26, 2006

about my last post...

Writing is a powerful thing. Yesterday, when I sat down to do Sunday Scribblings, I intended to write about my old dogs Japhy and Abe--simple, pure, deep, uncomplicated, unconditional love. And then I don't know what happened except that I ended up opening a huge can of worms into the quagmire of my subconscious...and now that I read it over I realize that I didn't even touch the surface. Lisa wrote that sometimes the past needs to stay in the past--and she's right. But J.'s suicide is a big deal...and in many ways I still haven't made sense of it--I haven't really dealt with it. He was once my boyfriend, but more importantly, he was a good friend. Now he is gone. I'm not sure I've allowed myself the emotional space to grieve the loss of him as a friend because having once been in a serious relationship with him complicated the subject for me.

Last night I dreamed that I was hiding behind a different identity--I was an outlaw of some sort--and for some reason, people thought I was more daring than I really was and nominated me for a race. The race involved speeding down huge hills in motorized wheelchairs (don't laugh!) way, way, way down into a valley, hill after hill after hill. Death was quite likely. The rest of the dream consisted of me trying to evade the race.

But if I were to interpret that dream I would say that what it's really about is that I am trying to evade a very real and very scary subject: J's death. (And if you're wondering about the wheelchair, J. and I found an old wheelchair in a dumpster once and spent the winter riding it down the hill in a nearby park. We also took the trucks off of an old skateboard and rode that down too. It was a fun, and rather dangerous, winter.) I realize today just how little I said. After I read Lisa's and Deirdre's posts I realize that I wrote only a little part of the story. I got started...and then I got scared.

I also realized that I have more to say. And I remember now just how healing writing can be. There is a lot I don't understand about J's suicide. None of us know exactly why he did it. And the truth is that there is nothing that can undo what happened. But it's not about losing an old lover--it's about losing a friend.

The truth is that I love my husband and that my world changed when we got together. Maybe I've felt that in dealing with J.'s death I'm in some way being untrue to my marriage. But I think, more than that, it was a clever way of avoiding a painful subject.

Last night I was reminded of what writing is capable of. Maybe my blog isn't the best place to untangle the webs of my mind. I see so many people suffer because they are afraid to deal with things that hurt. Writing is capable of drudging up the most ancient, ugly crud...but it also has the ability to heal and make sense of things. That's what I love about writing. Even if it ends up surprising me when I least expect it.

Of my last post gkgrrl said:
i think it would be interesting to read other peoples versions of this prompt because i suspect many of us will echo a similar story to some degree, to some depth, where at different points in each person's story, another person will be able to say, "there. that is the thread in your story, that also runs through my story."

I think she's right. Maybe that is why we write....and in the end, we find that we are not alone.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: First Love

Disclaimer: rough, raw...this is not good writing. it doesn't have to be. i'm not sure it could be.

This weeks prompt for Sunday Scribblings is First Love. I'm going to make myself do this one because: #1) I tried, but then skipped out on the last 2 weeks--I've been a Sunday Scribblings slacker; and #2) I haven't been writing much lately and I'm not sure why except that I don't have anything to say about my life these days. I find endless pleasure in noticing the smallest details in the things that surround me. But every once in awhile, like lately, I get sick of everything and the world lacks its usual sparkle--which, in turns, offers me very little to write about.

But that's not what I sat down to say.

I experienced my "first love" in high school. But I don't want to write about him or any of my old boyfriends, for that matter. I've ended nearly all my relationships with boys/men on good terms and remained friends with many of them for years after breaking up. But somewhere along the line I started to notice a pattern that I am no longer interested in: I dated (and fell in love with) men that used me. They were always good looking and usually good in bed...but too many of my relationships lacked commitment. To be honest, I don't even know why I stayed friends with most of them. Maybe I was keeping them around as backup in case nothing else worked out or maybe I was just plain delusional. I was not a stranger to recycling old boyfriends. I was stupid, too nice, and maybe a little bit lonely. I don't know. I think sometimes it was more than that...because I felt, deep down, they were good people who I had an honest connection with. But some, like I said, just plain used me.

When I met my husband--something inside of me shifted. Good god, everything in me shifted. I no longer felt the need or even wanted to stay in contact with old flames. I quit answering the phone when they called. I quit answering their letters and e-mails. And, still, I am not interested in maintaining friendships with any of them. With distance from several of these people I am able to see more clearly what too many of my past relationships were really about--and it is disappointing. I am disappointed in them and disappointed in myself for letting it happen and not seeing it sooner.

To me, old relationships are tangled webs. And the most tangled web of all is J., an ex-boyfriend (and close friend) who committed suicide shortly after I decided to cut off contact. He sent a letter and then an e-mail before it happened. I didn't respond to either. I'm not saying that I was the cause of his suicide, but I can't help but wonder if something I might have said could have changed his mind, could have changed the outcome. It is a hard thought to live with (what a cliched understatement!). Of all of my crappy, selfish, controlling, stupid ex-boyfriends--he had the biggest heart. But I didn't want anything more to do with any of them..because, let's face it, he used me too.

God damn it--I was going to write about my DOG!!! What happened???

and now I don't even know what to do with these words...I'm going to post this since I don't know what else to do (even though I feel like I just opened up a can of worms)...

Maybe tomorrow I'll write about my dog.

If you came directly to this post through Sunday Scribblings, I ended up writing more about it the next day here. In rereading this post, I realized how abruptly I ended. It took me somewhere I wasn't expecting to go...but I'm glad I returned to the subject. I think I needed to.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

blank thoughts

Oh my gosh...i can't believe it...i think i don't have anything to say...or, at least, i can't find words that match my thoughts.

weird. very weird.

today v. and i planted our flowers in pots so we can take them with us when we move. however, i think we have too many pots. but wait a minute...can a person have too many flowers??

i think i'll go outside now and stare at the sky.

Monday, May 22, 2006

summer work.

I can tell that I worked a desk job all year...my body is a stiff and sore in every possible way. However, I can't complain about my summer source of income. I'm working independently; I make my own hours; I get to spend some one else's money; and I get to do something I enjoy. It's temporary work--but that's just fine because that is all I want it to be. I suppose the professional sounding name for my job would be "interior designer." But in all reality it is not as prestigious as that because what it boils down to is that I'm rescuing the flower shop from some serious neglect. I haven't technically worked there in 2 years...and in that time it has deteriorated in too many ways to count. They've been too busy to keep it up (or...never mind)...and so I will work my magic one last time before I leave it for good.

I meant to take before and after photos...but I forgot to take the "before"...oh well. The nice thing is that improvement is guaranteed. I've been hauling and painting and going up and down stairs all weekend. My obsessive personality kicks in when I take on physical projects and so I've been working 12 hour days, but enjoying it. I think I had some major steam to burn off...or something. All I know is that hard physical work makes it much easier to relax at the end of the day... and at the beginning of it too.

Yesterday I painted the upstairs "Baltic Green"...which is, in other words, robin's egg blue. I love it--such a calming color. I'll be painting another wall slate grey, and yet another sexy, poppy flower red. Did I mention that I love painting walls? And then there's the sari fabric...oooh!

But I'm bored writing about it. I like creating spaces that evoke emotion--a sense of peacefulness, desire, creativity--but let's face it...it's something to do, not to write about.

For now, I have some wonderful, sweet reading to do (oh glory, personal reading time!).

There is sunshine. Life is good.

Approximately 45 seconds worth of brushing...

It is hereby shedding season...which usually doesn't end until the snow falls once again.

I love my wolfie. And I think that the birds building their nests do too. I, however, am going to need a new lint roller.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

creating corners in the world that might contain me...

Today I've been creating little corners in the world where I can relax. Actually, I've been searching for nooks and crannies to hole up in a lot lately. I needed a fresh start...and so I finally cleaned my "writing room" and have cleared out all the dust and dead molecules that have accumulated over the course of this long school year.

Now the air is mine to breath in my own thoughts. My desk at this angle, has a downward tilt to the north. This old house slants, but it feels kind of good the way it makes my chair swivel slightly to the left, just perfectly in the direction of the keyboard.

And when I get tired of writing I might take a nap on the futon or maybe read that book by Gabrial Garcia Marquez. I might draw in my journal or read magazines or do nothing at all except day dream.

The window is open and my little cat is sitting on the sill. I'm listening to a cd a friend made of Edith Piaf and the wind blowing through baby maple leaves. I'm drinking the best cappuccino that I've had in a long time.

Tonight I'll need to go to work (more on that later), but for now..............
I think I might actually be relaxed........my gosh, what a strange sensation.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

hi. my name is jessie.

I was just about to go to bed, but something didn't feel right. Then it dawned on me that I hadn't blogged today. I've gotten in the habit of blogging everyday (or nearly), so now when I don't it kinda feels like forgetting to brush your teeth...or getting halfway through the day before you realize that your socks don't match.

Lately I've been feeling like hiding out. I'm in introvert mode. Hiding out is not easy. Maybe I just need some time to regain my energy. I've been in a bit of a slump. I have time to sit down and relax, but I haven't yet. I'm walking around in a weird daze avoiding people, looking for ways to concentrate without interruption, doing several things at once and at all times. I feel awkward, displaced, like I'm off by an inch. I feel like a 3-D image without the 3-D glasses to give myself dimension.

Yesterday our landlord's realtor came over to walk through the house because it was just listed. Here we go again...another summer's worth of trying to sell a house...but this time it isn't even ours. Vinny and I want to move. I'll miss it here, but it's time to get out. Maybe it's my mood talking again...but really--we're sick of it...or maybe "it" is sick of us...we haven't quite figured out which way it goes.

Tonight my brother-in-law called about a house his co-worker, a psychology professor, is thinking about renting because she and her family are moving and their house hasn't sold. It sounds wonderful. A nice neighborhood, right next to a great trail system, a yard, garage, plenty of room...and best of all, it's close to my favorite restaurant, the Taste of India. Fingers crossed. It would feel good to have one small aspect of our lives in order.

And maybe that's it...why I can't find my place. Right now I'm just looking for that little corner of the world that can contain me...for something to hold my brain in place--even if it is temporary.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

5 things...

I was tagged by Tara...
welcome to my cluttered world! :P
(click images to make them bigger)

You're next!
(if you feel like it, that is)...
  1. Amber
  2. Tara Dawn
  3. Melba
  4. Mardougrrl
  5. Erin

Starting over.

When I opened my eyes this morning I looked out the little window above our bed and saw blue sky. I felt my breath catch in a sleepy sort of way as it registered in my mind: oh, beautiful blue sky. We have not seen much of that color around here all spring. So I laid there for a moment and decided in my mind that today is a good day to start over.

Yesterday I cried all the tears that needed to be cried, I took a nap because I was exhausted, and later I packed up my office. Moving out of the office was sad and exciting all at once. As graduate assistants we're each given a corner in a miniscule windowless room. But my office-mate and I made it comfortable and inviting (I had the best office-mate ever!). It was a safe, quiet place in the universe that kinda became my second home--especially last year when I had a long commute and not enough gas money to drive back and forth to school. After all of my stuff was out I stood in the dark doorway and said: "Goodbye office." ...and it was sad because I'm (temporarily) leaving something I love (teaching) and exciting because I can't help but wonder where I might find myself down the road.

So today is my day of starting over. I'm going to rearrange my writing room--out with the homework energy, in with the creative energy. And after typing in the heading of this post, I realized it's not the first time I've felt this way. Rearranging furniture and clearing out mental clutter seems to be a repeating pattern in my life.

This summer (no, actually this year!) I'm going to write like a maniac. It is, starting now, my number one priority. And finally, my writing is going to be for me. Good god, I feel giddy with anticipation!!! There is a maple tree outside my window just now starting to leaf out. The yellow-green against the blue sky and a strong breeze is refreshing.

And thank you for all of your kind comments yesterday. These little deaths are hard...but then again, I wouldn't trade the writing life for anything.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Disappointment is not the emotion I want to be left with as I pack up my stuff and leave the halls of BSU. I'd like to keep everything on a high note...the "yay, i'm done!" happy note. But today I just feel generally sad. Yesterday I picked up the paper that I spent approximately a zillion hours on to find that I only got a B+ and a entire page worth of commentary pointing out the essay's weaknesses. Why am I not happy with a B+ you ask? Because, like I said, I put a zillion hours into it...I worked my ass off and put enough thought and energy and stress into it to equal several papers in any other class.

I should have picked a topic that came prepackaged with a tidy little thesis, one that I could wrap up in a tidy little conclusion. But, you see, I don't work well like that. I chose my topic because I felt it down deep, because I resonated with it, because I felt like it had something to teach me. I'm frustrated that I failed at my efforts. Fail, you ask? (after all, it wasn't an F!) Let's face it, a B+ means that it wasn't good enough. God, as I write that I am completely aware of how stupid this sounds...but damnit...I think my feelings of disappointment are about more than just the grade, but about the comments too...and the fact that, once again, I'm left feeling that I don't fit it, that I'm not smart enough, and that my brain refuses to work in certain ways. It makes me fear and dread more grad school....and definitely makes me feel like I'll never be "good" enough for a PhD program. I would have liked to write a really blow-your-mind-away essay about Morrison and Hughes and the power of language. I would have liked to write something moving and memorable. As writers, isn't that what we want all of our writing to do?

This essay was important to me for some reason. The cynic in me thinks: 1) I would have been better off writing a 5 paragraph theme the day before it was due and calling it good. Another part of me thinks: 2) that my professor made some really good points and that there is truth in what she said. And yet another part of me thinks: 3) that she is wrong and that the essay is as good (or nearly as good) as any published piece of critical writing. I'll settle with the notion that it is a healthy combination of #2 and #3...and that life goes on.

Disappointment numero dos is that my thesis proposal that I turned in last semester has been lost, my adviser doesn't remember if she sent it out to my committee members, she doesn't remember if she gave it a grade (which she did last week after prompting from me), and I'm pretty sure she doesn't even remember reading it. In how many ways can one feel like a piece of shit??? I put a lot of work into writing my proposal. And for what? I have felt, all along, that no one gives a shit about what I write for my thesis. This feeling is both sad and liberating. But being completely forgotten about just plain sucks.

I realize that teachers are busy and have many, many students to think about. But, come on, how many grad students are there?? The whole deal makes me want to feel sorry for myself. Oh yeah--I AM feeling sorry for myself. The worst part is that I love these professors dearly--and that is what makes this sense of disappointment hurt even more.

I feel mediocre.
I feel forgotten.
But most of all, I feel like my writing doesn't matter.

To think that my words don't matter just sorta makes me want to lay down and cry. These past two years have been hard in so many ways. I guess I wanted to walk away from it feeling like I accomplished something. Unfortunately, that's not how I feel.

I still have to write my thesis this summer and then come back to Bemidji to defend it in the fall. It is a strange feeling. At this point I'm writing it for no one other than myself. I feel very alone in this endeavor. Then again, maybe that's what I need. I feel like I am standing in a dark grey fog. I can see no one in any direction. I can hear nothing. This time, it's just me. It reminds me of when I lived, for many months, alone out in the woods without running water or electricity. It was a quiet time when I traveled deep inside of myself. My experience was based on that solitude...and maybe that's what my writing needs now. Anyway, it has some wounds to heal. Sometimes solitude offers the best salve.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Oh wait...I don't know what to write about first. Should I write about my shoes--like I've been meaning to all week? Or should I write about the books I would write? Or about our trip to Minneapolis? Heck, I could even read a book or watch a movie or rearrange this room. Ho-hum...life feels ripe with options these days. And I must admit, it is a very good feeling.

Ok, I'll start with our venture out of town. No, I haven't been sleeping for the past 3 days, although it would have felt good. Instead, V. and I went down to the cities to deliver a painting that I sold earlier in the year, hang out with my brother and sister, and start house hunting.

As for houses, we came across some terrific "almosts." The biggest problem we're having is that we're looking to rent in the best neighborhoods for the least price. Obviously we're not making it easy on ourselves...but who knows--we have all summer to look and I refuse to give up hope this early in the game (oh, doesn't that sound optimistic of me?!).

Since Anu is half wolf and the center of my concerns, I refuse to live anywhere that she won't be happy. If my dog's not happy, I'm not happy. Simple as that. We walk her often, but in Minnesota, 75% of the year consists of darkness. I don't want to live anywhere that I don't feel safe walking her alone at night. We also are hoping for a yard with a fence. Problem we're running into is that rentals in the city are mostly duplexes...and we don't want to worry about how the neighbors get along with a big dog that likes to jump on people. We would also like to live close enough to my sister so that it's convenient for her kids to come over whenever they want...that is, after all, a large part of the reason we're moving there in the first place. If the dog is happy, the kids are happy, and the cats are happy--then all we need is just enough space for 2 offices and a studio in order to call it good. Is this starting to sound like a tall order, or what?!! Ok, let me recap our wants needs:
  1. Fenced in yard
  2. Safe neighborhood
  3. Convenient commute to my sister's and jobs (preferably on a bus-line)
  4. 2-3 bedroom
  5. Allows pets (1 big dog, 2 cats)
  6. At least somewhat affordable
  7. Hell, while we're at it, we'd like to live next door to a big park too.
Does anyone know where this place is? Actually, we found this perfect place--except for the affordable part. I think I should start wishing for good jobs while I'm at it. Who knows--the universe works in mysterious ways. Anything is possible.

Proof of this point is that my painting is now hanging in the home of an architect with a very impressive art collection. It's hanging approximately 6 feet away from the paintings of a famous Mexican artist and halfway across the room from an extremely talented Mnpls artist. Not to mention, the house itself is a work of art! Needless to say, my lil' ol' painting has found a very good home.

...Now I can only hope that we will too.

Did I mention how really fabulous it feels to be done with school? Yes, it really-really does. The best part is wondering what I want to do next. Ah, sweet heaven.

These, by the way, are the culprits in our decision to move to Mnpls.
Now really--how could we resist?!?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Happy Dance


ahhhhhh, sigh of relief.

I might post something worth reading one of these days. But for now, it's time for the best sleep I've had in a long time.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Morrison calls it "wordwork"

It was hard to get out of bed with rain tip-tapping on the roof and windows except for my cat, Viscosa, was crying to be fed. She's a bossy little thing. Finally she curled up in the crook of my leg and let me sleep for awhile longer. It is a dark grey day...not conducive to getting up early. But here I am, nearly done with a load of laundry and my first cup of coffee. I should be on my way to work at the flower shop--and I feel guilty because I'm not there, but I still have 3 more pages to go on my paper.

The busiest holidays always come at the worst time. Mother's Day in the floral world is a whole week, not just a day. I was a florist for 8 years before quitting to work on my masters and teach. It's my family's business...which means I'll probably be moon-lighting with flowers forever.

But for today, it is still the paper. And, no matter what, I'll be putting it in my professor's mail box before I go to bed tonight.

Surprisingly, I am beginning to enjoy the process of writing this one (now that I've worked throught the temper-tantrum stage). The progress is still painfully slow as I chisel away at thoughts and words, trying to turn them into something recognizable. This is hard work and is, perhaps, the most difficult paper I have ever tried to write. Why? Because I want to get it right. Because the nature of this topic bumps itself up against some very sensitive material, I find myself weighing every single word, every single thought. I've written plenty that "sounded good," but then deleted it because I didn't believe what it said. I've been holed up in my studio for the past several days in search of a way to tell the truth.

I'm writing about the power of language and its ability to oppress, empower, and define culture as well as an individual's place within that culture. And, although I was keenly aware of it before, I'm just now beginning to really understand the gravity of it. As I work with words, I become more and more sensitive to the weight that their message carries. And although the work is still extremely difficult, I feel like I've gotten inside language and am writing about it from the inside out. Words become fruit or even lumber--and when turned inside out, its pulpy center is revealed--messy, sticky, fibrous. And this is the wordwork that Morrison writes about and the reason why I will return to the page--to get it nothing less than right.

Monday, May 08, 2006

dangling carrots in front of my nose:

Although it might not be until later in the week, I'm really looking forward to writing about my shoes.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I should be writing that Langston Hughes/Toni Morrison essay...

...but I need a break.

I'm pretty well convinced that my brain does not work the way it should or at least in any sort of way that would make my life easier. First of all, let me point out that I see myself as a creative writer more than a scholarly writer. However, in the past 2 years I have begun to learn that there are overlapping qualities in both and I find great enjoyment when I am surprised my a merging of my creative and analytical selves. However, however, add intimidation and time restraints and I dissolve into a puddle of temper tantrums and tears. Luckily my husband is an English major also and is able to talk me through my worst episodes--such as when I'm laying on the couch with tears streaming down my face screaming: "I caaaaaaaaaaaaaan't doooooooooooooo it!" When this happens I find that I get really frustrated that I'm not like those people that so easily fit the mold and are able to write with hardly any effort. I start feeling like I'm stupid, like I'm a loser, and like a big fat drama queen. This is also the moment that I start seriously considering the notion of dropping out of school--even if I am just one week and a thesis away from graduating. So what! But then I remember: no degree, no teaching... and it promptly throws that option out the window. Damn. Ok--so eventually I buck up and make every attempt to celebrate the eccentric workings of my mind. This part always feels good, at least for the first 10-20 seconds before I start agonizing about the fact that I will never fit into academia--which is exactly where I hope to someday find a permanent job, teaching. And then the real low self-confidence kicks in...it sinks down deep and then expands.

And I think that's actually the point where I start crying and yelling into pillows and have to be talked down by my ever-loving husband.

So today I spent approximately 9 solid hours sitting in front of my computer. Yesterday I spent about 4 hours and before that I spent a whole lot of time reading and researching sources. I have 2 semi-polished paragraphs and a couple pages of notes to show for it, not to mention, a very sore ass--that's it.

The most frustrating part is how absolutely, passionately excited I was starting out. But now I have to take every thought I have had and every connection I have made and tweek it to fit into what's expected. I am attempting to discuss the beauty, the power, and the danger that language holds--but what it is quickly turning into is just a lame ol' comparison and contrast essay (since that is, after all, the assignment).

All the while Morrison's words from her Nobel Lecture are floating around in my head fighting for air. Things like:
"Underneath the eloquence, the glamour, the scholarly associations, however stirring or seductive, the heart of such language is languishing, or perhaps not beating at all--if the bird is already dead. . . She has thought about what could have been the intellectual history of any discipline if it had not insisted upon, or been forced into, the waste of time and life that rationalizations for and representations of dominance required--lethal discourse of exclusion blocking access to cognition for both the excluder and the excluded."

I attempt to say what I mean, but instead my throat is packed "like a pate-producing goose with unsayable, transgressive words." I become hyper-aware of the "arrogant pseudo-empirical language" that Morrison argues is "crafted to lock creative people into cages of inferiority and hopelessness."

Ugh--but you see, that is not what I meant to say either! What I meant to say had something to do with valuing language and recognizing its power to transform. What I meant to say uplifts the spirit and inspires. What I meant to say is that language is not innocent unless it breathes life into language by vigilantly "grappling with with meaning, providing guidance, or expressing love." But instead I am left with several messy pages of nothing and another overly-dramatic blog post.

I can imagine that after writing this essay, life can only get easier. My problem is that:
  1. I'm a perfectionist.
  2. I'm stubborn.
  3. I don't fit in.
I promised myself that I was going to finish this project by the time the apple tree in the front yard started blooming. Too bad, I missed the boat.

'Cuz around here it's just

Friday, May 05, 2006

Today feels like a good day to remember.

I'm posting these photos because I want to remember myself as I am right now. I decided to do this at 6:00 am when I thought of the way my mom used to take pictures of us kids every year on the first day of school. Today wasn't my first day--instead, it was my last day of teaching as a graduate assistant at BSU. I took these pictures because I was up late grading papers--and in the second photo you can see the lack of sleep in my dry, squinty eye. I took these photos because I wanted to capture my happiness, my tiredness, and my sadness. I wanted to capture this small moment--so that I might remember who I am right now--forever.

I took these photos because I don't ever want to forget how much I love teaching. I want to remember how scary and exciting it was all at once--especially that very first year. I want to remember the way I put a 100 percent into it and how I received a 110 percent in return.

If I look closely, I can see how much I've aged. I can see the way two of the hardest years of my life have caused dark circles and creases around my eyes, how my skin has gotten more pale and is starting to sag a little bit--just like my mom's. But beyond the signs of physical wear and tear...I see something new in my eyes (minus the squint). I see someone who is curious and passionate. I see someone who struggles, but who is deeply in love with her life and the people in it.

I see a lot of things in my eyes that weren't there before. And even though life will continue to transform me with the passage of time, today, for just a minute, I want it to remain the same--if only a photo could capture me whole.

This morning, for our last class everyone read their last essays of the semester. They used the prompt "Real Life" and admitted that it was their favorite assignment all semester. I see why. To be honest, I found myself on the verge of tears a half a dozen times. Their writing was raw and real and heartfelt. It was downright powerful. I ended the class by telling them how much I've enjoyed getting to know them. I told them that, as they read, what I heard was their voice--each unique and incredible. I reminded them that there is more to writing than research papers--and that they each have a story inside of them, that their life is a story and that I hope they will never stop writing, never stop putting words to paper. The air turned into electricity with sparks coming off of 23 bodies. My god, if it had lasted any longer someone might have exploded!

And before they left I found myself surrounded by an entire classroom full of heartfelt handshakes and thank you's and well-wishes. A student wrote: "My one true worry is that this year will end." I can't help but agree. But today is both an end and a beginning.

Twenty or forty or sixty years from now I'll look at these 2 photos--and they will probably still make me cry. Teaching is the best thing I have ever done.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

My last post was wonderfully optimistic, but now I...

...must. keep. reading.

Ugh. I'm kicking myself for my lack of discipline earlier in the week.

Switching gears.

I've spent the past several days living in my brain and books. Writing, writing, writing.

Today I will switch gears and start reading--student papers. However, I plan to have fun with this. I'm packing up and heading to the coffee shop. And when I get there I look forward to learning about what 22 students have to teach me. Grading papers is hard work, but in the end it always turns out to be a pretty good deal. I'm amazed by the strange things I know because of what they've written about.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

6 am

The birds are loud this morning
and something smells good.

I think I see blue sky.

Monday, May 01, 2006

My last class as a graduate student at BSU

Although we still have a paper to write, tonight we met for our last class in literary criticism. I spent half of the time doodling in my notebook, trying to figure out a way to rearrange my very small writing room in order to gain a fresh perspective for summer writing.

But all the while I was listening to my professor and thinking about how much I'm going to miss her. She is THE most INTELLIGENT WOMAN I have EVER met!

In the beginning I dreaded taking a class from her. I was absolutely, 100% intimidated by her. My god, who wouldn't be?! But then I got to know her--and don't let my doodling fool you--she is the most challenging, passionate, and intellectually stimulating teacher I have ever had.

The only other woman I look up to and respect as much is my great-grandma who lived to be 105.

I am hardly a literary critic; nor would I even consider myself much of a scholar--but N. opened up doors that I never even knew existed. And listening to her talk tonight, and every night, has made me realize that there will NEVER be an end to learning.

I would have never guessed that she would end up playing such an important role in my life--but dang, I am really going to miss her.

everyday writers

After following endment's link to Ana Castillo's blog, I am practically in tears with excitement because Ana has just become exceptionally, wonderfully real. She writes about regular things and last posted just yesterday. And I am reminded that being a writer is made of nothing more glamorous than showing up for the page. I can't help but fall in love with those authors that allow themselves to be accessible--because they are the ones that leave me feeling most inspired.