Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: "Fortune Cookie"

"Slow and steady wins the race."

The Fortune: What is it about those words that makes me feel so slow and lumbering? I understand the motto's good intentions (and maybe even wish I could apply it to thesis writing)...but something about it makes my hair go limp and dark circles form under my eyes in a wave exhaustion. It's the sort of pithy saying that makes me feel like I've died from the inside out and turned into a dried-up husk of whatever I was before handing myself over to the notion of reaching the finish line.

Grad school: I'm sitting in a small, dark, windowless office at an old green oversized desk in a yellow glow of lamplight. I've been swallowed alive by adjectives, 3 times removed from the actual object and nowhere near where I should be. My arms grow heavy. There are papers and books and empty coffee cups in scattered piles all around me. My head hurts as I begin falling towards catatonic. Looks like, at this pace, it will be another long day. There is never an end in sight. I talk myself into going further...slow and steady...eeking out another sentence...another word...just one more thought. But, aiming for brilliance, I find myself settling for bug smears--defeated. I work until there is nearly nothing left of me, until I'm barely a nub of who I once was. For two years this is what it is, day after day after day after day. I remember it as a time when cold winter days and teaching were the only things that kept me breathing at all.

Presently: Somewhere along the lines, this piece of paper stuck between a shell of flour, water, sugar, and F.D. & C.Yellow #5 has caused me to make a decision: slow-and-steady-winners can go to hell. I'm fire or water, all or nothing, on or off. I burn brightly, but often burn myself out. I get annoyed by cardboard cut-outs of real people lacking all passion and personality. And I wonder: how is it that I've somehow managed to fill such a small, sweet cookie with contempt?

Is it legal to grab a new one? Attempt a fresh start.....

look for more fortunes here.


paris parfait said...

I think you've already grabbed that fortune cookie and made your new start, Jessie! Your new life is testament to good fortune unfolding all around you. Nice post!

leonie said...

i love the way you describe things. great post, thanks.

megg said...

hi there!! I've been un-posting lately and missed your transition to this gorgeous set-up! How long have I been gone?! It's beautiful! I love it!

and as for the fortune cookie - I definitely think that a new one is in order!!


yak attack said...

Grad school can only be accomplished one day at a time. And the results are worth every long, rotten day. :-) Go for it -- grab another fortune cookie!

sophie said...

nothing pithy about your
vivid fresh voice!

I went to the grocery store and
bought a whole box until i got
the fortune i wanted:)

(just kidding - scary - it was
the first one i opened....

Mark said...

Gorgeous post, Jessie.

It forgets some of your brilliant highs at grad school, though. You wrote some pieces as though you were in flames.

Jessie said...

Thanks Mark. Grad school wasn't all bad. At least, not as bad as I've made it out to be in this post. The fortune reminded me of those long, dark, frustrating days...but, yes, I remember feeling plenty of fire in between those times (whether or not it turned paper to flames). Grad school brought me to the outer edges of myself in more ways than one--this being just one angle of my experience. Thank god.

Kamsin said...

In temples in Japan people buy slips of paper with a fortune on it called 'omikuji', if the fortune is bad they tie it to a tree (or maybe a rope in the shrine grounds I don't quite remember) in order to counteract the bad fortune. Seems you need to do something similar with yours!

bee said...

oh, jessie, sweetie, how this post made me smile and tear up a bit.

i don't know how you do it, but everything you write moves me in such extraordinary ways. i LOVE that you are fire or water, on or off, all or nothing. i love your passion and how you own it.

i'm sure you could guess this, but i too am a passionate person who for too long tried to be more moderate....when i realized that i was crippling an essential part of who "bee" was, i stopped.

sending you a sister hug in spirit.

Tammy said...

Hang in there sweetie your fire never goes out completely. Fan those embers and grab another cookie. You write beautifully!