Thursday, January 29, 2009
My brain has been a bit of a cluttered mess (not unlike my home). I spent most of winter break reading. Curled up on the sofa with a book propped in my lap, much of that reading being for escape purposes. I hibernated in body and mind for six long weeks, ate some Christmas lasagna, knit a dozen washcloths, and took photographs of my dogs flying through the snow.
Being away for the first week of school allowed me to miss the boring bits: no syllabus lecture, no getting-to-know-you activities. Simply diving into the wreck, entering the classroom in the midst of the action, able to carry on a conversation that has already begun without me. I like it better that way, and I'm perpetually late, so it only seems fitting.
I also am proud to find that I have gotten over my first year / first semester jitters (or so I hope). I spent most of the first semester hiding as best I could, keeping my mouth pursed shut, my head cocked, just listening to the conversations around me. I was intimidated, and I'm not sure if part of that has to do with the fact that I was on the waitlist to get into the program (first on the waitlist I feel compelled to point out, pointing that out on my toes, excuse me, please don't discount the first on the waitlist designation, as if that matters oen whit when we are all shoved together and the talent rises to the top, no matter where we were on their selection list) (I think of this all the time whenever I read anything of HM's, who was on the waitlist, and it seems so absolutely ridiculous to me because, in my own humble opinion, her writing is gorgeous, but there you are, the decisions of other people). I had this pervading sense that I did not belong, that I had nothing to contribute. My own writing was clunky (ok, still true, perhaps), their thoughts were so well formed, and so on.
After last week, I think I built up some form of confidence. I wish I'd found that in workshop in the autumn, but I didn't, and here it is, all built up and shining inside of me, and I certainly know I am no more intelligent than I was two months or a year ago, but I find that shivering confidence has begun to reshape the way I'm looking at things, looking at conversation and language and writing. My voice will come out more, which is good, I think, but what's best is that I believe I will approach my work--both as a writer of poetry and as a peer of poets who can contribute critiques and readings--with more gusto.
In other words, I am energized for the semester.
Other things clattering around in my brain:
- Thinking of the bat we had in the fluorescent lights at the bookstore. I would stare up at it as it crept along the plastic divider, pointing it out to the child-customers, who were generally half as fascinated as I was. Research on the internet between sales allowed me to discover I was incorrect in identifying our bat from last year, which most certainly was not endangered, but a member of the common something-nosed bats. I assure you, I adore our little bat, no matter how common. Leslie, the owner of the bookstore, later told me she was able to get the bat out (after it flew around in the store some time after closing) by turning on all the lights in the store and opening the door--it immediately went for the dark street. We spent some time debating what to do with it, though, especially when the temperatures were horrifyingly low: Was a shed better, how about my garage, should we just let it fend for itself, etc.?
- Tonight I was lost in thought, considering which red wines I would pick up for my husband at the liquor store when I came upon the hilly farmland portion of my drive: two lanes, double yellow lines, and there was a car trying to pass someone else, bright lights facing me, and if I didn't slam on my breaks, I surely would have crashed head-on. It was one of those lip-biting moments, where I thought maybe I'd cry in relief or in belated fear, and it reminded me of returning from Cry of the Loon, when Amanda was attempting to pass a car and Brian, in the front seat, said, exactly, I remember: "Um, that's not going to happen..." and Amanda drove on the shoulder, passing cars in a very action-movie like way, and then, it wasn't lip-bitingly frightening but somehow exhilarating, and I think much of that had to do with my decision that we wouldn't die, not all first year poets in the program, all four of us plus one of the fiction writers, because that's just too much and too splashy of a headline (if a headline at all--after all, it wasn't all four fiction writers and one poet, but the other way around). Kind of like how I decided our plane wouldn't crash coming from Palm Beach to Atlanta because Thomas Lux was also on board, and one ("one," perhaps being "God") simply did not kill a celebrity like that, nevermind that most people on board hadn't the foggiest who Thomas Lux, or any contemporary poet might be, most people, including God, probably.