Monday, February 20, 2017

On tossing off the flannel

I wouldn't have thought that the movie, The Devil Wears Prada, would bring me to my knees (so to speak). Not feeling well yesterday, I binged on Lifetime movies. All I wanted was mindless entertainment, a restful way to wile away the long hours of wishing I felt better. But, alas. Life had something else in store for me.

In the movie, Andy is a journalist fresh out of school, wanting a magazine job (I relate, big time). She takes a spot way out of her league -- not better, just wildly different (still relating). She learns a lot of hard life lessons along the way about loyalty, betrayal, ethics, and...spoiler alert...ultimately she fine tunes her moral compass (relating, still). She ends up taking her seat at the write (right?) writer's desk...showing up for the work she has cherished and longed for.  She arrives where she's supposed to be.

At that moment, I burst out crying. Yes, I was wrapped up in a flannel blanket and my resistance was low. I was going nowhere. Fast. But I think what I saw in that moment is that I've been wrapped in flannel, in terms of aspirations and so many things, for a long time. I recalled that amazing-beyond-words feeling of taking my seat at the writer's desk, eons ago. I remembered the utter joy of being welcomed by editors and teachers and family and friends and mostly, myself. I knew deeper than I'd ever known anything where I belonged. What a feeling to no longer be lost.

I cried yesterday because I'd forgotten all that. I cried because I'd lost that feeling. And I cried because I wanted it back, and didn't even know I was lost, again. What was once brand new, can never be so shiny again has been my mantra. The fantastic performer Peter Allen would differ with his lyrics, Everything old is new again. And so, maybe?

Right now, George Benson's Breezin plays in my background, proving Allen's words. My favorite jazz musician of the 70s and 80s, has come back to life in my blanket-half-on-half-off world. Maybe my utterly, dizzyingly shiny new/old thing is write (right?) in front of me, no messing around, no whining that I'm not in the mood. hard to drag myself to the chair (which by the way I'm already sitting on). So hard to believe joy may follow. So hard to do even if joy doesn't follow. There are no guarantees, not one, not a penny's worth, when one tosses off the flannel for whatever their heart calls for.

I loved those tears I cried yesterday, the depth of emotion, the unblanketedness of it all.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

On catching up

It's been too long since I've checked in here; I apologize, mostly to myself. It is in this space that I take inventory, piece together the different aspects of my life, find a coherent whole. And this process is always nurturing. Yet, I've squandered this time, obsessing over politics (and not in a good way) and looking over my shoulder at decisions past, until I'm a pillar of salt.

Ah...moving forward. I've settled into my new work routine of teaching only two courses at one college. I am finally on the road to being the teacher I've tried to be -- focused and present for my students. The difference in having an allegiance to one college as opposed to three is profound, at least in adjunctville, the town where I reside. Emails from students arrive in my inbox, and I smile. They care about their grade. They ask about assignments. They explain absences. They use commas and periods correctly! No lowercase i, which would drive me hugely ( bigly?) crazy.

Teaching two classes at one school (did I mention, only!) is akin to living on another career universe. My mind doesn't reel from worries of what I need to do, didn't do or incorrectly did. I'm not a well of resentment...(adjuncts, you understand). On non-teaching days, I sub at a lovely little private school, where students call me Sandy, tell me I'm their favorite sub (I know, it's butter, but still...), ask for my help with their essays, and I take home zero papers, write zero plans. Thus far, it's all working; evil eye, kenehura, we're very well acquainted. It's time for you to look elsewhere--or better, close that eye. For good.

Last weekend I went to a rally for immigrants' rights. I'm proud to say, I stood in the rain with hundreds of others, holding a sign in one hand and an umbrella in the other. I was there with HIAS, an organization I love. Its values and work are close to my heart: support for Syrian and all immigrants. If my students held up their country's flags, we'd be a sea of colors. I would hold two--the country where I was born in and the one that holds a piece of my heart.

Alas...I have found a way to segue to thoughts of my summer trip. I've begun to take mental excursions away from the political mess to the second half of my soul's journey. Last summer it was Prague with a day into the greater Czech Republic (at right). This summer I'm thinking of (note: I didn't yet commit...) Slovakia. I hear Bratislava is an Eastern European gem. My compass aims there; the jury is still out on the remainder. Back to Prague is a strong contender. We'll see. (Evil eye, you've been remanded. Just in case (and I always prepare for Just-in-case), my mother bequeathed me anti-evil eye potions.)

Saturday morning calls. My NIA teacher ends each class by saying "Take three steps into your day." And so, I begin.