Thursday, June 28, 2012

On being a misfit

Last night, I had that dream again.  It was the first day of classes, and I had no syllabi prepared.  The class was huge (and, as usual, in a weirdly shaped room...maybe going around a corner again?  not sure).  Students began to walk out in the middle of class.

It's the professorial version of showing up to school naked.

I still wonder if I belong in the front of that classroom, even after many years and moderate success there.  I wonder about scholarship even more.  Academic life has always felt a bit...out of reach?  ill-fitting?  I recall when I was a senior in college and got a letter inviting me to go to an informational session on applying for Rhodes and other scholarships.  I had to ask someone what those were.  I never did go to the event, or apply.  I'm still baffled and overwhelmed by grant writing. 

And yet, here I am, loving the pedagogical and historiographical writing that I am doing this summer, and looking forward to the archives next spring.  Plus, I no longer have the ability to "go back" to how I grew up, to fit into my blue-collar roots.  Maybe, I think, because I never did fit in there. 

And so I continue to live betwixt and between, in this and so many other ways.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Anya's Word of the Day

Tonight, when Anya got on the phone to talk with me, she exclaimed:

"Salutations, Mum!" 

I almost died from delight.

Apparently, she picked this word up from Charlotte's Web.  (They must be reading portions of it in her class?  She wasn't too clear on that part.)

Anya has always been interested in the definitions of words. When Howard tried to push her a little too hard at age 6 to learn how to read, she looked at him and said "I don't want to learn how to read right now, Dad.  I want to learn what words mean."

What a girl. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Monday Morning

Yesterday morning I was unfocused, unable to settle down to work until almost noon.  I took advantage of this mental restlessness to soak in the ordinary beauty all around me in the house.  It really was remarkable.

This morning, I am struggling to get a new chapter started.  So I'm blogging in between rounds of trying to come up with those first few sentences.  Strange how sometimes a paragraph or two can cause such agony and take so long, while at other times ideas seem to fly from my mind to my fingers and onto the computer screen.

What do you do to make it through feeling stuck in a work problem?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Obstacle Course of Solitude

(Because my life is neither complex nor poetic enough to be a labyrinth of solitude)

I've been in Maine, alone and writing, for almost two weeks now.  It's been a productive time--two chapters just about drafted (my mantra: I only need a solid first draft, I only need a solid first draft...).  I find that I like the solitude in some ways--I forgot what it's like to be able to start work late and still be productive, or to lose momentum at mid-day and be able to pick work back up when my "second wind" comes at around 4 p.m.  Normally, by 4 or 5 I have to pack up work and tend to children, dinner, and other such domestic tasks.  I've enjoyed not having to listen to constant sibling rivalry.  I can eat when I want, walk when I want.

But, it's also lonely.  No snuggles with Anya.  No story time or bedtime rituals with the kids.  No jokes with Samuel.  No coffee date with Howard.  No one to talk to at dinner.  I spend my days in a cycle of activities:

1) There is, of course, my morning walk.  Finally found a good loop to take each day.

2) There is writing--at this desk, which is starting to feel like good work space.  Notice the many kid drawings to keep me company.

3) Caffeine is the call of the day.  There is:
Coffee in the morning.

Espresso on most afternoons.
(I know, the mug isn't as good as the Cuencana one in Quincy)

And, of course, tea when I feel like it.
(Note how each type of caffeinated beverage has to have its own special mug).

4) There are novels to be read once my brain can't function on academic mode any more.

5) NPR is my new best friend.  (I mean, I listen a lot when the family is around, but now it's really my only companion.)

6) I've taken to watching the grass grow tall again after all the rain.

7) And, of course, into every night must come a bubble bath.

What are your patterns of solitude?