Teaching · Uncategorized

Back to School: Fall 2021

What. A. Year.

And by “year” I mean 17 months that feel like five years. And by “what” I mean quelle castastrophe, che bello, que año de cambios.

How are you? Are you still there? What is left and lost and undone and reshaped of you? I am tired. But just now, quiet and still and hopeful.

I’m teaching on campus again–just one class–so far, just one hour. And one of my husband’s classes was moved online after one day, so I’m very clear how precarious everything is, but one hour is more than I got all last year, and it was glorious—masks and anxiety and all.

It’s Myth as Literature again. And myth reminds me to think broadly, and we start with Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which reminds me to notice how beautiful humanity is and how ubiquitous change is, and I can feel some of my mushy insides congealing into a new butterfly.

So here is a teeny blog for re-emerging, as the academic year begins:

I hope you are finding parts of yourself you didn’t know were there and that you put them to use.

I hope if you’ve been working, you’re staying safe; if you’re rejoining the in-person workforce, I hope you’ve been safe and you begin to feel more confident every day.

I hope where you’ve lost has been healing, and that those holes give you some new perspectives to help you move forward.

I hope you read some things that distract you and challenge you that aren’t news items. And I hope you have the means and space and energy to pursue something new during this transition.

I hope you have let yourself grieve and continue to. And I hope even more that you let yourself rejoice.

And I hope when we get this pandemic under control and start thinking about how we want to live this next phase of our lives, we can agree that a butterfly would beautiful, but a phoenix would be better.

Living · Writing

Metamorphosis–Giving Myself Permission to Change

I got my fifteen year pin at work. That’s half a career. It feels like a perfect time to shift some gears.
I sometimes have to remind myself not to be afraid of change. I’m pretty good about trying new foods and restaurants, but big changes, I resist. I’m done moving. I chose a career with job security.  I’ve been married to the same guy pretty much all of my adult life.
But I know change is good. I know it’s invigorating, and I know it’s necessary. Since I’m not willing to trade in my husband for another model, it had to be work that changes.
I certainly am not stopping teaching, although some shifts are coming there too, as we change to semesters, and I step out of the King Arthur class and in to some new territory after “semester conversion.”  But this is a multi-faceted job I’m in, so I’m shaking things up in terms of writing.  Really, I’m giving myself permission to revisit a dream.
If you had asked me at fifteen what I wanted to do when I grew up, I’d have said write, and at that point, I’d have meant poetry. I wrote a lot when I was young, but I could never have been so bold as to try to make a career out of writing creatively.
After about twenty-five more years of reading, though, I feel like I have something to write.
It started with a book for my kids. After reading so many books to them, I felt like I could tell where the gaps were, and what worked and didn’t work. But I still wasn’t ready to commit to thinking of myself as a writer.  It took five years to write one little novel. The kids I wrote it for have grown up; that doesn’t sound like I’m a writer—more like a scratcher in the sand.
This year, though, I’m picking up speed. I got awarded a sabbatical to wrap up the novel. That was very validating. I started a blog about reading. It turns out that counts as writing! Before I finished my first novel, I started thinking about the second one. And as I start getting in to critique groups and searching for an agent, I find I have reached a critical mass of baby steps toward a new identity and now don’t feel like an impostor when I call myself a writer.
There is a delicate dance, being a reader and a writer, and we can go from being one to another and back again in an endless circle. I have always considered myself a reader, but only a dilettante writer.  But I have come around to writer again, and this time I’m not begging off.
The best bit of wisdom my dad ever gave me was “If you do what you love, you’ll never work again.”  At the time, I dropped the biology degree and ran headlong in to literature and languages.  And he was right (except for grading). What he forgot is that there can be more than one thing you love.