Today, I thought I’d write a short update for any friend who actually follows the progression of things in my world. A blog is not unlike a soap opera (only, hopefully, less melodramatic) with all kinds of story threads that different episodes focus upon. There’s the “MFA school and writing” thread, the “let’s start a farm” thread, the “teaching Kathy to read” thread, the “life without dance” thread, and – well, you get the point. I’m all over the place in this blog, but hey, real life is all over the place too.
Here is an update on a few frayed threads:
Kathy got out of jail this week and is home on probation. She called me, seriously intent upon getting back to our reading lessons. She is ready to make a fresh start in her life. We will start up again on Monday (9AM) at the college. I’ve decided to put the entire jail thing aside, categorizing it as an interesting episode of our odd little friendship. This way, I can dig in and concentrate on teaching her to read rather than stick my nose in an entire life overhaul for someone I barely know.
Clearly, some kind of community service for a cause I feel strongly about is important to my feeling I’m deserving of a good life. I’m glad to get back to this project, for whatever deep seeded reason I’m compelled to do so.
I got an E-mail from the director of my MFA program today, reminding everyone to review their writing and select the two pieces they want to workshop. These submissions are due MAY 22! Shoot me. I thought I had more time. Unlike most of the other students in the fiction program, I write original pieces for each semester, because workshoping sections of a novel (my thesis project) is simply a waste of time. Most everyone else is working on short stories. A novel is a different animal all together. You can’t discuss an elephant when you are looking at only the trunk.
Most people have stories they have worked on with their mentors for months, and they send these in to workshop a second time. To me, this seems a waste of a very beneficial opportunity for input, so if I want fresh material, I have five days to write two new stories. That’s a tall order, considering the scrutiny this work will get. (Last term, my mentor and fellow students thought it amazing I plunked out two original pieces in a week. Apparently, it’s harder for some to come up with ideas for stories and to get them on paper, than for others. However, weaving a fresh story is simple for me. My problems are more about the BIG picture of how to unravel a promising novel in a poignant way or how to tweak those easy to write stories so they are actually dynamic.) Anyway, I started one short story today, and I’m fairly happy with it (I’ll post it later for the rare, special individual that might care to read it).
I am so excited about working with my new mentor next term. She’s such a dynamic teacher. However, I’m nervous too and I hope my work will have enough merit that she’ll take me seriously. Nothing like a little self-imposed pressure to cause you to lose sleep.
I ordered the books I must read for this residency today. Stop Time by Frank Conroy (a memoir) Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins, A short story by Stuart Dybek called We Didn’t, and 24 pages of scene study notes from my professor along with other handouts. I have two weeks to read all this, then I will be reading and taking notes on the twelve student manuscripts we will be workshopping. So much for my squeezing in the “fun” novels I wanted to read on my non-existent break. Ah well. I love school, so I can just swallow my complaints and be happy. Tired but happy.
I reached out to April yesterday and grabbed her halter without her so much as flinching. Wow. She started pulling away, but she didn’t drag me across the pasture. I linked a lead rope under her chinstrap and proceeded to walk her by myself. I had one hand on her rear and the other on the rope near her head. We walked this way for about ten minutes without mishap. Ha! That is terrific progress in the halter training quest. I’m feeling like quite the accomplished cowgirl now. Yee-haw for me.
Dhali Llama is much friendlier too, though he keeps exactly one arms length away. I found someone willing to sheer him in two weeks for the unable-to-turn-down fee of 30 bucks. It will be nice to see what he looks like under all that monstrous hair – nicer knowing I don’t have to do it myself (at least this, the first time).
I saw a rooster I want to buy. He is three days old and fits in my palm. A tiny little chick that costs a whopping 3 bucks. I’m thinking of buying him, really. It’s the breed I want (an oriental, specialty rooster, with a long, dramatic tail). But I am worried I can’t keep little Joe Cocker alive. I will read about chicks and think a bit on this first. But I’m seriously tempted. He can stay in my small rabbit cage (obviously, the rabbits are no longer in it) until he is big enough to protect himself. We can get acquainted. Bond. I’ll handle him a lot. It’s spring. Gets me in the mood to watch a little cock grow.
The house is drop down gorgeous and is proceeding nicely. I will not write an update about it, because I haven’t written any posts about it, but I plan to. It is a piece of heaven in construction. More on this later. With pictures.
I sent my notes for teaching the dance seminar in Boston yesterday. Writing them was odd – it stirred up some strong, undefinable emotions. I am so good at that stuff, and the work has so much merit -(that is not me being pompous – it is just a fact – the work is good) that I almost feel guilty, as if I am turning my back on what is truly special about me – or like I am not doing what I was put on this earth to do. I felt horrible, as if I am doing something wrong by not keeping at it, not continuing to see what other great things I can do with dance. But I honestly feel I’ve been involved with that art all I can stand. It doesn’t excite me anymore, even though I respect, honor and love the art with all my heart and soul. Life is so interesting, that to walk only one path seems a mistake. But I felt sad yesterday. Guilty. Maybe it’s longing for old habits, or desiring the comfort that comes with what is familuar, wanting to stand where you know you will be appreciated, where you truly count.
Anyway, it was a difficult day for me. But I sure did write some kick ass notes. They are a bit academic in nature. Ha. That will challenge the dancers, but challenging dancers has always been a particular passion for me. I am looking forward to teaching that seminar. I’m gonna charge in like gang busters and teach jazz on multilevels. Not just steps, but theory, and soul. I’m just sorry the students I’ve known and loved for years won’t be there to get a dose of my revived passion. Ah well, they have new teachers now. That is the way it goes.
My husband’s father, Bill, is fading. He’s getting thin, and is sometimes disoriented, but nevertheless, there is a light about him. He’s suddenly appreciative of everything – extremely loving. We are doing our best to make his final months special.
My husband’s mother is not such an easy case. She has a fractured back and Mark had to bully her into an operation so she can “be there” for her husband these last months. She had an operation today.
Watching your parents handle death calls character into question (for everyone) and a life passage such as this dredges up some raw wounds from childhood and makes everyone involved question life and what is important. I guess all families experience this kind of epiphany when the generation above grows old, but it’s the first time we have had to contend with the drama and emotional fallout of death. It isn’t fun, but it is a part of life, so you deal with it.
A writer from the local newspaper called this week. After I dropped off a résumé and materials about our dance careers to the Blue Ridge Arts Association (because I was going to teach there this summer) the office manager called the paper and said, “You won’t believe the people who have just moved in to our area. They’d make a great human-interest story.
Now, they want to do a story on Mark, me and Dianne – the family with the artsy mostest. So I’m supposed to call back and arrange an interview. Mark scowled and said, “It’s too soon.” He wants to be more organized and directed in his new arts endeavors before a feature story is released. I feel sort of the same way, but it is lovely nevertheless, that they find us interesting.
Mark has several of his antler baskets in the Art’s association gallery now, a place that sells local artist’s work. That’s a kick. I will put a few pictures of them with this blog so people can see the kind of work he is doing. He had to develop a basket company and make cards to professionally tag the items, and he was going to call it “Basketcase.” I liked it. But he ended up naming it “Blue Ridge Basketry” and designed a very classy logo and card to denote a significant artist. This, he figures, allows him to charge more for his original creations, because it appeals to certain sorts of individuals. His baskets are selling for 250.00 and up, (just because he is a “newbie” – they are worth more.). It is hard to let them go however. I’d keep them all if I could, but how many baskets can one house handle?
Anyway, my husband is a talented guy – but that is nothing new.
There is more, but I have to get back to my homework. I have only five days to be brilliant. Ain’t enough time – but then – what would be?
It is beautiful out today. The weather is striking. I am thinking I might take a run and write some of that story in my head first. Yep, that’s what I’m gonna do. Bye.