I am in Boston for my third MFA residency. Strangely, I am not in the mood. I am feeling low – not in the mood to think or work or be participatory. That isn’t like me.
Tonight, we had a welcome event. There are 26 incoming freshmen. We heard Kudos of the staff and students, announcements, and everyone got reacquainted. It is lovely seeing the returning students – catching up. I spent some time with my mentor from last term, Laurie. I brought her a gift. I found a wall hanging in an art gallery that is quirky and different—I don’t know, it isn’t something I’d buy anyone else, but it suits her. It’s a shoe, all gaudily decorated with a cutout of Elvis – one of his movies the featured theme. Her last novel was titled “Before Elvis there was Nothing” so this art has meaning. (She can hang it on the wall of her house where before, there was nothing) I wrote her a nice thank-you note. Frankly, it is a conversation piece, sort of odd, but then, so is her surreal writing. I suppose she’ll understand the sentiment behind the offering. I am grateful for all the time and attention she devoted to me these past six months and I just wanted to express it.
I met with my new professor, AJ. She is a demanding, professional sort of teacher and I am very excited to work with her. A few of the students asked who I was working with and when they heard it was her, they lifted their eyebrows and said, “Eeek. She is so intimidating.” She is, and yet, I’m looking forward to the experience.
I hunted down my first mentor, Bill to say hello too. This was difficult due to past discomfort between us – which I attribute to my total insanity and a collection of circumstances that served to make me crazy last residency. I have great respect for this man, and if anything, I felt shame approaching him, because rather than honor and trust him, I questioned his commitment to working with me last term (due to outside influences, rumor, and my own frustration). Actually, I didn’t actually complain about him, but about a student in my group, but it came across as my being disappointed in his mentorship. I don’t want to go into it. I will be working with him this week in the large group workshops. My goal is to “fix” what I broke. It means the world to me that I do. I just don’t know how to go about it gracefully. Perhaps that is why I’m feeling low. It eats me up to be out of sorts with people that are important to me.
I listened to two readings tonight, a fiction writer and a poet. I was unmoved. This in not to imply that the writers were not good – only an affirmation of my uninspired state. Perhaps it’s because I got up a 5AM this morning to get to the airport and I’m tired. Or maybe it’s the glass of wine I had after the session to relax. I don’t know. Is there such a thing as a mid-way academic slump? I could be the poster child for that. My roommate gets here tomorrow. I am glad to be alone tonight – it helps me to diffuse and transition from home life to student.
I think I need to sleep. First, I’ll read. Then, with hope, I’ll dream. I’ll order up a nice, positive dream to jump start my engine. For someone who is usually on fire, I feel like my pilot light has gone out.
I think, the reason this residency is trying for me is because I have no one to share it with. Family members, friends, indulge my talking about writing, but only to be polite. This has become a solitary endeavor. I feel on my own in my pursuits nowadays.
Makes me low.