I've been writing since this pandemic hit hard, and have been quarantined since March 15 (indeed, the Ides of March), except for curbside groceries. It has been one of the strangest and most productive times of my life. With Craig Bradley Owens, I've worked creating an entire galaxy... The hard part is figuring out how to go back to something like a teaching schedule after this... and where are my pants?
In other news, the poetry collection has been accepted for publication and the red cattle dog is snoring under the table again.
Newly arrived, smell of plastic, terrible mugshot from the drug store, but no matter: this is do anything, go anywhere, be whoever I like by myself, no restrictions, freedom to roam. This is heady stuff. Setting out soon. Wish me safe passage. SH
Happy, but bittersweet. Two months before my due date, I decided I was done with the whole womb thing--was nearly born in the parking lot of the Porky Pig Bar-B-Que in Riverdale, Maryland... Mom, waiting in the car for Dad to get the carryout, flagged down a patron, described my father, and told him to get the message that he needed to hurry it up. In the waiting room, the unhelpful nurses told my mother to cross her legs to keep me from popping out, but I was pretty serious about the whole thing. Forty-five minutes after the contractions started, I was sounding my barbaric yawp to the world... Hope I have another half dozen decades of yawping.
Not sure where "home" is anymore. The usual places feel suspect; it occurs to me there are advantages to this, some stirring tumble weeds inside me wanting to ride the updrafts and roll through ghost towns. The whole idea of "rooted-ness" has lost its appeal. Why not just "Stay Calm and Tumble On"? What's the worst that can happen? There are no advantages to playing it safe, so far as I can tell, and no one needs to know my coordinates. We have come to the end of another set of syllabi, literally and figuratively.
Maybe in spite of the grief, I can write again. Thank God (literally), as I think it might bring me back by taking me away, if that makes any sense. Not going to question it; just going to arrange things and narrow the bead of my attention to it -- hoping to honor it into staying around.
What do you do when death comes too quickly and you can't stop it, when you can't explain it and nothing in your power matters at all to the situation? I will write again, but it will take some time for my soul to sort out these losses. Nothing will ever be the same--that's a cliche, but it also means a new reality will take shape, one not nearly as comforting as the one I had before Feb, 19. RIP dear one; I will love you forever.
So, back to life as before only everything is new and both numbers and deadlines occupy my mind unhappily. We do what we must do, and hope to find moments of peace in the midst of it, small spaces from which to write. When I was young, I wrote to escape and without any pressure: it seems best to regain that perspective now. I'm not unhappy, just beleaguered with phone calls, prognosis shifts, and slips of paper demanding this or that. This is just reality and it has its place... but so do the imagined places, the escape places. If I don't schedule them in, the other will take over. That settles it, then! Bravo, a new schedule!
Lovely time at the Key West Literary Seminar. Saw Joyce Carol Oates, William Gibson and Billy Collins. There was an earthquake yesterday and talk of a tsunami warning... It's a strange, euphoric experience after a devastating holiday season.
On the farm where I grew up, "harvest" time with corn and hay (as well as the last of the garden produce) always had a feeling of anticipation and the common phrases were "Well, this is the last of it," and "With luck, this'll get us through the winter." It was a family farm, always with a dozen or so cows and a horse or two, with a scattering of pigs, chickens, and ducks, so a good season meant we'd get through without having to buy much feed. The same was true in the kitchen: November was cool enough that Mom could can tomatoes, as well as blanch and freeze corn and beans. Neighbors and family members would come by to help, just as we'd go there to help them, and there was a grand sense of bounty. Both of my parents grew up in the Depression and they passed along the fear of shortage and then the gratitude that there'd be enough... this was beside the fact that both of them worked outside jobs, my father as a supervisor, and so the farm was more or less a hobby, certainly not necessary to "our" existence, though it needed to "sustain itself" to be viable. Growing up, those distinctions weren't clear to me--it felt like our lives depended on this. Later in the evenings, after days of getting hay loaded and put in the barn, or digging the last of the potatoes and onions, we'd build a fire and roast hot dogs and tell stories. The adults would go in to play cards and we'd look through the windows at them.
Apparently, people expect me to work for a living. It's getting in the way of my life's work, I'll tell ya. I guess most people have something similar... Woke before sunrise to get another chapter done. Ended up rewriting the last one (don't say it--I know, I know, I have a hang-up with this sort of thing). Still determined to write 500 new words per day. What was that you said, something about grading sixty-two more papers before Monday? Yeah, well. That'll happen, too. Even as the stores fill up with Halloween goodness.... Anticipate the heck out of life is my new motto. Be well. SMH