Wednesday, May 30, 2007

counting down the ways to goodbye

I've continued thinking about last night's writing group. I think any good class will linger in your mind, will turn over like a ball of pizza dough, and allow you to linger on the good bits and the bits that inspire you to take action, improve. These are some things for me to remember, things I've learned before, but last night reminded me of them:

- Be surprising. Don't be ordinary. There was a stanza in my poem that I knew wasn't right, but I left it there, just to see what people said. And it was true--this information may have been helpful, but not enough for a stanza, and certainly not told in a way that was cliche. Truth needs to be altered. Tweedy coats are commonplace. What is unique to being an aging retired professor?

- Sink into the persona. There was another woman who wrote a poem from a forester's point of view with some very lovely moments in it, some striking images. One of the other poets said she ought to consider what discovery would be like, what new eyes would be like, and try to avoid what was (again) easy. Surprise your reader and become the other.

- Line breaks can be adventurous. I think we have the tendency to break at phrases, particularly of the prepositional variety. It's easy, like breathing, but can be boring. This was something that first struck me about one of my favorite poets, Sharon Olds: she would break just after conjunctions, just after the verb, in mid-tale. It kept me awake, brought new meaning to each line, each jagged breath. Her words flow juicy; the line breaks make it a little sticky. Like summer. I love, love her poetry.

- Write beyond the self. I think this is something I didn't need to be reminded, but it's something I've begun talking to my students about. At this point, I just want them to write. Nothing more. But at some point, we need to pull ourselves out of the quagmire that is sappy love poetry (everybody has bad love poetry from high school).

So much of this seems so simple, so obvious, but I think getting it down and reminding myself, again, considering how to add more layers in what I already know.

I began taking things down from the walls of my classroom--nothing earth shattering, just little tidbits I stapled up to bulletin boards, making this place my own. While I am really glad to be going, my heart ached as I did it, throbbing as I put these pieces of myself into the cardboard box, some destined for new walls, and others that made their way into the garbage or recycling. So much painstaking time cutting little objects out and laminating, so many little mementos from students, after only two years.

Emily offered to come up after school to help me pack and I said I really only needed her help to load things into the car. This lump in my throat makes me want to do it alone, allow me time to wallow in this change, but I want her company too, to encourage me as I pull staples from literary terms, as I look at the faded paper where I hung Edgar Allan Poe bookmarks and left circles of deeper red as I pulled buttons from the wall. While I am ready to move on in most senses of the word, this is still the place where I began, the place where I somehow collected enough gear to dump three bags full on Em downstairs (to which she asked, "OK, and to whom do I give the rest?," causing a debate over whether or not I could be strong enought o just let it all go).

It looks like the world's messiest professor worked in here. I have binders flopped open, papers scattered everywhere, memories documented in every way imaginable. I have little clippings and post it notes, framed pictures, books for independent reading (with a last name written in black ink on all the bindings that will change in a little over two months), laminated signs specific to the classes I teach now. Do I give it all away? Do I hoard it or throw it out selfishly? Would anyone even want it anyway? So much collected in two years at one high school. It's no wonder my anxiety level is so high; I cannot see beyond the mess.

Perhaps this is another reason why moving on is a good thing for me! :)

I've begun a knitting project, a very small one. I plan to learn how to make a bobble with this one, a technique I have not yet learned. Knitting is such a calming act (except when you get it wrong) and I love to admire true fiber arts. And here's a secret: I have been admiring those crafty blogs who have their very own etsy shops, producing enough for a gallery. I don't know if "selling" is what I'm interested in as much as having things lined up in a row, showing what I can accomplish outside the realm of the ordinary. How my hobbies can produce something tangible, other than a marathon episode watching of Six Feet Under (which I am truly good at).

Tonight: knitting, having dinner at home, looking forward to small things in the future. Tomorrow: our end-of-the-year department party, a secret revealed, a trip to Minneapolis. Friday: an end-of-the-year staff party. Saturday: floral appointment in the morning (I didn't love flowers as much when we first met to plan the wedding--now, so much would make me thrilled, so far from indifferent), a wedding shower for a colleague (and a chance to see Emily, always a pleasure), and at night, Kelly, who I still have not seen since her wedding (shame). Sunday: sleep. Reading in bed, continue with cleaning (which is becoming successful, shock).

Last thought:

OK, I added a counter to my page, and it must be broken. It says there are something like 300 hits (and it hasn't even been twenty four hours). Impossible. Especially when so few leave me comments! :) . . . Maybe even just to tell me how boring my blog is? I like interaction, knowing this isn't going into the void. :) Don't be shy--say hello! (I'm not so ashamed to beg, it appears.) (And fellow bloggers, what is it about comments that seem so redeeming? Or maybe I'm just freakish.)

Blog I am currently exploring: little birds handmade (half of 3191), in love with these softies, am wanting to learn to make some of my own, but I must make nice with my machine before I can whir something out like that, fingers toughened by the needle quilting.


GreenishLady said...

Hello. I've only come across your blog in the past few days, and have been enjoying reading, especially about your poetry group. So, now I've un-lurked!

michelle said...

i'm glad i'm not the only person who has a hard time parting with things - even those that no one else may see the reason for keeping.

and congrats on the knitting! i can't wait to buy some new yarn and start a new project :) it is very calming :) and if your looking for some cool crafty sites check out my friend carrie's blog - naturally optimistic - she has links to a whole bunch of em!