Thursday, January 10, 2008

love & other catastrophes

Have you seen the movie? It's one of my favorites, Love and Other Catastrophes. Among other things, one of the protagonists must wander from building to building on campus, bumping about, trying to get the drop slip signed.

I always think this: Harumph, love and other catastrophes whenever a string of little bitty frustrating events occur, sprawling out in your morning. I think of it as one event causes another, as events act and react, as the culture of me and my propensity to knock into walls and tabletops backfires. I am always bruised and don't know why; it usually is from my gracelessness before.

This morning I woke up to a flat tire. (This always happens when my husband leaves to go out of town--darn you, and your adventures--and he just kissed my head good-bye at four thirty this morning.) Flat, as in, rumble rumble, rim-to-the-ground flat. My third in as many years, I believe. My second sitting against the wet pavement of our driveway; the last time, I simply called in for the day (an hour commute doesn't really help), but today, I got a ride. (And the first time, in the middle of no where, and two high school girls pulled over to help me change it--I was so struck by their kindness.)

Thank goodness for the locality--the less-than-a-mile, the local shop picking up my car as I work, the easy pick up of a teacher at the corner, just after the school bus goes by.

And I lost a contact somewhere on the way out the door, so I am half-blind, or rather, half-fuzzy. I squint at my students' power point presentations, hope it all makes as much sense to me as it does to them.

I could go on: our garbage, which I struggled with last night, was not picked up, was tipped over instead. My father is coming for the reading tomorrow, and he wants to watch a Packers game, but we don't have TV (as in, no cable, no reception, just an addiction to Netflix), which presents a pickle. I don't like it when my husband leaves. I overslept; I dreamt that I would arrive at school after the bell (nothing like white cats and prophecies). Zephyr, the destroyer of all things, took down every single coat and scarf and whatnot hanging in our mud room and made a shredded bed out of one of my canvas bags while I was in the shower. (He's quick, that bugger.)

You see, if I hum to myself, Love and other catastrophes..., I am a little less hands-up-in-the-air frustrated. There is no frenzy, no chaos. There is take-it-one-step-at-a-time and it-will-all-work-out-anyway, a kind of peaceful, methodical pace to resolution. I wish I could say my husband's mantra of, No use getting upset; there's nothing you can do about it would be my saving grace, but sometimes, when he says that, I have the urge to kick him in the shins.

But the film, with all its little stumblings, the plot that reminds me of me, bouncing off the walls of life, is so "feel good," so upbeat and such a pleasant, peaceful, smooth viewing that I can't help but smile thinking of it. Smile and think, "Well, I have an ending like that too."

Life is too good to concern oneself with flat tires and lost contacts. (Especially when everyone in this town, helping me, giving me rides, dropping keys off and whatnot, makes me want to open my arms and give my town a big hug.)

Last night I had a smaller reading through Intermedia--the Writer to Writer folks did a final presentation of what we've been up to over the semester's mentorship work. I read my series of poems about my grandfather, and I think it went well. Husband could make it to this one (since he's out of town for tomorrow's longer reading), which was nice, knowing he was there, warm and content in the audience. I got to hold his hand afterwards, pinch his leg just before in nervousness. I love having him cheer me on in his own quiet, supportive way.

This is something that I am forever amazed at: Since I completed my undergraduate degree, I have floundered a bit with the future. First, I was going to pursue my MFA. I had my AWP handbook, I had my list of colleges, I sought a job to keep me afloat for my year off, and then I panicked. He held my hand, comforted me in my confusion. I realized it would be just as hard to find a decent job when I was done with an MFA as it was then. The MFA wouldn't get me anywhere; I knew this. So I contorted and shivered and found myself in the M.Ed program. I taught. I missed my writing. I wrote. I wanted an MFA again. I hated teaching at Old High School after a while. Then I found myself here, and it was only supposed to be for a year, so husband stood by me again as I confessed I wanted to go back to school, that this long term sub gig was perfect, and I didn't know if I'd return to teaching again. Newly married, with a mortgage, he said OK. This takes a big leap, since finances are becoming intermingled. But now I'm at another one of those ping pong moments: I now have eighteen applications out there (nine regular programs and nine low-residency) and the possibility of me returning to Local High School grows stronger. And he stands by me. There isn't a leaning from him, even if I ask, and I think that is right. When I mention going away for graduate school, a long distance marriage, he tells me to apply, that we'd figure it out. When I mention working here and doing the low-res MFA, which means loans, he says to apply, that we'd figure it out.

And now I want to hug him, press him close to me, but he's up in the air over Kentucky now.

For now, I'll just work my way toward four working tires, a new contact, and an optometrist appointment. For now, I'll just hum, love and hum and other catastrophes and think of tomorrow and reading. And think of Saturday and sleeping in. And Packer games, apparently.

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