Ten years ago, I’m in college, living with my parents. I’m taking three advanced lit classes and writing lots of papers. I’ve just finished managing a community theatre production in Rockford where the actors were still iffy on their lines opening night. And I think I am still planning to teach high school English at this point. My first poem in nearly a year of being distracted by other things will come sometime after Christmas and start the next semester’s downpour. I listen to a lot of Tori Amos and 10,000 Maniacs. I am still an idealist.
Five years ago, I’ve just moved back to Chicago after a year and a half away post-grad school. I’ve recently obtained the first job that will actually allow me to support myself somewhat. My new apartment is clean and empty, furnished only with a couple of living room chairs, my bed, a small table, and a Christmas tree. I’m euphoric and in love with the city, which is already covered in snow that year. I probably haven’t written a poem in months, but have notebooks of short stories from the summer before that need revision.
One year ago, I’m plugging away at the errata poems. I have just finished the complete, though hardly final, version of the fever almanac and am lamenting my sudden bout of book fever. (that dubious affliction akin to baby fever that strikes women writers over thirty). I am procrastinating as always on my Christmas shopping. I’m STILL somehow in school and working against deadlines. Plus I’m nursing a nasty sore throat. I’m thankfully not as depressed as I was the year before at that time, but nor as ecstatically in lust as I was two years before.
Today, we go on a writing field trip for Chicago Poems to the worst place possible to venture into three weeks prior to Christmas. Marshall Fields. The masses of retail-crazed women in appliqué sweaters from the burbs gives me a headache. We do not, as planned, eat at the famous Walnut Room, but in the food court after deciding the two hour wait is not worth it. I buy a discounted tree ornament, and go home, skipping workshop. It’s ridiculously frigid outside and I want to sleep until spring.