Wednesday, May 06, 2020

snapshots | may


I'm in seventh grade and head over heels for the first boy who probably ever broke my heart.  There are all the usual hallmarks of junior high courting--shared lunches, meetings at lockers, awkward dancing at school dances, daily walks to the bus. His friends in the cafeteria and their teasing comments about both my height (I was taller) and my chest (which of course was happening. ).  In June, we are supposed to go on the yearly field trip to an amusement park and make plans to sit together on the way there, which involves paperwork and making special arrangements for me to ride with him and his group of friends, but somehow he decides not to go. I awkwardly hang out with that group until we get separated then find a group of girls I hadn't hung out with since elementary school and have a wonderful time.  While I'd had crushes before, it was the first time I fell for a funny boy and the first of many times a funny boy failed me.  In 8th grade, we share a math class and while I am willing to toss the occasional barb his way for the previous offense, things are never really the same.  Later, he goes to a different high school and I never see him again.


I am graduating, and pretty much checked out, going through the motions, and my eye trained on venturing to North Carolina in the fall.  I am still planning on being a marine biologist, still restless in the midwestern way for the coast.  There were all the usual hallmarks, prom activities (though I skipped the date part and hung out with my friends), graduation parties, yearbooks, and award ceremonies.  I nearly fail trig for a second time, but I get out. I wear baggy sweatshirts over rolled jeans and off-brand keds and my hair is still blonde. Other than that, it's a lot of gazing longingly at my college brochure and wanting badly to get to that beginning, so much so, I barely paid much attention to the ending.


I am graduating again, and again, my eyes are on the future. Again, more awards ceremonies and a sticky, rainy commencement forced indoors. We are apartment hunting in Lincoln Park for the beginning of June, where I plan to live off credit cards and some sort of part-time job until grad school starts sometime in September.  I find a tiny studio with it's bathroom in the closet and start making moving arrangements.  By the time the trees are blooming on campus, I am already mentally elsewhere.  I am still thinking I want to teach then, and a year later, it will have become less clear.
I listen to Fiona Apple's Tidal on repeat and buy dollar store dishes and pots and pans. I spend the first night with all the lights on, waiting for someone to break in and murder me. My first night really alone for the first time. It's scary, but within a week, I am loving it. I am writing a little and submitting work, but still a year or so out from writing anything worth publishing, but spend a lot of time eagerly checking the mailbox for acceptances.


 By now, I have settled back into Chicago, into my job at the library, into my larger apartment, and have been a little more successful in terms of writing ventures.  I publish mostly online, but this is also the year my first chapbook is accepted by a small, local feminist press.  I place third  in a local juried contest and read my poems in public for the very first time. Two years later, I win that very same prize, but with very different poems.  I don't have internet at home, so I read and analog journal a lot more, and write reviews of novels for a couple different websites that send me free books.  I am single until later that year, but spend the summer meeting up a couple times for awkward online dating I don't really talk about in real life.


I am graduating.  AGAIN. This time, my MFA--that strange four year journey of going to school part-time while also working 40 hours per week.  I don't go to the commencement, but my parents come into town for a departmental reading during an unusually sunny, mild weathered Manifest celebration. That spring, I am still on the mend from a rather tormented past year that included recovering from mono & various after illnesses AND having my heart broken by another funny guy, but one who is a hole I keep falling back into again and again and will for the better part of a decade. According to this very blog, it's a year of summer cicada storms,  bit otherwise, life is pretty good, a summer filled with collages and working on the final details of the Cornell project, as well as ramping up on the press once my MFA program was out of the way. I am restless of course, and by Sept. am making plans for moving into the studio.


Is one of those years with less hallmarks, but the usual sort of steady.  We spend a lot of Friday nights drinking margaritas, and of course, I am trying all summer to get over my infatuation w/  yet another, (this time mostly indifferent funny) boy, but still trying to maintain the friendship in the awkward aftermath. There are other romantic dalliances during this time, only one that outlasted the year, and itself, full of its own sort of dramatics. I am, however,  back in deep with poetry after a while of being away from the thick of it.  It is a good year for projects and releases..the James Franco pieces, the mermaid series release, and a feeling that maybe I could do this again. The previous summer, I'd closed the etsy shop and pared down the offerings to focus more on books now that things were more financially sustainable (well for the moment it seemed but not all that much really. )  I spend some time giving up regular soda and making better choices and managed to drop a significant amount of weight over the next year or so, which, if anything, has me feeling physically better and buying more clothes to the detriment of my wallet.


This year was a hum dinger that started out bad, got better, then got far worse.  My mother in the hospital with a heart attack.  My mother recovering at home, but with a gash on her foot from a fall  and nasty painful rash on her legs from a latex allergy. My aunt dies, and her mood plummets, but it's still a reasonably happy summer where we cart my other around in a wheel chair and things are as close as they would be again to normal. I also lose a cat, but am still in good spirits. Then a bad decline--infection, hallucinations, a long hospital & nursing home stay. Then she was gone.  A fall of back and forth visits. A fall trying to hold things in balance.  There were other things but they are blurry.  In January, my efforts at writing & compiling win us the ACRL Award for Excellence in Libraries.  In April, me and my sister have a fun trip to NOLA, where I read the poetry fest with a cold and am so very broke I should not really be traveling.  So broke that my lights are shut off when I return for a few days until I get paid.    I charge my devices when at work and the studio and spend a couple days stealing my neighbors internet and  eating peanut butter sandwiches and leftover library party fare by candlelight. After my mother's death, I pull together the sex & violence manuscript hurriedly in November and send it to Black Lawrence where it's accepted the following spring, but outside of that remember very little about the year besides hospital rooms and funerals.


I wake up early because the sun is blazing, reflecting off the building across the way.  I do this often, my body, getting enough sleep, doesn't need to catch up, but while I am raring to get started at 8am, I get really sleepy at around noon, then nap for a couple hours and start again.  Instead of eight hours, it's more like 6 and 2. When I'm awake, I do library work, usually til 11pm or so, my usual schedule, or midnight if I'm working on something interesting enough. I make breakfast, some sausage links and a cinammon swirl bagel and, of course, coffee. I work on some less exciting ILL work, then stop for a nap. Then I work on some more things before an ILL hiring meeting late in the afternoon. There are some other things I'd like to finish before the day ends, trash to take out and a package to collect from the lobby. While I am only good for certain types of less creative work, I am actually still enjoying the solitude of my days and not having so much to and fro, though I miss wearing my clothes and going out into the world sometimes. While I'm not a social person at all and don't miss that aspect, I am trying to get out for a walk at least every few days. The lakefront is still closed, but I can see it glimmering at the end of the cross streets, so I know it's still there and very, very blue. Tonight, I'll make fajitas, one of my favorite quarantine meals, a time when I am actually cooking in my kitchen and not just microwaving.

No comments: