We are now full-bodiedly in that part of the semester that takes everyone out back and knocks us all silly six ways to Sunday, something that manifests itself differently for each of us. This week--and where did it go?--has left me knowing all over again how much of teaching and advising here consists of acknowledging, absorbing, validating, and/or neutralizing gifted, overworking young people's fears and uncertainties. As a case in point, even as I began opening this post's composition window, I received an e-mail from the dean who is truly my right-hand woman in keeping students' feet on the floor so that they can continue to function; the subject line was simply "Call me," and in the seconds it took for the message to load up, six different students crossed my mind as likely candidates to be contained within the body of the message. And the one whose name actually appeared in the message wasn't even on that list.
So, it's like that right now. The word most likely to describe my feelings about the whole situation--my week, their week, this week--is gritted. Holiday parties this year are, for the most part, particularly freaking me out. How festive, n'est-ce pas?
I spent some quality time investigating these iris rhizomes at lunchtime yesterday. I was happy to be having a lunchtime, after a meeting that went a quarter-hour longer than I thought it would, thereby eating a quarter of the buffer time between said meeting and my afternoon's office hours. (Another sign of the times: spontaneously deciding that yes, getting a good lunch would be a good idea.) The rhizomes were a genuine surprise, just at the right moment--a reminder that I've resumed slinging my camera bag across my body every day for a reason: the fact that sometimes alternative focal points arise at unforeseeable moments and in unforeseen spaces.
These are ugly and alien and rugged and struggling and raw, and they cannot help forcing themselves toward the loveliness they'll be in a few months. This morning, as was the case yesterday afternoon too, they're the perfect object onto which to project the shit that's going down here. And by "here," I mean "in my wee brain," which I call wee because one of my first-year students reminded me yesterday that the brain is roughly the size of two clenched fists.
Two clenched fists. And ten open fingers, tapping and tapping away. That image, too, is worth projecting some end-of-year self-ache onto.
And why should it be that this song has become the one I'm listening to obsessively? It's not just that, having hated the Wallflowers for a long time because of that idiotic "One Headlight" song that was their debut, I now find myself--100% in keeping with my tendency toward inaccessible people--wanting to make out with Jakob Dylan (or similar). (And now I discover that I don't even hate that song anymore; in fact, it's sort of perfect for this week. My whole world is clearly turning upside down. It's also possible that I always wanted to make out with Jakob Dylan [or similar] and just repressed that memory. Two clenched fists, see?)
I think that I'm going to designate December 23 as a day on which I will alternately sob convulsively and run in circles all day long, feeling no compunction about either activity. I believe that the dog will love the running in circles part.