Saturday, April 28, 2007

Oh my God, I am tired. Oh good Christ, I am tired.

I was so happy yesterday to be over being sick that I overdid it. Took my computer to the fix-it shop. Went shopping. Walked all around the lake with G. in the beautiful balmy late dusk talking about Condoleeza Rice being indicted and who the hell the Democrats are going to run in 08. Watched another episode of the Sopranos with him while eating popcorn.

Slept with C, blood-red towels on the bed, two bodies falling into each other more deeply. Deeply and softly, soft landings, sleep and dream.

Morning coffee and eggs and then BART into the city. The long necessary rigmarole of graduation, the students' tearful speeches and shining readings, the awkward standing around with paper plates of Brie and crackers afterwards.

It was hot.

I gave Storm the introduction he deserved,he's been a teacher to me as well as a student, my first advisee, it was from him that I learned how to be an advisor.

I shouldn't have had the champagne.

Now it's the night before Detroit and my nose is running again and I am so tired I want to cry. C is coming over for dinner and I have to let him see me like this. I have to let him see me when I'm feeling like I'm in seventh grade again, dorky and uncool, with all the wrong clothes and no one to sit with at lunch.

I want New College to hire me back again and again, and I know that they like me, and that some of the students really like me, but I also know that my syllabi are kind of informal and raggedy, and I only have one book and no Master's Degree. And I barely know what post-Modernism is, although I probably shouldn't admit that in a public blog like this, but I am too tired to care.

Tim said when I got the New College job I should just go around saying deconstructing hetero-normativity whenever I felt insecure about my lack of hip credentials. There is something about academia and how sincere and over-articulated and eager and hyper-sensitive it all is, and how sincere and insecure and eager and needy and bright and beautiful all the students and all the faculty and everyone is that can press all my seventh grade buttons.

I think that's it. I think that's why I feel like crying now.

No wonder I successfully resisted it for twenty years.

I treasure the electricity, and in truth I somewhat envy the students for getting to crawl back inside an intellectual uterus in which to grow new work. I know the courage and tenderness word-shaping requires--(and now I think perhaps I wasn't always the tenderest of critics with student work, expecially because abstraction frustrates me--)

One of my advisees from the first year was there, looking fabulous, and her book--which was her thesis--just got accepted at a small press! I was so happy and excited for her! (Her work was abstract, but I loved it--it was about the Jewish concept of God as an abstraction, the refusal of form--I understood that, and when she left the program last year she wrote a note thanking me.)

(And I remember when I first met her, how freaked she was and so was I, both finding our way around the program and we talked about swimming in our advising sessions, about how important it was to find a regular place to swim.)

This morning I showed C some of the photos from my life--Haiti, working with Haitians, and the time I hitchhiked across country with Maxim. He said I was brave, but I'm not, it's just that the wrong things have always scared me. Outhouses in third world countries and possibly contaminated drinking water and propeller jet prop planes and men carrying guns don't freak me out but school makes me feel like I'm twelve all over again, twelve and gangly and awkward and don't know how to dance and I look stupid holding a cigarette while everyone else smokes (while one of the other adjunct teachers lit up a cigarette and asked me my other paying gigs, and I see while she is way more hip than I am (and taller!) and has a class that is popular with the students with a truly impressive syllabus and has more books published, she is just as lost and terrified and insecure as me. Adjunct faculty do not get health insurance. Adjunct faculty live by their wits.)

Right this moment I am a very tired and emotional twelve year old who has had too much richness to process in this past week and who needs to cook and pack and eat and sleep and maybe weep a little before catching an airplane tomorrow to a strange city where I have never been before to meet a strange woman at the airport, Evelyn from Jewish Ensemble Theatre.

"What do you look like?" she asked.

"I'm tall and I have curly hair and I look like the poster child of an Ashkenazi Jewish woman. What do you look like?"

"I'm short and I look like the poster child for an Ashkenazi Jewish woman. I drive a dark green car but at 10:30 at night you won't be able to see the color. I'll pick you up outside of baggage claim. I'm sure we'll recognize each other."


mermaid said...

I just realized you are literally exposing your soul - that raw, adult-child that regresses when she is too tired or has so many balls pinging and ponging around in her brain.

Sleep, dear Allison. Sleep dear child. I love you for your raw self, and for letting your dear diary let the towel slip for strangers to see (and maybe even learn something).

Alison said...

Ah, Mermaid, how oceanically tender your response is...thank you. I don't even know who you are, but thank you. Love, Alison