Friday, June 15, 2007

Last night my grrlz, Ellen and Beth, came over, and I made a big salad and we just hung out and toasted all the changes. New moon. What do you want to plant now?

As usual, I'm plan-challenged. This is what comes of being an improvisor. I got a taste of what it is like to relate to me when I flew to Detroit to meet Evelyn orbach. She was very breezy and relaxed about all the logistics of meeting up, didn't go into much detail, and seemed confident that everything would just work out. I was anxious because I'd never been to detroit before and didn't know her from a hole in the wall. Of course everything worked out.

So now I have to plan my return date from Malawi. And learn how to plan lessons weeks ahead of time and plan financially, and plan C's move in here--we're starting to think about it a year ahead of time, so that's good. Planning, my challenge. I got clinically depressed in high school because I couldn't plan my future--deferred going to college for a year because I didn't know what I wanted to major in, didn't declare a major until the last possible moment (I think it was senior year.)

I've had dreams, yes, but dreams are different than plans. Plans are methodical. Plans involve dates, applications, knowing what's in your bank account, what you can afford. Plans are work in the material world. The one education course I took in college was also, not coincidentally, the one class I ended up taking an incomplete in. The reason? Lesson plans. I could not for the life of me imagine how I would know a full month ahead of time what I would teach on any particular day.

I've got a friend who said she had "more five-year plans than the Kremlin." (This was back in the day when the Kremlin was still the Kremlin.) She followed her plans through law school at a prestigious university, a good career, etc. and found herself miserable. I have had less five-year plans than Peter Pan. I have no idea how I got to be almost fifty, a homeowner, or a writer with an actual career.

Now, in this new relationship, which actually has a future, I need to step up to the plate and plan. Moving-in, physical space, financial responsibilities, work, retirement, vacations, all that. And if I want to teach another class again at New College--which I do--or at another college--I need to be able to plan a syllabus, to break it down by class meeting, what we'll cover and when.

Planning gives a certain kind of power--or at least the illusion of it. Is that why I have a block against doing it? Am I afraid of that power? I'm afraid of not feeling like doing whatever it is I've planned to do when the time rolls around. Afraid of locking myself into something unpleasant. Afraid to just sit down and think methodically about these huge things--it's easier to focus all my energies on getting a poem right, or doing a Sudoku puzzle.

Instead of plans I've had obsessions. I was obsessed with finishing the play. I'm obsessed with getting my second book of poems published, and with the new poems that are beginning to emrge as a possible third book (new love poems!) I've been sitting here in front of this laptop for what feels like two weeks, first with the play and now the new poems tap tap tapping away and ignoring the necessity of calling the travel agent to choose the Malawi return date. Good work has come of it, but it's also, let's face it, denial.

So, now it's 11:20 a.m. already and I've successfully procrastinated calling the travel agent all morning. Now I've got to go to the eye doctor, and then to Carla's house to help her move into a new apartment. Way to go, Ali! Good procrastinating! One thing I did plan: hot tub tonight with C. I actually called and made a reservation. And a tennis game before that with G. Proving that priorities are priorities.

1 comment:

Vicky said...

Alison, I have finally finished work for the summer (yippee) and one of the first things I have done on the computer is to check out your blog. What riches! Love reading about your love and your trip and your work and your thoughts about planning (at which I should be better myself). The Adrienne Rich poems are quite beautiful.

I have just read the last few entries, but will plunge farther back now. How nice to have the time, and what a treat to peek into your ever-changing world.

Love, Vicky