This summer I have been dealing with fragments. Wisps.
The intentions, June 1, were lined up and plotted. Take a summer school class outside my department to fulfill an elective, then write the rest of the summer. Write, so that I would submit in the Fall.
What happened: I took the summer school class, then needed to recuperate from it til the end of July. It turns out that taking a truncated course outside your department is complex, rigorous, and a trip to Funland (if Funland was designed by George Romero). It made for a terse student evaluation and my eternal gratitude for a fellow classmate. (Jack, if you ever find this blog, thank you.)
After the class, the ok grade sigh of relief, I retired to my backyard with pen and paper. They sat on the glass topped patio table. I floated in the pool. (Pool-in-a-box, assembled by me and my family after it was dumped off the back of a truck and carted to the backyard.) I cleaned the pool. I skimmed debris; flotsam and jetsam of privacy-fenced suburbia. I aerobicized in a circle, a polka-like inner orbit. There was tanning that occurred.
Fragments of lines happened. But often not. You can’t float notebooks or put waterwings on a pen. Electronics? Double no-no. I would try to write in my head. I attempted to memorize sentences. I tried to latch on to to those fragments as I scooped out leaves and scrubbed algae from sides that wibbled like firmer gelatin, stretched vinyl hide.
I listened to the life of birds; watched hawks lilt and torpedo the air. Cardinals visited, went on couples dates on the low hanging branches of crepe myrtle cafes. Once, I saw a pair hummingbirds chase a starling out of the neighbor’s ill-kept bushes that draped across the fence.
Seeping into the humid highs that August perennially signifies, ragged suspicions: my orbit was circling the drain. My summer intentions were a smattering of tattery tissue sucked out to sea.
“It takes a certain amount of humility in order to be taught.” a mostly verbatim quote from a teacher I respect. The meaning that I construe from this quote is that the student understands that they don’t know everything and is willing to take in new things or things at odds with what they have always thought were right. So….long pause…sigh…(squirm) I don’t know things. I am learning new things. My writing is getting better. But I don’t know as much as the student sitting next to me. How do I remain honest to the humility concept and yet cope with the desire to compare myself to that student, who may or may not subscribe to the humility?
This has been a rough week. Projects due, papers to write, a job, a family- all mine to juggle. It’s no wonder that feelings of irrelevance, invisibility and envy creep in. But what do you do with those nasty squids that tentacle your thoughts and make you go dark places, cold places?
Addendum: An article appeared, as if by magic, from the highly regarded Dr. Stephanie Vanderslice: http://www.careercontessa.com/advice/get-over-impostor-syndrome/ Check it out! She shared some wee bits of advice with this forlorn first year grad student. I am thankful to have mentors. Hug your mentors, if appropriate. Otherwise, let your humility smile on and say thank you.
I’ve been wracking my brain as to what this blog is about. It is not about food or more specifically, it is not about soup. (Despite the name.) I’ve even struggled with whether or not to use my real name. I thought Morgan L. Jimothy sounded more alluring, more masculine. But what if I wanted to name a new pet that? So I went with what I was born with, Liz Larson. At least it is honest-to-goodness true and the alliteration tarts it up a bit.
So what is this blog about? Writing, creativity, story telling, a little art, a smidge of photography, and a whole lot of trial and error.
I’ve learned how much I don’t know this past year in graduate school. I’ve gained the acquaintanceship of some pretty incredible people that I am supposed to refer to as “cohort.” They are truly the ones who give me confidence to attempt things I am uncomfortable with and tell me that it still will all be alright. We are supposed to make mistakes. My intrepid poetry professor, Sandy Longhorn, says that to me all the time. (Hey, you try to manifest a sestina or a ghazal.)
So here I go, warts and all into the breach!