A month and a half ago I was fretting over my thesis, wondering not if I’d get it done on time, as it was already completed, but if I could pinch and twist it to perfection in the time I had remaining. I couldn’t of course; there is no perfection. But I did manage to get it into a condition I, with all my myriad OCD tendencies and accompanying anxieties, could submit without vomiting. Or at least one I could manage not to put my head in the oven over. (I know, suicide is not funny. It’s not a joke and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Having more than once fought the temptation to become one with natural gas, however, I feel I have the right to employ it, at least metaphorically speaking.)
After four months of frenzied research, weeks’ long writing binges followed by even longer editing purges, and countless refusals to go to dinner, take a walk, meet for coffee, or even on occasion to bathe, I took one last breath and clicked send. It was done, two years’ culmination of studies out of my hands and into those of my reader. (A shout here to the inestimable Lisa Birman, writer, instructor and reader extraordinaire! Look her up here: http://lisabirman.org/)
Along with an overwhelming sense of relief and even, briefly, something approaching pride, I was overcome by… inertia. Not physical inertia, it was the holidays after all and my daughter was coming home, and there were cards to make, presents to send, facebook statuses to post and check, but emotional, no SPIRITUAL, inertia. The kind that reaches in, grabs you by the liver and squeezes so tight you immediately resign yourself to not ever being able to think walk breathe straight again. Much less actually find the stamina or excitement or faith to produce another coherent word, written or otherwise. Because, more than anything, what I felt had come to an end was not my graduate school career, but my brief, shining moment of inclusion. That magical time period when I had gone to sleep connected to words and writers, woken up connected to words and writers and thought about words and writers nearly every moment in between. How, I wondered, would I ever be able to recapture the absolute joy that was my two years at Naropa?
With that question, I went about life in December—spending time with my daughter (home from London for a month, Wo-HOO!), reading some of the books I had put on hold since 2010, turning another year older, celebrating my anniversary, travelling to Maryland, Florida and Costa Rica. Then Lauren left to go back to England, my husband returned to work and I realized, sonsofbitches!, I was on my own. No classes or classmates for inspiration, no deadlines for structure, no reading lists or essays or poems coming to me via the university portal.
Fortunately, I was somewhat prepared. Otherwise, it would have been back to the oven.