I’m a Magpie
The Hits Just Keep On Coming
So, I get these moods. Sometimes, even though the sun is shining, birds are chirping, and small puppies frolic in the park, I’ll start to feel a case of the ol’ ennui. And even though everything is going swimmingly, even though spring is here, and Herr Brian is all a girl could want, and I’m in a program that satisfies my every creative desire, I crash.
I’ll sit on the couch, sinking lower and lower into despair until there’s nothing left of me save a tuft of hair poking out from underneath the beige cushions. And poor Brian, who’s trying to work, gets interrupted every five minutes: “I’m sorry I’m like this. You shouldn’t see this.” and a minute later, “”Do you love me?”
I tell you, the man’s a saint. An atheist, but a saint.
Anyway, I’ve been like this all week. And then there was class this weekend:
Morning class: I’m more subdued than normal, and when I do speak I stutter, and then giggle. I hate myself for seeming weak. The instructor announces a new structure for discussions, wherein we raise our hands and wait to be called on instead of just speaking up. I can’t help but feel that this is an inderect rebuke to my normally effusive classs presence.
Afternoon class: Four times, I start to speak, only to be cut off mid sentence. Twice, I am cut off mid-sentence by a prospective student. No one else seems to notice or care, particularly the instructor, who I thought liked me.
After school: I stand talking to my fellow students. J, an older man with a sort of rough and tumble sense of humor, asks “where’s Brian?” in a way that makes the woman next to him hit his arm and giggle. I’m self-conscious about being the only one who’s boyfreidn meets her at school. Do other people think that’s weird? J gives me a ride home, along with two other girls. Getting out of the car, I trip and almost fall. I’m the only one who laughs.
Morning, before school: I’m running late. The toilet clogs and must be delt with. I have no clean laundry, and end up wearing a shirt that is low cut and has a tendancy to ride up at the belly. I spend the whole day intermittently pulling the collar up and the bottom down.
Morning class: I arrive ten minutes late, at the tail end of an in-class writing exercise. It looks interesting, but I don’t get a chance to find out exactly what it was. During class, I work hard to make constructive comments about other’s writing that I didn’t particuarly enjoy, but that doesn’t seem to be garnering much response. When we discuss a piece I really loved, my comments seem redundant and I have trouble articulating my thoughts.
During class break, I go outside and stand in the sun. No one esle from my class is around, except for A, a tough-seeming, pretty girl from the midwest who is sitting on the curb smoking a cigarette. I think about sharing with her my discomfort with my overly-revealing shirt, but go inside instead.
When it comes time to discuss my piece, comments are generally favorable. David, an older man who’s work I enjoy, ways “Nora really has what I think makes a good writer: whe can write a good sentence.” I am genuinely touched.
After class, I get back people’s written responses to my piece, a work of fiction that combines first-person narrative and fragments of the protagonist’s academic work. The crit from A reads as follows:
– Don’t give a fuck
then, on an interior page of the story:
It’s been done – interpret something new – something folks give a fuck-in-the-hole-of a running donut ABOUT.
I go to lunch, and manage to giggle over beer and sushi with some of my classmates. We discuss (humerously) the feasability of ordering ritalin over the internet using scholarship funds.
Afternoon class: Memoir and Testimony. during the in-class writing exercises, I can hardly get myself to write. My voice seems false. Sentences don’t come. Tears are pricking at my eyes. I want to go home and go to bed, but doubt my energy could even take me that far.
Did the commenter get that the piece was a work of fiction? Is my voice too obscure? Surreptitiously, I flip through the other comments, but all I see are negatives: beautiful writing, but…, the narrative sections aren’t as vivid as the other bits…, Very few love notes this time. As usual, however, I’m impressed…
I feel something akin to suicidal. I want to remove myself from the picture. Deperately, I want to be gone.
Class ends. I see Brian, Chris and Ruben across the street. Chris is anxious to make dinner, which means he’s anxious to plan a dinner that I’ll end up cooking. They ask about class. I change the subject.
Home: I’m grouchy and unreasonable. I keep going to the bedroom to cry. Chris makes steak, I make salad. Everyone seems a bit nervous. I’m acting like the crazy head of a disfunctional family.
Oof. Anyway. Today, Tuesday, I’m meeting with my instructor to discuss my piece and the crits. I feel a bit silly, like I’ve been up all night staring in horror at a hooded figure lurking by the closet door, only to realize with the creeping dawn that I’ve been on guard against my own bathrobe.
I mean, all told, its not that bad, is it?
I'm a librarian. Special skills include dog charming, brochure writing, slapdash cooking and long-winded nattering. I also enjoy watching the sunset's reflection in the tall buildings downtown.
For a while there, I taught classes on Classical literature, philosophy, and the history of religion at New College of California. I have an MA and an MFA in Writing, and live on a boat in Sausalito, CA.