I start out almost every post with a mention that it’s been a long time since I last posted anything. Why should this one be any different? As I am about to enter my 27th year in the classroom, I realize that calendar years mean nothing to me. August (or sometimes September) is my new year, my new start, my time to make resolutions. Even my daily planner is a school-year one, and I’m on the lookout for the perfect one for 2015-16. Such decisions are not made lightly. 2014-2015 has been a roughish year, as transformational years always are, and that daily planner is one I’m ready to put in a box in the attic. We lost my dad this spring, which was just one of a few significant though not entirely unexpected disappointments. But if you know me, you know I don’t stay down for long, and there have been some amazing things to keep me going, most of which you’ve read about (or can read about) here.
The Associated Writers’ Program Conference of my last post has been a highlight, mainly because I got to spend time with my graduate school compatriots from the Sierra Nevada College MFA Program. I met these people a year ago August, and I’ve only spent a little time with them over the year since then, yet they have become my lifeline, my tribe, my best readers, and my favorite writers. This week, I head out to meet up with them again, for another 10-day residency in Lake Tahoe. I’m thrilled to be working with Gailmarie Pahmeier as our workshop leader, and heartbroken that I can’t be in both her group and the one led by the amazing and transformational (and newly-minted Poet Laureate of Fresno, California) Lee Herrick. Alas, as Frost taught us, we cannot travel two paths and be one traveler. This residency will also start a much-anticipated semester with Patricia Smith as my mentor, and I feel like The Golden Child for having the opportunity.
I will head to Tahoe by way of Seattle, where my classmate, roommate and dear friend Suzanne and I will start our road trip, camping our way through Washington, Oregon (maybe California?) and Nevada to get to the residency that starts with the new month. I don’t know if I’m Thelma, or Louise, but there will be no slow motion swan dives. Brad Pitt…maybe.
This trip is a portal, as all trips are. I will start it as one person and end it as another, just as I started this sentence as one person, and end it as another. Change is the thing, always. Best to embrace it.
One way of doing that is to set intentions and watch for the opportunities to move closer to what you want. Twenty years ago, I wanted to write more poetry and have someone besides my mom read it. That has happened. Fifteen years ago, I wanted a chance to learn from some of the poets I’ve admired. That has happened and is happening. Ten years ago, I wanted to have a book published and maybe have some people like it. That has happened. Five years ago, I wanted to get an MFA from a school with top-notch teachers, though it seemed utterly impossible. That is happening. Time for some new intentions.
What I want now is to have the courage to go where the writing takes me, and maybe, sometime, to become a writer who occasionally teaches, instead of a teacher who occasionally writes.
There you go, Universe. Go wild.