Monday, June 18, 2012

Repertoire of Emotion: To the Lightness, Next Stop: Graduate School

To say that I often find myself feeling agitated and down in the dumps might be an understatement. I need a lot of healing in my life. Healing sources. And I welcome them, I go to them, I give myself to them in the fullest as often as I am able. Life, for me, is a ride. A really long, crazy ride. At least I hope it's long (undecided about the crazy part)! Sometimes it feels like my one-of-a-kind Grandmother (call her Mel because that's what I call her) is in the front seat and I am just a powerless rosary-reciting underling in the back. At other times, I start to worry that I am both the underling AND the Grandma Mel-Toad taking my underling self for one wild ride. My restlessness, agitation, despair, dissatisfaction, anxiety and stress come when they come. Then they go when they go. I'll never be rid of them. Fortunately, I also have other qualities (I think they're somewhere in the car of me...). Like contentment, peacefulness, jubilation and pleasure.

The balance in the car has sometimes gone to the dark back-side of me, and at other times to the light. I'm either hurting or in healing. Hurting moments add to hurting, to the great continuum of hurt that it is possible for me to experience. Healing moments add to healing, to the great continuum of healing that is possible for me to experience. And thus you have it - my life of hurting and healing. The balance was tipping into the hurt this morning, BIG time, and I felt I was just barely hanging on. Then, around lunch time, I sat down by the computer and saw that I had an email message. It was from the director of graduate studies in English at WIU, and she wrote to let me know that I have been accepted into the program and that I am being offered a full teaching assistantship for the 2012-2013 year (this means: a monthly stipend of $1060.00 -for eight months- and a tuition waiver). I read both messages, the one about my acceptance and the one about the T.A., aloud. Then I jumped up and down slightly, in a demented fashion. One moment earlier I was twisted up with self-judgment and self-criticism, the next: total shock and -dare I say- happiness. My whole body, including my face, was kind of reminiscent of a person who is paralyzed throughout half of their body. When they smile, only half of their lips rise so that no matter how happy they are they always look sad at the same time.

So yes, I jumped up and down, pathetically (because I was tired out from all of my hurting and elated and relieved at the same time), and said, "Yay" three times. Slowly, with a distressed smile and wavering tone of voice. "YaaaAy." "YaaAaay." "YAaaay." I think my face looked sad but more than anything I was feeling relief and gratitude. The load was lifted, for a moment. Gratitude sent it to the ether. Gratitude is one source of healing - when I experience gratitude, I feel a lightness and ease come over my body. As for relief, that also feels like a heavy load has been lifted. I think those might be two of maybe four or five of the best feelings in my repertoire of emotion. After I jumped and awkwardly hugged Sandy, while saying my "yays" of relief, another wave of emotion came over me. I sat down at the table to read through the email, and I just cried. It was like the universe just threw me a bone. Something to spend my day chewing on. Something to live for. I know that sounds dark and overdramatic, but I'll be the first to admit that I struggle with life. When something I hope for actually comes through, it's overwhelming to me.

I guess part of me, maybe subconsciously, just assumed that this (Grad School), too, was just going to be another thing that would fall through...another rejection, another failure, another hope dashed. When it wasn't, all I could feel was relief and gratitude. I also have been placing a lot of hope into the grad school pot. Grad school is like a lifeline to me. There are a lot of things in my life that I wish could be different or that I wish I could do differently. There are a lot of things about myself that I regret, wish were different, feel guilty about, struggle with, etc. I am trying to do whatever I can now to make my life better, instead of just being swallowed up by my own helplessness and misery. Grad school is my opportunity, my ticket to something - to an unknown, to a change in direction. Also, I have been wanting to realize some more of my independence more than ever. Being a stay at home mom has affected my perspective on practically everything - gender roles, relationship roles, heteronormativity and its effects on homosexual couples, everything. I have been more aware than ever of how much my upbringing, being extremely dependent on others and also very privileged, has affected where I am and how I am today. I want to go beyond myself, beyond my status quo.

I want to go higher and live a better life. I KNOW, and you cannot convince me otherwise, that my daughters will benefit from me at least TRYING to make my life better. I realize how often they see me frustrated, stressed and miserable. It's okay for them to see me like that, that's a significant part of how I am at this juncture in time. I also want them to know that there is more to me than that. I want them to know other parts of me - confident, passionate, calm, happy and fulfilled parts of me. I know that going to graduate school is good for me, good for them, and good for those around me. I cannot change any decision I have made in the past, I can only do my best to make my life work from here. And so, when I read the news, I cried. I didn't sob, I just read silently and let the tears fall. Tears falling is so much more relieving than all of my self-protectors building inside - guilt, anger, frustration, and so on. I am on my way. To where I don't know. But to somewhere, to something. That's hope. Feeling a sense of possibility and flexibility for the future.

Logistically speaking, I have a lot to do now. I have the rest of June and July to get my act together. It's gonna get crazy in a flash, I predict. I am waiting to hear back about the egg donation thing. Apparently the couple isn't sure about proceeding because they did not realize I live so far way (read: in the middle of nowhere) and they aren't sure they want to pay the extra fees to have things done in a city near me (read: Springfield). I have been dealing with a complicated case of writer's block in regard to my book, and the plan was to finish it this summer. Not sure what will happen on that frontier. I am supposed to visit Buffalo in July for my ten-year high school reunion, which was planned to take place at Salvatore's (I know, talk about your stereotype fulfillment - but we have a class member whose father owns it), but now they are thinking of canceling it due to low enrollment. I wonder if I was the only one who enrolled. Just kidding. There were about twenty of us. I'd still be happy to see one or two familiar faces from my glory days...yeah. Oh well. Guess no one else had the great time I had. That aside, I need to start reading and planning to teach in the Fall. That's not mentioning the kid-related events and everyday kid-care going on. That's also not mentioning poetry. Though I would love it, I am not in a Creative Writing program. Western got rid of their CW program a short while back. That's that. I might have to abandon my poetic ship entirely for a while. This saddens me, but I always return to the ones I love. I'm not one to get lost at sea permanently, I'm always on alert for lit ports.

Do forgive me if I suddenly become distant and neglectful. I will be taking a crash course in August, and I'm positive I cannot prepare or be ready for it. My days will consist of taking graduate courses, teaching English 180: College Composition 1, holding office hours, working ten hours a week as a consultant in the writing center, visiting my kids at the campus preschool room whenever I can, spending three hours of quality time a day with my McFaddens (5-8), and completing reading and writing assignments for classes (8-?). I anticipate that when I am not in my graduate cubicle or teaching that I will be working my ass off at the library. No, this won't be like my first semester at Hampshire College, when I spent half of my time doing school work, a quarter of my time worrying and another quarter escaping in music. Nope, it's gonna be me using every second of the day possible to get work done. Procrastination is a thing of the past (dear God, I hope) because it has to be. I won't have time to think. Just do, do, do. And can I tell you how much I am looking forward to that? Thank Universe!

I will be teaching in a computer lab, so I guess I'll have to be creative about the personal component. I'm excited that I get to choose a theme for the material we read. Gender and sexuality, anyone? Oh you bet I am plotting right now...heh, heh, heh. I will teach those mortals how to write AND how to re-conceive some of their ideas about gender. I may not be able to immortalize them or transform them, but I -will- ruffle their feathers and dishevel them. I will have to ask, on my first day of training, if we are allowed to listen to Philip Glass during writing periods. Yes, brainwash them using hypnotism into forming positive associations with writing! The English Department shares Simpkins Hall with a theater, right? I don't think this should be too much of a problem. At least I won't have to worry about...projection...

Wish me well, wish me luck. Or, better yet, wish them well, wish them luck...

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