Still Looking

© 2010 David Parker

All day today, I feel like I’ve just been swallowing stress. And I really tried to focus on happier things, but it just wouldn’t stick. Like this morning, after I dropped Ruthie off five minutes late, I did have a chance to appreciate the middle-school boy and his father both walking towards the school with back-packs on or the cross guard who high-fived every little kid who passed him crossing the street to the elementary school. The kids at school today were neat-o as usual for this bunch. They laugh easily and often, but not at each other. They willingly engage in discussions of symbolism and figurative language (two of my favorite things). But every little happy seemed to be accompanied by a burp of stress: the classwork already piled on the edges of my desk, the forgotten lunch, the parent conference that ran until I had to sprint to my car to pick up Ruthie on time. Even right now, Ruthie is singing in her bed, which is so sweet, but I’m a little panicky because it’s 9:00 and she really should be asleep if I’m going to wake her up with any amount of success in the morning. It feels whiney, but I can’t get away from wondering if this is really it. I’m beginning to think it is. And then I start thinking about Julia Child. For some reason, it always comes back to her and the fact that she was in her late forties before she got the acceptance letter for the publication of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a project that was borne of her own boredom in France. And I think, when does the part begin where I really, really love what I’m doing, how I’m doing it, and who I am? When I’m not working for what I’ll have tomorrow, because what I have right now is what I want? The troubling piece of all of this for me is that I’m pretty sure that part begins with me.

It would be remiss if I didn’t mention one bright spot that squelched a hiccup of stress: public poetry. So when I’m not whining about how boring it is to be an adult, I’ll be working toward doing a bit of THIS with myself and my students. Another yawp-errrific idea brought to you by one Emma Bolden, the presiding Queen of the Power of Whatever and Poetry whom I miss terribly and often.

Also, I’ll be writing earlier tomorrow because I think there’s not enough of me left over this late at night to piece together a post. See you in the morning.

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What Work Is

© 2010 David Parker

Two weeks in and writing still feels like work. In facts, it feels worse than work because it’s like wrestling with yourself in words that will haunt you tomorrow with how terribly boring you are. The easy way out is to write about what you did that day or how the weather is, but to write honestly about what you think and feel and see and do is damned hard work. To write requires that you be utterly, terribly, transparently honest with yourself first (a horrifying prospect), and then that you share that truth with other people–sometimes even people you’ve never met. I was talking on the phone with a dear, dear friend about how hard it is to just be honest all the time. I feel like our culture kind of grooms us for dishonesty. Like, if I don’t want to go to a party, I tend to make up some reason why I can’t go rather than just saying that I won’t be able to make it. Blogging has been like that for me in the past as well–I would wait until I had something interesting enough or clever enough or funny enough to write about before i would write anything. The depressing thing is how few and far between my posts became. The strange thing is that I should be sort of “freed” by this newfound honesty. Instead, I’m finding it difficult to find things to write honestly (and interestingly) about. Take, for instance, this post that you’re reading right now. “Well there’s not much there,” you’re thinking to yourself. But what if I told you that this post was finally written in 30 minutes in the fetal position in front of my computer? After three false-starts (about completely different topics), I decided to just focus on the experience of trying to write and what’s at stake. So of course every word feels like agony… I’m writing myself. Here. Right now. And that’s damned hard writing.