I have been trying to write a grad school application essay about my development as a writer for weeks now. I realized this morning I've been writing the same paragraph about a long-distance conversation I started with my father when I was 9 over and over and over again for weeks. I've written it in present tense, in past tense, as a story, as an autobiography, as a poem (that's the best version). I've written about the cassette recorder my mother would get out once a month that year our dad was stationed in Korea, how the four of us kids dreaded and looked forward to the tapes we would send our father, have written about the letters I wrote him, the postcards he sent back, about my mother's arthritis flare up (though I spelled "flare" as "flair" and when I realized that I'm an ass who wasn't paying attention, I kind of freaked myself out. God. What a self-absorbed, self-conscious ass).
I've pulled out the bad essay I wrote in 1998 when I applied to Ohio State University's MFA program, read through it, nodded to myself and said, "Wow. No wonder they didn't accept me!" And then I've reread that essay and said, "Thank God they didn't accept me. That was the year Daddy was dying."
A good friend tells me that my inability to write the essay may be a sign that I don't want to go to grad school.
I think it's a sign that I want it too badly (I am hearing Smeogol's voice again - "We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!" And for some reason, the tricksy hobbits are part of that desire to return to school. Yes, yes, it's possible I'm rather nuts).
I may hold myself accountable to myself and give myself a Monday absolute final deadline for the first essay. If I finish it, I'll continue the application process; if I don't, I'll let it go until 2013 when my daughter is about to graduate from high school. The actual deadlines for the schools I've chosen are flexible, so I'm not out of time yet.
Poor Goddard. I keep sending you my transcripts over and over again, huh?
This past week, Ohio sophomores took the OGTs, Ohio Graduation Tests. It was a brutal week. Every morning, the kids sat down for two and a half hours of testing in each of the five core subjects: reading, math, writing, science, social studies. By yesterday afternoon, every 10th-grader in the state was so wrung out you could feel the universal exhaustion in the asphalt on the roads between wherever you were and the high schools. After the proctors gathered the last test booklets, the teachers stopped taking attendance, and most of the high school kids fled the campus.
My own Girl and two of her best friends drove to a nearby town for a celebratory lunch, returned in the afternoon (but she kind of didn't bother telling me she was back in town), ended up at another friend's house where they hung out in his basement for hours watching movies. At about 10 p.m., she finally came home but brought two of her friends with her (with permission).
They didn't stay awake all night like they usually do. In fact, I think the three of them fell asleep before 1 a.m.
My Girl was really supposed to go to her dad's this past Monday, but that shift was going to add to the stress of the week, so she's going to him Monday, March 21.
He misses her.
I've been quiet, which I think makes him miss her more,
but what do I know about what he misses?
Even after 23 years of knowing him,
I don't know him.
I've been writing myself letters:
I'm sorry today was such a bust. I'm sorry you feel like you're wasting your life. I'm sorry you don't know how to proceed or end things that need ending from essays to band booster minutes to novels to your marriage. Please don't give up. Please move forward. You're an excellent woman. You deserve more than you're giving yourself.
Give yourself work.
Give yourself an education.
Give yourself creative moments that make you feel that you're giving something to the world.
I want you to stop worrying about the future so much because not only are you worrying about your future and your Girl's future, you're also worrying about the future of the Earth. Quakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns, war, revolution, dictators killing their own people, Gov. Kasich, angry conservatives, angry liberals, your yellow grass....
You can be aware of these things and pray about these things, but I want you to stop worrying. Let it all go. Allow yourself to focus. Worry is an indulgence you can't afford any more.
My daughter is upstairs singing My Chemical Romance's "Teenagers Scare the Living Shit out of Me." The girls are not going to Winter Percussion this morning. I'm guessing a lot of the kids will have chosen to sleep in or at least relax this morning.
They have mostly spilled down the stairs, floated back up the stairs. Doughnut run in their future. I am drinking my second cup of coffee and thinking about toast. This post fizzles out as all of my posts seem to do.
That's all right.