Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gratitude: Page 6

(image credit here)


Is there a more perfect food?

If avocados did not exist, eating healthy would be no where near as interesting or tasty.

They're outrageously expensive here ($2+!!), but I buy them anyway, because when I eat a good one, a perfect one, one with no spots, one that's just the right amount of firm and soft, it feels like God invented them because He loves me, personally.

Gratitude: Page 5

I'm a sucker for things hanging from the ceiling. I don't know why. I remember going to an art exhibit at BYU which consisted of hundreds of tiny white paper boats hanging from the ceiling, swaying ever so slightly. I stood and stared and swooned.

When Sam and I were on our honeymoon in DC, we sat in the Calder room at the ... what, Smithsonian? Okay, I can't remember the museum, but there was a room full of Alexander Calder mobiles and we sat on a bench against the back wall, watching for a very long while. They made these gorgeous, moving colored shadows on the tall walls, and I rested my head on Sam's shoulder, and we whispered about how happy we were to be together and how pretty the room was. That has to be one of my favorite memories. Maybe that's part of why I'm so obsessed.

If I had my way (and maybe someday I will), we would have something hanging from every inch of our ceiling. And I would just sit with my head turned up, smiling. All day long. That's what I would do. That would be the life. Do you think someone would pay me for that?

Right now we have one mobile, hanging above our bed. It's this one.

We bought it in London at the Tate gallery. I find it endlessly beautiful. When I wake up in the morning, it's the first thing I see, and I don't have my glasses on so it looks like this fuzzy colorful presence floating above my head. There's a draft in our room, so it's always twirling a little for me. And if I look at it for long enough, everything seems okay.

Gratitude: Page 4

This is harder today. For some reason, days off are so much more depressing than days when I have to work. I hate the working, but it gets me out of the house and I have to smile at my students and pretend like I'm happy teacher lady. I am my best self in front of them.

Ah, there it is.

Teaching. I love teaching. I love that I must be my best self in front of students, and I find it makes me more that way. I call up reserves of patience and energy and enthusiasm from heaven knows where. Probably from heaven, as a matter of fact. There have been plenty of days I didn't have any of my own.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gratitude: Page 3

This pictures seems to capture so many things that are lovely to me. (Did I post it already?)

Open windows. A sunny day. Green green leaves. Gauzy pretty curtains. Framed postcards from Europe trip. Decorative object from Portabello Road. Handsome, contemplative, tail-less kitty. Our first apartment in Boston.

Gratitude: Page 2

I heard yesterday that there are jellyfish larger than blue whales.

Let me say that again.

There are jellyfish larger than blue whales.

I don't know why this delights me so. Driving home from church, hearing it on the radio, I had this feeling like God is really something. How does he come up with this stuff? He makes me, this little human thing that drives a red car and thinks what she has for dinner is important, and He also makes this enormous blobby, beautiful creature that's bigger than I can fathom and lives deep deep in the ocean. So deep I'll never see it. So big that if I did see it, I'd only be seeing one piece of it.

Walking around on campus, I think of the jellyfish's long, ribbony tail. And I am happy.

Gratitude: Page 1

I'm at my least favorite place (ie, work) and I can feel the nausea coming in like the tide. I feel sick almost the entire time I'm here, lately. And often when I'm not.

But oh well. I've done all I can do, and now I just have to ride it out until it's my pleasure to leave. In the meantime, I've decided to focus on pleasant things, happy thoughts, if you will. Teddy bears and buttons and the smell of fabric softener. I'd like to try to do more posts, and shorter ones, maybe even several a day. That's the plan, anyway. It seems a good week to concentrate on all the things that are going well, rather than profound disappointment.

So, part one. Sam. I like Sam, the husband.

Here is reason number 4,763:

Last night I read a few poems at a little church meeting, and Sam agreed to come. Just before we left, I said, carefully, because I was worried he'd be annoyed at having to change, "I don't know what other people will wear, but I think you might be more comfortable not wearing your jeans." Instead of being annoyed, he said, "Okay," and went back to the bedroom.

He came out a few minutes later without his jeans. Or pants of any sort.

He had his boxers on, a pair of tennis shoes, and red socks with festive green Christmas trees. It was really a stunning ensemble. "I'm ready," he said.

The thing is, we've been together for awhile, and you'd think I would have realized that I walked right into that. He couldn't have set it up better himself. But that's precisely what I love about him: his sense of humor never ceases to delight. And really, of all the things I thought I was looking for in a husband, this is perhaps the bonus I didn't plan on. He makes me laugh. Full, complete, surrendering, giggling fits almost once a day, usually more often than that.

What a wonderful thing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Well, Ummmm

After all that thinking last night, I got called for an interview at that big fancy publishing job downtown. This was just hours after I told the chair I wouldn't be back next semester.

Who knows if I'll even get the job, but that story doesn't really sound so bad. Working around the corner from Boston Commons? Come on now ...

Also, I got a poem accepted for publication.

Today is okay by me.

A Snatchable Moment of Clarity

It's late, very late, and Sam's asleep. Every once in awhile I hear him mumble something insistent but incoherent. I should be sleeping or grading papers, but instead I've been popping around on blogs, looking at people who have pretty lives, and imagining what I want mine to be. Here is the blog I just found tonight and have been reading for over an hour: Heart of Light. She buys pretty flowers and bakes pretty things and crafts tiny somethings and sells them in an etsy shop. Everything in her life looks bright and scrubbed into beauty.

I want that.

I've learned stuff this year: about myself and about working and academia and students and cooking and marriage and cleaning and eating and sleep and my body and healthcare and unhappiness and cats and meanies. I didn't want to know everything I learned. I didn't want to know I could fail. I didn't want to know that sometimes people won't like me. I didn't really want to know that getting a tenure-track job is not a holy grail; it's a JOB, a j.o.b. like any other, a sort of intense and consuming one that I'm not sure I want.

But now I know all that. And, if I can manage to think about it right, I'm at this beautiful moment right now where anything's possible, where I get to start over and decide who I am, who I will be next. I've really been imagining this all year, ever since I decided I hated this job. And I've dreamed big dreams. For awhile I was really serious about studying the social habits of elephants in Africa. I imagined a little boy who looks like Sam in a papoose on my back, pointing a chubby finger at the saggy gray beasts while I scribbled observations in a field notebook. That's one dream.

And since I've known this was going to happen, I've been applying to big fancy textbook publishing houses downtown to work as an editor. I've imagined taking the train into the city, wearing a sleek gray suit, reading poetry on the train, meandering over to The Commons to eat my lunch in the sunshine. That was a good dream, too.

But tonight, over dinner, Sam made a compelling case against all that--the fancy job downtown--a case that spoke to my heart. He said I'd probably like that sort of thing, probably be good at it, but I would sacrifice everything I actually wanted for it.

It's funny because my impulse is to think of this as a feminist thing and a little piece of me bristled when he was talking, thinking he was trying to keep me home taking care of babies and cooking his dinner--which is funny because it's so not Sam. How do I explain this? I've always seen myself as a girl who manages both a career and a family. But you know what? If I've learned anything over the last year, it's that I don't want that. We don't have babies; I'm not even close to thinking about getting pregnant, but sometimes when I would rush out the door to teach a class, there would be this little part of me that whispered I wouldn't want to rush out if I had a baby at home. And that's not even about all the rhetoric I know from church: a mother's place is in the home. That's about me, some little whisper in the deepest part of me that said there was another way, one better suited to who I am.

I've been trying to figure out what that way is. Now this is getting long, so I'll try to come to my point, but first another small tangent.

I have this friend in my ward who has two small kids and a delightful husband. The whole crew is delightful. And one of the most delightful things about them is that they seem to have cracked the code: they both work part time, do a ton of interesting, meaningful stuff with their spare time, take exquisite care of their children, and do all of this while managing to live in Cambridge, which has an laughably high cost of living. I have absolutely no idea how they do it, but I think it must have to do with some absurdly efficient budgeting. Which is another thing I've figured out this year: as much as, to me, it feels like freedom to drop big bills on a fancy dinner or a pretty haircut, true freedom (and I can't even explain how expansive and true that word is for me in this case) comes from living within ones means: living on very little and spending very wisely. Anyone who knows me knows I'm an absolutely train wreck at that, but I have a feeling I'm about to learn more about it.

Anyway, all this to say that I'm trying to imagine what my new life should look like, and I think tonight, looking through that blog, some ideas about it solidified. Dear universe, this is what I want my life to be, in no particular order:

1. I want to teach, but I want to teach in a low-pressure situation. I want to sit with students one-on-one or in very small groups and ask them what they think and help them think and write more clearly. (Maybe this means a couple of tutoring jobs?)
2. I want to write. Really, really write. Aggressively. With my whole heart.
3. I want to exercise. I want my body to be strong and lean and healthy. I want that feeling back that I used to get from running. That running feeling. I can't explain it.
4. I want to learn how to make meals at home with relative ease and joy.
5. I don't want to agonize about what I eat and how I feel so much.
6. I want a sweet sweet generous relationship with my husband and my family and with friends.
7. I want to make something with my hands that people will love. (Craft, visual art, collage, photography?)
8. I want to cultivate more faith, to pray more, to find more time for the study of spiritual things and more participation in my religious community.
8. I want to travel, to have a clean house, to wear clothes that define me and make me happy, to have flowers on my kitchen table more often, to spend more time petting my perfect cats.
9. I want to read good books, look at good art, watch good movies, see good plays, hear good music and say nice things.

Is that too much to ask? Is that impossible? I don't know. I know it would have been impossible at this current job, and I would have held onto that job forever if they would have let me, hating it and all. I know it's more possible in Massachusetts, where healthcare is available for (nearly) everyone and there's a market for education-related work. I know it's more possible with Sam, who feels more like my partner all the time, who is patient with me and clear about what our priorities should be, and so very much my best friend.

Okay, time to join him and sleep. May the sound of our combined snoring make an artful chorus. Tomorrow I will officially tell my job I'm hitting the road, and I will commence building this new life. Or at least try.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Bit More Info

Sorry for all the vagueness.

Here's the deal: The job-jerks are almost certainly not reappointing me. There's some strong evidence that this due to religious descrimination, so we're looking into fighting along those lines. (Read: possible lawsuit.) I have no idea what will happen with that or if I'll even carry it through, but for the moment, it's totally unbearable for me to go to work. I try and try, and I love my students so that makes it easier, but I'm not sleeping well and I'm constantly nauseous and I'm afraid to go the faculty lunchroom, etc. It's ugly.

So I've pretty much decided to leave the job in December when the semster ends. Sam and I are both applying for jobs. I'm applying for immediate positions in the area, and Sam's applying for tenure-track stuff all over the country. (I might apply for tenure-track stuff too, whenever I stop dry heaving at the thought of it.) We have no idea where we'll be or what we'll do next, but we'll probably be in Boston until at least next summer sometime.

In one version of the story, we move out further from the city but stay in the area, work adjunct, live on less, get on the groovy MA state health insurance, and write our little hearts out. In that case, the cats get to go outside and catch birds. They dig that part.

Anyway, who knows? The next adventure should be grand. It feels like anything will be better than this dump.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Welcome to Privateland

(sigh of relief)

I have no big secret announcements. I'm just glad for a little space where I don't have to be quite as careful.

I'm probably leaving my job at the semester. Very long story, vague pieces of which you've heard.

Leaving at the semester will be the happy ending to said long story. Sam and I look forward to packing up my books and bringing them home, to safer pastures. I plan on rolling down the car windows and giggling maniacally.

Now I just need to find another way to bring in money. Maybe I'll knit toilet paper hats like my grandma used to make and sell them on etsy. Sort of like this:

(source here)

Hmmmm... Not a bad idea.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Spider Fight Continues

I'm sorry to be so unposty lately. I hope to be back to my usual self before too long.

In the meantime, I have a couple of requests.

This thing with my job has taken an interesting turn, one that is calling for my being a bit more careful. I hope you can help.

Request 1: If you have a link to my blog on your blog (or anywhere), will you make sure that it doesn't list my last name? I'm particularly worried about my married name, as this is what I go by at work. If you could just keep me as Deja, that would be excellent.

Request 2: I hate to do it, because it makes me kind of sad when other people do it, but I need to go private for awhile. Please, PLEASE, leave me a comment if you'd like to still read. Sometimes when people go private I'm too sheepish to ask to be added. Please don't be sheepish. Leave your email address here or shoot me an email as soon as you can. I want to get this privatized in the next few days.

Thanks for your help. Maybe when I'm private I'll feel safe explaining a bit more.