O, February

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Oh, February: temperatures fluctuating up, down, as much as 40 degrees, Chicago either altogether devoid of snow or receiving light dustings that quickly melt or morph into slushy rain, and days of anemic grey light, barely enough to partially illuminate translucent abaca in the middle of the afternoon. I feel like celebrating every time there is, like today, a few wee moments of sunlight.  Indoors, there is a closet now, a proper little room complete with new flooring and baseboards, custom shelving already in use. The physical work did indeed release some words: I’ve been moving between construction and writing and a few days off here and there, for real-time with friends, a gift day at my local salon from Himself, and a guest talk in a friend’s writing class.

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I’d thought it was a grad class and quick-prepped accordingly; it turned out to be a required freshman undergrad course. Those carefully blank, but easily readable deer-in-the-headlights faces were utterly familiar to me from similar undergrad courses I taught way back when. I admire my friend and all her colleagues immensely for their relentless efforts, each and every semester, to draw new groups of new students out into the beginnings of adult discourse.

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Having spewed out the other side, I see academe now as a raucous, rushing stream flowing through a bed of rocks, eventually pushing boulders aside, but creating new blockages in the process. Students, the unchanging water supply: a bit more or less, a bit varied in temperature from year to year, season to season, but elemental, constant, in motion. Faculty, staff, administrators: fish, waterbugs or clinging plants tossed by currents, the food chain utterly dependent on the water. I can go back, dip in my toe, and it’s the same as it always was. It never benefits from its plethora of manmade dams and never learns that it doesn’t;  it needs a huge sweeping flood to clear it out and alter its path, but actual changes occur as slowly as in all the rivers I’ve known: an imperceptible inching, this way and that.

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I’ve moved on into a sea, maybe a great lake, one that occasionally, randomly churns up forgotten bits from within its depths. A small action like building a closet can bring unexpected results. This old steamer trunk has been with me since I was in my twenties; loosely lined with fabric, it’s been a renter’s portable closet. Emptied, it re-revealed stone lithographs, added when I decided not to edition the book I’d made them for. They made me smile: we all carry baggage. It’s pleasing and amusing that some of mine contains buried goddesses.

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This weekend and Monday:  the final editing and sendoff of all the current text-based projects, and then, and then, and then: back to the studios!

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5 thoughts on “O, February

  1. That is one seriously awesome trunk. I had one like that accompany me on many early journeys, and when I finally returned here in 1997, self-destructed like Jake and Elwood’s car when in pulls up in front of the Cook County office downtown. I took that as the sign that I was going to quit moving around to different cities….

    • I was originally planning to jettison the trunk (not without misgivings after having it with me all these years), but now I’m re-thinking. I’ve certainly got lots of paper I can add to the lining…

  2. i love how you picture academia, and must say it even rings true of the lower levels. sigh. if we start calling administrators boulders will it fly? on the practical side, the steamer trunk would tickle and sustain a new owner and put a few bucks in your pocket. that’s how i got mine…third hand or so–

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