Saturday, February 15, 2014

Weeks When the Universe Reminds You of Who You Are

This has been a tough week for mostly less-than-bloggable reasons.  In case your heart stops in your chest when you read those words, let me say that at the end of the week, I'm still employed and almost everyone I love is still alive and all of my belongings that I want to keep are still with me and as far as I know, all my friends are still my friends.

In short, it could have been a far worse week.

But it's been moving week at work, and it was only announced as moving week on Monday.  So my ideal moving process suddenly got extremely compressed.

Once I determined that we would still have access to our old offices after the move, I decided to focus on getting the big, heavy stuff ready.  I packed boxes of books and got all the files into the file cabinet that was moved.  I emptied the bookcase that I wanted taken over to the new office across the street.

And Thursday, the moving guys showed up (not as burly as I expected, and without basic equipment like a 2 wheel cart) and got everything moved.  The bookcase fits just as I measured and expected it to do.  There's not a lot of room between the desk and the bookcase, but I'd rather have books than room to twirl around.  There's not a lot of space in my new office anyway.

I unloaded all my poetry books and the undergrad/grad school books I'm keeping.  Seeing them on my shelves makes me so happy.  It's always been my approach to moving:  unload the old friends first.  Ah, books, the fastest friends!

Yesterday, as I sorted some of the office stuff left behind, I found an old legal pad from back in 2009, when I thought I'd try to write poems at work.  There's some good stuff in there!  Maybe I should go back to that, writing poems at work.

Moving week meant that I spent many extra hours at work before Friday, so I headed home early Friday afternoon.  Because it was a gorgeous afternoon, we had burgers and wine by the pool, after we took the car to the shop.  My spouse is sick, so he slept on the sofa while I worked on the laptop.

My Amazon order came in the late afternoon:  2 poetry books!  I'm looking forward to spending time with Kelli Russell Agodon's Hourglass Museum and Susan Rich's Cloud Pharmacy.  And yes, I feel some guilt about not ordering directly from the poets or from the publisher, but I had Amazon points and no cash, and so, I commit to buying an additional copy of each at some later point--hopefully, at a poetry reading!

When my spouse woke up, we decided to walk to the beach to watch the moon rise.  We shared a beer and a pretzel at the organic brewery on the beach as the full moon emerged from the clouds on the horizon.  It was a simple, cheap way to celebrate Valentine's Day, but I loved it.

As I think about the week in review, I think about how many reminders I've had that I'm a poet and a Brit Lit person and a Lutheran monastic--all those things first and foremost before the other identities the world would want to foist upon me (and for the sake of brevity, I'm leaving aside identities as wife, friend, daughter, sister).  I had a conversation with a woman who was trying to place the origin for the idea of the willing suspension of disbelief; her MFA professors had no idea.  I immediately knew:  "It's Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  I'd loan you the book, but it's in a box right now."

As people got more and more stressed, I tried to be my best hospice chaplain self.  I listened to their grief as I prayed silently for them.  And when I needed renewal, I slipped away to the stairwells where a solitary person can sing.  The notes vibrate off the concrete and rise far above my head.  I sang the lines I learned at Mepkin Abbey:  "Oh God, come to my assistance; Lord, make haste to help me."  I sang the first verse of "Oh come, oh come Emmanuel."  My spirits immediately lifted, along with the notes.  I love the way it sounds like I'm singing in a cathedral when I sing in the stairwells.

Most of all, I kept bumping into reminders that I'm a poet, and that the poet identity is important to me.  I wrote a poem and worked on the revised manuscript.  I rejoiced in the fact that so many publishers are still putting out books of poems.  I took solace in the older volumes.  I continued to hold onto my vision of my book with a spine making its way in the world.

Could it happen by this time next year?  Probably not a book on paper, but maybe an acceptance.  That would be a dream come true.


Kathleen said...

Wishing you well as you handle the move and all these thoughts and activities.

Stacy said...

" I tried to be my best hospice chaplain self. I listened to their grief as I prayed silently for them. "

This line made me cry :)

Maureen said...

I also received my copies of Kelli's and Susan's book. Started Kelli's last night and am loving it.

Good luck with the remainder of the move.

Kristin said...

Thank you for your good wishes. And Stacy, thank you for letting me know that my writing affected you that way!