fear · fortitude · poetry · responsibility · school

Make It Work

True to the mixed bag that life is, yesterday was a mixed
day. I’m insanely grateful that I wrote my confirmation of the goodness of the
Universe blog before I checked my email
yesterday morning. Because in that email was one from Thursday from my thesis advisor
which stated that my blog cannot be my thesis – that it is being rejected. …
And further that she strongly recommends, “no, let me put it more firmly,” she
writes, that I must go “thesis in progress.”
TIP means that I pay about $500 for the luxury of not having
to turn something in this semester. It means that I pause the thesis process
and am able to work on it and deliver something and meet with her still over
the course of the next year. It also means that I cannot “walk” for graduation
in May.
I write her back that this is my reluctancy to do this. And
that for the love of G-d, I want to be “done” when I am done. But I don’t tell
her that this time; I’d already done so in our previous … terse email exchange
before I handed in my blog in a “well, I don’t have anything better to give”
moment.
She says back that, okay, bring all the poetry I’ve got when
we meet on Tuesday, and we’ll try to make something work, “no promises.” Cobble
something together out of poetry and prose, and to clear my slate for the next
month to do a lot of revision, and who knows, she says, “you may just like it.”
Sniff. Ahem. It’s not
that I don’t like writing, or haven’t enjoyed writing poetry in the past. But, she asked me, I just don’t get
it, didn’t you come here to write a book? And
this is where she and I are on very different pages. What
I have to inform her, I don’t know if I do. But, no, lady, I did
not come to school to write a book. I have no
aspirations to be published. I believe there is a rich landscape of poets whom
I consider awful to not my style but have much merit to striking and inspiring. Do I really feel the overwhelming
need to put my voice in with them? As a book? In that limited particular, stick
on a shelf in some dusty graduate school library and possibly a few books
stores with shelves already lined with a million books in an underlit poetry corner?
No. I don’t have an overwhelming need to do that.
Do I believe in my voice? Yes. That’s what I’m doing here,
in this blog. With my community, and in other creative manners. Do I believe that
even if there are a million other people
on the shelf that I have as much a right as any of them to add my voice? Of
course. But that doesn’t mean I want to. Not now. Not in this way.
But, I’ve now recognized the pattern I have with her, which
is her as the little man in The Wizard of Oz in the circlular porthole
of the gigantic green Emerald City door saying “No way No how, nobody gets in
to see the wizard.” And we exchange a few emails, and then she says, Well,
we’ll see what we can do.
In the time between No Way No How, and We’ll See What We
Can Do, I am thrust into a dither of indignation, righteousness,
misunderstoodness, and despair. And then, on the other side, I am back to feet on the
ground, Okay, cool, we’ll see what we can do, hope, things can and will work
out – they always do, and I have faith that by doing some work it will.
That, dearests, is not her fault or her problem. That I get thrown WAAAAY overboard into a tizzy is not her
fault. And now, especially that I see the pattern, I am more prepared for it,
and more able to do what I’ve heard other people say, which is “to wear the world as a
loose garment.”
The reality is, yes, my family has plans to come out to see
me walk for graduation. I don’t believe they have their plane tickets yet
though. I do want to walk at graduation.
I do want to be “done” in May. I do want to move on to other things, and take a
flatbed of gratitude for the time that being in school has given me to pursue
all the other angles of healing that I’ve needed to pursue.
The reality is that if it does come down to it, I will take
the thesis in progress. I will be disappointed, my family will be disappointed,
but this really is the best I can do. And I have to allow myself that
compassion. If I could have written a book of poetry, I would have. But that’s
not what I’ve been doing. So be it. I am where I am now, and that’s looking at
making something work. I’ve seen Tim Gunn say his catch phrase in both his dubious, one-eyebrow-raised tone, and in his hopeful get-er-done tone.
I don’t need hope here, I just need to do the work. Satisfy
this requirement and get on with my life. This woman is not my enemy. Nor is
she my judge and jury.
So, beginning Tuesday, I will not be a poet, I will be an
editor. I can do that. 
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