generosity · growth · humilty · poetry · school

Back to Basics.

Sorry folks, for the interruption in my daily musings. I
have been under the weather, and yesterday morning slept in right until I had
to run out to do ‘first things first,’ and then over to school. This morning
was similar. So, thanks for your patience 😉 and for reading. 🙂
Yesterday, I had to run over to school in order to get my
painting professor to sign my “drop form.” Yes, I am dropping painting. A
number of things contributed to this decision. One of which was that I was
unable to do my morning practice on those Monday and Wednesday class mornings – the commute to class
was at an ungodly hour to me.
Another of which was that it wasn’t fun. It came as a
surprise to me to realize that I was feeling pinched by the instruction and
parameters that the class was offering. Surely, part of it was that my work wasn’t being “well received” and my ego was being hurt. But
part of it was that I wanted to do the work I wanted to do – to have fun – and I wasn’t. I was being told things like
“not formally correct” and at this stage of my painting game, I’m not concerned
with things like that. I’m concerned with expression, not correction. When she signed it though, my professor did tell me I have good instincts and to follow them, but that I need some development on my ideas (which I concur, and will do so with more “play”).
Lastly, for dropping painting – the class I was so looking
forward to taking – I have to focus on my “real” thesis. Despite my mental
flights of fancy into ideas for the thesis such as a visual and language art
project, or a 20 minute ballet, my flights have been grounded. For now.

The reality is… that I’m in an MFA program
and that
program has certain prescribed requirements. This is not a free-for-all, however much I’d been playing it as such. So, I have
to play within the rules for now.
As I mentioned in the Reluctant Poet blog, I’m going back to
my original school work and am going to flesh
that out. In truth, some of the poetry I’m producing for it now 
could not have been written any earlier. I wouldn’t have had
access to writing about this a month ago, and certainly not anytime before
that. I’m doing a lot to free my voice and self, and it’s showing up in the
writing… now that I’m being forced to go back to it.
So. It turns out maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after
all. This “having to write a formal poetry thesis” thing. Which is good,
since I’m having to do it anyway, I may not as well see it as torture.
With the graciousness and generosity of the Universe,
yesterday before I went to get my drop form signed by the painting instructor,
I went to see my academic advisor for her signature, and to check in. This woman, is NOT the same as my “thesis advisor,” and
has known me and things about me for almost 2 years. I have a wonderful rapport
with her, and I value her immensely. She’s like a guidance counselor for grad
students ;P
And, that was precisely what I needed yesterday. The first
question she asked was “how’s the thesis,” and although at first I was
reluctant or cagey about the state of distraught I’ve been in over it, it
eventually all came out, tears and all.
She smiled. Kindly. She said that if the work wasn’t pushing
me, if I wasn’t coming up against blocks against it, if I wasn’t kicking and
screaming and being activated by it – then I wouldn’t be doing good work. I wouldn’t be changing as a writer. She
said that this reaction is normal; she
said that she had an all out break-down during her own dissertation. (Which,
btw, she’d shared about briefly at our student orientation, which is why I
then asked her to be my advisor. Her own journey and humanity made her feel
like the right person for me.)
She said that I needed to tell my thesis advisor what was up
with me and the work – why it has been so
hard for me to reapproach it. What’s been going on. And I sort of freeze up,
and say, Yeaaahh….. I know…..
And she says, I’d be happy to write her an email note as to
what’s going on. A short note, just to inform her. The relief I felt was
palpable. I had an advocate. I didn’t even know I needed one, but I said yes.
That I feel tender around all this, and get defensive, and that yes, I’d really
appreciate that.
See, my last interaction with my thesis advisor was that I’d
bring her all my work on Tuesday and we’d see if we can cobble something
together. So, I show up on Tuesday, and spend the half hour before our meeting
on the floor of the hallway with all my poems spread out, and I shuffle them
into an order, and I realize, I really do have a “body of work” that makes
sense – that has a theme, is coherent, and has a message, or a story arc. A
theme that is in perfect alignment with the work I’m currently doing.
And then, at 2pm on Tuesday, I knock on her office door, and
she’s not there. I wait. I fume. I’m all defensive in advance. And she doesn’t
show. … Turns out, she meant next
Tuesday, and I thought this one.
But, it all works out. I get to work through my resentment
some more before I see her; I get to have my academic advisor as my advocate, helping to calm
the waters; and I get to see that I might actually have something to say. In
poetry. 

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