Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Eat Like A College Student, Write Like...

A Moveable Feast, indeed!

Every once in awhile I'm overcome with regret that I'm not an angry, chain-smoking ex-pat living in Paris during the 1920s. Tonight is one of those nights, and I blame it on the Hemingway lecture I'm preparing to give my students tomorrow. Why oh why couldn't I be a Great American Author, hanging out with other Greats as I pickle my liver in absinthe?

I suppose we all have our own form of greatness, just as we have our own Great Flaw. Hemingway wrote what are, in my opinion, the greatest American short stories of all time while he drank and wenched his way through life. My greatness? I'm still working on that one. The flaw, however, is over-committing myself to projects and people and then agonizing when I can't give every facet of my life the full attention it deserves.

Hence this evening. After a long bubble bath, I decided to forego the pleasures of finishing up my essay-grading. I should feel ashamed, I know, but I'm suffering a bad case of burn-out and it's only first quarter. So instead, I'm drinking red wine and eating my first tin of Danish butter cookies since the Great Butter Cookie Overdose of 2000. (Oh, the thrills of finals period my junior year of college... but that's a tale for another time...)

I'm also thinking about why I teach, and why I seem to be ignoring my teaching philosophies on a day-to-day basis. I'm thinking about the books I want to write, but never finish, and the vacations I want to take, but never do. I'm thinking about the relationships that are important to me, and the way I tell myself, "I'll let them know how much I love them tomorrow."

Perhaps this all sounds incredibly depressing and I suppose, objectively, it is. But hey, at least if I died tomorrow none of my friends would portray me horribly in their autobiographies, as Ernest Hemingway did to F. Scott Fitzgerald (basically calling him “a drunk, a weakling, a hypochondriac, a fool, an irresponsible writer, a nuisance, sexually insecure and wife-dominated…”
[1])

Ouch! With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Tonight, I'm wondering what I'm really doing with my life. When will I stop putting off my own ambitions? How can I be the writer, sister, daughter, girlfriend, friend, teacher and "wild woman" I feel that I was born to be?

When do we stop waiting for our dreams and actually take a step towards achieving them?
Deep thoughts, I know, and not the usual norm for the public side of DSW. But hey, when I'm avoiding grading it makes me philosophical!

* * * * *

[1] Matthew J. Bruccoli, Fitzgerald and Hemingway: A Dangerous Friendship (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1995) 1.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

'Tis deep. And when you have the answer, let me know! And this from someone who doesn't have nearly as much on her plate as you do. :P

theflitgirl said...

My friend, I feel you. All I can say is that somehow, it becomes much easier to live life when I'm NOT living life than when I am. Is that too Meredith Gray for the blog? God forbid.

A. R. said...

I'm debating in my mind which I would enjoy more; seeing my essay with red pen all over it and knowing how i did, or reading this. I must say reading this, your blog. I obviously have no answers for you, being experientially inferior to you. But I will tell you that, if it helps, you're making a huge impact on people being the teacher you are. You are-out of my many English teachers throughout my educational career-my favorite English teacher. And trust me, I've had some good ones.

Kate D. said...

It is decided. Extra credit points for a.r. Not only does she bolster my sagging energy when I need it, she also loaned me a Nora Roberts novel during my first week teaching at her school.

Cheers to a.r. You're fabulous.

Sam said...

When do you get to follow your dreams? The flip answer from this fellow teacher is "summer." Seriously, though, you're a first-year teacher. Taking the occasional night off might be the best you can do for a little while, but I promise it will get better. Every first-year teacher I know disappears for awhile and then comes back, and your life and dreams and the people you love will still be there in June and beyond.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving break! :)

Theresa said...

Uh, oh. I remember the original Danish Cookie eating. Hang in there! Maybe the solution is to call your friends more often?

Anonymous said...

Good point.
I have a tendency to panic and blindly attempt to achieve my dreams but then I think...oh crap...am I following the right dream? What is this just a flash-in-the-pan idea? Is this someone else's dream?
PANIC ensues. this is the point when I start breathing into a paper bag.
So there is nothing wrong with thinking long and hard about one's dream. Jumping the gun too quickly will cause ulcers.
Great Blog! This is my first time reading it but I'm hooked already!
ML

A. R. said...

Today was another very sad day with the mean old man-sub. I very nearly burst into tears upon crossing the threshold of your classroom. But, alas, I'm sure you'll return to us soon.