Monday, March 11, 2013

croaking, or not.

full circle. i've never used that phrase. or i have and don't remember. either way, about five minutes ago i realized that the thought i was currently having had taken a lot of hops, skips, and jumps over a lot of lily pads to end up right back on the same spot on the edge of the pond where it was hatched. thoughts, like frogs. who knew. 

my frog of a thought began when i remember it beginning, which was, roughly, two thousand and two. the year i graduated college with an impressive gpa and a disappointing sense of direction. when you own the whole world, as 20-somethings do, all that freedom can become confining if you don't know what to do with it. i probably had five or so different ideas of what i should do with myself in the year too-oh-oh-too; among them was going to graduate school, which was the thought that would become the frog.

eleven calendars have been tossed out since that initial thought and its latest incarnation. during these years, my froggy of a notion has been doing its thing: hopping, skipping, jumping. around 2003 or 2004, i was behind the counter of the blue moose cafe, pumping coffee from a black urn, then spinning 90 degrees to pull a bagel from the toaster, then back to hand off the coffee, then 180 degrees to turn off the water filling the stainless steel rinsing sink...the thought of my former expert level of multitasking has me pining for reclamation, seeing as my current self would've spilled the coffee, petrified the bagel, and let the sink flood the room. during a conversation with a coworker who had forearm tattoos placed in an un-orderly fashion and pretty, perfectly pale pink-ish, poofy lips and who was the first person i'd ever heard say finer'n a cat hair split seven ways and who held a degree in religious studies and an inclination toward graduate school, i decided further education was not for me. i think it was due to the profusion of poetry readings and slam poetry events that were popular at the time, both of which were boring and melodramatic or full-on dramatic, and neither of which were so much as a stray coffee receipt stained with a wet footprint and pushed around by the wind anywhere up my alley. it was that, combined with the sense of despair i'd felt upon taking a graduate course called "poetry and art," where i was introduced to a sect of academia that was too academic for my taste and made my face scrunch up and my writer's heart sink. thinking back, i don't recall considering myself a poet, although my senior thesis project was poetry-heavy and i was reading a lot of poetry extra-curricularly in those days. i also don't recall considering myself a poet when, in  2004-ish, i was making half-assed attempts to apply to graduate programs in poetry. i got accepted to the antioch master of fine arts program in california. the cost was prohibitive, as was, perhaps, my aversion to becoming an official poet.

in 2005, my froggy notion happened upon a lily close to my ear, and grad school was once again my desire. while on a road trip with my buddy nate — whose last name, by virtue of rhyme, was often changed to "hamstick" and who had a smile that was dubious in appearance but genuine in spirit — i met with an english professor at the university of memphis. on the wall of his narrow, cluttered office was a newspaper clipping about derrida, the french philosopher i first read about in a grad course on literary theory (which i took at the same time as "poetry and art" but was far more awesome a class). well, about five minutes ago i wandered off from this very blog to google mr. derrida and remember what exactly he was all about, because he's one of those guys — like heidigger, kant, foucault, lacan — whose theories both interest and repel me: i love the way their minds work; i don't love the way academia can facilitate the taking of things too seriously. reading the theories of bright minds is intriguing, but if i had my druthers, i'd rather be eating pizza and laughing about poop jokes with someone i like, or a few someones i like.

the english professor at the university of memphis gave me the derrida article off his wall. for years it was tacked to my wall in memphis. now it's in storage in my dad's garage. when i have an office in my own home again, i'll tack it back up, right up against the picture of my sister-friend erin and me, half-drunk and smiling, our arms around each other, on the eve of my 26th birthday at my place on brockway. the partygoers were a motley crew: coworkers and brainy regulars from the coffee shop; kelly, the girl who was laughing when she wasn't talking and talking when she wasn't laughing and was never, ever not doing one of the two; kelly's roommate, san, a slender japanese girl who spoke the few words that kelly didn't; neighbor guy, who looked normal but wrote himself cryptic post-it notes posted around his house; ian, who never said a mean word, even when he should've; annie, who couldn't be kept from a good time by a team of work horses and whose cleavage had a persona of its own; and a few random others. we smoked cigarettes, played card games, drank cheap beer, ate cheap food, played with my two party-happy pit bulls, and laughed at vulgar jokes. i barely understand derrida's theories, but i'll bet he'd say my party was a singular event but not singular in itself, or something like that. i feel slightly akin to derrida, because reading him is like living in my brain: tons of thoughts flying around that are all separate but connected, full of meaning yet meaningless without context, and altogether frustrating unless filtered and edited.

my grad school on again, off again aspiration came full circle last week. i came to find out that i will never have that master of fine arts in creative writing degree — "never say never" notwithstanding, that is. i'm okay with that, mostly. wanting the degree was largely for personal satisfaction, because a writer's success isn't beholden to a degree. these days, personal satisfaction has to be...well..."pragmatic" would be fitting, but that word is anathema to me, so instead i'll say "within the realm of doable in the short term," which grad school is not. considering my love-hate relationship with academia, grad school might not be up my alley anyway. maybe i'm better off not being confined and defined by genres and peer reviews and thesis defense.

a full circle is actually empty, you know. if it were full, it'd be a ball, or a dot, depending on dimension. or, it could be a small, round pond with a few frogs and lots of lily pads. i like that last one. thoughts, like frogs. lots of hopping, skipping, and jumping left to do.