Tuesday, December 29, 2009

December 29, 2009

Tomorrow is my blog’s first birthday, and I’m giving myself a moment’s credit for sticking to it. When I made that initial entry I wasn’t sure if a writing project called a blog was something I could sustain interest in. It seemed so anonymous, so lonely, so potentially unrewarding. Would anybody read it? Would anyone respond? Was that even the point? I had no idea, really, what I wanted out of the endeavor beyond feeling a need to get some work out into the world that might otherwise live out its days in the solitude of my word-processing program.

A year later, I’m still not sure who reads the posts or when or where, but occasionally someone responds. These responses are often from former or current students and they always, always make me happy. Responses, including those from strangers, seem like authentic moments of connection – someone visited the site, read what I wrote, and took a few minutes to comment. It’s a simple gesture, but tonight, at 2 a.m. on a cold, snowy, fairly bleak night in Oswego, New York, I feel it as profound. Thank you to every person who has written a comment on the blog or via Facebook, that weird and wonderful forum for fleeting contact.

It’s been a difficult year for many of my students, some of my family, and a few of my dear friends – many have struggled on the employment front, some have lost family members, suffered serious illness, contended with other private hardship. Each has taught me something about courage and resilience and faith. When I lived in Arizona, I’d often be awake at this hour, and I’d stand in my doorway and look out at the stars and the desert and wish to be back home, in the east, where it seemed like the lives of my friends were unfolding smoothly and joyfully and without me. It seemed like the loneliest time and place in the world… Now, when I’m awake and looking out at a different but equally beautiful landscape, I think of my friends asleep in the southwest, and recognize that I will always feel some degree of wanderlust and regret, some degree of what if and if only. It is my nature – perhaps a common nature – to want something other than what I have. But tonight I acknowledge and feel grateful to my bones for precisely that – for what I have.

We had an unseasonably warm day this week – it almost hit 40 – and the morning brought waves of increasing fog. My camera was jammed and I lamented that something so beautiful would go undocumented. Out of desperation I smacked the camera on the heel of my hand and it suddenly clicked into action. When I went outside to catch the light, the thinnest and most invisible sheen of ice covered every surface and I slipped on literally my first step. My right hand slammed against a wooden post, giving rise to an immediate welt. My left leg crashed into a step – a second bruise. My spine, already in less-than-perfect shape, felt like it torqued, twisted from left to right and from top to bottom. It was, in other words, not a graceful slip and I stood silently in place, trying to catch my breath, hoping I hadn’t broken my hand, hoping I hadn’t further aggravated my back, glad I hadn’t dropped the camera. I walked slowly to a level spot in the yard and began to take some shots. The effort rewarded me with some spooky and evocative photographs and, admittedly, a very sore back.

I’m posting one of the shots, above, because 2009 has been a year that will be remembered for its hardships, but hopefully, too, for its art.

Looking forward to more light, more beauty. Looking forward to peace and safety, especially for my brother and the other men and women who are, have been, or will be serving in the military, taking part in a war that we often seem happy to forget. Looking forward to healthy recoveries for my friends and family, and hoping that everyone who wants a job finds one. Looking forward to more art of every kind, including the beautiful and heartfelt poems & essays offered up by my students, the funny and creative notes on Facebook, the occasional cherished handwritten letter that arrives in the mail. Every word matters.

Peace in 2010, my friends. Thank you for visiting.


  1. Every word matters. I love that about you!

  2. I don't know what the message in Chinese says, but I hope it's good! If the sender sees this and would care to translate it, please do...

  3. Hi again I had friends of mine translate it for me "困難的不在於新概念,而在於逃避舊有的概念。means

    Difficulty is not a new concept, but rather to avoid the old oncept. .........................?

    An odd message to leave I guess but now we know x