Monday, July 5, 2010

What's Next

At the end of May, I finished my novel.

Well – a first draft. A good first draft. I’ve had to let it sit for a while, and I’m looking forward to getting back to it in a month or so. I open the file occasionally and read over passages, surprised at what surprises me, now that I’ve read the book a dozen times straight through.

I spent the first week of June editing a 184-page-manuscript – a volunteer effort, but something that you can bet will show up on my resume.

I printed out my thesis, which meant two trips to Office Depot and, somehow, five trips to the post office.

And then I started summer school. It’s my fourth straight summer of marking time on chalkboards, which probably makes me even less intelligent than some of my students, who assure me that they spend each summer making up the work they failed all school year long. Not every minute is horrible – sometimes five minutes at once goes by and I haven’t looked at the clock.

The rest of my moments feel stolen – working on my graduate presentation, reading an article in the New Yorker, picking a few weeds here and there, making lists of things to pack and then quickly misplacing them.

I’m a few days from getting on a plane and leaving my life behind for three weeks. There are a million things to do – last minute straightening, so I come back to a clean house; the actual act of packing – and somehow I’ve spent my fifth of July in a state of inertia. Even bringing in the sun tea required great mental effort. Flipping channels, I found the AMC marathon of Mad Men and have barely moved since.

I know what it is – transition. I’m never really good at that.

For a long time I was plotting my enrollment in graduate school, and then it happened. I spent the last two years looking forward to a completed manuscript and graduation – and now it’s practically here. As of the 17th, I’ll be an MFA graduate. The scariest thing may be what’s next – a return to teaching? part-time jobs while I rewrite/search for an agent/move forward in my writing life? If I sit still for too long, a weird panicky feeling settles on my chest.

Get up. Move. Keep going.

Last week, I gave Mona the go-ahead to experiment with my hair. Sure, go a shade darker on the bottom, I said. Why not? And now I’m a half-blonde with black hair that sticks to my neck in the heat.

I think I might hate it, I told my sister.

Nah, she said. You needed some more edge. You’re a writer, after all.

I laughed at the time, and too rushed to do anything about it, I’ve still got the hair. It’s funny how sometimes the decisions are made for you. Maybe this is just a case of hair as destiny.

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