Monday, June 27, 2005

Master of...?

Well...I don't feel exactly like I've mastered anything, except for the fine art of handling transitions over these two years, and the other art of working my ass off. I feel proud, and as if I've come a long way, but I don't think a writer can ever feel as though they have arrived, plateaued, finished. Writing is a thing in flux no matter what.

I'm home now, today, after my whirlwind final residency at Bennington with a very large, strange mixture of feelings that will take probably the summer to sort through. I feel relieved to be home, and also have a troubling pang of sadness every time I think of the physical grounds of Bennington. I love that place, and knowing I would be regularly coming back made it easy to leave. But today, I admit, there's a little emptiness in me. Not about my life; I'm so happy with what I have, and who is in it, but I feel lonely for this wonderful setting and my dear friends, and am curious how it will all unfold from here. Will we stay in touch? How will I integrate this experience into my life? What will my writing life look like?

Graduation was a blur, though my family actually caught it on video tape. It was as hot as all get out, and we were sweating through our nasty polyester robes. Because of that, except for the video, I don't think anyone got a photo of me in my robe because I whisked it off so as to prevent myself from passing out. Except for being called "Joann" instead of Jordan as I strode to accept my degree, it was exhilarating (and short) and we got to boogey out of there to wonderful bongo drums. But after the actual event, I confess I felt deflated, tired, sad. I wanted nothing more than to sit around in my sweats with my friends and get drunk and tell silly jokes. But we had our families to attend to, and the reality that to say goodbye was somehow too much. I know I didn't say it to everyone; it felt too final. I said it to those I saw, but really I felt as if I was unwilling to let go of anyone. I mean anyone. From people I hardly knew, to those I love dearly. It's strange how the ritual actually serves to make things feel final. They do feel final in one way, and I'm trying to access what Clark expressed in his speech as our class speaker, that this is an opening, not an ending.

The actual residency was, I thought, the best one of them all. We graduates attended all of each other's readings and lectures, which added up to a hefty schedule, but also, made me feel more full and stimulated and creative than in a long while (and impressed with what a killer class we have!). I did not get more than 5-6 hours of sleep a night, and the eve of my lecture, only 4, because I was so nervous. My lecture and reading went off well, I felt proud and glad to have accomplished them. And a few times in the past day I've held my diploma in my hand and looked at it, amazed to realize that there is nothing left for me to do anymore to be qualified a graduate, and that this is my Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Literature. This is it. (I'll post a photo). Endings are a strange thing...even ones you've been looking forward to.

Now there is a desperately overgrown garden to weed; a starved-for-love cat to attend to; work to organize, and my novel and non-fiction book to get to work finishing. I'm happy, but overwhelmed, and nowhere near integrated yet. I will post thoughts and musings as they happen.



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