Head Space, Physical Space: Sorting It All Out

Warning:  I may be exorcising some demons.  I apologize if any pea soup lands on you.

It’s possible I’ve been struggling with the decision for many years, whether to not to leave my job.  I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I took dittos home to force my friends and siblings to play school with me.  I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I decided my first grade teacher never should have bullied me and let me be bullied the way she did.  I have no idea how long ago I decided I’d become a teacher to be everything she wasn’t.  Maybe it was after having a few teachers that taught me what a safe classroom could be like and what it actually means to teach.

I taught at the most difficult school in a difficult district.  So many poison policy decisions and the lack of support was causing a slow burn out that’s been smoldering for a while.  I began this past school year toying with the idea of leaving, staying home to caretake for my grandmother, and writing full time.  It became not just changing schools, a thought I have had for a while, but the possibility of walking away from teaching.  Potentially forever.  It has been a merry go round, tether ball, back and forth of hell.

Months before school ended I set my mind to creating my writing space and my husband was a little shocked on how efficiently I completed the job.  (Most projects take a hesitant but messy and inconvenient first step with me then get lost in my ADD wonderland.)  But I got this done like a woman on a mission.  I told him it was because I needed to be prepared, but I didn’t share with him my thoughts on “the nursery.”  Yes that’s what is was like.  Parents who prepare a nursery know they have to have it done before the baby comes and that it needs to be perfect because it’s more than just a room.  Yup, that was me and my baby was a new career in writing, and my nursery was my writing space.  See, I had made the decision to leave but in my heart I was and still am tortured.  I need to create life in this room and I need it to be something to soothe me.  I needed it ready so that when I suddenly wasn’t a teacher any more and would eventually have to make money as a wordsmith, I have my tools and my workshop ready.

The before:  There was a long folding table that once served for my desk.  The bigger the space the more junk, always.  Over and under junk.  I cleaned, I purged, I conquered.  Then I himmed and hawwwed.

Only a little introspection led me to admit that I am not a desk sitter.  A lap top is called such for a reason.  I thought, I need a comfy chair to curl up in, then I remembered the Papasan chair I got rid of a few months ago in a previous purge…and I cried.  Why did I get rid of it?!  I needed space then but now there is perfect room and purpose for it.  I had wanted a Papasan chair since high school.  I used to curl up in the one at my bestie’s house, the first place I had ever seen one of these, and conk out there during sleep overs.  Well, I got one at Pier One when I was going to therapy right above the store.  Weird place for a therapist’s office but convenient since I often  needed shop therapy after therapy.  That’s when I splurged and spent 90 dollars on the chair of my dreams then one day I just got rid of it, and several other things which were in my way.  And now I’m leaving work and will have no pay until I some day make it in the literary world and I really wanted my 90 dollar chair back.

In swoops my mom to the rescue.  She had two, (!), and gave me one.  It was wicker and cream colored and some how warmer than my other one.  The pillow was wrapped in a fluffy sheet, perfect since my cat sometimes does not clean her butt! It was perfect.  The space had been purged and cleaned and the first piece of furniture was installed.  Right in the corner.

All of this is metaphor and coping mechanism.  How many writers have written in prison, in ghettos?  Although, I think the truth is that for the most part, it’s been people with enough to get by and the privilege to focus on their art that usually “make it.”  It’s been women and men with time enough to write and a room of their own.

I went through and am going through the most difficult transition of my life.  Having the right chair in my writing nursery is the most first worldly of all the first world problems.  And still, I can’t hold others’ pain, although I’d like to if it would help.  I only live every moment with my pain.  Quitting my job to be a writer sounds like I’d be having a ball, and I should be.  I’m lucky and grateful.  I’m the most grateful with a glass of wine on the porch at 1:30 am on a Wednesday.  A school night.  But no, it’s been torture, torture I’m all too willing to endure.  But it’s been hard.  So I turn to the only thing that’s every helped me sort out my brain, writing.  And here I am having such a difficult time expressing myself!

Shame on me for using you as a platform and sounding board for exorcising my demons, but out will come this bile and make room for something delicious.  I must get used to this before I can really cry havoc and let loose the dogs of inspiration, creativity, and a purposeful life in the arts.

So what really is holding me back?  Guilt.  I have learned this about myself:  I need to be helping others.  I spent a decade using all kinds of creative methods to help some of the most disadvantaged youth in America.  That feels right.  That feels like something to be proud of.  Yet, when I think of going back to teaching, I recoil.  I can intellectualize it all I want but I just don’t want to go back.  Not now.  So I will soldier on.  I will spend this year pushing myself.  Then I’ll see what’s next.  I did sign up to volunteer at our local animal shelter.  I laugh.  I am the biggest animal lover out there but I used to be helping so many real life people – teenagers – the ones who always need it most.  But so be it.

It’s ridiculous – and greatly uncomfortable – to be 3…3…and sitting here with my ass out on the breeze.  I’m trying to find myself, find my way.  And I’m getting too old for this shit.

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