Two rejected grant applications have wandered their unwanted way into my mailbox. This past Friday found the arrival of the second rejection.
So, how have I been handling it? Not well. Rejection, whether it’s the first one or the thousandth, hurts.
And sucks and makes me feel bad and I spiraled and quit because what’s the point and and and…
And if you’ve been reading, you’ve noticed a difference in my determination this year. Well, I will admit that there has been a shift in my depression demeanor as well. Is that a thing?
I jumped on the podcast trendy train. No, I’m not putting a podcast out there, but I started listening to them. I didn’t know where to start with the plethora of podcasts that are out these days. Before getting into the podcast these past few months, I’ve only really listened to two from years past.
Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter did one called A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment. They did about 28 shows, the last one being in October of 2015. The other one I loved was The Dead Authors Podcast. “Legendary time-traveling writer H.G. Wells (Paul F. Tompkins) welcomes literary giants to The Upright Citizen Brigade Theater in LA for a lively discussion in front of a live audience. Unscripted, barely researched, all fun!”
I’m moved into my backyard for the season. My flowers are starting to bloom enough for me to make small bouquets of fresh loveliness for myself every few days. I’ve been writing again in the early morning hours with my coffee and I find that there are so many life lessons that can be gleaned from where I sit and watch. No need to go too far afield. Of course, I love going far afield, but these past few weeks, it seems the lessons and magic abound right here at home.
A friend and I get together and walk every two weeks or so. Once the hugs of greeting are given; cellphones and keys are tucked away in various pockets; and hats are fitted into place – we get to the task of walking. And talking.
My friend quickly runs through her personal update and then asks me excitedly, “what have you been thinking about lately?”
I like that question, the way she puts it. Though, I have to ask myself, is that really interesting? The things I’ve been thinking about?
I don’t think so.
Of course, just as I’m about to go on and on about how I haven’t been thinking about anything interesting and I have nothing to say, I start talking about what it is that I actually have been ruminating on.
A few years ago, maybe only two years ago, now that I think about it. Two years ago, I found Mary Beard. And since then, the more I find out about her, as she shows up in my peripheral, the more of a crush I develop on her.
Mary Beard has a laundry list of ‘things she is’ behind her name. In summation, she is a Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge. She is an English scholar and classicist, think study of ancient Romans and Greeks among others. She’s been made a Dame of Commander of the Order of the British Empire, which puts the title Dame in front of her given name. There are more titles she touts as well; and she has a regular blog that appears in The Times Literary Supplement.
I first came to know of Mary’s in an article written in the New Yorker. I was fascinated with the easy going, long gray haired woman with no make-up that was practically glowing because as she sat comfortably on a velvet chase, she looked like she had the whole world figured out. The article was wonderful as well, and instilled the beginnings of my crush. Apparently, Mary’s not so polite trolls on social media are no match for her. She often engages them. So much so, that she engaged one such young man and they are now friends. She did indeed, if I am remembering correctly, garner an apology as well.
Birthdays are interesting things aren’t they? There is a joy in the celebration of self. It’s like a personal New Year with pampering at the forefront. Although, some people don’t like to celebrate them. Some never really celebrated to begin with, so they just give a nod of acknowledgment to the passing day. Of course, in my family, mom made it a big deal. I’m not talking themed birthday parties every year (although she did do that on occasion.) I’m talking – short of a parade – my mom had a way of making our birthday’s so special, we could hear the band in our head coming round the corner.
Okay, so I’m talking about birthday’s because the writer had a birthday. She is of a certain age now. I don’t mind telling you how old she is; it doesn’t faze her really. I’m 45.
Happy New Year!
When it comes to New Year’s celebrations there are as many traditions as there are people. My family eats Steak and Lobster with champagne, the idea being that you eat the way you’d like to eat for the rest of the year. So we ate well, in the hopes the coffers would stay full enough for such extravagance.
There are other traditions (superstitions?) I am thinking of adding to my own personal repertoire. Sweep your house of dirt and mess before midnight to symbolize ridding yourself of the past year’s trash. I know those raised in the south eat black eyed peas in the New Year. The more you eat, the richer you’ll be in the coming year.
In South America, folks pack a suitcase and carry it around the block at midnight to symbolize travel in the New Year. It might be worth carting a bag through the snowy Idaho streets if it brings more travel into my life!
A few more interesting traditions: Wear red underwear, you’ll find love. Burn your Christmas tree outside to cleanse the past and make way for the future. Fireworks might be pretty and the big boom fun, but the original use of fire and loud noises outside at midnight was to chase away any evil attempting come into your life.
The writer and historian in me loves these traditional ideas, but I’ve got my own tradition that has taken precedence the past few years.
One year, a few days after Thanksgiving, when my sister was starting to read, my dad brought home a copy of A Christmas Carol by Dickens. For the days leading up to Christmas, after dinner and bath time, my family would sit down and read the book aloud. My sister had to read a paragraph, my brother one page, me two pages. I remember feeling like life was ending with the way my younger sister read. That paragraph took forever. And even my two pages felt like they dragged on for an eternity. We all wanted to finish our reading because then, it would be my dad’s turn to read. My dad is an English teacher and drama teacher. He did all the voices. He brought Scrooge and his humbug ways to life in our home.
Oh the poets did it again.
Got me in the guts.
Ripped out my heart to show it to me, still beating, still hoping, still dreaming.
I dressed in black, dressed up, dressed to go out on a school night.
Went out to remind myself of life beyond the capital Mom that falls into bed at 10 every night, still making lists of what needs to get done, should be done, could be done.