Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Two things that happen to be going on at the same time this week seem to have overlapped, at least emotionally, in my (what? mind? heart is more like it)--in me.

First, I've been making the rounds in my department, getting letters of recommendation lined up for the necessary and energy-consuming job application process. I'm currently in my third year of a one-year visiting contract: I love what I'm doing and where I'm working, but there's no hope of it becoming a permanent gig. Reality looms.

And second, I'm shooting PDF copies of a chapbook by one of our upcoming Seven Kitchens authors to a few folks who have generously agreed to write blurbs.

I know that writing a blurb is nothing like writing a letter of recommendation. I've done a few of both, though, and I can tell you that to me they feel much the same: in the end, I always feel that (a) I could have done a better job and (b) the friend/colleague/student should have picked someone else (because that someone else could have done a better job).

As for being on the receiving end, the truth is that I come unraveled when anyone says something truly thoughtful, positive, and supportive about my work. You might not think that a Leo should have such difficulty with praise, but I do. I lose it for a moment--a brief moment, like today when I saw the letter a generous colleague had written for me: I had myself a good, quick cry and then, with a scant ten minutes left to prepare for class, I pulled my act together like Mama Rose and threw myself into what I do, sometimes, almost as well as the man described in that letter.

As I said in a quick message to our author mentioned above, it's very good to have such good friends, mentors, colleagues. And I want to thank them--hers, mine, and yours--all of you out there, trying to do what we do as well as we can do it. My life has been so enriched, and I am truly grateful for every gesture, large and small, that all of you have made to help hold someone else up, keep someone going, keep someone teaching and trying and writing and growing.

Just that: one enormous thank you, too huge for me to accommodate in words (see above), but if I could--if I could stay conscious of this feeling and inhabit it with intention, maybe you might could imagine a thank you as constant and quiet and present as your next breath. And the next one. That's me, giving thanks. To you.

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