Like so many sweaty New Yorkers, I rejoiced at the prompt arrival of Fall-like temperatures. I wore 4/5 length sleeves today! Yesterday, I wore a light drapey sweater! I wrestled my A/C out of my window. However, I’m not certain enough of the weather’s constancy to wrangle it further into my closet, so it occupies a place of honor in the middle of my floor for the present.
I’m back at school! It is the expected combination of amazing and startling and pause-giving. I don’t know how every year I forget what TOTAL SCHEDULE UPHEAVAL does to me. This summer I transitioned pretty smoothly from TV writing to office working to teaching to office working to working-at-school (short, spread out shifts), but suddenly Schooling At School has been this rush of classes and scheduling and work and it all winds up with me walking down 112th street having a panic attack for no reason.
The funny (…not ha ha funny) thing about me and panic attacks is that I almost never put my finger on exactly what they are until they’re over and I’m calm again. Today I was pacing and muttering to myself about eating and exercise and relationship status and writing and workshop and books and did I, could I, should I, have I, no, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, oh God I can’t. I couldn’t see the trees for the overwhelming forest of FEELINGS and what’s to be DONE about them?
And then I stopped, went inside Book Culture, bought the book for my nonfiction class, and by the time my feet touched the sidewalk, my head had cleared enough to see that it was a beautiful day, I was neither lost nor confused, and there were no real fires to put out. I got a coffee, and the girl behind me asked “What’s an expresso?” Without correcting her pronunciation I told her, and she asked “What about expresso machiatto?” I told her about the steamed milk, ordered my iced coffee, and heard her decide on a cafe au lait as I moved to the next counter. I just loved the strange simplicity of that. You need help, you ask for help. Done.
I had my first workshop where we reviewed my work this week, and it went pretty well. I probably overshared on my professor in an awkward manner during the conference today, but hey, he asked why I have that deep nagging doubting voice in my head. Naturally I was going to explain well it all goes back to my first grade basketball team, Richard……
Also yesterday Wallace Shawn walked in to the writing office and was all “Hey, where’s so-and-so’s lecture” and we pointed him in the right direction and a little later I hit his elbow with a table.
Alls I know is, I wish I knew last year what I know now. I feel more confident in class, I feel more sure of my own voice, I’m eager to greet people and provide them with the information that I acquired shiftily and shamefacedly last year when I was too intimidated and proud to ask anyone anything.
Today we talked about Mary McCarthy and George Orwell, I photocopied an interview with Lynne Tillman….for Lynne Tillman, met with a professor who missed all my pop culture references but still encouraged me to be silly and even weirder in my work, and then my Anti-heroines class debated Catherine Earnshaw-Heathcliff-Linton’s merits and demerits. And that was my day.
And also, it was lovely out.