So I get it; summer’s over. As of tomorrow, it is officially fall. If you haven’t accepted it yet, you better get over it. Fall is here, whether you like it or not.
I’m back in school, for the third year. It was supposed to be two years, but I couldn’t handle more than two classes at a time, so it’s gonna be three years instead. Going back to school this past week was the hardest it’s been yet. Just ask my family. My poor, sweet, undeserving family. I definitely had a harder time than my kids, and I have an almost 13 year old. I for sure drank more wine last week than they did. Or, at least, I better have!!
Part of my reluctance involved the fact that I have two poetry classes, and I am not a poet. Although I love to write a good limerick now and then, true poetry is so hard on my middle aged brain. It’s just not really my thing. I’m a prose girl (see above blog.)
My first day of class was totally cliche: late to class; called on at random within 5 minutes of late arrival; asked to introduce myself (first); forced to sit in a circle (ugh); forced to learn everyone’s names in the class (what?); forced to fill out questionnaire about self and asked “why are you taking this class”, which I left blank; also asked to name 5 contemporary poets (Nikki Giovanni only one I knew, because I had seen her book in Barnes and Noble recently.) And last but not least, forced to memorize “The Road Not Taken” for the next class. Sigh. Yes, it was like that.
Those of you who haven’t been back to school in middle age are currently thanking your lucky stars and congratulating yourself on your wisdom to stay in the work world, despite its horrors. After beating myself up a bit, I came home and had a come-to-Jesus-talk with myself. I said, ‘Self, you’ve got 29 more classes to get through, so you must put the wine/whine bottle down and put on your Big Girl panties.”
On the day between classes, I spent the entire morning on email and phone, trying to figure out how to log in to my class assignments. Which led me to thinking that perhaps they should hire someone to run a new department: Middle-Aged-Student Affairs. They have a new system/log in procedure, which I was unable to discuss with my dorm mates and sorority sisters, because I AM 42 YEARS OLD! So, my newly devised morning study schedule went down the toilet the very first study day as I sat on hold for someone half my age to help me log on. Really super for the middle aged ego!
Before you stop reading this and enter a severe depression, my second day of school went much more smoothly. My classes were actually interesting; my classmates were lovely, participatory, and smart; my professors were less scary; my memorized poem went decently, if not perfectly; and I knew we had a holiday coming! What a fantastic time for a holiday.
I was able to enjoy a few days of vacation with my family, and afterwards, as I tackled my homework, I felt oddly peaceful. And no wine was even involved! After working for several hours, the time flew. When I took a break, I realized that I was actually enjoying myself again. Poetry is much more inspiring than I first thought. It’s like a puzzle that you have to try to figure out, and I love a word puzzle. I remembered my love of layered meanings and writing that is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I felt ready to blog again, so that says a lot.
So, maybe this poetry thing won’t be so bad after all. I still am a long way from writing it, but studying it might help more than I realized. Read Robert Frost’s “A Road Not Taken” and you’ll be surprised that it doesn’t mean what you think it means. I mean, really read it, and then read it again. Are you confused at what road he’s taking? That’s what he meant. Pretty smart and cool, I think.
Today I feel back in the saddle again, on this Labor Day. I didn’t mind working today at all. When you are doing something you enjoy, it’s not work. But to do my kind of work, you have to unplug and get away from it all in order to find that creative, inspired place away from distractions. So on this Labor Day, I wish the same for all of you: to unplug and take a break from your day-to-day grind in order to find what inspires you — you might even be surprised at what you find!
Take care of yourselves and each other,
September 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm
So is the poet speaking with regret? Does he wish he had done things differently, or is it just that we can only live one life? Miss English Major, please help me out.
September 2, 2013 at 9:06 pm
We don’t know because he purposely leaves it all ambiguous. It is more about the difficulty and finality of making decisions than right vs wrong. So your not knowing is exactly how he wants you to read it. Cool, no?
September 3, 2013 at 8:22 am
I have a book of Robert Frost’s life and poetry that will most likely go to the attic sale this year.You may have it if you need it. And your wish for us to unplug and see where that leads is like the road. Thanks and good luck on your courses this fall. I really enjoyed this blog today.
September 3, 2013 at 11:41 am
Sure, I rarely turn down a book! And yes, we don’t know what’s around the bend but that can be a good thing. And, it’s always good to give yourself a break from the chaos every now and then. Thanks for reading!
September 3, 2013 at 11:54 am
Do you remember going to Carl Sandburg’s home up in Flat Rock when you were just a kid? There was blue grass music on the lawn, along with the goats? Beautiful fall day. Maybe we should meet up there some time. Anne, you and Rachel could go, too. Another literary trip maybe?
As to the poem, I like that it is such a visual piece of writing. Seeing that road in my mind draws me into it. I know I’m too concrete. You two English majors must help me with poetry. There is a young adult book about this poem: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-red-wheelbarrow/ by William Carlos Williams. I can’t remember the title, but it was great. It reminds me of The Road Not Taken because it’s very visual and provokes so many questions in the reader.
September 3, 2013 at 5:29 pm
How funny, I have to memorize that one for tomorrow. Will let you know when I find out what it means.