…with a whoosh and a whomp. Yes, I knew it was slick in Vermont. I slid down the hill to the gym the first morning before 6 a.m. in the dark bending my knees, staying low to the ground and trying to remember everything I knew about staying up. But I strode out of the library with a bag full of picture books thinking only about getting to Tim’s lecture.
Flat on my back–and right elbow, I guess.
That dorm room never seemed smaller than when I sat in it with my arm elevated after surgery. Having writer friends never seemed sweeter than when JJ came to spend the first 24 hours with me and my fellow faculty members poked their heads in to see what I needed and make sure I was okay.
I’ll go down in VCFA lore for giving a lecture with a broken elbow. But hey at the time I thought it was only bruised. Also, I did talk in that lecture about how growing up in Ethiopia taught me to look calamity in the eye and not get rattled.
So I stuck it out and got to see a new crop of MFA students graduate. Thrilldom!
We looked out into a yard that was used as a battlefield hospital during the Civil War and thought about being tough for our journeys.
One of the bits of wisdom I tucked into their hats for the journey comes from an article about Jerry Seinfeld that an author friend shared:
“He compares himself to baseball players — putting spin on the ball as it leaves his fingers, trying to keep his batting average high — and to surfers: ‘What are they doing that for? It’s just pure. You’re alone. That wave is so much bigger and stronger than you. You’re always outnumbered. They always can crush you. And yet you’re going to accept that and turn it into a little, brief, meaningless art form.’ He said: ‘I’m not filling a deep emotional hole here. I’m playing a very difficult game, and if you’d like to see someone who’s very good at a difficult game, that’s what I do.’”
You’re always outnumbered.