I’m in a weird mood. A making-up-words mood (this post was originally titled “Musically Unvocabulated”). A sore mood. A coughing, agitated mood.
But overall, a very Jambi mood.
I took a long, hard look over 2007. The first thing I noticed was how much had happened last year. The second thing I noticed was that a lot of the stuff that had happened was loss. Some good in it, but mostly sad, aching loss.
There was a lot of loss this year. Not just for me, personally, but for a lot of people I know as well.
It was a tough year, seemingly comprised of losses, set backs, and frustration.
But it was a really good year, too, I think, despite all of that.
I’m hoping that 2008 will have magnificent losses: loss of old habits, of old fears, that sort of thing. Which is good, because I have my work cut out for me.
I’ve decided that I’m going to apply for the University of Iowa’s Writer’s Workshop. It’s arguably the single best writing program in the country.
I was talking with Sherry the other night, and was talking about Gilead, and how it went from a book I hated to one I want to read every in that space between old and new years because it is that beautiful and full of faith and wonder and hope. As I’m talking, I’m getting more excited. “The book won a Pulitzer! She has the faith and she has the words and I want to write like that, so alive like that. She teaches at the Writer’s Workshop!”
“So that’s why you want to go there?”
Well, honestly, I hadn’t thought of it that way. I loved the idea of going, but even the reality of the idea of going scares the bejeezus out of me. “Well, no. I wanted to go there because it’s the best. And because some great writers have come out of it. The fact that I might be taught by her would be bonus.” But it wasn’t, even as I said that. I had chill bumps at the prospect.
Good heavens, it’s the feeling I get at thinking of being instructed by Tom Robbins. Marilynne Robinson inspires Robbins-sized chill bumps.
But there are several drawbacks. It’s in Iowa, for one, a place that gets very, very cold. I’ve been checking the temperatures there, and noticed there were several days in December that the high temp was 4 degrees F or lower. It’s in Iowa, for another, a place very far from anyone I know. The last time I went that far away, I was completely isolated, and, as I learned, there’s a difference between temporary hermitage and prolonged isolation.
I started listing the reasons why Iowa was out of the question, as she sat across from me, crossed arms and scrunched-up nose. My voice tailed off pretty quickly, but it usually does when I’m giving excuses with her.
I want this. For having so many things unknown about it, such as whether I’ll get in; whether I’ll be able to survive up there even if I do, how on earth I’ll pay for it, et cetera, I realized I really, really want this.
And I have 19 months to get ready for it, less than a year to get ready for application.
I think I’ve just begun a boot camp of sorts.
While I was driving home from Melissa’s last week, it struck me why I like the introduction to Jambi so much. If determination could have a sound, it would be this song. The breaks and pauses of the guitar, the repetition of riffs and drum beats (rolls, maybe? I’m musically unvocabulated, after all), the sheer power and thunder of it all put together are nothing short of sheer determination.
And I like that.