Thursday, April 7, 2011

He Keeps It Out Of Sight

 (photo via)

How do you feel about starting over?
Here it is the beginning of April, and this entire semester has felt like one big long day of, unfortunately, getting absolutely nothing done. I have no steam, I have no idea where the steam went, I don't know if I ran out of steam at some point and didn't notice or if I've never really needed general human steam until now and have just discovered my natural lack.
When I was a kid, we had our rich-person Christmas tree in our front window every year, super-tall and covered in little mini wreaths and birds and garlands of sparkly gold stars. Underneath laid a circlet of quilt batting and a lit-up porcelain village. A train choochooed around the village, on the batting, under the tree, and real steam came out the top. My sister and I were equally thrilled each time the train came around the track, puffing its white fluffy steam into the air.
The rich tree still goes up every year. A fresher layer of cotton snow and the glowing village have been relocated to the hearth a few feet away, and the steam-puffing train hasn't been out for eight years or so. The steam stopped working, and while the train still chugged around the track, we just never got it out of the box again. I feel like the train.
None of this means that I haven't learned about seventeen invaluable lessons this semester (as usual) or that I haven't been able to push through at work and in most of my classes (luckily).
In so many ways every day of this semester has felt like Groundhog Day--when I wake up in the morning, it's as though I've always been waking up on that morning. Each walk from my car to class is identical, and the rice cakes I crunch down at work are the same rice cake, over, and over, and over. Every habit I've made this semester I seem to make daily again and again. (The amount of chicken burritos I need from Taco Bell to eat through each hour at work explodes exponentially every day that the sun doesn't come out and the breeze doesn't blow warm) (my morning and evening prayers become an auto-tuned droning blur in Middle Utahn English) (every comment I make in class contains the same five adverbs) (I wash the same three shirts every week and feel sheepish wearing my pretty bright scarves). I try this semester to break out of mundanity, out of sleeping on my floor because I don't feel like moving all the stuff off my bed, out of underachieving in the classes I planned so carefully to get into, but I end up sliding back into it every morning as I wearily put my earrings in and trudge to the bathroom to slide on a headband and wash my face. All my energy is elsewhere. At nights I attend a Bikram yoga class, hoping to sweat out the semester and wake up in the mornings with a desire to do my homework. And it helps. 
I know it's just a part of spring, and especially spring in Utah--that gray unending dizziness that was finally and relievingly broken yesterday morning, after the snow melted, after conference, when I looked out my bedroom window and saw that the soft little caterpillars had all fallen from the cottonwoods and been replaced by tiny, green, nourishing buds. In that flash of green outside, that little gasp of color, I snapped out of the grayness for a second and thought that maybe it wouldn't be so bad to shove the clothes and papers off my bed and lie in it for a while. I laid there, in the bed I made, thinking about the amazing opportunities I've had this semester. I thought about the ones I've taken and the ones I haven't. I'm thankful that I have chosen to spend my time in the way that I have this semester. All of it. And I'm thankful especially to those who have helped me to know what I'm worth. So thanks, you. You know who you are.

 Things are getting greener.


U U N A said...

I know exactly how you mean. just doingdoingdoing things but not REALLY caring. oh well. the summer will probably cheer things up (:

-m- said...

I agree:) beautiful words my dear. Summer is on it's way!

PorkStar said...

Very descriptive and beautiful post.

† Brycrasch said...

<3 your face off

Grettir said...

Give yourself a break. You're on sabbatical.

As you know, long before academia co-opted the word, "Sabbatical" referred to the Torah's mandate that you let your fields lie fallow every seventh year. Gentiles called it madness; we call it crop rotation.

Your heart is pretty good at prioritization, and you said it yourself: All your energy is elsewhere right now. Your head may not understand that, but your head is the Gentile in this scenario. Go with your heart on this one. Keep wearing the same three shirts and using the same five adverbs. You'll get back to the rest of your wardrobe and vocabulary eventually and, when you do, you'll be even more gorgeous and eloquent than you were the last time I saw you (and, let me tell you, you were pretty darn gorgeous and eloquent), but for now let those fields lie fallow and stop beating yourself up about lower crop yields.

Have I sufficiently strangled the metaphor? Good.

I was going to finish with a reference to Zac Efron's performance in Charlie St. Cloud, but I think I'll save that for another time.


jenny said...

this is depressing. i feel ya though, but i am currently in the weirdest mood right now from watching the worst movie ever and being sick. night bebe.

ConnieGirl said...

Glad to read the end of this post. It's common to get some form of seasonal depression, but that doesn't make it any less gray to endure.

Huzzah for Spring

Brittany said...

Julie, I just feel redundant when I comment. But really, you and your words blow me away and build me up inside.

Winter is hard for me too, and I'm just over here praying that this is the last snow. Thanks for writing about the green, but thanks for writing honestly about the white and grey too.

Haley said...

dear julie,

this is really amazing. but i have one question: are you still alive? you've defied all science if you survived all those showers...

here's hoping! haha.

your friend,

brooke said...

do you ever get words stuck in your head?
these are the words that have been stuck in my head for a couple weeks now: Bikram yoga.

reading those words in this post was the last straw, and i just want you to know i'm gonna start it. being a Bikram yoga-er.


Haley said...

oh my gosh you are reading bossypants. i LOVED it! it's so hilarious. I just finished the audiobook--as read by ms. fey herself--and was in tears! it's perfect.