It’s just been a little over twenty-four hours since I finished the MRI. Getting results back so soon isn’t really expected, but there’s no problem with hoping, right?
Since I have time to meander in distant retrospection, I came across a letter my sister Barbara wrote to me May 7, 1980. I had just gotten my knee done and that I could finally get my shit together. Thirty-seven years later, her letter is still appropriate, though she did admit that she was only half serious.
The hardest part about keeping a journal that includes letters and cards that go back thirty or more years is that it is a lot easier to hold onto a piece a paper than it is to hold onto friends.
My first collegiate experience, Ithaca College, was a whirl wind of an experience. In my year and a half in upstate New York, I met more friends than in all of my previous eighteen years.
I had my teammates. My Weston soccer teammates, my Waltham Angels/Wings friends, some of whom I’m back in touch with.
But Ithaca was different. Maybe it was the four hundred miles away from my dad’s expectations that helped create an atmosphere where I could let more of my personality out. I had friends from all walk of life.
I just read a hysterical letter written by Emily Lyon. She hated Ithaca and not only was anxious to move out, but wished she had never gone to Ithaca College, though she did share my same sentiment of finding some of the best friends.
It’s too bad her name is so common. I tried to find her on facebook. It’s also been thirty-seven years, and who knows if she is even going by Lyon. It’s hard to say when and who was the first to stop writing. Back in “those” days, letter-writing was one of my major compulsions. I wrote a lot of letters. I have them all and then some. Every so often, people will send me back my letters so I can keep them. Maybe my sister Barbara would like her card back.
Getting back to getting my shit together. I wonder how many times I have blogged this line: I moved/ran away to Eugene from the Boston area to get my shit together. I’m still in Eugene. I suppose the definition of having my act together has changed over the years, but I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel when I get to that destination. How will I know?
Yes, it took me a long time to get my first degree. Two weeks prior to turning thirty, I turned in my last incomplete paper to earn my BA in English from the University of Oregon. I didn’t do the walk. My diploma lived in the cardboard mailer that the UO used to send to me for about ten years while I worked at a dead-end job at The Register-Guard.
By then it didn’t matter that I wasn’t bringing in the dough as I was making enough to keep me in bowling tournaments and could have as many bowling balls as I wanted. My compulsion to bowl did distract me from my compulsion to write letters, but I did write a lot of postcards from my exciting travels up and down the I-5 corridor. May even had written one from Drain, Oregon, while at a very little tournament or practicing. I always kept bowling balls in the Subaru just in case I came across lanes I hadn’t bowled in before.
When I become compulsive about something, I become a fanatic. Obviously, the more I bowled, the better I got. But the better I got only created this insane idea of bowling even more. Left shoulder. Right Shoulder. Scoping of the right knee. Replacing the ACL in same knee. All of these things were done simply to extend my time bowling.
But there was a moment when I had gotten my act together. It helped that The RG newspapers were liquidating personnel. I had applied to graduate school before given the pink slip and was accepted a few weeks later.
I did continue to bowl while in graduate school, but I was so consumed in being a good student that bowling just had to take a back seat. And then I got a teaching job at the Willamette Leadership Academy and kept my act together for a little over five years. Oh, that school had become my next compulsion. Eighty and then some hours a week. I taught everything under the sun. My first year to only teach English, the only thing I was licensed to teach, would have come my sixth year, but I went my separate ways by then.
I have seen glimpses of having my act together, but I’ve never lived a very balanced life. Something always seems to get the short end of the stick. For the last dozen years, the house has been neglected. I’ve lost track of how many years I’ll tell myself that this is the year I am going to get my act together and get the basement under control.
Damn Murphy’s Law. Now that I have time on my hands since I can’t work, I can’t be on my leg long enough to make a dent. I’ve been trying to motivate myself to write more. Who said that there’s no trying, there’s just doing. I’m writing now, aren’t I? Doesn’t this count for something?
I sure would like to hear from you on whether you think you have your act together and how it feels.