Just Answer My BLEEPIN’ question!

I might be back, but I’m still reeling. The 10 days that I spent at my graduate school residency were filled with readings, critiques, faculty presentations, graduate presentations and emotion.

How odd it was, at my age, to become awash with nerves as I approached the Bowdoin College campus. Years peeled away with each step that brought me closer to the doors of the building where I would check in. By the time my right hand wrapped around the wooden handle and I pulled the heavy glass door open, I was feeling all of the emotion that typically accompanied the first day at a new school. I haven’t felt that unease for more years than I care to discuss.

Will they be nice? Will they like me? Will I make friends? Am I smart enough? Am I doing the right thing?

I was handed a meal card and a key to the dorm where I would be sleeping. The dorm was still deserted. I was early.

But was I? Was I early or had I begun this endeavor 18 years too late? Those were the questions I posed to an overly friendly squirrel who sat on the steps with me outside of Thorne Hall. His silence reminded me of a therapist I once saw. She had a maddening habit of blankly staring at me when I posed questions like, “Should I marry Steve?” or, “Is it weird that my future mother-in-law still makes her 26 year old son’s bed?” or, “Why would he propose to me at Disney World…right after we rode the Tower of Terror? That’s just not at all how I envisioned it would happen.” The therapist never responded. She simply sat in her chair, nibbling on the end of her retractable pencil and allowed my questions to linger in the space between us.

Just answer my fucking question, lady.

She didn’t need to answer me. I knew the answers to my questions. I knew I was asking because all of it was wrong. For me, it was wrong. I knew it was a terrible idea to marry him. I knew that he would invite his mother into our relationship far more than I would ever be comfortable with. I knew so much, but chose to ignore that silent therapist and marry him anyway. I ignored my intuition and I suffered for that mistake.

Now, at 40 years old, I found myself sitting on the steps outside of a college dining hall and demanding answers from a common grey squirrel.

Am I smart enough? Am I doing the right thing? Am I allowed to call myself a writer?

The squirrel stared at me and nibbled a morsel he found in the grass. He allowed my question to linger in the space between us.

Just answer my fucking question, squirrel!

He didn’t need to answer me. I knew the truth. I knew that I was asking because what I was about to do – attend my first MFA residency – was right.

I sat on those steps and pondered the path that I’ve been resisting for the better part of my life. The squirrel dropped his morsel and, without hesitation, he ran to catch it again. For some reason, that squirrel jumped onto a wall then leapt onto the grass and approached his prize after making a wide arc across the sidewalk. He didn’t follow the easiest, most obvious route.

Thank you, squirrel.

I stood up, brushed the debris from the back of my skirt and introduced myself to the other writers who had just finished checking in.

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I’d like to take a moment to thank Diana of BettyShmetty fame, the always encouraging Eden of Evergreen Eden , Amber, that talented writer from http://www.thedailydoty.com/, Mary Lauren from My 3 Little Birds –  she makes it all look so easy, doesn’t she? She even navigated No. 7 without suffering any nasty bites. Mollie from  OK in UK…I love when a person shares my dry sense of humor, so much so that sometimes we can’t tell when the other is kidding..or not. Mollie truly is awesome. Katie, that talented and insightful writer from Chicken Noodle Gravy. Katie gets me…on so many levels. We share a deep dislike for mean girls and women who seem unable to stop acting like mobs of 13 year old mean girls. Patty from Another cookie, please. Patty who I’ve known for so long – our friendship actually began before the blogs! She’s been my biggest fan, provides continuous encouragement and support and she’s one hell of a writer. Stop selling yourself short. Finally, I’d like to say thank you to Ada from Of Woods and Words . I stumbled upon Of Woods and Words last fall and immediately became a fan.

Thank you, friends! Thank you for babysitting No. 7 while I was off getting edumacated.

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Comments

  1. Wow…sounds like quite a time. I love your writing style, it’s great 🙂

    Lots of love from Baby Pickel

  2. Welcome Back!!

    Was sitting here, a tad teary-eyed, because my Jen and Grandsons are now flying over Charleston, on their way back to Tampa; tracking their flight in real time and missing them more as the miles grow further apart. Your post popped-up on FB and it added to the emotions of my day; thank you for your lovely comment.

    It was an honor to be a small part of the great No.7 Bloggersitters group! Do we get to do this again while you’re in Ireland?

    Hugs!

  3. Well, hello again my new writing friend. I have some answers: Yes, the residency caused us to be awed and maddenly emotional on so many levels. It will take me even longer to process everything, especially since I am still coming out of my protective fog. So… until then… I will “consider the trout.” Hugs, Kerri
    P.S. You are very well liked by everyone who met you!

    • uh oh…you found my site of silly ramblings! I have been seriously considering the trout since yesterday morning. Tell me that I’m not the only one feeling emotionally wrecked.

  4. Oh, how I MISSED YOU!! I think you know just how proud I am of you for chasing your dream, for being ten million times braver than I could ever be, for asking squirrels important questions about life. 😉 I can’t wait to hear about your adventures. I can’t wait to unload on you about those mean girls again…this time a new set…from my troubled fan-fiction past, ha!

    Seriously, it was a true honor to guest post. Felt like I was sitting in for someone famous! 🙂 Which you will be…someday soon!

  5. Yes. You are a writer. Period.

  6. So it’s probably weird to say this…. but I sense a change in your writing, post residency. It’s a good change. Or maybe I’ve changed, because I feel like I am reading something from a writer, vs. a blogger 🙂 Either way, loved this story. When you say ‘answer the fucking question, lady’-you are swearing at yourself 🙂

  7. You’re hoooooooooooome! So happy to have you back 🙂

  8. Hahahaa Kelli with an i, you definitely came back with a vengeance! 🙂 The Stephen King-esque thoughts in italics cracked me up ~ when you cussed at the therapist and the squirrel. And I love that the squirrel did that roundabout thing to get to his prize!!!!! So telling of how nature is such a gift to us, every second of our lives, as long as we’re looking. (God is my Hero.)

    Thank you for the sweet thank you, too. It was an honor! Just like the beloved Katie, it really did feel like I was writing in the place of someone famous. I was all a-flutter with nerves and anticipation! ;D True story.

  9. Hm. Thought I commented on this already, but maybe I am hallucinating. Again. So I just read it again. I still believe that squirrels can, at times, be more helpful than therapists. You just have to find the right one.

    I’m very excited for you that you’re doing this. I was on the fence as to whether i should just write, or go finish my degree. Then my book came to me, and I ran with it. In very much the same manner as your squirrel friend.

  10. Welcome back! We missed you. I’m sure it was amazing and I know you did the right thing. I’m excited to hear what you’ve learn and watch you grow as a writer.

  11. You are a wonderful writer. Congratulations on taking those first steps (they are always the hardest) and quieting that voice that tells us not to walk through the door. Best advice I ever received, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. I admire you. Good luck.

  12. I know this feeling. Only, I’m not as brave as you. I still sit here and do nothing about it. I am in awe than you are tackling your fear, looking your dreams in the eyes, and calling yourself a writer. What a fantastic story. Keep on, keepin’ on. I am happy Katie (Chicken Noodle Gravy) sent me your way.

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