This past week I had Spring Break from my job, but not from grad school. I wish the two synced up. It would have been wonderful to have a full break. But at the same time, I did a reading at a symposium that I wouldn’t have been able to do if it was a workday, and I did a co-presentation on Washington Irving for my lit class. Being not at work gave me more time to prepare and work with the other student. A wicked friendly librarian at the UAllbany campus gave me a chat tutorial to figure out how to use interlibrary loan online. So much has changed and stayed the same in the 21 years since I completed my undergrad. I also met with two of my writing groups this week and finished the plans for my trip to Montana in August for a writing workshop. Oh, and I received two positive rejections on the same piece, one even put it right there in the subject line. This week has been busy, and I still have a ton of work to do. Plus, I got outside for hikes every day. This was an amazing and packed week.
My grandmother used to say she never knew someone who liked balance as much as me. She wasn’t wrong. I need balance in my life. It’s a deep-seated force inside of me. I let myself get off balance and try to find peace inside the discomfort, but mostly I just figure out a way to get balance again. Maybe it’s why I’m good on uneven surfaces, like boats and hiking trails. I like to find my center in situations that throw me off, even if other people disapprove. It’s a self-preservation skill.
Motion is the other thing I need. My brain can’t work sitting still. I need to move to think. Sitting all day at my job inside of small locked behind bars spaces (I teach in 2 jails) makes my brain ache. I figured out several jobs ago that I’m not good behind a desk all day. I need movement. My students don’t usually notice how much I move until I point it out. Then they observe and see that I’ve found subtle ways to wiggle and still look almost professional. In my Zoom classes, I stand up and readjust my seat often. When we used to go to the movies and concerts, I sat in the aisle. My husband’s legs are significantly longer than mine, but I move too much. By sitting by the aisle, I don’t kick him and other people as much while I shift every five minutes. I’m also that annoying person who stands and jumps through concerts. It’s probably why I love road trips and traveling too.
When the pool was open, I used to do distance swimming. Usually, 2-2.5 miles in the 1.5 hours it was open in the morning. That helped a lot. It wore me out, allowed my brain to work through its mess, and calmed me down. Everything but my skin benefited greatly from those swims. My skin needs so much extra care with the pool, but it was worth it.
When I listen to authors being interviewed or read essays they’ve written or biographies about their process, so many need movement. Walking especially. The moving from one place to another, new sights to breathe thoughts and spark ideas. My body being occupied by motion and pumping blood and oxygen to my brain makes my thoughts explode. That’s what happened on all my little hikes. Thoughts exploded. It was a busy week, but I don’t mind that because I also had the freedom to get so much done and feel like I accomplished something.