Saturday, December 6, 2014

Re-entering the larger world

I've been going to campus almost every day for the last two weeks.  I've been making myself a presence--something that's been scary to me and an important recognition for other people.  I look different.  It often takes colleagues a double-take when they see me.  And then they're welcoming, asking me how I am.

LH mercy they are so good. I want to go eat some
right now.
This week one colleague/friend held a welcome back drop-in at her house. The house was full of wonderful people and freaking delicious food, plate after plate.  Like my efforts to go on campus, this event was another way for me to connect to my colleagues and friends.

As I put away tart after tart from Sugar, folks would tell me that it's clear that I have more energy now than I had earlier in the fall.  For instance, in October I did a big interview as part of becoming a full professor.  Colleagues who were part of that process said that I did a great job, but that they could tell how I tired I was, and how I was having to push myself.  I went home and fell asleep after that interview.

I'm no longer that person.  I haven't taken a nap in a couple of weeks.  A couple of weeks!  I've been working effectively on plans for next semester's classes.  I'm reading things related to chapter 6 in my book.  I'm planning a couple of additional interviews for the book.  I've been connecting to my friends more effectively.

I'm feeling more and more like myself.

Brian and I at the holiday prom.
I'm sorry you can't see my shirt.  A flow-y t-shirt that my mom and I bought
on sale, for like $12.  But you can see MY EARRINGS!  I'm trying
all kinds of new things!  Probably haven't worn any for 8 years.
And sometimes I'm an exploratory self.  For instance, last night Brian and I went to a holiday party that CofC has been holding forever and forever, but I've never gone.  Just didn't seem like my style.  One collegue calls it "the prom," and when I heard that, I recognized that I've never gone to a prom.  The prom wasn't for the funky high school kids.  When my senior year prom rolled around, I found it far more important to try to drag my boyfriend away from his girlfriend, an entirely inappropriate, desperate, mean series of efforts.  Hurray, prom night! (Sarcasm.)

So at age almost-42, I tried it again.

Not bad!  I had a total of two bites of food because I just kept talking and talking, to former grad students, colleagues, folks I know only vaguely, and Maybelle's beloved ECDC teacher.

Here's how the conversations went:

"Alison, how are you?"

"I'm doing much better.  I'm grateful to be back at school, and getting ready for next week's classes."

"You look great!  Your hair looks great!"

This was a moment when I needed to decide how much information they wanted.  With a couple of people, I had them check out how quickly my hair has grown on my neck--you can see the amount of hair that's responded to being shaved.  A lot of hair.  And you can compare it to the hair on the left side of my head and it's growing, but very slowly.  I'm not sure if that's what they wanted.

"And how's Maybelle?"

This is another point where I didn't know what to share--do they want the real story ("She's had a challenging several months.  All kinds of changes.  Fighting with my mom because that was the only predictable/safe place.  Etc.") or the normal one ("She's great!)?

And then it was sort of surprising to hear from almost every person, "I read your blog, so I've been keeping up with how you're doing."  One person said, "I read the article from The City Paper, and I never cry, but that article made me cry so much."

Oh.  Well, maybe they all wanted the in-depth interview.  Or maybe they just want to touch base with me since they know a million things have happened since they've been reading.  That made me realize that I haven't been able to do much blogging in previous months.  But I'm feeling better now, so I can blog.

I'm so glad I got to see so many of you, to have so many hugs.  I'm glad to be back on campus, to have a seat at my desk, to snuggling into the Starbucks chair as a space to read.

Here I am!


  1. I'm so glad to see YOU! I'm so thrilled to hear you're doing well. Love & miss you...

  2. way too personal a question that only another hairy-legged feminist would ask :

    did the hair on your legs and arm pits disappear, too?! :)

    if so, how did that difference feel to you? for some reason, the your decision to experiment with earrings stirred the leg/pit hair question in my mind...:)

    if you're smooth-legged, do you think you'll experiment with regular shaving when the hair re-grows?

    I haven't worn jewelry in a gazillion years, even though I pierced my ears more than once and have a bunch of earring-less holes in my lobes.

    the only "girly" accoutrement i like--actually, love--is make-up; but only when i'm "dressing up".

    super happy for you! so, so wonderful that you have more energy, have the gumption and get-up-and-go to work on your book, and plan classes! and the whole socialization circuit thing! wowza! your resilience is amazing, A!

    hope you & Maybelle have a merry, tranquil, reassuring, joyous holiday season. lots of cookies! and lots and lots of singing!

    (((be well)))