Making sense

Anne Lamott, on writing ...

"We are a species that needs and wants to understand who we are. Sheep lice do not seem to share this longing, which is one reason why they write so little. But we do. We have so much we want to say and figure out.”

Thursday, July 12, 2012

MacDowell Colony fellowship ...

Yesterday, at precisely 2:06 p.m. CST, I received this email:

Dear Kathleen,
I am writing to let you know that we have space available for a Fall residency at The MacDowell Colony. We are happy to offer you a 3 week residency between 9/26/12 and 10/19/12.
Please let us know at your earliest convenience if you are able to accept this offer. Once we hear back from you, I will send further instructions.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Best,
MaryRuth*

To which I immediately replied, hand shaking:

Oh. My. Goodness.
Yes. Yes! YES!!!
I (joyfully) accept your residency offer!
You have made my day, week, month, year.
Gratefully yours ~
Kathleen

To which "MaryRuth" (not her real name) replied:

Wonderful!
I will follow up with formal email and further instructions shortly.
After you receive that email, please let me know if you have
any questions.
Best,
MaryRuth*

And shortly thereafter came this, on Colony "letterhead":

Dear Kathleen,
We are glad to be able to offer you a MacDowell Colony Fellowship
during the Fall/Winter 2012 season.We have a studio set aside for you
from 9/26/2012 to 10/19/2012.  Skide.cmslufe.cudr. dur.d vi'w.xiens.blsuengls
slucs.ufffiejvns.ekthsocieht.shdofke.vbsodured.d.vyspoemruyggjuslv.nslku
ekslsox.wjf';aa;eic.sjdriiilw/fdfules.Djdulw d,sleudllsiec,dkeoslg mslepovhes,
pfkr oixkwodlpv mdkeiduhsl;mboeidhjsl. Pcsmeols jamplwendlsjweibomhlsjs
uwnmv;po ikslmcjwuydh;mlkjut fsjvnkspqwosdlvmcjhyeuifkvmssksk.
Wekdicl dmeldomlspod mslodjcnmwlptdglkmxposmlx;poiwhslmxvcojsm.
Qksolv mnw vsblops jhglasedopldmoe.
Congratulations on your upcoming residency, we look forward
to having you at the Colony!
Best wishes,
Morgan S. Alderman*
Executive Director

*Not her real name

(Once I read "We have a studio set aside for you ... " all the other words
became unreadable. I was in some kind of shock.)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"We are glad to be able to offer you a MacDowell Colony Fellowship
during the Fall/Winter 2012 season. We have a studio set aside for you
from 9/26/2012 to 10/19/2012."

"We are glad to be able to offer you a MacDowell Colony Fellowship
during the Fall/Winter 2012 season. We have a studio set aside for you
from 9/26/2012 to 10/19/2012."

"We are glad to be able to offer you a MacDowell Colony Fellowship
during the Fall/Winter 2012 season. We have a studio set aside for you
from 9/26/2012 to 10/19/2012."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We have a studio set up for you ...
We have a studio set up for you...
We have a studio set up for you...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I was eating lunch at Chili's in Kansas City North with my daughter, Estee, when the email
came in. I'd been Debbie Downer earlier in the day, feeling sorry for myself. A dead mother.
Inability to get a teaching job. An ever-growing fat roll on my torso. Four-hundred thirty-two dollars left in my checking account after paying the month's bills (with no income to count on).
"Let's go to lunch," my daughter proffered. "You'll feel better."
I dragged my feet out to the car; drove like an old farmer on a slow Sunday to the restaurant; ordered a water; waited for my daughter to decide what she wanted. (Me? Chili's is easy: Get the chicken fajitas.) And while she decided, I got out my iPhone and checked my email.
And there it was, the email that had brought on heart palpitations and a thin layer of sweat.
Later, my daughter told me that she'd thought someone had died, the look on my face.
I couldn't even open the entire email; I made her do it.
"You're gonna like this," she said, smiling broadly, her orthodontically enhanced teeth glistening. (Oh, to be twenty-six again. And beautiful.)
Yeah. I liked it. Told the waitress to change my drink order to a margarita.
It was time to celebrate.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The celebration lasted approximately 15 minutes, and then paranoia set in.
I am somewhat neurotic. I am a writer. I am definitely a neurotic writer.
(If you only knew the things I go through to write ... .)

1) This has been a mistake, this offer of residency. There is another person with a name similar to mine and a like-email address. I have received the "We want you" email in error. Next Tuesday, I will receive a "Sorry, but we screwed up" email from MacDowell. "Never mind, Kathleen Stander. We were looking for Kathleen Strander."
2) I will die before Sept. 26. What will it be? An accident? GERD gone BAD? Developing MRSA on that bug-bite looking thing on my chest?
3) The MacDowell Colony will shut down before Sept. 26. Budget cuts.
4) The airplane I am flying on to New Hampshire will crash. I will: a) die in the crash, or b) become mentally incapacitated on account of the crash.
5) I will forget how to write between now and Sept. 26.
6) I will remember HOW to write between now and Sept. 26, but everything will suck.

My Screw-This-Paranoia Plan:

1) Feel the paranoia. Look at what I just wrote up there. Note its patheticness. (Consult dictionary to see if patheticness is even a word ~) Indulge the paranoia for one day only and then let it go.
2) Write for a minimum of five hours every day between now and Sept. 26.
3) Pray.
4) Troll The MacDowell Colony's website every day between now and Sept. 26.
5) Pray some more.

www.macdowellcolony.org

1 comment:

Jo Annette said...

LOVE this post. Triggered a tear and right after that a smile while the tear was still trickling down my face. It gave me hope. There is some alien will struggling to speak through me, but for the life of me I can't fucking figure out how to give it a voice. So I sit and do nothing. And it sucks. And I'm broke. And it sucks. And through it all I'm happy and hopeful, but paralyzed to act on it. And that sucks too. Thanks, Kathleen. Blessings to you on your journey.