maybe I should call this post the $10,000 mug.
And here it is:
I call it the $10,000 mug because I went to Goddard for exactly one semester, to major in psychology.
It must, truly, be an excellent program because in only one semester I found out that:
I didn’t want to be a psychologist after all
I did want to write more than anything else
I did want to put my energy into my writing and into Devil’s Party Press.
Goddard is a unique place, after all, they have a choice between college sweatshirts and handmade mugs in their school store. Try and find another college with that diversity of options in its school store.
Goddard emphasizes adding a social justice piece to all of their programs.
It is a weird and funky little campus, for example, when I arrived, very late on a snow-covered and icy evening, I found there was only one little volunteer around to help me find and get into my room.
A wolf bounded through the snow behind the dorms as I carted my belongings back and forth from my car.
Yes, a wolf.
It was huge, scary huge, it looked like a Siberian Husky that had been super-sized and had something not quite right about it. It came crashing through the undergrowth of the woods into the clearing behind the dorm. It paused, and looked at me with a look of pure unfriendliness that dogs never have. It did not seem bothered by the snow. It did not seemed bothered by me, though it clearly was not inviting me to come closer.
I freaking froze.
It looked at me.
I, without turning, finally, broke the standoff by stepping a foot backward so slowly, and then another, so so very slowly.
On my third backwards step it turned its head and eyes from me, and leapt ahead, back into the woods.
Vermont is weird.
For me, basically a city girl until the last 5 or so years, Vermont is remote.
Parts of it, Montpelier in particular, have built up since I got my MFA in the 1990s, but I still feel that, if you were not born there, choosing to move into Vermont is a definite lifestyle-based decision. In a small state it seems as if huge swaths of it are empty. I am a 100% introvert, but I like to be able to get to a bagel without it becoming a huge trek. Vermont is introvert minus bagel-adjacency. And extroverts? Extroverts need not apply.
Aside from the lone wolf I saw, Goddard was very accommodating. They served three meals a day in the cafeteria, and they were really delicious. Each meal had a bean and a green available (maybe garbanzos and collard greens at breakfast…. Swiss chard and kidney beans at lunch) in addition to the other foods they cooked. The coffee was amazing, and always available, 24/7. The campus was small, intimate, attractive. The dorm rooms definitely need some polishing for a city girl to feel like they were clean enough, and… scary as hell… the library is in the woods, the woods the wolf is in. You have to walk on a path through the woods, a slightly lighted path, to get to and from the library. Luckily I hate libraries, so I didn’t spend more than one afternoon there. You can drive to the library, but what is more likely to happen is that you will walk there, and if you stay too late… “Hey there little Red Riding Hood, you sure are lookin’ good….”
Goddard is a school that should be on more people’s short list for college. It is really unique, and I think the programs it offers are more than just degree programs; they are really immersions into your chosen field. It was partially that immersion that made me realize that, while I am a super-helpy person in general, I do not want to be on that side of the couch. And it was the seclusion and the remoteness from my life that made me realize that I really want to be in the writing life alone.
I was at Goddard because I was running from that.
And, I still am in some ways.
Taking a job as the local chamber of commerce was another detour from my final destination.
Like a surprise wolf demanding to know my intentions, my writing is less and less kind to me when I ignore it, hence me writing now, at 3 or so in the morning.
I liked the isolation from my life I had at Goddard. It took me a few days to relax into it, but I did. It was lovely to have meals that were healthy and not cooked by me along with coffee at all hours, again, not cooked by me. It was pleasant to be able to carry my laptop through the campus, and lite in different spots as it suited me, to try to write or think. It was annoying that the topic was psychology because I wished it was writing. It was nice to be able, but not forced, to share a meal with someone if I chose to do so. The psychology students were pretty cliquish though, based on what branch they were interested in or how socially just they thought you were. I absolutely am happy to know which pronouns a person likes used about them, i.e. do I refer to you as “she,” or “he,” or perhaps “they?” However, the constant conversation with the youngsters in attendance about whether or not any person at any given time was being racist or ageist, or etc. got to the point where it made conversation a drag, an absolute drag, because there was so much talk about “how” to have the conversation that often the conversation itself never happened. And since we were all basically on the same page: I want to help people and do so with an emphasis on social justice, it seemed counterproductive to me that people kept attacking each other.
And so, when I got back home, I realized fairly quickly that what I wanted was to be a writer. Well fuck, I’m only 54, don’t rush me on figuring things out. I have plenty of time…
I do not.
I went to Goddard on a student loan which I have to pay (am paying) back.
And that is why I call my mug the $10,000 mug.
It’s a great mug, and an expensive and slow way to figure out I’m running from something that I can’t outrun: writing.
The mug has bees on it: perhaps Goddard is pollinating the minds of its students.
And I think I learned that I might someday like to go on a writing retreat. Just pig out on writing somewhere. It would be nice to do one with Dave too. But no Sophie. Children often inspire writing, but they don’t facilitate it.
I drank all my coffee.
Time to refill my mug.