Okay. I am not going first in workshop, but I am still very jittery. I am going second (my workshop is tonight), and for some reason, this time around, it feels almost as bad as going first.

I haven’t been in a workshop in a year…the last time I had a full semester of workshop was Spring 2006! And I dropped out of a Fall 2006 workshop when I realized I was burnt out on workshops. But here I am again, waiting to be judged by peers who have no incentive to reward, and a teacher I’ve never had before, but admire greatly. Oh. After a stroke.

My emotional walls are thinner now, my coping devices for guarding myself have not fully returned and settled into their places…and neither have my fortress walls been rebuilt. I am not sure if I fully welcome them back, because I’ve found my writing has a new edge without the walls and all the guards. But this makes me feel…wobbly…when it comes to vulnerable situations.

I remember a friend of mine a few years ago in my MFA program, who got more and more cheerful as the workshop night wore on. “You must love workshop,” I told her.

“No way! I hate it! I can’t stand workshop anymore!” She unscrewed the lid to her nalgene bottle, one of a dozen nalgene bottles in the classroom. “You’ll know what I’m talking about your last semester!”

“How do you do it, then?” I asked. I opened my nalgene bottle too. Sitting in class, discussing manuscripts for nearly three hours–that results in some thirstiness.

She leaned over to me. Curiously, she shoved her nalgene in my face. It was filled with orange juice. “Liquor,” she said, smiling.

What? “Do I need to do an INTERVENTION?!” I hissed. I really was worried.

“No, you don’t, I’m fine. I just thought it would help me get through workshops, and it sure does.”

Hrm. I kept my eye out for her and didn’t see a nalgene in any other class, and didn’t see her swigging from any bottles. It really did seem she only brought that nalgene bottle to workshop.

Now, years later, I’m facing my last semester in my MFA program. I’m facing my last workshop. In one of the comments of my post about the first week of workshop, Susan posted a comment about online workshops, and how “The other good thing about online workshops is that you can take your comments with a teddy bear and glass of wine in hand.”

I’m thinking: It’s quite possible to just go to class with that wine (in a nalgene) and a teddy bear in hand.



Filed under MFA, Writing

5 responses to “Second

  1. Ah…what a perfect combination πŸ˜‰

  2. Eve

    HAHAHAHAHAHa! I’ve found the secret to attending workshops (not to mention conferences, seminars, and children’s ballet recitals) and actually enjoying them. Here! Free!

    I love it!

    P.S. Please come back later and let us know how it went… going 2nd I mean.

  3. Wow. I just bobbled and clicked my way here to find that I had a stroke a few days after you did. My brain broke close to where yours did; almost in the thalamus, but not quite. My stroke was caused by a faulty tangle of blood vessels called an AVM.

    My writing feels broken, too. I recently started a therapy program for high-level functioning individuals and while everybody is nice . . . I’m not really sure that the therapy team understands that particular issue. It maybe makes sense . . . they don’t write much more than basic reports and long lists of exercises for me to do.

    Best Buy still blows me away. Even the produce section at the grocery store puts me in a spin, and my head feels fluffy. Everything I hear and see muffles and blurs, and I stagger out with groceries that I didn’t intend on buying (sort of like your Muir Glen pasta sauce). And then I lose my debit card. I’m on my third since January.

    Now we eat out a lot instead. We live more slowly and deliberately (like it or not). At night I wonder if need to change careers. My old career in the nonprofit sector involved a lot of writing and socializing in fun, chatty places.

    But I’m off track a bit.

    I just really wanted thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for being brave (for you, and even though we haven’t met, for me) and taking workshop . . . and being #2!

    I’ll be checking in now and again.

  4. narziss: yes, teddy bear and booze. πŸ™‚

    Eve: I guess you know by now!

    bustopher: thank you. πŸ™‚

    Joyce: Wow–the universe has some crazy intersections, doesn’t it? Thank you for commenting and letting me know what you have been and are going through. It helps me to know that I am not alone. Every stroke is SO different (there are no two strokes that are alike, I have been told), that even stroke survivors can have a hard time supporting each other. But that you had a stroke in nearly the same place? Eerie. I hope you are doing well and making your way back in your recovery.

    It’s a hard and lonely road…and yes, once you are highly functioning, you just tend to have to shut up–people think you’re all healed, and the people who are still early in recovery think you’re mostly healed…and it’s almost like you just imagine what you can’t do anymore.

    I keep being told that I am okay, that my expectations of myself are “too high.” But I know. I know I’m not quite myself again.

    Oh boy. I just rambled on about myself. Thank you Joyce, for stopping by. πŸ™‚

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