Friday, August 31, 2007

"One always begins to forgive a place as soon as it's left behind." - Charles Dickens

Teachers tend to think of 'years' as 'school years' - i.e. August to June, or something similar. And for those of us who have gone from school to uni to teaching are even more confused. Some people do their inventories of their lives in December, and start again in January. Teachers tend to start again in September. Needless to say it's been a strange week, as TASIS people are beginning their orientation, friends in the US and Europe are beginning their classes, and I'm in Shetland trying to salvage nearly 79,000 words that make up "The Goddess of Woo." I feel like an imposter, and like I am skipping something that I should be doing. Parties are going on all over the place and I'm not there.

Do I miss TASIS? I'm not sure yet. There is a part of me that is yearning to be back where I was a year ago, anxious and eager and excited, but perhaps that is the forgiveness part kicking in.

My 'due' date of Sunday is comfortable, now. Rewriting is hell, though. I thought I had a good story three years ago when I sent off the first 50 pages. Then tweaking, then more tweaking, then more. I look back at past incarnations and am embarrassed by the inconsistencies, the lack of gutsy characterization, the cliche, and wonder if I will look back at the current state of the manuscript and be embarrassed of its many flaws. Every time I read it, I find something else I want to change. I wasn't ready for this type of frustration. I can't imagine my arrogance when I was younger and actually thought of a piece as 'finished.'

Dreams are a funny thing. I'm living it now and not sure what to do with myself.

The sun has visited us a few times this week. I am to the point of understanding 90% of the Shetland dialect now. I have no access to cash as my bank card won't work in Shetland machines. We're still waiting for internet at the flat. I have a new friend, Caroline, who is from Perth and is lovely and allows me to drag her to the gym with me as my translator for the other 10%. Life is slower here. Everyone takes the time to talk with me. The genuine curiosity and kindness of the locals is such an unexpected bonus of being here. Orcas have been spotted outside our apartment. (In the water, of course.) The Tourist Info center sends out text messages whenever orcas or porpoises are spotted off the coast. They also send the weather report plus sunrise and sunset time every morning. Fiddle music is everywhere, in the shops in the centre, in the library, in the pubs. Twice a week, local musicians bring their fiddles and accordions and mandolins and bongos to a place called The Lounge for impromptu and disorganized jam sessions – we went last week and it was great. I've spotted my first American tourists this week - tons of them, speaking very loudly, dressed in tennis shoes, shorts and huge college-logo sweatshirts, sporting huge fanny packs/bum bags protruding from their oversized bottoms - but bless them, at least they have passports. I am also addicted to television – it's the first time I've had more than 2 channels to watch (in English!) in over six years! And much to my mother's pleasure, I am loving the cooking and property shows. I'm middle-aged already.

I look at a blank Word document and think: Fill this empty space with your dreams. Here we go. I am still scared to death.

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