Sunday, April 24, 2011

Freedom

I woke up this Easter Sunday irritated by academia. I'm thinking specifically about how part of the reaction to my quest to get a shot at a tenure track job last year turned toward ridicule: some of my esteemed colleagues ridiculed me for my column in East Village Magazine, a 35-year-old "neighborhood newsletter" for which I've been providing back-page prose for four years. How embarrassingly naive and parochial of me to assert that my writing for EVM was something to be proud of, something to offer up to my colleagues as evidence of my value for their precious position. How bush-league of me to point out that EVM has more readers than most literary magazines -- though my readers, who've been avid and attentive, have far less lofty pedigrees than academia demands. How incompletely professionalized and myopically amateur I was, to ask the publisher of EVM, Gary Custer, to write me letter of recommendation. My friends have endured my ruminations on this matter repeatedly over the last year, and contrary to what some of them think, I don't particularly care, nor did I take my stab at tenure naively. It was aggressive, at heart, and I'm not very surprised about the results. As I recently told the ultimately successful candidate for the position, I tried to push my colleagues into acting like another species, as if a giraffe could be an octopus.

Also, I am long in the tooth. Ted and I heard the phrase on NPR this morning, and Ted said it refers to old lions, whose teeth lengthen with the years. I am then a toothy old lioness, crabby and demanding and still periodically driven by hopes new and old. I'm not a writer for the young; my concerns are neither glamorous nor hip. I'm dreading getting old and I'm preternaturally observant of my body's varied declines. I like knowing something about my community from 30 years of it. I enjoy thinking about things that happened at the halfway point of the last century. I'm doing more remembering past adventures than generating new ones.
I've occasionally thought that my indirections and inward-looking observations make ripe fruit for parody. I could parody my writing myself, before some young wag beats me to it. Not that there are many young wags left in Flint who'd notice.

Anyway, this is a long introduction to savoring my freedom. For about the 45th time, I'm embarking on writing my next column, and it strikes me that I really am free to write whatever I want. What does it matter? There is nothing to stop me from being whoever I am on the page, and today this carbonating freedom pleases me immensely. We're making mimosas later, using our new juicer. The finches are gold again; maybe we can sit out on the porch. I wonder where the day will take me.


5 comments:

T. Roger Thomas said...

Michael Jordon was cut from his freshman basketball team. Hang in there!

Macy Swain said...

Thanks, T. Roger! I did sit out on the back porch and also enjoyed several glasses of a fine pinot noir -- Capiaux, 2008 -- before taking a long walk. Good day!

AquaJane said...

I'm so sorry you were ridiculed. I just today stumbled upon your blog, but from what I've read so far, you're a brilliant writer. I read this post twice, both times laughing with delight at your word choices. Now this bush-league writer is going to use her carbonating freedom to read it a third time!

Macy Swain said...

Thank you, AquaJane. Your comments -- on this post and the other one -- mean a lot to me!

du lich chau au said...

i love sunday, i can sleep until 9am, so free