A professional stance

I don’t always have to be accommodating. I don’t ever have to make an exception. I know it’s that time of year. “You get tired. That is the nature of things.” I am tired.

Because of work, I am tired of the people. I feel defeated. I feel I have bent to breaking. Bent over backwards so often to smile, to help, to do anything other than scare someone off, and now I am worn. Weathered. Ready to detach and unplug and step away.

I am still learning how to find that delicate balance between giving and maintaining. Between trying and expending. Expiring.

I once had a supervisor review me with, “[she] has a gracious way of being an advisor who holds the student’s hand and holds each of them responsible at the same time.”

She meant it as a dig. She hated the way I worked with my advisees. She hated the way I tried to shelter them from what I could. How I held out my wing to them. I allow my empathy too much room in my work.

Students take advantage. The students I work with now seem to have plenty of empathy in their lives. They need someone to challenge them. They need tough love. Old habits die hard. I keep holding out a hand, just in case I get that student for whom the structures aren’t built. The student who rarely encounters empathy. That is where my mind goes. What if

But then I flip, unsure if I am teaching them anything. Unsure if I am modeling anything. Unsure if I am going anywhere. Unsure if anything, anything matters anymore. If anything is resonating. If anything is sticking.

Don’t fuck with me: you will learn something. Can that be an advising philosophy? A teaching statement?



Winter lights

I get cozy on the couch. Commit to write. Football has been on the tv all day. The sounds of winter.

The sky is a different color this time of year. At night I steal glances out the balcony door. A pinkish orange. An orangish yellow. A strange glow from the competing streetlights of the neighborhood. Pink in the dead of night. Gray in the morning.

It feels good to have winter again. The cold seeping into the edges of the room the fireplace cannot reach. The piercing blue of the sky without canopies of leaves to block the view. Heavy, hot food. Gloves and coffee. I never thought I would be a cold weather person. I realize now it was never the weather that made me feel bad. It was the shitty places I usually found myself when the cold hit.

My place now is so much better. We sit on the couch together on days like this–feet to hip. We ran 3 miles earlier. Bundled up against the cold without talking, each invested in our own podcast. You even granted my route request–to run to the library so I could pick up my books on hold. You even volunteered to carry the heavier book after I had already handed you the skinny book. We ran, each with a hardback in hand. How funny we would have looked, if we could have been seen. The streets were deserted. The air was sharp. My throat closed in and my lungs constricted. My body tried to resist, but I kept going. We crossed streets without a signal, against the traffic lights, cars nonexistent because of the home football game. What a place to live, where something as basic as sport clears the spaces.

I fell asleep on the floor, stretched out in front of the fireplace with the New Yorker on my lap. I feel a sense of gratitude unknown to me. I feel a strange sense of delight when I wake up in the morning and when I come home at night. A lot of my things will never go away. But they become less of a habit, they fade to the periphery. I feel like the depression is under control. I feel like my restlessness is understood. I know I could wander away at any time, but for once that is not what I’m planning. For once it doesn’t feel so necessary to have a plan.


Life is holding impossible, competing truths in your mind. Forever living with the idea of reconcile.

Does it feel impossible to be a quiet person in a loud world? To shrug off the eyes of others in a time when you are supposed to court being looked at, being seen?

Some days. I am grateful that I was rarely made to feel bad about my introversion. My parents forced quiet time and solitude upon me, when they desperately needed it themselves. I appreciate now that I’m out in the world, so often seeking quiet, that I did not learn to feel guilty about it. That I feel entitled to empty rooms and dark corners and still mornings in bed.

How at peace I am with peace.