just thinking on the keyboard

Sigh. I don’t lead with my widow foot. There was a time when I would if I thought there was some advantage to it. I was all about easing my burdens through any means necessary through the caregiving years and right after Will died. But these days, I am vague about my status.


I talk about Rob, the fact that I have grown step-daughters, that he and I are raising a seven year old still and that we’ve only been married for going on three years. I don’t elaborate on the how’s, why’s or huh’s – because the math could lead a person to speculate all manner of options leading to the bottom line that is my life.

It’s not that I am ashamed or even overly worried about the effect that my having been widowed once – a while back now – has on people. It can vary but normally people are a bit taken aback and by the time they find words – if they are inclined to words at all – I’ve moved the conversation along.

I do that because I don’t feel new people need to offer me condolences or feel sad for me.

But yesterday at yoga, in the course of being drawn out about my writing, I got backed into a bit of a corner – mostly because I’d tried to talk around the topic of my memoir instead of just laying it all out – and I revealed, in as few words as possible, the whole widow thing.

Later, during a discussion of the vritt’s – I posted about them recently – I used going through the motions after the death of a spouse as an example of how sometimes sleepwalking through life is not a bad thing but is instead a cushion to help a person get by. I framed it in light of my own experience.

One of the great things about moving away from Iowa was leaving behind those who knew about Will. People who could bear some witness to the me of that span of time. It was nice to be shed of them in a way.

Gradually I have revealed this part of my life to people, but as I talked about my memoir to the women in my training, I admitted that what keeps me from finishing it is the fear of it being published and widely read. Mostly, because I don’t want to be known as a widow. Someone who went all “boot-strappy” on her life and overcame … adversity? Is it really adversity if it’s a normal life event that everyone will go through at some point or another if they partner up and stay together?

“Some people find my life interesting,” I told the group at one point, “but I don’t want to be a guru or self-help maven. This is how I did it and have someone think it is the right way, the only way instead of just a way.”

Someone commented here once that I was her grief guru. That is something I can’t be. I believe only in the process of life under which all the details fall and one of them is coping with death and moving on with life at some point.

Ach, I am rambling. I don’t know what to say to people anymore about grief, which is another problem with finishing the memoir. I feel removed from it though never safe from it, if you know what I mean.

Time to hit the showers, me thinks.

I spent some time scouring the course catalogs of university and colleges near and far yesterday in search of direction. It all began with the requirements for teaching licensure in Alberta, which reminded me that I have just three years left on my Iowa license, and I will need to take six accredited hours to maintain it.

Trouble is I am only really interested in taking writing courses and generally speaking, creative writing is the basket weaving of continuing education. No credit whatsoever is offered unless you happen to be in an MFA program. Getting accepted to an MFA program for writing is a lot like getting into a performing arts school like the one in the movie, Fame. You need a combination of academic cred and a bit more interest in literary fiction than the next guy or gal. It is also a good idea to be young and relatively unpublished in the mainstream and without real work experience beyond the part-time jobs you might have needed to pay for the stay your scholarships and student loans didn’t cover.

Here is my dilemma. In order to maintain teaching licenses, I need to take classes, but am I doing it for any other reason but an unreasonable fear that something might happen to Rob and I would need a real job again? Which isn’t all that unreasonable really. But the truth is that the only thing that would get me back into teaching at the secondary level would be desperate need of employment, so why bother? Why not let the license go? Apply for an Alberta one which would extend my ability to teach somewhere by another two or so years beyond the Iowa license expiring and then, depending, let that one go too?

And here is what irks me, the fact that writing courses that aren’t taught within the holy confines of an MFA program won’t earn me any college credit. With an M.A. I can theoretically teach at the college level, I am limited to education courses or entry level English. I couldn’t teach writing without an M.F.A, and all the writing courses I take and all the writing I do and any publishing I might get done, doesn’t mean anything.

There is no M.F.A program in the area, but even if there were, we aren’t going to be here much longer and won’t be anywhere for very long for a few years to come. Not time enough to start a program – provided one can be found – and finish it. Realistically, an M.F.A. program would have to wait until we came back from overseas and settled somewhere. Given the premium placed on youth and lack of real life experience, I will be that much older and that much more experienced. Writing is about the only career outside the performing arts where age and experience are negatives.

Rob points out to me that I would hardly be destitute if something happened to him, and he seriously doubts I would be inclined to frivolously spend insurance money – of which there is more than enough. And he’s right. Money doesn’t burn holes in my pockets. In fact, the more money I have, the less I tend to spend because I am my father’s daughter.

I think then this gets back to the idea of having a job. I had toyed with the idea of getting a part-time job, but it had to be a mother’s hours type thing, and they simply don’t exist. Sure, Dee could go to after school care. She’d be thrilled, but she learns enough questionable behavior from the kids she goes to school with at times for me to deliberately put in her a situation where she’d be exposed to more of that.

And there is the question of having all this education which is all but worthless outside of education. English is only slightly less disparaged as a major than education. Those who can’t – read books and work 9 months out of the year.

The writing classes offered are mostly offered at night and tend to be taught by people who can write but don’t know much about teaching. The same can be said of workshops for the most part. The teacher in me is sometimes too offended to learn though there is often not much being taught that I don’t already know. Which is the other problem.

Sigh with a small little grrrr.