Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Interlude

Elsewhere in this blog, I said something about the fact that when I am living a life worth blogging about I have no time/energy to write! The time since my last entry has been no exception. This past month my life has been undergoing some of the biggest changes ever, and I haven't written a word about it. There's the usual hectic work stuff, what with one semester ending at the University and the school year coming to an end in Pembroke with lots of projects needing to get wrapped up, a Mayterm starting, where I teach an entire semester's worth of content in three weeks. On top of this all, I've been prepping an online class. For some reason I thought it would be a really great idea to create new content for it rather than just videotape my live class and put it up online the way most instructors who teach online classes do. That struck me as lame, like charging the full price for something used, it seemed like cheating the students. But now that I've actually engaged in the process of creating all this material, I'm thinking cheating the students wasn't such a bad idea...

There's no way I could have been writing about cups of coffee this past month. Consumption hasn't been measured in cups. I'm back up to the level of coffee consumption I was at when we were writing the books. Two pots a day, or more. A cup of coffee is never far from my hand, and I'm drinking it all day long. I can't remember when the last day I just relaxed was. I think it was my birthday, April 17th, but even then I think I was running around.

This level of business is manageable under ordinary circumstances. I work better with a full plate. But there's more: we're moving. I've moved around a lot. That's nothing new. But this time it's different. Four generations of my family have lived in this house (three of them LeClairs, the fourth my great-grandfather's mother-in-law). The family's been here in three different centuries. My parents moved into this house twenty-five years ago. While I haven't lived here all that time with them, it has still been home. A constant. A place where I know I can go, and where I can keep "that stuff" that I didn't want to move.

It has been hard. I feel like I'm losing my home and my history. Mom has deemed me incapable of ownership because I don't have a house, so everything she owned that isn't going into her new apartment got divided amongst my siblings. The only thing I have of any sentimental or family historical value is a brass lamp my father made. So all the historical artifacts are gone, the physical objects I could point to and say, there, that belonged to so-and-so, and feel that tie to the past and know that I came from somewhere. This house, so many years, so many memories... someone else's now. "That stuff" stored in boxes that I didn't want to move before. Love letters from old girlfriends, stupid little trinkets I'd hung onto for sentimental reasons... but it is all evidence. Time passes, and I repeat the stories of the things I did in the past and after a while I'm not sure if these things really happened, or if they are just stories. But going through these boxes and finding evidence, proof that I really was there after all, and I did those things and knew those people and it was all real. And then it all goes into the trash.

I may sound melancholy about this, but overall I'm feeling very positive about it all. Sure, there are frustrations, and any change is difficult and stressful, even when it is for the better. I am losing my past, but I'm seeing it as pruning off the dead branches. I am losing my home, but the soil here is spent, so my roots here will never grow past where they are right now if I stay here. The neighborhood my house is in has been in a decline for a long time, and doesn't show signs of improving. The old families are almost all gone, and when they move their houses are bought by landlords who rent out to college students. There are houses on this street that have so much peeling paint they look like they are shacks, and other houses where the occupants moved furniture and other big garbage out to the curb to be picked up by spring cleaning last year. Only the town doesn't do spring cleaning anymore, so the crap has just sat outside in front of the house for over a year... I'm not going to miss any of these things! And I'm not going to miss Faye W**dc**k, my insane, obese, ignorant, racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, loudmouthed neighbor and her riding lawnmower fetish. Picture Jello molded into a vaguely human form, clothe it in grey sweat pants and sweat shirt and perch it on a riding lawnmower, and then make it mow the lawn for hours, while chainsmoking. It isn't that the yard is really big enough to warrant mowing it for hours. It is just that she goes over the same spot over and over and over again. I've counted. Five, six, seven, eight times around the same tree, the same spot, like the lawnmower is some demon, possessing her. It is especially surreal when she does it during a drought, and the lawn has basically turned to sand and there was no grass to mow in the first place, and she'll still be out there kicking up clouds of dust for hours on end. Sometimes, if the neighbor's yards aren't up to snuff she'll go and mow theirs, uninvited. It'd be amusing if it wasn't so annoying. She usually does it on a nice sunny weekend day, making it impossible to be outside enjoying the day. Yeah, I'll be really happy not to have her for a neighbor anymore!

Mom's moving to Kittery, and this is a good thing. She'll be closer to the rest of our family, just five minutes away from my sister. Jess & I are moving to Belfast where we have a great apartment overlooking the ocean and there are at least two good places to sit and get a good cup of coffee just a few minutes walk away. I may be losing something of the past, something of my own history, but when it comes right down to it, life in Orono has been OK at best. It is relatively safe, relatively predictable. I feel like nothing super bad is going to happen to me here, but also that nothing super fantastic will happen either. I don't know what the future will bring. In Orono, at least I had that illusion, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. Now anything is possible. That's scary as hell because everything could fall apart from here on. But wonderfulness can happen, too!

"MY heart has spread its sails to the idle winds for the shadowy island of Anywhere," to quote Tagore. Well, not yet, but soon it will be true. Today I am stressed, overworked, overtired, overcommitted, terrified. But soon I'll let go of all this extra baggage and set sail.

2 comments:

__Sheena__ said...

Hey Matt

I have been following your blog for some time, and due to computer problems lost out on your most recent blogs (from approx beginning April). I have learnt so much from you - as I am also fairly new to blogging. I enjoyed so much of your blog and you gave me so many new ideas. I will be spending some more time with your blog during the next couple of weeks. .... Just wanted to say, WELL DONE xx

matt leclair said...

Thanks Sheena! Your nice words at this incredibly stressful time were just the boost I needed to make it through all this!