It Comes in Threes
Early this week, I heard from a friend that his mother, who’d been suffering from cancer, had passed. The next day I got an email that another friend’s sister had passed. These things usually come in threes I thought. I wonder who the third will be? I wonder if it might be me. (I think these sorts of things.) I decided I’d better stop that train of thought and sent a prayer to God that I didn’t want to be # 3. Not yet.
Then I called two friends who are struggling with cancer to see how they were doing. It had been a couple of weeks since I’d checked in with them. These are friends from my “girlish” days who have just returned to my life.
Later that evening my husband told me that his good friend’s mother had passed. There was # 3. Three deaths in three days. Death is the real deal. An ending of one phase and a beginning of another – at least that’s what a lot of us believe and hope. (Another friend/former staff member announced that he and his wife are having a baby. Lives end and one begins…as it should be.)
No matter when projects start, their deadlines have a way of clumping together. This week I finished three assignments. One was an edit of a business plan and presentation for an acquaintance who’s applying for an important new job. It was a last minute gig but it did spread over five days, squeezed in between other work. (Hey, this is the reality of working for oneself means that anything that brings in cash flow will get worked in if it can.)
The second was a bunch of research for Discover Roxbury. My eyes have been swimming looking through microfilm copies of the Banner, Globe and Herald for info on the riots of 1967 in Grove Hall, the free schools in Roxbury, the founding of Lower Roxbury Community Corporation, etc. I also prowled a private archive (thanks Kay) for material and read a few books. Doing this research made me so grateful that we have the Bay State Banner, which gave angles on these events that were not covered it in the mainstream press.
I think everyone who works in an inner-city community and all high school kids in the Boston area, ought to be required to read about the most recent history of Boston (the last 40 years). They will learn about the importance of collaboration to achieving social justice. They will learn about living and passed activists/organizers/agitators (like Byron Rushing, Mel King, Chuck Turner, Ralph Smith, Syvalia Hyman, Pat Raynor, “Vinny Haynes,” Alex Rodriguez and Gloria Fox – to name but a few), and residents (Shirley Smolinky, Beryl Roach, Ralph Smith, Vinny Haynes, Ruth Batson) etc. who just got fed up with racism and the status quo. They will learn what it took to create Madison Park Village housing, why the Orange Line runs where it does and what might have happened in Roxbury, the South End, etc., had not residents, activists, and some academics joined together.
The third deadline was for a members meeting I facilitated at the Boston Athenaeum for a new initiative they are undertaking. As usually happens with me, I couldn’t sleep the night before and was nervous going into it. It went very well. Once, again, I learned that wherever I land I am supposed to be. I realized that I can “hang” (er…facilitate). (Regular readers of this blog know that I have wealth issues.)
Knowing that my last three assignments were ending this week, there was an undercurrent of worry threaded throughout my week. But then – I got called to facilitate four parenting workshops this summer; I got an invite to speak to a graduate class (for an honorarium) about my work at ACT Roxbury; I was asked to do additional research; and I met with a former arts sector colleague who may have some work in the fall (there’s a negative part to this story that will come up in a future blog). So, some paying gigs have come forward. This means that more work will follow. (I will continue to be able to hold up my part of the expenses for a little while longer.)
Close, but no Banana
This week brought two rejections of my writing. These coupled with another from a week ago knocked me down for a brief pity party moment or two. The last one was especially hard because the letter said, and I quote, “We came very close to using your poem, “You Just Stopped” but ultimately decided it didn’t fit with what we envisioned for Issue 3. Please understand our decision is solely based on the content and constraints of this issue.”
Close but no banana is the story of my quest to get published. No-okay- few bananas yet. After I squashed my disappointment and watched my instant movie with me setting my manuscripts on fire and giving up writing forever (except this blog – the blog is cool), locking in myself in my room condemned to only read the books of others (not that there’s anything wrong with that) I realized that: the rejection was personalized (a positive indicator) and that I had to keep trying until I read my goal. I wrote back to the editor with a thank you, an inquiry on more details about why my piece was ultimately rejected, and a question asking if they would welcome additional submissions.
Disagreements come in multiples, too
* A brief flare-up with the hubby (thankfully these are few and far between.)
* A painful dialogue begun with one of my children about a relationship choice. (Actually, I lobbed one out and I’m expecting this to get funky.)
* A sit-on-the-sidelines-and-just-be-a-sympathetic-ear for the other child’s break-up. (All goodbye ain’t gone.)
The Point? This has been a week of ups and downs, deadlines and disappointments, sorrow and joy. – I’m happy to still be in the game – of writing, of finding paid gigs, and, most importantly, of life.