Sunday, May 1, 2011

What April Held

"Now you know why we celebrate May Day!"

"Too bad National Poetry month isn't in February."

"Another one."

Those were all comments Warren made to me, albeit with a lot of love and affection, last Sunday when we talked about my month-long Poetry Challenge. We were both laughing hard as he tried to top each quip with an even funnier one.

Let's be honest: by Warren's own admission, he usually doesn't "get" poetry. Despite his living his whole adult life in a world of rhythm, he and poetry do not connect. Most days Warren would read my post and look at me blankly, searching for something - anything - he could say. (That stupefaction is the source of Warren's third quote above, explaining what he thought each day as he clicked on my blog.) The one poem I was sure he would like, Reading Lessons, he gave lackluster praise, telling me the last word in the poem ("gone"), was incorrect. "Absorbed is more accurate," said my residential rail buff. It probably is to all the train folks out there, but to me the correct term was "gone," as in "never coming back." A poem I thought he would pass by without comment, Easter, he liked. "It tells a story," he said.

Go figure.

The good news is that I knew going into the challenge that Warren did not particularly enjoy poetry. So I never took his lack of enthusiasm personally, and gave up early on trying to explain any of the poems. By midweek of the final week, I gave up even asking what he thought of each one, as his silence told me volumes.

In fairness to Warren, I had mixed feelings myself about the challenge. Poetry is not my strong suit and I was constantly uneasy at "putting it out there" for that reason, let alone my other personal ones. The challenge for me was posting my work and letting it stand. A wonderful (and much welcome) ending note to the month came last night when my friend (and regular reader) Ashley told me that she had enjoyed my April poetry challenge. Thank you, Ashley!

All the same, here it is May 1 and to Warren's vast relief, I am getting back to small moments and great rewards, starting with today's post.

As of tomorrow, I will be starting my eighth week of my new job as a part-time staff mediator at our county Juvenile Court. I love my job. It fits me wonderfully. I am still getting used to the schedule, which I primarily "control" but which fluctuates a lot from week to week. The fluctuation will continue until the end of the school year, when truancy mediations halt. Being on a schedule of 24 hours a week, even one with a lot of stretch to it, has taught me quickly to be more conscientious of my time and my "to do" lists, household, professional, or otherwise.

It would appear that spring has finally arrived, although for much of April it arrived in its typical Ohio fashion: 2 steps forward, 1 sideways, 4 backwards, then another forward. Repeat. April was cold and wet, cold but not wet, wet but not cold, and rarely sunny. For lots of reasons, none of them good, I didn't get seeds started until April 17. By my records, that is late for me. As of today, the tomatoes have sprouted. The peppers are just starting to pop through the dirt. Given how cold it has been, it will be late May or even June before I will be able to plant them outside, so I am crossing my fingers that it will all work out and that we will have tomatoes before the first frost. (On the other hand, I may cheat and buy commercial plants. We'll see.)

We both turned a year older earlier in April. Normally, that sentence would carry a lot more joy and enthusiasm, but other events intervened.

I had an oncology visit in mid-April, the first I had seen Tim since last fall. The good news? I now have insurance through my new job. The bad news? I won't have any insurance coverage for my cancer (as a pre-existing condition) until March 6, 2012, thanks to living in a country that values large corporate interests over small human ones. The great news? My cancer is still slumbering. (Huge exhale as I let out the breath I had been holding.) I don't see Tim until next October, and by then it's only four and a half more months until my treatment is covered. So long as my bone marrow behaves itself for ten months and six days more, I will be fine.

The Symphony dominated the whole month, after pretty much chewing up all of March. It rolled over my birthday; it consumed Warren's entirely (he was at a board meeting until 10:00 p.m. the night of his birthday). The March concerts (which were stunning) and the April concert (which was last night and was tumultuous) being only five weeks apart this year would have been enough activity. It wasn't. Challenges on the Symphony front and the resulting extreme stress and additional work those struggles placed on Warren bled into our home. Bled into our home? Steamrolled through the front door and out the back. We as a we are okay, but our peace of mind, our personal time, and our home life were just about destroyed by mid-month. More positive events (thank you, Dick) have occurred as of late, but our household is still licking its wounds. I finally realized, as the homefront tension flared up again last Friday morning, that all I can do is try to be a better listener as Warren and the Board move forward. I support Warren and his work one thousand percent. I believe deeply in the Symphony. Great things (should) lie ahead. But I cannot pretend that the last two months have not been painful. Even as I read back over this paragraph, I sigh. I am drained.

It is those moments - those bleak or painful ones - when I try to let go of the inner turmoil and focus on something small and immediate. The small is important to me. Often when I am deepest in a hurtful situation, seething with resentment or anger or pettiness, it is the littlest things, the smallest moments, that allow to drop my indignation or misery and catch my breath.

Like this moment: I came out of a truancy mediation at one of our elementary schools two weeks ago and looked around. The school is nestled into one of our older neighborhoods. Like everywhere else, we are hit hard here by the recession. It was a rainy day and the houses were looking particularly bedraggled and down at the heels, as houses often do in the rain. But I felt my heart uplifted all the same. It is Home, it is where I Belong doing Work I Believe In. All I could say was "thank you, thank you, thank you" for the chance to serve my community quietly, in little ways.

Or this moment: Walking to Friday's rehearsal, trying to sort out my feelings, I passed a swath of violets in a lawn, their blooms making a deep purple pool in the grass.

Or this one: Jaime conducting the Beethoven at a rehearsal, his heart soaring to the music.

Or this one: Before Friday night's dress rehearsal, while I was still nursing many grievances, I looked across the lobby of the hall to see Warren sitting quietly on the steps, his head down, studying music. He looked unhappy; he looked absolutely alone. I knew he was confused and hurt by my mood. I got up, walked over, sat down behind him, and leaned up against him, wrapping my arms around him and just cherishing the warmth of my husband. "I love you. I'm sorry," I whispered. He leaned back into my embrace. "I love you too."

And so I begin May on quiet moments: the rainy day row of houses that inexplicably lifted my spirits, a puddle of violets, the rapture of music, the warmth of my marriage. My gratitude for my life.

Happy May Day.


Ellen said...

Happy May Day to you, April. I've been so consumed by my work in March and April that I haven't had time for any blog reading. I'll have to absorb your poetry in one fell swoop, like a book, when I've finished this project. I'll look forward to it! Meanwhile I welcome back your prose. Thanks for reminding me once again to appreciate the small moments in my own life.

Sharon said...

Wow April, all that happened behind the scenes as you posted your poetry??

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! I'm so sorry I missed it!

I'm so glad things worked out at the oncologist, and I'm glad you finally have the health insurance that you need, albeit in 10 mos. and a couple of days... Fingers crossed that October's appointment will find you in the same health.

May is my favorite month, and I look forward to all the glorious moments it will bring! Thanks for your kind comments on my blog, and encouraging me with my budget. It has taken up a lot of my time and energy, and hopefully it will be worth it!