Saturday, January 19, 2013

Specialization is for insects

Where to begin?
It is surely hard to know when you've been a most negligent blogger, so I posted this picture of Dowa Yalanne. My friend Anna came and visited at the end of the semester, and so we drove out toward the Corn Mountain. It was a cold day; I had no voice from aggressive laryngitis, but whatever I would have was taken by the fuzzy horizons - DY ahead, the Twin Buttes leaning against one another, the murmuring expanse of sage brush.
Soon we would hike up Inscription Rock at El Morro, devour huevos rancheros at Ancient Way, drive up and over the Continental Divide. Chewing osha root, we traveled mesas to pine forests to mountains to roasted chili Pojoaque to the Santa Fe cathedral.
Then, we flew home for Christmas break.

It was quite the blessing to have that quiet, uneventful trip - both over the mountains and across the west - because the week before break was anything but.

That weekend was our play. Three nights, three snowy nights of moderate success. My kids did a fabulous job, though, in their own words, "we understand now." Only after the stress and pressure and ultimate not full memorization did they realize the full psyche commitment required of full-length plays. Some actors were hard to understand; two actors, for differing reasons, couldn't come to the show (yes, I played 14-year-old Mary all three nights. A 17-year-old was my grandmother); our biggest audience was about 30 people. BUT my actors were emotive and persuasive; the costumes were great; there were two moms in particular who came every night and critiqued and curled hair and generally saved my sanity. And Lyly came, totally by surprise, toting candy and endless right-thing-to-say-at-the-moments.

I taught Monday of the last week of the semester exhausted but confident.
That night I was awakened by the telephone at 12.46am. After shaking off some of the confuzzlement of sleep, I recognized a friend of mine from the hospital - a doctor whose prenatal group I helped with for a session last summer. She apologized for the late hour and then explained there was a woman in labor whose family was stuck coming back from Albuquerque. She would really like a doula, if I was at all available. I paused very briefly. "I'll be there in 20 minutes," I said.
When I arrived (a little more than 20 minutes later because I hadn't realized the ER was the only door open), the woman had progressed from 5cm to just a cervical lip.
We got straight down to business. After very brief introductions, I asked her what she wanted from me. "Just a hand to hold and a focal point." I smiled. "That I can do."
We breathed and bellowed through contractions, the held hand swiftly becoming my two hands in a visor grip and then something resembling a headlock around my shoulders. It was a fast a furious labor, but handled beautifully by mom. She delivered a beautiful boy at 2.06am: 6lbs 15oz and 18in. There were some non birth-center protocol, for sure, but I was pleasantly surprised by how hands-off IHS was. Once he was born, he was kangaroo-cared onto his mama's chest where he latched on and looked around curiously. We had mandatory baby adoration time, during which I was asked to inform her mother: "What? Already?!" And then also took a message from the hospital phone. I: inspected the placenta, fetched juice and water, helped mom get up, chatted quietly with her, sat quietly with her, ferried messages, and talked with the nurses. The nurses and I got along very well too.
The mother asked me to leave her my contact info, which I did. She told me thank you thank you, and that she couldn't have done it without me. Of course she could've! She did a beautiful job! It was just so lovely to hear.
At 4.40ish, she lay down to nap before her family arrived, and I bowed out.
I re-scraped the ice off the windshield, and drove back. When I walked in the front door at about ten of five, my half-asleep housemate making coffee was the picture of confusion. "What. . . Where. . . Where have you been??" I explained, grinning, and then conked out for two more hours.

After that, the rest of the week was an insane blur - I lost my voice, I graded portfolios like a madwoman, Anna arrived on Wednesday, I ended the semester with a fun cheer rehearsal that Friday.
And then we were back to that peaceful mountains drive.


This is what break was like:

I read, I slept, I drank copious amounts of tea. We decorated a tree and hiked to the movies and Goodwill in a blizzard (a good tribute to "The Hobbit" indeed). I saw friends and drank champagne and some days just hibernated with my parents. It was sheer delight. My only regret was not getting to meet up with Rixa, birth advocate and blogger extraordinaire. 

Then the compass swiveled. 
I came back to Zuni sick with the ambiguity of a decision.

That decision is this:
I have decided not to teach next year.

Next year, I will move to Santa Fe and begin classes at SFCC for nursing. Suddenly, another year and a half was just too long - too long to live so far from Lyl, too long to wait to begin what I sincerely believe is my calling as a midwife. 
Do I feel guilty and sad? Am I going to miss my students and my trailer and my doctor community? You betcha. But over the top is a bouncing euphoria, a thrilled laugh. 

In Santa Fe I can do the doula mentorship, I can volunteer with the theatre or Planned Parenthood or the library; as Lyl said, "We can go to poetry readings!" I'll be in school for what I love and subbing during the day. Two years of recreating the wheel in terms of doula & theater work have worn me down. I am excited to learn and participate in existing structures! I am excited to generalize all over again:
'A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, writing a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.'
                                                                  Robert Heinlein (credit to my mum sending the quote my way)

As for Zuni, if I want to keep in touch with some of those juniors, what's to stop me? What's to stop me from having a monthly book club with them? What's to keep me from visiting or writing recommendations or generally corresponding? 

And now? 
Now I will be the most baller teacher I can muster for this last semester. 
Their Eyes Were Watching God starting Tuesday with my juniors, Shakespeare conceptualization projects with my drama kids, and Cry, the Beloved Country with my AP students. The latter is a fabulously beautiful book, though a bit didactic. "That's okay," said my best friend over break, "high school kids love didactic."
Truer words were never spoken. 
So when I can explain my next year plans to my students, hopefully they will get some sort of lesson about following your heart's path.

Over and out ~

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