Thursday, August 5, 2010


A friend said that it's alright, as in normal, to mourn for a job. And I am. It was always the right place for me, even though there were times when I wasn't the right person for the department. But the students were so interesting -- often first in their families to go to college, or immigrants who had or hadn't entirely learned this language or foreign students who were in an entirely new and sometimes very strange culture.

It was perfect for my shy nature because I was in the role of instructor, taking care of a group, like a sheepdog, circling around, hoping to nip a bit at the heels to provoke more work, working harder, thinking more, trying to provide a congenial environment so that they would all talk with each other, exchange ideas.

I liked that urban university much more than I had like teaching at MIT where everyone was fiercely overachieving. Failure was not an option. And, though I hate to admit it, failure is something to learn from.

Anyway, it's over. I left on principle, regretfully. Very regretfully. The courses I'd been so comfortable teaching, darkroom work, now incorporated digital imagery with which I'm not familiar enough to feel comfortable especially without enough equipment. Oh, it was a rational decision. Made from my high horse and with lots of philosophical stuff thrown in. And now, of course, my dreams, night time dreams and early morning thoughts, are about getting back there. This is, I gather, part of the mourning.

So, the next issue is what I'll do with the next ten years. I think I was there, trying to think about that before the ulcerative colitis slapped me down. But enough of this. 

Romeo is quite a fine rabbit who belongs to Sammy's daughter. He is from Peru and has the stalls down from Monica's so I get to talk to him. In his country, he says, he'd have a cigarette now and then, after dinner or some occasion like that, but once he got here, he was smoking three packs a day. "They put something in them. You need that cigarette. You really need it. I didn't need it in my country." He was working three jobs, or sometimes one job that took 14 hours a day because help was so hard to find. He made good money, but he paid out so much in taxes that it was crazy. He was overworking, exhausted and smoking. But his daughter said, "Papa, I smell smoke on your clothes. Why are you smoking? I want you to live." So, he quit, no patches, no lozenges, no gum. He quit. He's still convinced that tobacco companies put something extra in cigarettes to make people so dependent and desperate.

My computer has started fussing, just after I'd printed two months of the 2008-2009 daily self-portrait series. And the monitor went pink and the images went blue. And I never know how to solve these problems. The last thing I want is a new computer (expensive!) if it doesn't work exactly the way this one does...Right now I do not want the learning curve of learning upgraded programs. But we don't always get what we want, it says here in fine print.

Anyway, again apologies for my laxness at reading other blogs...
and thanks to whoever reads this...


  1. Dear Melissa

    My heart always does a little jump when my blogroll tells me you have posted a new story. It's lovely to be here and in your company again.

    What a splendid rabbit!

    And I understand your mourning... there's much importance in simply saying 'this is what is happening', 'here are the things I miss', 'these are the questions not having this* any longer brings to the surface... '

    (*person, place, job, energy...)

    Life seems to me to be equal parts loss and celebration. It's a curious dance, isn't it?

    Hand-in-hand we go...

    Love to you

  2. yes, melissa, as claire says, the witnessing of it, whatever is going down, counts, even tho it feels messy; just finding the words--doesnt even have to be the right words--to tell it.

  3. Nice post. Don't worry about the job. There are a million interesting things to do.

    btw, what did you teach? Photography?

  4. Even when it is your own decision it is still hard and sad to say goodbye to something as important as the job you describe here. Mourning is a understatement. But as the saying goes, one door closes and a window opens somewhere else. This is not to diminish your grief but to offer hope, though it all takes time. In the mean time, I offer you my best wishes.

  5. What a gift you were to those people you worked with Melissa - hearing the heart with which you now speak about the students, and your engagement with the culture there. There's something so alive and un-nameable about being in the right place, and so profound and sad about moving on, no matter how appropriate it is. It seems a truth that we practice dying - well no, we die, continually, while we are open to loving, and when that is done we resurrect to something new. Both processes - life's scourge and gift.

  6. thank you all so much for your encouragement....
    I mightily appreciate it...

  7. I struggle with regret too; I feel your pain. Here's a quote that may be useful to both of us:

    “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

    - Alexander Graham Bell

    Here's to open doors!