Comfort Inventory 10 😭

Shadowy paths near the Sycamore (is it?) between Henderson Hall and Squires Student Center, Blacksburg, Va. (37.229927, -80.416902).

Funny in a way not funny that the last in the series of comfort inventories was titled Discomfort Inventory and posted two years ago in April, a run-down of WTF holy-smokes how the heat then was a’rising. That playful inversion, comfort marked dis-, fuckered the numbering system so now it’s unclear whether this one is CI 9 or CI 10. Executive decision consulting with the EWM advisory board: I’m going with CI 10, so let the footnotes resolve that Discomfort Inventory Unnumbered also was counted. 

  • Owing to an upcoming WPA hiatus (or, more technically true, indefinite but careful and non-harmful evacuation of the role) I am at the end of June transitioning to the first email-unencumbered and otherwise work-appointment-free summer months in more than 14 years, the last ten of which were lurched along with one foot snagged in that bottomless and unpredictable quicksand of administrative responsibilities, late July surprises, and then some. Feels like something…different. Notably I would’ve thrown a handful of confetti for myself on-around May 12, but I was told I must oblige an unwritten rule that pins switch-over date on The Calendar at and only at June 30. Pope Gregory sighed in relief. 
  • Is it possible at the age of 48 to have (meaning host) new feelings, or feelings unfelt before? If so, I have and am in that standing aside from writing program administration has elicited the faintest of mixes. Not bitter+sweet only, though that’s a familiar sentiment and not entirely distinct from this particular structure of feeling. Easier to name, the bittersweet. We have the word for this paradox. Oh, your feelings are crossed up? But right now, these work-facing feelings are curiously small, faint, light, but also complexly mixed and parts wow-wonderful with parts whoa-startling—sort of like at the froyo bar where the eager but ascetic everything-topper only takes the smallest unit possible: a shred of coconut, a violet petal, a fragment of toffee bar, a speck of syrup-soaked strawberry, one boba tapioca, a sprinklet, sugar granule, a raisin if you must. Don’t overdo it. Let me not get too too too lost in these feelings. 
  • But then again I did order a chicken coop today to make better on a commitment to a different kind of holler life here in SW Virginia. I have the good fortune of working with a few chicken enthusiasts who are sharing with me and A. every possible angle to consider, from the hazards of automatic door closers (remember that Jim Johnson article?!; it’s sort of like that one fused with this one) to the predator barriers, to the problems and opportunities with chicken trucks/mobile coops, and so on. Get the heated water vessel, I’ve learned. Expect rodents to nosh the feed off-shed, I’m told. Park them under a canopy tree in the hottest heats of summertime. And so on.
  • We’ll start with six chickens. 🐔🐔🐔🐔🐔🐔
  • I received a Red Bubble take down notice the other day because the “rights holder” complained about one of my illustrations, from the Pandemic Bestiary, #18 Write (turkey hunched at a keyboard). The takedown notice, according to Red Bubble, was initiated by Virginia Tech. I contested it, of course, because I happen to have the Procreate file, which can play back the production process, and it includes the stroke count (1,082) and the time I spent on that drawing (3 hours, 13 minutes). I suppose it must be some sort of lax image-matching AI running interference on this sort of thing, and it turns out that it can be difficult to convince an AI that you are human, or that you, as a human, made something that to the AI’s still sort of iffy matching operations presumes your “original work” to belong to someone else. So it’s not possible for now to purchase a Pandemic Bestiary #18 Write sticker for under two dollars at Red Bubble. World turns. Loss of side-hustle counter-claim pending for .35 USD. Maybe I’ll follow-up on this, continue to chronicle the very low-level hijinks. Or maybe right along with that drawing everything pleasingly digressive and light-hearted and playful will be disappeared. Fun while it lasted!
  • For Monday’s Food Writing class we’re leafing the last of the semester’s readings, one from Savor, on apple eating, and another from A Pebble for Your Pocket, “Eating an Orange.” We’ll have apples and oranges. Write a 90. And maybe I’ll go one step farther, time allowing, with “Four Mantras,” because the opening line is in itself a simple—perhaps the simplest—theory of rhetoric: “A mantra is a magic formula. Every time you pronounce a mantra, you can transform a situation right away; you don’t have to wait” (111). 
  • In January, on a phone call (following an email exchange) with longtime mentor LWP, I mentioned this line about mantras. She reminded me that the most reliable mantra she’d been advised to recite as an administrator came from one of her mentors: Be kind. Be fair. Be brave. Even as my WPAing decade winds down, perhaps this one can continue to transform situations. Teaching preparation situations. Absurd takedown notice situations. Chicken tending situations.