1.  Have Got to Stop “Checking Facebook”

These last few days before I go back to school have been bittersweet.  Not having anything I absolutely have to do, I do things I want to do, like take photos, eat all the Christmas candy, and make creative cakes, macaroni, pizza.  Also I hang out online, which is this great international picture gallery of our projected selves.  Not a bad thing at all, necessarily.  But it does mean that many people’s “profiles” and blogs are set up like long halls of fame, bursts of success and enthusiasm bookended by silences or empty chatter.  That might be about how I do it, although my bursts of enthusiasm center on my failures as often as my successes.  I think.  But reading several peoples’ New Year’s posts, listing triumphs and adventures from 2011 and making cheery predictions for 2012, I got kind of down.  Envy, I suppose, plain and simple.

It’s been a strange year, and the year rolling itself out at my feet seems equally strange.  I don’t have the same unqualified optimism for this coming year as I thought I would, being back in school and having a great new husband and all.  My great desires — for love and friendship, for beauty and writing — seem to be fully planted, now, in my life: where childhood and adolescence did the pre-work of planning, wishing, and pining, adulthood is turning out to be a great deal of weathering, persevering.  And I’m not really doing all that well.  Finding a niche (?) for my vocation (writing) is clearly going to be tough, and doing the work of pursuing people — loving them — is no longer riding waves of affection and like-mindedness.  It’s now fighting momentum, excavating bitternesses, forgiving.  Welcome to the Real World, you say.  Yes.  Maybe 2012 will be my first real year of adulthood.

2.  Mead’s Quarry Expedition

This morning, my plan to go to Mead’s Quarry kept getting almost-thwarted.  Mead’s Quarry is one of several abandoned and flooded marble quarries in South Knoxville, owned by the county but maintained my Ijams Nature Center.  Some money got pumped into them recently, so their reputations as places to go and illegally skinny-dip with your single friends while you’re all super smashed has been materially damaged.  Alack the day!  They’re now Places to Take Your Posh Out-of-Town Company—which I have not yet done but will—and talk about Historic Knoxville and Cormac McCarthy.  The quarries now have brick-paved lookouts and lightly-graveled hiking trails, and some informational signs and hip-looking fences have even appeared at spots with a lot of quarrying detritus lying around, looking overgrown and picturesque.

Anyways where the hell was I.  Oh yeah.  So I got out of bed this morning with the express intention to be at Mead’s Quarry no later than 900am with coffee in my new thermos, journal, Julian of Norwich Vol. 1, a pen, and my camera, which would have a roll of film in it for the first time in at least 12 months.  I’m dipping back into my profound love for wild places, empty spaces, and zero agendas.  I even left my phone at home, which I actually didn’t mean to do, but ha.  Perfect.

But since I ruined a roll of film trying to make my camera eat it while its batteries were dying, I ended up having to buy two rolls of film and a new pack of batteries ($26).  And even then the back wouldn’t close all the way, so I had to tape it shut with duct tape.  Got to the quarry at 10:15.  Oh well.  Point is: I made it.  I walked where I wanted, took pictures of dry grassy brush with fluffy, sparkling seed-heads on it, a circular bricked area with no obvious purpose in a strange place off the path, and a nice one of Mead’s Quarry Lake.  Wandered.  Ended up wandering up the trail that winds around the quarry counter-clockwise, and takes you on top of the bluffs.  Where I wrote a poem that has a Billy-Collins-silliness, but which I like anyway.  I’m posting it by itself—let me know what you think.

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