I brought home two necklaces for the girls: a pink butterfly for Hadley and a blue one for Harper. Both are sparkly. I also brought home a sticker book and a make your own teepee book for them. Harper can place stickers onto a wild, wild west background and Hadley can cut out different teepees, glue their edges together and set up a little community.
The girls wanted to know if I slept in teepees while I was in Santa Fe. I told them no. Hadley asked if I wore what the Indians were wearing in the pictures she was cutting out. I said that I didn’t, that I brought clothes from home.
“Did you learn what the different kinds of animals that live there eat?”
“No. I tried to stay away from the animals.”
“Well, what did you learn?” Always the practical child, Hadley wanted a full report of my first days as a student.
“I tried to learn how to write,” I told her.
“Do you have homework?”
“Yes, I have lots of homework.”
“Me too. I have Kindergarten homework. What’s your homework? Maybe I can help you with it.”
“I have to write an annotation on All the Pretty Horses.”
“I can totally help you with that. We have a song about horses. What’s an annotation?”
Do you want to hear a scary story about Santa Fe? I’m not sure how it ends so be warned: you might not find this one inspiring or uplifting or what have you.
I think maybe there was a mistake and really it’s Shmallie Fryin that they wanted. Maybe Sallie Cryin. I’m not sure, but I think the director called the wrong person. It’s not that I don’t want to be in this program, my goodness, I do. But I have to be honest with you: I don’t think I’m smart enough to be an MFA student. You know I wasn’t a good student, right? Have I mentioned that? Have you heard about the time I walked out of a final in college leaving an entire two pages blank? The professor called me (he CALLED me) and said, “Hello, Callie? This is Professor Vandersmandersma and I noticed that half of your final is incomplete. Did you know there was more to the exam?”
“Yes. I don’t know the answers to those questions.”
“Would you like to come back and try to answer them?”
“No because I don’t know the answers.”
That’s just one example. I have many, many more. The problem that I’m running into with this whole MFA thing is that I want to understand. I want to learn. I don’t know if I have the capability to. While in Santa Fe, I felt like I just caught glimpses of concepts during lectures and workshops. I couldn’t write. I was unable to process any sort of thought. Exercise, which always helps me to think, was no use.
The culmination of these feelings happened in the middle of the week during a lecture given by Scott Derrickson. He makes horror movies. He talked about transcendent darkness and I sat through his presentation trying very hard to understand what he was talking about until I left, crying.
He showed a clip of one of his movies, The Exorcism of Emily Rose (I can’t link to it, you guys, it freaks me out too much. I’m sorry. Find it on Google. It’ll take two seconds.). First, he showed the real clips of the girl he based the story on. That’s when I started to cry. And then, even though I covered my eyes the whole time during his clip, I began to cry so hard that I was having trouble breathing. I left after he stopped the clip.
I walked to a nearby bathroom and bumped into a girl who was on her way out. She asked me if I was OK. I told her no.
“Was it the movie?”
“Yes. I feel like such a baby.”
She said it scared her too and that’s why she left, but I kept saying over and over, “I feel like such a baby. I don’t get any of this. I don’t understand any of it.”
It’s a great way to make friends – cry really hard and make no sense at all. This girl is totally going to friend me on Facebook.
Anyway, this is not a critique of Scott Derrickson’s films. I can’t do that seeing as I technically didn’t watch anything he’s made. You should all definetely go watch his movies. I think his latest one has to do with something that snatches the souls of children. Jesse and I have plans to double date to that one.
I was scared, yes, but I wanted to understand what he was talking about and I couldn’t. Mr. Derrickson said that he felt it was important to tell this girl’s story, but why just the scary part of her story? Did he know what her favorite color was? Did he find out when she learned how to hop? When she learned to pray? What her favorite toy was? What about her favorite stories? Did he find out who her friends were? Whether she liked Monday better than Friday?
Maybe it’s only because I’m a mother, but I want to say this: no matter what happens to Hadley and Harper – no matter how scary it might be – that is not all of their story. They make rainbows and kick soccer balls. Hadley wrote a letter all by herself to her Kindergarten teacher telling her how excited she was to start school. When I got in the car at the airport, Harper, who was sleeping, woke up and she and I stared at each other for a moment. She studied me long enough to figure out who I was. She smiled, then went back to sleep.
I guess that’s where I’m at right now. Trying to convince myself that my lack of intelligence is just a little piece of who I am. I work hard, but I’m not all that smart, and I think the truth is I am a bit of a baby. But the first morning I was home the girls and I sat at our table together working on their Santa Fe activity books and Hadley said, “Mama, this is really nice. I’m glad you’re home.”
Maybe it’s not such a scary story, afterall.