Sunday, September 28, 2014

"We'll See"

I remember being a youngster and having a very wiggly tooth. It could dramatically rock back and forth but it was still firmly embedded. What I remember is looking into the mirror and pondering whether or not to grasp it and firmly pull it out. I knew that with one good firm tug, it could come out but I was always too chicken to do it. And that’s how I feel about quitting teaching at Emily Carr University (ECU).

I am very proud to be an instructor at a fine art university. And I think I will miss the pride more than the students once I leave—I will certainly not miss the marking. Perhaps that is why so many people don’t like to retire, it's the pride they’re losing not the activity. Time is easily filled but not the soul, so I suspect the key to successful retirement is to find new sources of pride. (Which is harder without children and/or grandchildren.)

How convenient, therefore, that quitting teaching precedes by just four days, word of whether or not Uncle Gus’ Monkey wins a development deal at SFU/Praxis. That will give me pride and keep me busy to December if we “win.” Winning will take me to Whistler for a five-day workshop with a director and cast. Then comes Christmas, a workshop on Trudeau, Felons and Me, then its rehearsals and then a two-week run.

Then it will be summer again.

I started this post with a memory.

Another memory I have—a horrid one—is being diagnosed with HIV. People think you have a single acceptance moment when you get dreadful news like that, but you don’t. It’s a slow process of waking up each morning for weeks and starting each day with a grim moment of remembering and re-acceptance.

I am having that kind of experience with dysphonia.

I wake up at 4:00 am and I read in bed until 5:00, but I don’t speak until someone phones or I go out and speak to a clerk in a store. Sometimes that is not until the afternoon. And because sleep is an escape and I can talk normally in my dreams, my first spoken phrase or sentence each day has forced re-acceptance of the dysphonia just like the HIV.

But I with the dysphonia, I have been only accepting it each day for just that day. I have been accepting it for one day at a time. But this past Friday, I woke up and “decided” that if not permanent, my speech impediment is going to be around for a while. With that acceptance has come less sadness with each day’s first utterance.

I think of myself as being in phase two of this issue. Phase one was decades of episodic impairment, no understanding of the cause and various amateur treatments. Phase two will last for the next three months: pills to inhibit my neuromuscular response to reflux, changes in diet and two kinds of speech therapy. Then as my father used to say about everything I ever wanted when I was a kid: “We’ll see.”

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