Weekly Check In – 9/15/2021

One hundred and thirteen weeks out from surgery, and here are the numbers I care about:

  • Weight: 241

Down half a pound, which is small-but-welcome news. I’m not gonna talk about weight today though. Instead, I’m gonna talk about Julie Paegle, who was a former professor of mine, and one of my favorite people, and who unexpectedly died over the weekend. This is Julie, reading with another good friend of mine, Allyson:

This is a bit of what I posted to social media:

Julie was a wildly talented poet (nominated for a Pulitzer) and an excellent teacher. Every class I had with her (way too few) has stayed with me over the years. She was one of those teachers who you credit for really changing you. In the classroom, she was so invested in her students, so loving and caring, that even though she was a few years younger than me, I kind of thought of her as my poetry mom. Her empathy and compassion are aspects of her I return to as a model for my own approach to teaching. She’s pictured here as I like to remember her: reading her poetry, but insisting on sharing the spotlight with one of her students. Rest In Peace friend.

It doesn’t even come close, but words never do. I’ve lost people I was closer to, and I’ve lost a lot of people in the last 12 months. I think Julie makes 7 now. But she was such a great person, and it’s just so incredibly sad when I think of the thousand plus students, over the next 10-15 years, who won’t have their lives touched by her now. It makes no fucking sense. Every time I lose someone I have this thought – and I’ve been thinking about it all week – that nothing makes any sense. It’s just chaos down here, I see no plan. The fact that I live in a world where Julie Paegle is dead and Donald Trump still hasn’t been eaten by indifferent bears seems to be overwhelming proof there’s no plan of any kind for us.

But then again, I can only view things as they are through these incredibly flawed eyes, and I can only process them through this incredibly damaged mind. Maybe I’m wrong about everything.

Also, for what it’s worth, I know it’s in poor taste to make a Trump joke when you’re talking about the passing of someone you love, but I’m pretty certain Julie would laugh at it.

Three things I’m grateful for:

  • Julie’s memory. I had so many great conversations with her, and snippets of them will randomly creep into the front of my mind every so often. Even though she’s gone, I’m sure I’m not done counting the number of ways she impacted me.
  • All my teachers at CSUSB: Omar, Paula, Jean, Jackie, Davina, Other Jean, Renee, Nancy, Sunny, Margaret, Chad, Juan, Merrill, Jessica…and those are just off the top of my head. I think about all of them, all the time, and my world would be incredibly diminished without having had them in it.
  • My literary community. It’s too many people to even start making a list, but if you know me through writing circles, I’m grateful for your presence in my life, and I love you.

I’m good this week. Sad, yes, but good.

Here, have a graphic: