Ghost in the Land of Skeletons
by Christopher Kennedy
For Russell Edson
If not for flesh’s pretty paint, we’re just a bunch of skeletons, working hard to deny the fact of bones. Teeth remind me that we die. That’s why I never smile, except when looking at a picture of a ghost, captured by a camera lens, in a book about the paranormal. When someone takes a picture of a spirit, it gives me hope. I admire the ones who refuse to go away. Lovers scorned and criminals burned. I love the dead little girl who plays in her yard, a spectral game of hide and seek. It’s the fact they don’t know they’re dead that appeals to me most. Like a man once said to me, Do you ever feel like you’re a ghost? Sure, I answered, every day. He laughed at that and disappeared. All I could think was he beat me to it.
I taught this poem the first week of classes and fell in love with it. Last week was great. I felt good about classes about setting expectations, about setting the right tone. This week, I feel ... like a ghost.
I haven't had an easy week. I am having trouble getting into the groove of the semester, adjusting my schedule and my routine. For the first time in months, I feel anxious and unable to sleep well. I just feel off. Perhaps it's my upcoming birthday weighing on my mind; maybe I just miss M. Whatever it is, I am bothered.
Working out is the only thing that helps, lately. I wear myself out and try to get out of my own head and heart. I meditate in small increments throughout the day, trying to refocus my energy and attention.
While instructing students to work on an assignment today, I realized how unclear my guidelines and expectations were. What I wanted them to do was not fully represented on the page. And this seems to be a trend in that particular class where I change my mind as we're going through an activity or I realize our time constraints and push things to homework. I am insecure about the class and it shows through in ways I am not proud of. I know that it's only Week 2 of classes, however many studies show that students make up their minds about you early in the semester and rarely change it. So I don't want my own weirdness or whatever is going on with me to make it seem as if I don't have a plan or that I'm unorganized. But I am unfocused right now.
And I need to find a way to either acknowledge it and strategize how to create more structure so that it's not so obvious or I need to snap the heck out of it.
What do you do when you need to refocus your energy? How do you become better aware of distractions so you can quiet them?