i never did make it to jazzfest


Right now, it’s later than I almost ever stay up any more. That’s because today was grant proposal day in the arts council world in North Carolina. I had 88 pages of grantwriting deadlines. Oh baby.

This happens to be my seventh year of completing these particular grant proposals, so the familiarity helped. The whole shebang still took me 61 hours of seriously focused work in five days. Getting Letters of Intent from 17 different groups, pulling stats, crunching numbers—and writing. A whole bunch of writing.

I will tell you—and I’m telling the truth—I did some damn good work on those proposals, and more importantly on the potential projects they represent. I’m proud of that.

But I’m not proud of this week.

It was like I was 22 years old again sitting at my desk surrounded by Cheetos and Mountain Dew writing a 30-page research paper while my boyfriend and two other friends road-tripped down to JazzFest and I couldn’t go because I started that 30-page paper 24 hours before it was due.

This week, there were no Cheetos and there was no Mountain Dew. But I didn’t eat enough. And I had to put everything else in my life on hold. And I spent most of my hours with my shoulders hunched up around my ears staring at this screen, rubbing my blurry eyes like that was going to make a difference.. My husband did almost every morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up and all the kid bedtimes and got all but one of the suppers on the table.

You may be wondering why my dumb ass didn’t start working on them before Monday. I could show you my calendar—all the days for the last three weeks when I blocked off time to work on these. I could tell you what fires needed to be put out instead. I could give you ins, outs, ups, and downs about why I started later than planned, but that would probably be redundant. Because you probably know all those things—or things like them—from your own life, your own work, your own family. Sometimes, it happens.

Instead, I want to tell you what I did get done at the very beginning of this week of grant proposal avalanche: The 52 letters for this week. The ones for week four of The Letters Project. And guess what? I was happy about it. Even though it was an 88-pages-of-proposals kind of week. It felt like a gift. Every time I worked on it, my shoulders dropped an inch or two. And also, I smiled. More than once.

Isn’t that surprising? I was surprised.

Sometimes one more thing is the straw that breaks you. And sometimes one more thing is the net that catches you. Depends on what one more thing it is, I reckon.