The Beauty of Meatloaf or Life After Goddard* by Regina Tingle

Ever since I finished my MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College a little over a whopping two months ago, I can’t seem to finish reading a book.  Let me rephrase that:  I can’t seem to finish the three books I’ve started.  Whether it’s due to the fact that I’m tired (I’ve read and annotated over fifty books in the last twenty-four months which, caused my already scarce eyesight to worsen) or whether I’m just being lazy, I don’t know.  

I’ll give you an example:  I had a ten page short story, “You’re Ugly Too” by Lorrie Moore (one of my favorite authors) sitting on my nightstand for over two months.  I just finished it the other day.  Why couldn’t I finish it in one sitting?  I mean, no one eats their meals that way…a bite of spinach in July before leaving it to sit there until they feel like working their way around to the meatloaf in mid-September.  So why should anyone read like that?  I seriously had to reread the first three pages six times.  However, I suppose the beauty of meatloaf, if there is a beauty of meatloaf or ever remotely could be a beauty of meatloaf, is that it’s the only thing that, like a book, will not lose its flavor if left sitting for two months.  I certainly don’t mean to be comparing Lorrie Moore to meatloaf (or Meatloaf himself for that matter–eew) but I will say this: her words (like Meatloaf’s cheesy music) had not lost flavor.   Not even after two months.  (Or in Meatloaf’s case: over fifteen years of trying to forget…but no, “I won’t do that.”  Sorry…)    

Still, the only thing I seem interested in reading these days is graffiti and email.  And blogs.  And online literary websites.  And text messages.  Oh, and newspapers!  I’d forgotten about newspapers for the last two years.  To be honest, I even slightly pretended to forget about the news.  That’s how engulfed my life became with reading.  Which is probably why now, they have taken up the back shelf of the refrigerator, where the meatloaf is located (and always will be as far as I’m concerned).  But still, my interest is still there, and I have lots I’d like to read but perhaps now is not the time.  I realized that when the one book I wanted “Strange News from Another Star” by Herman Hesse seems to be the only solitary thing in the universe that cannot be ordered or found on the world wide web.  I’ve decided it’s a sign that it’s time to watch more movies, get reacquainted with the world of pop culture such as (preferably well-written) commercials and (hopefully quality) prime time television.  And maybe take the time to peruse some used book markets.  Or take up knitting again.   

Also I should confess: I haven’t seen a movie in ages–not at home and not in an actual theater.  Nor have I gone to the gym.  That is what an MFA does to your life: it revamps it to suit three-week writing deadlines.  (I don’t have children, but I hear they wreak a similar havoc).  But please don’t misunderstand–I loved every minute of birthing the product of my MFA: a beautiful blue and white and black diploma (that I have yet to frame) and a near three-hundred page thesis.  It was a heart-wrenching, painful kind of joy.  Painful in the way it will be going back to the gym again.  But joyful in the way that all those words and books and countless hours still seem to linger, even now as I climb out from behind my reading lamp at my cozy corner desk and get my feet wet with the chilly, rushing waters of life again.   

*This post is dedicated to all my fellow Goddardites (if that’s what we are called) around the world, who are either still in the midst of it or still trying to find their way out of it or back into it.  



  1. says

    overheard, September 16:"How long's she been like that?""Like what?""You know, walking around with the thing over her head.""Couple of months maybe. Don't recall exactly.""Well it's not normal.""Hell for her it is. Before this she talked to herself all the time and before that she painted what ever she could get her hands on.""Whatever?""Yup. Her kid was saying she used paint for insulation – added so many layers. Color of the week. Painted the TV and the iced tea pitcher and""How'd she watch it? After she painted it. How'd she see through the paint?""Not the screen, gumbah. The casing. She painted the casing.""How do you know that?""Her kid was talking to my ex-wife – they went to school together – she said her mother had finally stopped painting everything when she started graduate school. Said it was too bad it was only two years. Thought she should get her doctorate.""What'd she go to school for, psychiatry?""Writing. That's what I heard. Went away and when she got back you'd see her around town and she'd be just yakking away – nobody listening but that didn't stop Hollie. In her car, not a soul in there with her, and she's chat chat chatting away like her best friend's in the passenger seat.""What's that got to do with writing? Sounds like talking to me.""Creative writing. I think that's what they do.""Oh.""Fiction. They make shit up.""So what happened?""She finished school a couple of months ago. Nobody had seen her in town until last weekend. Then, well I was picking up the kids at my ex's and I heard her and Tina laughing about Hollie's new habit. I stalled outside the porch window just a minute trying to hear what new habit Hollie had come up with now.""I thought she had just joined the convent. Though I never woulda pegged her for a nun.""Me either.""I think she's just a weirdo.""That too. But at least she'll be staying away from my ex. I heard she's a lezzie.""Holly? No way. Not with those cachingas.""They can have big hooters, you know.""I suppose. But it doesn't matter now. She's married to Jesus.""Maybe, but if I know Hollie, there' more than meets the eye.""Well keep an eye on your wife then.""She's my ex. And besides I'd rather keep an eye on Hollie. You never know what's going to happen next.'"

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