Saturday, September 29, 2007

semblence of a plan(s)

Fredrick Law Olmstead's master plan for Prospect Park in Brooklyn is said to outshine his plan for Central Park in Manhattan. From what I understand, Prospect Park, both the plan and its implementation, met Olmsted's ideals for what a greenspace in the heart of urbanity should be. But Central Park is the better known, the more visited, etc.

Where I used to work, it was an unofficial mantra that a community must have a plan, one that is visionary but one that also contains an implemtation strategy that is prioritized, phased out and viable.

Ever since I quit my job, I've been thinking as my Self, my Person, as nothing less than a disinvested community that needs a vision, a mission, guiding principles, a blueprint for success, etc. It's awfully type A. But the truth is I'm sort of Type A-/B+ with the occasional Type C lapses. (And maybe that I would dissect my personality type is more indicative of anything. Is there a Type Z?).

Well, THIS community has a plan. Sort of. This community has planS. They are definitely visionary. I hope they are viable. The thing I never thought much of when I worked is how many external variables can impact a plan. And how, with a plan, you're better off to have a back up plan for any and every potential variable. But I want this community that is my Self to implement Prospect Park and not Central Park, and further to gain recognition for Prospect Park.

Plan A.
1. Register for the GRE 2. Get five stories submitted to at least 15 journals by October 31. 3. Study for the GRE in November. 4. Take the GRE at end of November or early December. 5. Fill out grad school applications in December. 6. Send applications off in January. 7. Get back to the writing/editing and prepare for spring submissions to journals. 8. Wait to hear from schools. 9. Don’t get my hopes up too high. 10. If I get into school and get offered adequate funding, be elated. 11. Spend the summer months preparing to move, consider novel ideas to work on in school, get the house rented out for the next 2 years.

Plan B.
Numbers 1 – 9 above. 10. If I don’t get into school or get in without adequate funding offers, don’t be disappointed. 11. Spend the summer months preparing to move and getting the house on the market to sell. 12. Make plans for a 6-month trip around the world. 13. Figure out where we’ll land when we return. 14. When we do return, reapply to schools and get back to the writing routines.

Plan C.
1. Be flexible with plans A and B. Be willing to remove steps, add steps, shift timelines. 2. Keep writing/editing/revising throughout any plans so that at the end of one year I’ll have a short story collection.

Plan D.
1. Expect all plans to go awry. 2. Be positive in the face of obstacles. 3. Remain creative and industrious and put these qualities into action.

Schools I am applying to: UT Austin, UC Irvine, U of WA/Seattle, U of Iowa, Sarah Lawrence, Columbia, NYU, U of MD, Johns Hopkins, UVA

Places I hope to travel: the entire pacific coast of the US (in a bright red convertable), Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Norway, Netherlands, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Puerto Rico
I guess what I've listed are less plans than they are implementation strategies for a plan. So what is the visionary plan of my life, my Self? Here is part of it. To be a writer, a prolific and earning writer. To, with my husband, travel the world. To live life with goals and also with love and acceptance of the unexpected. To be able to improvise without the need to improvise somehow throwing me into despair and dread.

Last night I saw a piece of video art. It used text by Virginia Woolf. It said something like, "A woman has no country. The whole world is a woman's country." It was more a commentary on politics and the way political leaders wage war in the name of protecting what they/we have. It was saying that women, at once own nothing, but also live in, and so own, the whole world, not some particular latitudinal and longitudinal point on a map constructed of huMAN-drawn boundaries. This was my interpretation.

What would that have to do with me thinking of my Self as a community and trying to draft a plan and an implementation strategy for catapulting that Self toward a certain vision? Possibly not much, but the phrase returned to me as I was writing. I guess I am trying to place my Self in the world somewhere between the way Olmsted saw it and the way Woolf understood it. Somewhere between forming and executing plans for an exact place and time and living at ease as a citizen in the larger world and in a larger spectrum of time. Or I am just grasping at straws, trying to make sense and relationships out of things that have no connection.

That is essentially what I am always doing as a writer. Making my own metaphors. Besides, it's not in my nature to believe that everything is not ultimately connected.

A few disjointed thoughts about place, plans, vision, Self. Disjointed thoughts about connections between things. -Making metaphors and irony.

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