To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Mastery Year 1: Interlude 1

Hi, all, it’s Daniel-of-2017 here.

I’m kind of surprised that it’s time to do another interlude already. I shouldn’t be—time marches on at a familiar rate, after all, but I’ve been busy of late and distracted. I’ve explained how we’ve started taking on new students again and that our intention is to re-form as a school at some point. We have half a dozen committed students now, and about as many more hangers on who passed the entrance test but don’t seem to be serious about studying, but we aren’t accredited and don’t have a campus. Actually being a college again is a long-range goal—but we’ve taken another step in that direction.
I should emphasize that done of what I say about our current activities will be exactly as it seems. I still have a responsibility to protect the secrecy of the community, not to mention the privacy of the people whose stories I tell. I don’t want anybody to actually be able to identify us through this blog. 

So what I say is true in some ways and not in others.

So, we have, as I said, taken a step. Years ago, back before we closed the campus, Sadie opened a restaurant in town. When the school closed, she kept going, and it’s become fairly successful. Last year, right around the time of the election, the owner of her building decided to sell. We were pretty confident the new owner would want her as a tenant, so we weren’t concerned. But after Trump’s election, when we realized we needed a community home base again as soon as possible, we pooled our money and bought the building.

The building contains, beside the restaurant, a small retail space on either side, a large basement, and two small apartments on the second floor—Greg has had one of them for a few years now, though we don’t let him pay the rent himself. It’s only a fraction of the retirement benefit he’s earned. Anyway, over the past few months, we’ve reassembled the school library in the basement, renovated both retail spaces and built connecting doors between them and the restaurant. When the current tenant of the apartment moves out, we’ll convert it into classroom space.

Those two retail spaces—one is becoming a metaphysical supply shop, the other a naturalist’s supply shop. Kit is running the former, I am running the latter.

I don’t know anything about business. Neither does Kit. So Nora is taking care of advertising, budgeting, and that end of things for both of us (she’s had a successful business for the past couple of years making and selling scented candles, incense, and scented massage oils). Kit and I mostly decide what to sell and we each pull our shifts as store clerks. We’re hoping to open next month, and to start leading public classes based out of each store.

So, the long and the short of it is I’m very busy.

What we’re trying to do is create community space. None of this is called “a school,” and these classes are mostly aimed at people who haven’t passed the entrance test. We’re doing it in the spirit of public education—but we also expect that at least some of the people who come for classes will pass the entrance test at some point. And we’re creating an umbrella organization for all our various projects so that we can share resources and staff—the two shops, library, the restaurant, the farm back on the old campus (which Sarah owns and which supplies the restaurant), the summer camp (which June runs, among her other projects), Allen’s afterschool program, and several other things—it will all be under the same ownership. Malachi is helping us get non-profit status for it. So, we’re creating a legal and financial entity that will, roughly speaking, encompass the activities of the entire community. We’ll be real, in a certain practical sense, again.

As to my story. I confess I’m feeling a little disorganized. Until relatively recently, I expected to end my story before I got into my candidacy, so I didn’t develop much of a plan for how I was going to cover this period. I’ve been kind of winging it.

And yet, I don’t think I’ve been getting it wrong in any particular way. Early on, I had a lot of corrections to make in these interludes because I was concerned I was giving the wrong impression about certain things. That’s not an issue very often anymore.

Although there are little pieces that I don’t know how to get into the narrative because they were little—but cumulative. Every so often, I’d have a moment of looking down and being startled by my uniform, brown rather than white, as though I were somehow wearing someone else’s body. Sometimes I felt very much at home, as though I had never left. Other times, I was so keenly aware that I was no longer a novice that I felt like I didn’t belong at all. No one treated me badly, but to the senior novices I was an outsider they didn’t really know how to talk to. The yearlings kept mistaking me for a master for weeks. And there were moments of absolute joy to be back among so many of my friends, moments of intense gratitude that June was with me, that she cared so much about me as to make my world hers.

All those moments were little and uneventful, yet collectively they formed the dominant emotional tone of that, my first winter and spring back at school.

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