When I first became an academic advisor, it was the very little things that made me the happiest. First was that I no longer had to tell anyone when I needed to use the restroom. For over a year in my previous position I had to let my supervisor know when I was going to lunch, taking the mail, or needed to go-go because she had to cover the desk in my place. So after feeling like I was back in kindergarten, holding up one or two fingers twice a day, it was thrilling to know that I could just go down the hallway any time I needed.
The other great joy was having walls. That same previous role gave me my own desk, and a lovely view out the window, but no walls. That meant no privacy and no chance to put up pictures of family, my college diplomas, or inspirational posters (my favorite: “I love you more than this potato. Wait a minute. I flipped a coin and the potato wins.”) The new job included walls, a window, and a door. I had made it big time.
If you read the title of this post, you might be wondering what all of this has to do with a plant.
That first week on the job, I spent my spare time decorating those lovely walls and situating the desk, file cabinet, and mini fridge in the places they would sit for a few years. I was aiming for a balance between professional and inviting as I wanted my advisees to trust me with whatever questions came up. And since my office was right between my boss and her boss, I didn’t want to literally make them look bad.
At the end of that first week, my boss came into the office to check in. She looked around the room and commented that it looked pretty nice. “It’ll look good when you get a plant in here.” As a new employee who desperately wanted her boss’s approval (for the paycheck and respect…not positive which was more important right then…), I went to Fred Meyer the next day in search of a plant. I’d never had a plant before so I had no idea what I was doing or buying.
I bought a plant and a pot that was larger than the plant, and hoped for the best.
When I placed it in the corner on Monday morning, the first order of business was a name. I had heard somewhere that it was good to talk to plants to help them stay healthy, and figured a name would help me talk to this green leafy thing. I decided it needed to be some sort-of plant-type name, nothing bizarre like Batman…
Cut to a decade later: Batman is still (somehow) alive and now living on my kitchen counter. I am no longer working in those walls but instead in lots of different spaces as an assistant, a professor, and a wanna-be writer. And my former boss is now a close friend who totally does not remember telling me to get a plant.
As I search for #WhatsNext, I’ve promised Batman that he’ll get a sunny spot wherever I end up.
#52sparks is my year-long writing series based on an art prompt challenge. The title is inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.