Fresh Start

I’m attempting to launch a fresh start to my commitment blogging here.  The last few months have been some of the more difficult of my personal and professional life for reasons I’ll not go into here except to say: it’s very difficult to date a fellow writer–especially when he is unsure he wants a committed relationship and you are not paying close enough attention to signs communicating this message.  I’ll also say it is difficult to go for two Master’s degrees at once, which is what I’m doing by attending Bread Loaf in the summer and my MFA in the fall/winter.  On top of that, I decided that in addition to a full load of classes year ’round, it would be a brilliant idea to take on an independent research project to carry out during the academic year and bring to fruition this past summer in order to try to graduate Bread Loaf early–while also having part-time jobs to defray costs. I managed to pull it all off, though I started this new school year a bit more frazzled than last.

I DO however feel all sorts of accomplished.  Therefore, in honor of the spirit of this blog, I want to take a moment to highlight my accomplishments/reasons I haven’t been writing here, because most writers I know are perfectionists who often harbor their flaws and shortcomings without taking a ton of time to celebrate small successes and I’d like to stop being such a person.

In the last eight months, I

–fell in (an ultimately unrequited) love and survived a break-down of that (occasionally unhealthy) relationship and subsequently learned a lot about myself and what I want for the future out of love

-started dating again after I remembered to fall back in love with myself/take serious moves to reestablish my self-worth

-started teaching yoga at a studio downtown

-trained for and completed the Wrightsville Beach Half-marathon

-had a draft of my research project proposal accepted at the March SEWSA 2014 conference

-presented said proposal to a (very, very small) panel of fellow scholars, writers, and academics and learned a lot about how to act at academic conferences

-attended the 2014 AWP Conference in Seattle and networked with agents, writers, teachers, and fellow grad students

-drafted a book-length manuscript of poems about silence as an ecotone/place of danger and opportunity

-successfully completed another summer session of coursework at Bread Loaf, where I learned Tai Chi, composed a small series of 10 poems, and engaged with fellow teachers about the pedagogy of poetry

-won a substantial scholarship to off-set the costs of Bread Loaf

-finished a two-pronged research project with an academic analysis of how three female poets use silence as an ecotone in three of their poems as well as a series of my own poetry about silence as an ecotone

-submitted poetry to contests and journals

-won the Robert Haiduke Poetry Prize at Bread Loaf, the first monetary award my poetry has received

-had two of my poems published by the Bread Loaf School of English Literary Journal

-visited my home state and fell back in love with its clear, cool fresh waters and green tree tunnels

-leaned more heavily on my family than ever before for emotional (and financial…sigh) support–couldn’t do it without them!

-solidified friendships and professional contacts here in Wilmington

-struggled to find a writing routine that works for me (still working on this!)

-honed my ability to teach at the college level, receiving great feedback from students who told me I helped them fall back in love with writing while also preparing to teach totally online this coming academic year–a big adjustment and exciting professional development opportunity

-adopted an adorable orange tabby kitten named Daisy who likes to sit on the keyboard and paw at the screen and who fills with with more unadulterated joy than I have experienced since childhood

-met new people, made new friends, re-connected with old friends

-subleased a gorgeous apartment in Santa Fe for the summer

-camped out near Lake Stewart in New Mexico and hiked around the National Forest near St. John’s College on daily dawn patrol hikes

-successfully figured out a way to retroactively apply rental car insurance to a car I had already scratched (a professor of mine calls this “using my available means”)

-single-handedly moved myself, sans Dad or a moving company or truck, to a different 1-bed apartment in Wilmington, on a quiet, tree-lined street with an office and large eat-in kitchen, fenced in garden patio, and wide front porch (a great improvement from living above a coffee shop and around the corner from a night club)

-re-committed myself to back packing/seeking out trips into mountains

-picked back up the guitar

-received numerous compliments on my reading presence/voice

-quit a freelance part-time job where I was not treated well

-learned about the different creative ways to research as preparation for writing

-toured Southport with an adorable journalist on bike

-dealt with minor health issues and sorted through the hell that is the healthcare exchange

-was present at one of my best friend’s shower and wedding ceremony

-established my residency in North Carolina for the next two years +

-kayaked/camped out on Masonboro Island with friends

-attended numerous poetry readings/slams

**

To follow a trend starting on facebook, I’ll conclude this first, list-driven foray back into blogging with the ten (I put 15 before I realized I was over) books that have stayed with me:

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

2. When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams

3. Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

4. Live or Die by Anne Sexton

5. A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland

6. Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

7. Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith

8. Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

9. The Poison-wood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

10. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

11. Waltzing the Cat by Pam Houston

12. Love’s Work by Gillian Rose

13. Wild Iris by Louise Gluck

14. Mysticism for Beginners by Adam Zagajewski

15. The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence

runner-up: When My Brother Was An Aztec by Natalie Diaz

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