Awakening

Oh boy, have I dropped the ball blogging here.  Chalk it up to having given myself zero time between finishing up Bread Loaf Oxford and my penultimate semester of my MFA. Last semester was CRAZY.

Time spins like a top lately.  I began 2016 cuddling sleepily on the couch with my boyfriend in my parent’s retirement condo in Florida.  My boyfriend drove 13 hours straight just to ring in the new year with me.  Fools in love.  This will be the second new year I’ve rung in with him by my side.  A year since he first told me he loved me.  Who knows where this year will take us.

2016 started with an abrupt loss.  A friend, colleague, and co-editor of Ecotone passed away very suddenly after a lifelong struggle with muscular dystrophy.  He was (was.  tense.  so hard to keep straight.) one of the most patient, kind-hearted, thoughtful, brilliant persons I’ve had the privilege of knowing.  He was one of the few to write me a letter while I was at Oxford.  I kick myself still that I never remembered to write him back, that I didn’t take more time to talk with him after our many classes together.

The news of his hospitalization spurred me into planning overdrive.  Whenever I feel helpless, I turn to planning like a security blanket.  I get bossy as I try to bully everyone around me into taking care of themselves.  I found strength in the community that formed in the waiting room of New Hanover Regional hospital.  There are those who show up.  And those who don’t, for various reasons.  I am grateful that the experience taught me to value and put more of my energy into those who show up.

I held it together until I left his room for the last time.  Unhooked from the machines, he looked so peaceful.  I realized during life he often had a seriousness to him, a depth of attention that seemed to pinch him forward.  In death, he was so relaxed.  His lips full.  His eyelids as puffy as a newborn baby’s.  He looked young.  So young.  Once in the hallway, once I no longer had anyone to boss around, no more meals to organize, no more texts or calls to make, I disintegrated.  A colleague held me and walked me back to our little MFA group, where several others gathered us up in a group hug.

One thing that astounds me about this place is the sense of community.  It is special here.  Some cattiness, immaturity, and competition do exist.  But in that space in the waiting room, with those who show up, I realized how much love, care, and deep respect binds us together, not just as writers, but as human beings.

The loss got me thinking a lot about the future. I’m currently applying to jobs all over the country, looking for a position that will pay them well and allow me to hone my writing, leadership, teaching, and planning skills.  Ideally a teaching position at a college or a private school, or even work at a non-profit for writing or editing.  I’m scared at the prospect of going anywhere.  I wonder when I will stop moving and start making a home.  I wonder who will deign to continue onward with me, who I have yet to meet.  But then again, I’m reminded that I’ve discovered those who show up for me no matter where I go.  The older I get, the easier these types of people are to recognize.  I’m fortunate to have a few interviews lined up.  Fingers crossed for something.

I also have been thinking a lot about my past year.  2015.  As I reflect on my resolutions (https://ilmwritinglife.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/2015-resolutions/) I’m pretty proud to report that I’ve made many of my goals.  I listed out how many books I read this year, and the number is well over 50!  More than the 30 I’d hoped for!

I’ve somewhat eaten healthier, though I have many lapses.  Oh well.  I recently went on a shopping spree where I bought bigger pants.  I’ve decided that there are too many things that taste better than skinny feels. Added bonus that my bf likes a little junk in the trunk.

I didn’t manage to publish a poem (whomp whomp), but I did get a poem nominated for the AWP Intro Award, as well as two very encouraging rejections from poetry magazines I admire.

I still suck at Twitter and blogging. I’m okay with this.

I pitched my paper on silence for publication, as well as three other academic essays, in academic journals/books. Still waiting for response.

I graduated from Bread Loaf! Summa Cum Laude and Vice President of my graduating class.

I wrote two fiction stories that I actually really liked (and so did Glimmer Train; they encouraged me to resubmit!)

I like to think I’ve been a better friend/family member, but I can always improve on this score.

I still suck at doing yoga daily, though for a six-month stretch I was doing really well.  I do teach it every Friday at 9 still! And I am more regular than I used to be (3-4 times a week).

I’ve made a budget and have (mostly) stuck to it!

I’m really enjoying teaching this semester.  My students are amazing.

I don’t think I wrote 50 new poems.  More like 10-20?  Room to improve as I finish up my thesis.

I have gotten better at editing old work–and at submitting it!  I’ve submitted my work to over 20 different journals so far and applied to over 50 jobs!

I passed my MFA exam with distinction!  I presented at an international conference!  I became nonfiction editor of a magazine I love!  I won two fellowships!  I gave away a ton of old clothes and knickknacks that don’t give me joy (thank you KonMari).  I started medication for anxiety and have made it a priority to relax more.  2016 has already thrown a lot of curves my way.  I had old heartbreaks resurface.  Nothing goes how I plan or imagine it will.  Sometimes it goes better.  Sometimes not.  I’m learning to be more open. Pliable.  Flexible.  Generous, to all, but especially to myself.

January was mean.  I’m hoping for a kinder, slower February.  I decided to start volunteering for a cat shelter.  I want a dog.  I have my thesis reading in a few weeks (OH MY GOD WHAT).  I am taking on more responsibilities at Ecotone.  I’m going back to church (nothing like a death to make you seek out your spirituality.  I wonder what my friend would think of that).  2016, the doors to my heart are wildly flung.  Come at me.

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