In the month (!) since writing here last, a lot has happened. I graduated (at last!) with my Master’s in Literature from Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English summer program. It’s a journey that’s been four years in the making. My experiences at Bread Loaf’s three campuses, in Vermont, in Santa Fe, and in Oxford, England, have been life changing.
It was during my first summer that I met and worked with Tracy K. Smith, who encouraged and helped me to apply for an MFA in poetry. Bread Loaf was the first place I read my poems aloud to a group of peers. It was the first place I was able to feel a community of likeminded educators who bonded together in love of pedagogy and poetry. It was where I gained confidence in my ability as a speaker, a scholar, and a writer. It was where I won my first poetry contest.
A lot of people don’t know that I applied for PhDs twice–and was rejected twice–before I decided to give myself over to the MA and MFA route instead. Bread Loaf lead me to UNCW, and both lead me to realize that it was actually a good thing I was rejected from my so-called “dream.” It helped me create a new path for myself–one that’s been less straight forward, but still unforgettable and important. I’ve met some extraordinary mentors, friends, and colleagues along the way.
I’m, however, exhausted. I’ve essentially been attending two Master’s programs at once. I’ve learned a lot this past year about over-extending myself.
This therefore is the year I say no. No to odd jobs. No to social engagements that make me stare at the clock. No to extra responsibilities. No to extra classes. No to trying to plan everything ad nauseum. And yes to my writing. Yes to reading. Yes to thesis. Yes to Ecotone, where I participating as the non-fiction editor and honing my skills in publishing and editing and behind the scenes. Yes to my mental health. Yes to whatever comes.
I’ve never been more grateful to be where I am. I am home. I have an apartment that is clean and (mostly) quiet. My cat has mellowed out a ton. I know who my friends here are. I know where to buy discount organic groceries and how to find the cheapest, best yoga classes. I am a stop away from some of the most beautiful waterfronts this country has. I have everything I could possibly need. And I have a third year free from any distractions other than my thesis and my teaching and my work on the literary magazine.
During orientation, we were asked to share our greatest gift. I didn’t say it at the time, but having a third year to do my MFA thesis right is the best gift I could imagine right now. A gift of time.