2018-07-21 MFA Day 7 and 8 – My Cup Runneth Over

Day 7 was yesterday and day 8 is today. That’s me, trying to catch up with myself and not feel too much like I am still stuck thinking about what happened the day before. I know they build a lot of flexibility into the schedule for folks to go off and think and write, because we are only technically required to attend 11 lectures, 3 special topic workshops, and 6 student centered workshops during our time here (plus a few other mandatory orientation sorts of things). But hey, here’s the deal – I’m paying a lot for this time, and sacrificing a lot too, so I really want to get my money’s worth. I also know that everything that I go to could be the inspiration for my next big idea.

I attended the 3 special topic workshops, 6 student centered workshops and 11 lectures plus.. 8 additional lectures, 4 faculty readings, 2 student readings, 1 alumni reading, a nature field-trip/workshop, and, by the way, countless meals in that stupid dining hall. Now, on the last day of activities, I am completely and utterly spent. I’ve been thinking about the difference between being full and being empty and I’d like to think of myself as a cup not half-full, but completely full and running over instead of a cup that is empty with nothing left to give, which is more how I feel. I want to write about the differences between thinking and feeling but I won’t. At least not right now.

The graduation ceremony for students who have completed the program last term starts in about a half an hour. I’m relieved that I don’t have to play any part in that except show up and sit somewhere and listen. Truthfully, I don’t have to show up at all, it’s not required, but I do find this part motivating. It reminds me what is in my future and gives me fuel to keep going. I like to have goals I guess and seeing this unfold before my eyes is a good way to solidify that in my mind – my thinking mind, which is over-full of thinking and thought at this point. A girl can hope there is room for just a little more.

My feelings about having to get ready now and go are not well represented in the previous sentiment. I can’t escape feeling empty and just having no desire to change (clothes), prepare mentally, and go spend another two hours with anyone. Most are quite great, don’t get me wrong, and I feel in the last 7 or 8 days I have gotten to know a few of them better and have even come to rely on them for safe harbor. I just want to go off alone somewhere and write. I really, really want to write. Well, probably sleep some and THEN write. I think being alone and getting some rest will help me regain the energy that has been zapped.

A few days ago I made a list of things I wanted to catch up to and write about at some point. Perhaps in the weeks to come I will be hitting a few of those topics. I hope when I get there, I can remember enough acute detail to recapture those thoughts and feelings. Though I know it will never be quite the same as it would have been, had I wrote about those events on that exact day. That’s the fluid nature of the energy in writing.

Today I have a new list of things:
– Alumni Readings
– Some plot resolution to conflicts developed in the first act that hasn’t been written yet
– More about Hashimoto and connections back home.
– What happens to a persons body and mind after having no sleep (twice in one week).
– A little piece that was inspired by one of my lectures about objects, and how that can aid in character development. (We had a similar lecture about setting or place which I would also like to explore).
– What I thought and felt about my poems being workshopped (that was today). How that was very different than last time and perhaps why.

I’m sure there is more. That’s it for now though as it is all I have time for.

Exhausted but Hopeful,
~Miss SugarCookie

Advertisements

2018-07-20 MFA Day 6 – You Can’t Always Get What You Want

All I have time for is poetry today. Running short on time and feeling late and unprepared for the last thing and the next thing. I guess that’s one advantage to being a poet…

***

Morning rise, early after no sleep
sickness rising also, unrest in my stomach.
Push it down, down, preparing for a day long of pushing
past physical feelings to get deep into a sacred place.

But all the acute points, every individual sharp moment
is made blunt by the rise of something else.
Push it down, push it down, sick now
that the struggle of opposing forces is taking center stage.

The rest of it is more of the same —
exhausted, the exalted moment can’t be the breakthrough I need
until I get the thing I didn’t know I needed
The falling action
and giving in to gravity.

***

As Always,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-19 MFA Day 4 and 5 – Blurred Lines

I only just now having a minute to reflect on day 4 and 5 because things have been extremely busy and time is flying by so quickly. I only know it’s IS day 4 and 5 I’m thinking about because I looked at the schedule and counted the days ), 1, 2, 3 and that is where I left off last. There has been a lot. The lines between one story and the next, one day and the next are starting to blur and now I’m running short on time for the past.

I always try to pick a title to my posts which best describes what I am talking about. Like RH, sometimes it starts there and wanders somewhere else and sometimes it stays right were it is. The title to this blog could have been any of the following:

– Bad Decisions
– The Nature Walk and Hashimoto
– On Empty Tanks
– Why I Write Poetry
– Defending My Boringness
– The Proposition
– The Second Proposition
– Being on the Cusp
– MFA Sometimes Stands for Mother Fucking Artists (or Assholes)
– Good Decisions
– On Being First (and Last)
– The Good and Bad About Being Invisible
– I Still Don’t Like Scotch

I should write a little blurb about each one, so that I can maybe remember what it was I was thinking about, capture the essence of it, so I can write more about it later. But sadly, as usual “Aint nobody got time for that”. (I’m really not trying to compare my list to a fire or having bronchitis here.. I’m really not).

How about this – I’ll write a little bit now about.. something, and then if I get any comments about one of the titles above, I will write about that? This is presuming someone reads this and feels inclined to comment. Hell, my 16 year old posted a similar thing to her, now six week old you-tube channel and had like a hundred comments. So I’m going with it.

Last night instead of eating dinner at the lodge, there was a quaint group of us that went for Mexican food because one of the gals had finished her both her graduation lecture and reading (her non-fiction story was pretty amazing). There were just four of us. I had one margarita (on special for 1.99), and two ala-cart items from the menu. It was very average, but I was in great company. I’m not sure if the trips to the bathroom this morning are from the food, or what I drank afterwords out on the back deck, which also wasn’t much – a glass or three of wine, but I’ve been back and forth to the bathroom a few times this morning with some unpleasantness. I’m hoping that all ends before mandatory workshop this morning.

Today I have a lunch meeting with my mentor. The title I left out above was “The Big Reveal”, so consider that an option too. We also have student readings and I’m feeling great about that because I did mine two days ago. Quite pleased with how it went actually.

I had a late night last night and didn’t really get any sleep. This is not an exaggeration, it’s my truth. My FitBit tells me I had 4 hours and 14 minutes and I feel like that’s a lie. It says I went to bed at 1:12 and woke up at 6:38. The 6:38 part is true but I saw the clock at 1:15, 1:30, 2, 2:30, 3, 3:30, and 4 (approximations) – so I know I wasn’t sleeping. Between my stomach and the sleep deprivation, today is going to be rough. I’m not ready for it.

Ready or not, it’s happening,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-17 MFA Day 3 – Best Day Yet

Yesterday was the best day yet. It actually started the night before when I gave myself permission to have some wine, and some more wine, and eventually ended up on the back patio of the lodge with the other drinkers talking until the night grew thin and the bugs grew thick. I shouldn’t say “talking”, because as it is, I was mostly listening. I’m the quiet one people are always eyeing sideways curious about but don’t ask because someone else more boisterous is telling a story.

I love to hear the stories. All at once around midnight, the outside became too much and people made their exit (the small number of us who were left). I went to my room and decided not to think too much for my head already hurt from the wine and I knew trouble sleeping would be ahead of me if I didn’t take my Xanax. So I did. Then I slept that uneasy sleep you get from mixing meds and wine and when 5:30AM arrived and I awoke, I was glad for getting up.

That doesn’t sound like the start to a good day, but it really was. It meant I had enough time to do the things I wanted to do, plus I miraculously didn’t have a headache and that was a welcome change from the day before. I braved breakfast for the first time since I’ve been here and sat next to Margret and we caught up and it was good… enjoyable even.

That was followed by workshop, which of course was great, and a full day of lectures and readings. All of it was top-notch. I even had a decent time at lunch, sitting with the play writes and asking questions about things other than writing and their careers. I figured that as long as I keep asking questions, nobody would be asking me questions and then I wouldn’t have to answer. A good trick yes??

The afternoon was more of the same with events but as it happens, there were no evening events planned so the last lecture ending at about 4:30 or 5 meant that, aside from dinner, I had no-where else to be. That was my queto make my escape. It’s great here.. but overwhelming. And I have the luxury of living close enough that I can just go home (provided there is enough of a gap in time). So I did that.

And OMG the Universe was on a roll for my drive home. Every song was better than the last and so appropriate for the moment and building in intensity until there was a grand crescendo just as I pulled into my neighborhood. Was it just my emotions, or did it really happen like that. I want to rewind all the way back to the beginning and write down every song to create some sort of a playlist. Damn you know it’s good when you are driving on the highway by yourself both laughing and crying and singing out loud to no one. Yeah, it was like that.

When I arrived home, I had chores to do. Water the plants, gather some things I forgot, eat dinner, print my reading for today. And in the quiet solitude of my house, I was able to speed through these tasks with enough quickness that I had time at the end of it all to go visit Jim. Now theres the real crescendo. We had about an hour and a half together, which didn’t feel like quite enough, but I knew I couldn’t stay the night so I had to leave at about 9.

Returning to the Lodge, I really needed to get back into the right frame of mind. I had disconnected and needed to re-connect with my purpose here. I went over workshop materials for today, practiced my reading, decided NOT to seek out the late night drinking crowd, and of course wrote some more poetry. Feeling super satisfied with my day, I went to sleep. It truly was the best day yet.

Ready for the Repeat!
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-15 MFA Day 2 – What to Do, What to Do

Here, sometimes you have to pick and choose. The packed itinerary of this time forces questions about priorities to be answered. By the time you get to day 2, hopefully you’re climbing the Maslow’s Pyramid and not stuck at the bottom with basic needs.

For me, it’s like a rapid trip climbing up and then sliding down again. I’m satisfied, even inspired, and then some instinct, some basic need kicks in again and there I go. Well, today was packed and I truly did have to pick and choose between lecture and trying to do something about the pounding in my head that was preventing me from concentration. I know it’s bad when thinking hurts and I can press my fingers to the bulging vein on my forehead and feel it throbbing. I wanted to go to the lecture at 3 today, but had to skip it, to self medicate with meditation, relaxation, fruit, and chocolate. And sunshine. Seriously.

You wouldn’t know it was summer as cold as this building is. The shivering I am doing from the conference rooms is probably caused me to burn any extra calories I am getting from “trying” every new dessert. I also self medicated with tylenol and ibuprofen as I wanted to hit my headache where it hurt the most, so to speak. There were things at 4 and 5PM I did not want to miss.

Those readings are over now. One of them was a reading by one of my fellow poetry students who is graduating and she’s just incredible. Her work is haunting, and intense, and inspiring, and also somewhat intimidating. Obviously I’m a fan. She’s done really well in the program and even though we have had only a few interactions, I can tell she’s a great person too. Someone I’d like to get to know better. You know how you can tell when someone would be a good person to have in your life.

I’m back in my room and in denial that it’s dinner time. I don’t particularly want to go and wish I had someone to sit with going in. I’m not even feeling that hungry, but that might be the social anxiety tricking me, trying to convince me not to go. I texted Jim and he’s urged me in the right direction. If I get stuck at the bottom, I’ll never get anywhere. He’s right.

Time to Climb Again,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-14 MFA Day 1 – Lectures and Workshops and Readings, Oh My!

I’ve only been on this yellow brick road for about a day now and have already encountered a lot of strange and wonderful things. No lions or tin-can men to accompany me on my journey (yet), but certainly some glenda-the-good-witchness to cast a light on the path and show me the way.

I wanted to try and minimize all the things that I don’t like, and maximize all the things I do like about this process, which is easy to do when you’ve made a list (that was my post on July 10 if you must know). I didn’t really have to reference my list though, because I know what my number one area of dissatisfaction is about Residency… the dreaded dining room situation.

Since I am the master of my own domain and in complete control of my own actions, I made the command decision to skip the buffet breakfast. Instead, I “made” hot water in my hotel room using the crappy little single serve coffee maker and prepared some instant oatmeal. Best decision ever!

Not only did I have time to go for a little walk around the grounds, exploring a little north of the lodge on a trail through the woods, but then I also had time to do some writing and also managed to check in on work. OK, so the avoiding the awkward social situation was a total bonus. I may comment about this a lot, but the fact of life is that it doesn’t really go away. I’m hoping that the more comfortable I get with these people, the more those feelings will fade away.

That occurrence has certainly been true for most situations in my life, so this one will be no different. The reality is that by the time I’m in the clear, it will be time to leave. It stands to reason, then, that I should probably get into as much interaction as I can, while I can, so that it does fade sooner rather than later.

(Yeah, this is me having an internal argument with myself about how to approach this situation). I could continue to just ask myself why it has to be a situation in the first place, but “that way lies madness.”

In any case, I felt much better going into morning workshops feeling great about the day. We had a brief orientation first, where I was in with the “newbies” (first semester students, of which there are about 12) and dutifully played the part of the wise second semester person, who has all the answers. It wasn’t that long ago that I was in that “newbie” seat and figuratively terrified of what lie ahead. Truly that Residency was overwhelming and if there is any way I could help answer questions from the fresh crowd, I wanted to. And I did.

Workshop was good too. It was a familiar set of fellow poets from different terms (there are a smaller number of poets so we are always with the same people). I didn’t have a ton of feedback to contribute, but I had enough and felt satisfied by the discussion. Today we went over the poems submitted by a graduating student and they were all very good. We won’t be going over the poems I submitted until one of the last days of residency, so I’m just not going to think about that yet (or try not to).

After that was a poetry lecture by one of the mentors, and as always, that was fantastic. I think I like the lectures the most because they always inspire me about something else I want to dig into or read or write about. This time was no exception. Another lesson learned from last time was that I never seemed to have enough time to think about something and process it fully before being bombarded by the next “event”. So the other command decision I made today was to skip some events. Not all of them are mandatory and if I pick and choose wisely, I will have a more balanced day and probably also not feel so overwhelmed. (Hopefully)

Lunch was lunch (meh), and I did my best with that. I just finished another lecture this afternoon and am now sitting out on the back patio of the Lodge overlooking the woods. It’s hot, but a welcome heat to the freezing 65 degrees in the rest of this building. Thank goodness I have control over my own room. Dinners here are early compared to what I’m normally used to and I actually still feel kind of full from lunch, so going to try and hold off a little longer before going in.

Perhaps I should trade this patio chair for one in the comfort of my own space inside and partake of a glass of wine while I wait? I am the Dorothy of this story after all, so the road ahead can go wherever I want. (Hold the flying monkeys please!).

And I’ll take my dog with me, too,
~Miss SugarCookie

 

2018-07-14 MFA Day 0 – Sunset at the Lodge

I arrived last night at 5PM sharp and almost EVERYTHING in my life decided to converge at that moment. I ended up missing the window for the MFA check-in which was supposed to be 3-5PM and let that go because getting to my room became an incredible priority for multiple reasons.

First, I had a conference call from 5-5:30 and that was my bad, for telling my boss 5-6 would be my only window of opportunity to meet. I misjudged the time and had zero minutes and zero seconds to get checked into the hotel and get my stuff into the room and hooked up to wifi for the call. At the EXACT same time, (and mind you I had been running around all afternoon AND driving to get to Nebraska City), my body decided to open the floodgates on the whole monthly cycle thing. *Spoiler alert* – GROSS! I literally had blood dripping down my leg as I hit my room, if that had happened 5 minutes earlier in the lobby, It would have been a complete disaster.

I spent the first 10 minutes of my conference call in the bathroom trying to take care of that mess. It WAS a mess. Why oh why does this ALWAYS seem to happen? (That’s rhetorical of course). All I can say is thank the Universe for audio only conferencing and mute buttons.

Then I had another call at 5:30 which went straight up to the moment I was supposed to be downstairs for the first meeting, a somewhat mandatory intro/orientation for the entire group out here this session – faculty, students, administrators. So I had to get there and switch gears in my brain with a quickness. That’s no easy task. I was frazzled, but hopefully It wasn’t obvious.

Straight away after that, was dinner (with the entire group), which was the first of many dining room events that cause me a fair bit of anxiety. I followed Margaret in and sat at the end of the table next to her and tried to make myself seem as invisible as possible. I just wasn’t any mood to be social, but I had to eat. Whatever. After that, I was able to go back to my room and slow down.

I made a few trips back and forth to my car to get the rest of my things and then also walked around the grounds a bit as the sun was setting. It was a fabulous sunset and I didn’t want to miss it so I stayed outside. Incidentally, my room this time is on the third floor and faces the woods behind the lodge and it’s just gorgeous. I’ll never tire of watching the sunset. I probably take to many pictures, and looking at them today it’s hard to say which one is best.

In any case, time alone, and having a few moments to decompress and process the events of the afternoon, I successfully navigated my way back to my happy place. I even ended up writing two poems and finished preparing for the first workshop which is this morning. I’ve got to get ready for that soon. The schedule today is fairly packed and I have an interest in just about every session, so it’s going to be busy busy.

Cheers to the Start of Something Great!

~Miss SugarCookie