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

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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

2018-06-28 Back to Good

Back to reality means back to the basics. Achieving balance and focus is key. My day yearerday was inspiring, and as the day unfolded, I was reminded time and again of the truths around me. What’s important and what is good.

It started with some nice reflecting on current events and how I really have learned some lessons and how that has helped me make better choices. I had lunch with my mom and as always, it gave me a perspective on some of my potential futures. Learning lessons from our own life experiences is good, but if we can learn from others, that’s priceless. My conversation with her lead me to a few conclusions and if I can course correct to avoid her same pitfalls and mistakes, so much the better.

I also had several conversations with my boss and with each one I felt better about not making it to Cali. In another week or two my missing it and any negative thoughts about it in people’s minds will dissolve and whatever priority thing is now the target will be in the spotlight. That’s the nature of things. Good or bad, the significance of it softens the more that time passes.

I worked through the afternoon because hey, the reality is that I still have to pay my bills. But I took a break in the middle to turn my attention briefly to something I’ve been missing.. poetry. I realize now that at the end of the semester I was so overwhelmed with stuff that as soon as all the requirements were met, the cadence I had had with writing, reading, and editing came to a complete halt. It was a break I desperately needed, so I could focus on other things, but that break has gone on too long.

It’s time to dive back in and I started by editing one of my last submissions of the semester based on my mentors comments. I decided to post that one to my main poetry blog. It’s actually such a satisfying thing to do. It doesn’t matter if anyone reads it or likes it. It’s like putting a peice of myself out into the space of the universe and letting it float free.

After work I took my kids to the pool and we only stayed a little while but it was fun. One of those lessons I was referring to earlier has to do with life and relationships and the passing of time. In a few short years, my kids will be grown and gone and I need to enjoy every moment I can with them. It’s more important than any work I will ever do.

After the pool we had a nice dinner together and despite their constant teenage bickering with each other, everyone was in good spirits. At dinner I decided to pop the cork of a half full bottle of white wine I had in the refrigerator.

I drank a glass at dinner, and another as I tackled another work task, and another as I sat on my back patio talking with Jim. That conversation was moved inside as the bugs started to bite and then up to the bedroom as I got sleepy. Before too much longer we were saying our “goodnights” and I was turning out the light.

There’s just something about falling asleep completely content and satisfied with life. It was a good day and i’m extremely happy to wake refreshed and do it all again.

Day After Day,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-06-27 Back to Reality

I’m Finally catching up to real time after my glorious vacation and getting back to reality. In truth as things were coming to an end, reality began creeping in on me and it was sort of a struggle to really enjoy the final day of my trip. The stress of what was just around the corner weighed heavy on me which had everything to do with what was supposed to be another work trip to California quite literally starting the morning after I arrived home from Florida.

The facts were as follows… plane arrived home from Miami at 11pm and flight out to San Jose departs at 6:30am. When I booked my flight out, I was totally in the zone, feeling great about everything and had no doubt I could make it work. That, folks, was a serious delusion. A trick if the mind.

Sitting in the condo on Saturday I started to have serious anxiety. What was I fucking thinking. I was going to be beat down from travel, not sleep because I was flying out and have only a few hours to unpack and pack and take care of anything needed at the house or with my kids. At that point I felt like a very neglectful parent.

Circumstances beyond my control were also in play, which is their dad taking a new job which requires travel every week. So they’ve been mostly solo for the better part of a week and a half. They are teenagers and very self sufficient but that doesn’t change the fact that I was missing them. I probably needed to see them more than they needed me, but it is what it is.

Anyway sitting on the couch with Jim I began to unravel and we talked through it. The only answer was to cancel the California trip. I felt very much like that this was me being caught between a Rock and a hard place, but cancelling was the right answer.

The rock was the reality that if I tried to make it, I would be a useless lump to the team, tired and worried about what I’d left undone at home. I would be meeting the people paying us for our contract Work for the first time and I was afraid my first impression would be dismal. And.. if I pushed the trip out a few days, like my boss first suggested, I would miss the rest of the team sort of defeating one of the main purposes for going out there. It was also going to cost a lot more to change flights, get a room, and Uber to make it work. It would have been a waste of money and I was worried about that too.

The hard place was that this whole thing, if I cancelled, would reflect poorly on me in the eyes of the people I’m working for. Either I look like I’m poor at planning or that I just can’t hang under pressure. Neither one of these things is true of course. I’ve come through with flying colors in really high pressure Work situations before. Many times. And I’m an excellent planner, most of the time.

This one, not so much. Like I said, a trick of the mind. I’m a hard worker, and very dedicated and dependable and will sometimes (too often) take on too much or rather allow too much to be piled on. That’s what led to my crisis at the last job. I was a star and keeping that status meant taking more and more on all the time. So much so that I nearly drowned.

During my time off after quitting that job, I did a lot of reflecting on the situation. I had to come to terms with the fact that the company I was working for, specifically the president, was never to be satisfied. They would always push for more as long as I would allow it. Zeroing in on that is key. I was allowing it. I was willing and didn’t push back. I was the one with my hand on the faucet and refusing to turn right. I didn’t want to loose my status or reputation, and that, my friends, is the real hard place.

I feel very much like this current situation was made to test me. Did I learn my lesson? I’m still in the drivers seat of my life. Could I make the right choice for my health and happiness? The answer is a resounding “yes”.

I cancelled my flight and was straight with my boss about it and let him handle the comms. to the team and to the People funding our contract who will have to wait for some future date to meet me. I spoke to our HR person to get advice about the flight cancellation and she was helpful. They were both very understanding and helpful. Will it tarnish my reputation? Perhaps. But I need to be ok with that.

It’s taken me a few days to come back to reality, to get my house in order and re-establish a cadence with my day, and re-connect with my kids. It’s super clear, in hindsight, that any other choice would have been a disaster. My challenge now is sticking to my guns and not allowing this kind of situation to creep up again. I need to recognize it off in the distance and manage appropriately. Seems easy enough from where I am now, and my mantra of “balance” is the key.

Hey, that reminds me of a poem I wrote once that was a parody of a Meghan Trainor song. The poem was called “All About that Balance”…

https://shyspark.wordpress.com/2014/11/23/song-parody-all-about-that-balance/

I wrote that in 2014. You think I would have learned long before now to follow my own advice. Such is life. 😜

Now Returning to My Regularly Scheduled Programming,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-04-20 Timing is Everything

I’m well caffeinated this morning and just flush with thoughts about what I’m reading and the music in my ears. I’m so inspired about all the things I could pontificate about in my next set of essays for school. The renaissance, history, evolutionary biology, the invention of computer language. It’s wild. The book I’m reading is fucking tough. It’s like the author made a point of making it as difficult as possible for what purpose, I’m not sure.

I’m equating it to Organic Chemistry. The class that they give med student hopefuls to weed out the cruft. If I can consume this book and come away with some higher level of understanding, then for sure I’m qualified to be a poet. I’m grateful for the opportunity to try. And since I don’t care for failure or the words “I Can’t”.. then I will get through it and I’ll write the most kick-ass essay about it. There’s only two people who will read it, but that doesn’t matter to me. Like so many things in my life, I’m driven from within and inspired from being without.

I may or may not have stated before but my resolve to continue with my current course has waned considerably this past month. The struggle to do well in all things has caused a stress I never wanted to feel again. I wrote a poem about it and even felt my hand move closer to the emergency stop lever.

The contributing factors are time and money. Probably time because of money. I’m just now coming into the black again. The combination of not getting enough hours into work these past few weeks and seeing another semester on the horizon which will put another 10 grand hit on my safety net has caused a serious pause.

Despite that, I pulled the trigger for Residency this summer. That decision was made easier by tempering my anxiety by holding off on the fall semester for now. I’m waiting to see how this semester ends and also waiting until I hear back from my program advisor on questions I’ve asked.

Timing is sometimes everything though. My thoughts about the program, my goals, and my responsibilities vary day to day and swing certain direction based on my moods. How am I to ever trust any decision when I’m so swayed by emotion. I try sorting things out with logic and reason and separating the feelings from the main equation. That’s where my left-brain analytics and desire to see a visual list of pros and cons come in handy. This usually helps me come to the best conclusion on life decisions.

This time, it’s not as easy. What happens when one side of the list is abstract and un-quantifiable. How to I put money on one side of the equation and “the meaning of life” on the other?

What is the price of fulfilling your life’s undefined purpose? Is it priceless? Is it worth risking the very life you are trying to define? Is that life so insignificant that there is actually no risk at all.. only perceived risk? Have I now travelled so far down the rabbit hole that any conclusion I come to fails to carry any weight at all in the real world?

You see, I’m failing to explain myself because somehow in the midst of all my self doubt about the right course of action I’m blinded by the light of poetry. I’m blinded and called to it and it’s so bright and hot that it’s literally melted everything on the left side the equation.

There’s a certain event in my life that I equate to punctuated equallibrium. That event set the wheels in motion like the Turks capturing Constantinople. Like the Greeks, I fled from that scene with all my texts, Poetry, journals, and art in cardboard boxes and electronic files.

Margo Street was my Italy. Thus began the Renaissance, thus began the evolution. Everything that has transpired since then has been moving me forward and now, today, when I’m faced with a decision about what the right course of action is, it feels as though the answers to all those questions don’t even matter.

Timing is some mystical power the Universe uses to bend us to the will of fate. We might try, with our primitive brains, to explain or even describe it using science and mathematics and history, but the essence of it evades.

That or it’s just the caffeine making me loco. 😜

Back to Reality,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-04-17 Broken Records

Balance.. procrastination.. balance.. sacrifice sleep.. social anxiety.. steps forward.. struggle.. too much to do. Rinse and repeat.

I’ve been writing this blog for 15 months now and when I started I was very much a broken person. A broken down broken record repeating the same sad story week after week. I was all “too much and poor me for my misery”.

But my goal was to get it out of me. I unpacked my insides and laid it all out on the floor in front of my own eyes so I could see pick through and see what I’d been collecting.

It was heartbreak and stress and sadness and grief. Life is too short to carry all that around. I looked at all of that and slowly started tossing it in the trash. I say slow because there’s no way to pay any price to speed that up. It takes as long as it takes. And it took a while but I got there.

It also took some big life decisions. Quitting my job for one. Going back to school for another. These are luxuries afforded by a long history of being a reliable employee to a few organizations. I always put my best foot forward and saved my pennies and then when I most needed it, I could gift myself the sabbatical that would propel me into the future.

Those five months were priceless. Being healthy, writing, relaxing, working on other projects I otherwise wouldn’t have time for, and going on vacations became my lifestyle. I slowly recovered from 2016. And in that time I also mostly recovered from the end of my five year relationship with Matt.

I say mostly because I’m forever scarred from what we did to each other. Two good People who couldn’t force love into being enough to make a life together because there weren’t enough pieces to complete the picture. We were right for each other but our lives weren’t meant to be intertwined the way one with my heart strings requires.

It was tough for me to say “no” and remove myself from that relationship. I’ll be forever grateful for the girl that swooped in and blocked me from that door opening again when I cried and screamed and banged on it. That girl I hated despite never meeting her. She’s moved to Cali now and the Universe only knows what’s become of their relationship. I’m grateful not to care too much.

I know I still care some. I know deep down I’m still in some state of perpetual grief about all of it. Good times I wish I could recall without being drowned in sadness and regret. Bad times and problems my brain has tried over and over to solve. Time has helped the answer to be more clear. It was a puzzle all along and like I said, for all the right pieces, there was just too much missing.

Still, when I got feedback from my mentor on that one poem that was inspired by him, I could not help but cry as I cut and created that 3rd draft. That’s my life now.. words and poetry and allowing all of it out for examination and criticism.

I was broken open and I’m no longer broken but I remain open. I’m open for whatever this new life path brings my way. If I submit a hundred poems and they all get rejected, then so be it. I think about the fact that I don’t have a goal. I think about how all along the goal has been there and my grand failure was not recognizing it.

A person can’t help but believe in fate when they look back at the path of their life and see every choice they made and why. Day to day, you can’t see it. It just feels like the same record spinning over and over and, at times, extremely boring, but those broken record repetitions are what lead to what exists now.

Two beautiful, loving, happy children. A new loving relationship. The loving pursuit of a life dream. The security of a job that allows me to maintain my current way of life. The beauty of spring blooming around me despite the long winter. The prospect of a future full of love and positivity. The new broken record looks pretty great.

There will always be struggle with balance and hard work and health and social hurdles. The difference now is that I’m not packing it all down inside myself. I’m open and therefore free of repeating that part of my history.

Now.. time to go write some poetry!…

Poetry is the New Black,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-04-03 A Critique of the Critical Essay

I’ve done a lot of forced writing in the last week. By forced I mean writing that I wouldn’t normally do.

Poetry comes easy.. and when it happens I always enjoy it. I rarely pick a topic and say to myself, I’m gonna write about that this time.

Journaling usually comes easy. I just start by having some thoughts (and of course I have an endless supply) and start steaming. There are times I sit down to write about my life and times and come up empty, but it’s rare.

The point of assigning critical essays as a part of the MFA curriculum serves a couple different purposes. The main reason they give is that any practice writing is sharpening a persons skills. That’s true! It’s part of what I think I’m getting out of journaling every day.

Of course there’s almost zero feedback on journaling so there is no measure if it’s actually making me better.

A secondary purpose for critical essays, especially for me (but it applies to everyone), is that it shows what I’ve learned in my studies. If I successfully analyze a poem or provide a very insightful comparison, that means I’m learning. Hey, that’s the point of school. My uphill battle coming into this is that I’ve got a lot to learn. I have the challenge of reading, comprehension, and then the task of applying that to the other poetry and poets assigned. It’s a lot.

Most people in the program probably got their undergraduate degree in fine arts, English, ir something along that same line. They came in with so much more knowledge than I did. I’m that comp-sci nerd that hasn’t had any literature classes. The last class I had that’s somewhat related was English Comp 2 like 20 years ago.

When I originally submitted my application, I was worried they would not accept me for that reason. Well, that and the fact that I don’t have a clearly defined reason for wanting to be in the program or life goal that is associated. I don’t really want to be a teacher or anything like that. On the surface it appears that I’m doing it just because. I’m not, but it’s tough to articulate.

In truth, I wonder if they accepted my application because enrollment is down. I wish I knew how they did decide. I often worry that I’m just a fraud. When I wrote out my goals for the semester I actually included that. One of my goals was to defraud myself. Externally? Internally? 🤷‍♀️ Both would be nice.

Anyway, this week I struggled with my critical essays. In part I think this is because I set a high bar early in the semester and I want to, like the high jumper, inch that up each time and continue to clear it.

The other reason is that I’ve not been particularly “inspired” to write these essays this month. I continue to enjoy Creeley and now Glück and even Langan, but I just want to read and enjoy. They have inspired me to write poetry but I haven’t really wanted to put more of a critical eye into any of it or connect the dots with my theoretical texts.

That’s another reason the essays is good.. it forces us to write despite obstacles and challenges. If we can do that, then hell, we can write anytime about anything. That’s real talent!

I reached out to my mentor for some suggestions and he came back with a few very specific topics, which was helpful. I still struggled to write those though. I felt very much like I was just restating the obvious and not being critical in any way. I hope it’s still ok.

I’m submitting to him today and he’s going to provide feedback by the 7th. I guess I’ll know the answer after that.

After that, I’ll probably go into hybernation again with the essays. I suppose as long as I continue reading and perhaps taking notes about possible topics, then when packet 4 is looming I’ll be in good shape to write for that.

Time to do Tuesday,

~Miss SugarCookie