2018-11-29 Aaaaand That’s a Wrap…

Last night I finished polishing all the documents required for my MFA final that is due this week. I haven’t yet got feedback from my mentor on my 4th packet, but that’s not really a requirement. That’s one more thing checked off my list for November and I feel great about it. ✅😊❤️

I’m a little sad to not be attending residency this winter but it was a necessary sacrifice for my family and my sanity. Having a semester break between my first and second years in the program makes so much sense for several reasons…

1. My focus needs to be on moving and selling my house and finishing all my current work projects. I want those experiences to be positive and I want to have time to do a fantastic job and not just half-ass things. 🕰⏳⏰

2. Financially I can maximize the tax benefit of contributing to a 529 for all 4 semesters (4 years of max contribution) which equates to 2000 extra bucks in my pocket at tax time (500 per semester). 💵💰💲

3. Once my house is sold I will have enough to cover the next two semesters without taking a student loan. Again important for my bank account as I will save in whatever that interest would have cost me. 🏠💶💃

4. I’m skipping a term that starts with a residency in the winter. Being in Nebraska City in winter over Christmas break and the new year holiday is not awesome. Doing it this way I will get two more summer residencies and only one more that is over NYE. ⛄️👎🏻🌨

5. I will have my graduating lecture and graduation in Summer term which is superior to winter and I’ll be graduating in a traditional spring term with a larger class. ☀️🌈🥂👍🏻

I’ll also be sad about not graduating with the people I started the program with but, the benefits of skipping a term outweigh the negative things. And by now, you should know me. I’m all about that balance. ⚖️

So today I will not only be submitting those final assignments and sending hard copies in the mail, but also turning my attention to the rest of my November checklist which there are only two more days to complete.

I’m so looking forward to everything in December. 😊🎄📦 However, I also want to not jump ahead to quickly. I need to take some time and have some celebration for this semesters success and accomplishment. 💃🎉🍾 🎈

Time for me to go get this Thursday party started and tie a nice little bow on my final submission.

So Much Awesome!

~Miss SugarCookie

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2018-11-17 Hey Mr. DJ – What’s Up?

This morning I woke up around 6 and that would normally be fine, but I didn’t go to bed until close to midnight. That equates to less than 6 hours of good sleep. I was doing great for the week and then, WHAM, it all went down the drain because of one night. In any case I’m at the gym early and it’s Saturday so the kids won’t be up for hours. I’m totally sick of all my play lists and feeling really uninspired. There’s nothing worse than an uninspired poet. 😜
My go-to in this situation is to give up the reins to the Universe and see what I will be served up from the master shuffle. I can’t go too wrong because the set is still limited to music on my phone — all my favorite artists and albums. So far, the Universe has not disappointed me. It’s been Cake and Snow Patrol and Pearl Jam. (Just accidentally spelled Pearl “Perl”, such a nerd). I’m feeling better already.
Now I have a serious work rant brewing, but “ain’t nobody got time for that”. I’ve been whining and complaining too much lately. I mean what hourly person – ever – complained about having too many hours??! But enough about that, how about that new Fantastic Beasts movie?
The kids and I had dinner and a movies night last night and we are pretty solid Harry Potter fans so anything that has to do with the wizarding world is a must see. My memory for movies is really poor. I see them for entertainment value only and don’t ever retain much of the characters and plot after. As is the case, I didn’t remember much from the first Fantastic Beasts movie so I went into this one cold.
Sometimes sequels do a good job of filling the audience in on important plot items from the first movie. If done correctly, you could watch a sequel without even having watched the first movie and not be lost. This movie either did not do that well or was just generally confusing. I’m inclined to think it was the latter as there were things I was still confused about toward the end of the movie.
I mean, the general plot is pretty basic. Bad guy escapes detainment by the ministry of magic (that’s not a spoiler, yo, cuz there would not be a movie if this didn’t happen) and they need to recapture him before he gets to some other important character who is connected to another prophecy. Oh, by the way, they refer to this prophecy as poetry and I dig that! Anyway, that was the stage that was set. Beyond that it was a lot going on from scene to scene that my brain struggled with.
The special effects were bad-ass of course but unless what you are seeing makes sense, you kind of just go “uhhh cool??”. It is not lost on me that this is #2 in a series and so if there are questionable characters introduced that we don’t yet understand or areas of the plot that did not get resolved, it’s because they are setting up for #3.
Again, if you do that too much, it leaves the audience unsatisfied with the movie as a singular unit. I know I left feeling unsatisfied. It wasn’t just me. Talking with my kids on the way home they were confused about it too. I mentioned the prophecy which was a major plot element and in my daughter’s head, she mixed that up with some other “prophesy like” things that were also mentioned. I said all that business about the Phoenix was foreshadowing, and then we had an argument about it (teenagers 🙄).
To be fair, she was partially confused because what takes place in the movie precedes the Harry Potter story by many, many years. She didn’t connect that the Dumbledore character was a younDumbledoreor. I can see where that would throw everything off. Was it a good movie? Yes. But it definitely left something more to be desired. More resolution maybe. More explanation or connecting the dots. I dunno. I think when #3 comes out, we should watch the first two again, just to prepare. I’d watch it again anyway to see if I catch something I missed the first time around. So there’s that.
My personal DJ started out great a half hour ago but the last few songs have been total “skippers”. Hmmm, what’s up with that? 🤔
In other news, we are rolling into the end of the semester and I have like 10 days to finish my last packet. I really only just had a conversation with my mentor about my last packet a few days ago. This weekend I plan to do a fair bit of reading and research for my final essays and revisions based on feedback. I’d love to roll into the upcoming holiday week/weekend with some of that all wrapped up and off my mind.
I solidified my decision this week to skip a semester of school because of my workload and the pending move. There are things I want to do really well, and I recognized after this semester’s constant struggle that trying to do all that AND move would probably push me off some edge. I want to take my time and enjoy this transition. I don’t want to have to split my time and consequently not be able to put my whole attention to any task in front of me. That includes school. When I go back in the fall, I want to be able to devote a lot of attention to that.
I talked to my MFA program coordinator about alternate pathways that would allow me to take classes and I think that’s something I really want to do. There is no way I can do that this spring so the timing for going back in the fall will be perfect. By then the move will be ancient history and I will have minimized my work hours back to 20 a week. 👍🏻👍🏻
Ok, now my DJ is serving me all kinds of crap and I’m not cool with that. And here I thought there wasn’t that much garbage in my library?! It’s that or I’m just not in the mood for Adele or Dave Matthews or John Mayer. Yeah, Mr. DJ, it’s not you, it’s me.
I’m not breaking up with you over this though, I’ll still be back for more tomorrow! 🙂
Spin Me Right Round,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-10-23 Smile and Nod

Or wave or something. Anything. I don’t know. It feels like it’s been ages since I wrote a blog post or journal entry or whatever this is. It’s actually only been a couple of days. I’m not sure if I count Sunday’s cuz those have a predetermined topic and format and I really don’t do a ton of actual writing those days, typically.

I’m having a tough time today thinking about what to write about. I spent the last week down deep in a rabbit hole thinking about things I had to write for school. Of everything that is required of me in participating in this MFA program, writing “critical” essays has to be one of my least favorite.

Last semester I struggled because I wasn’t even sure what the parameters or guidelines were around writing such a thing. I struggled with topics and feeling like I knew enough to have “critical” comments about any craft subject. I set the bar high for myself and powered through it. In the end my essays were a mix of personal thought, explorations about the craft of poetry, and writing that might be considered “book report” like.

I was pleased with the results but was terrified about this semester. Worried once again what to write about. This is one area I wish there was more guidance on. Fortunately for me, my mentor this semester was very open minded about the topics and gave me lots of leeway and suggestions. In my first two packets I included essays about utilization of different types of image, one on metaphor, and the rest were mostly explorations about the revision process and other random musings. This time, I was in a time crunch, and also sick for like 10 days, and had some crafty type things about line and enjambment that I had been studying, but wasn’t able to put those puzzle pieces together for a “real” essay. What I did instead felt more like one of these journal entries, with some very specific examples from ever growing collection of poems. If I include examples from real poets, that makes it legit right?

Anyway, I haven’t had a lot of time to write much else. I haven’t had a lot of time to do much of anything. Its Jim’s birthday this week and it’s not like I haven’t done a ton of thinking about that, but there are certainly things I wanted to do that never got done. The time crunch is real. But there I go again, landing on that old familiar subject I seem to return to again and again. I suppose if that’s the worst thing I have that repeats in my brain over and over again, I should be grateful. There’s a lot of terrible things in this world I could get stuck on. Injustice in America – new Supreme Court Nominees passing go, injustice in the Middle-East – Journalists getting brutally murdered, human injustice – refugees fleeing a country to try and make a home in a new, free country, but being turned away. Yeah, there’s a lot worse things in life than what I seem to worry about day in and day out.

All I can really do is smile and nod, or wave or something. Anything. I don’t know.

Peace,
~Miss SugarCookie

2018-09-28 Serious Friday Feels

Everything I was worried about yesterday went great. Every thing that got done made me feel lighter and lighter.

I made a space for my morning cardio which I did not think I was going to have time for. ✅

I got my lawn mowed. ✅

I had a difficult conversation with my boss. ✅

I hit up my OBGYN and had another minor procedure to boost my testosterone levels. ✅

I successfully ran another call with an important customer. ✅

I had a visit from the heating company I hired to investigate why my furnace is not coming on. It turns out that’s going to be a very expensive repair, but at least now I know. ✅

Jim and I had dinner together and more great conversation about my job situation and the future. ✅

I was able to log into my school website and access the mid-term form and though I haven’t tried to submit yet, I’m ready to pull the trigger. ✅

It’s all good stuff. I slept great last night and am feeling energized and ready to take on today… FRIDAY!

After I pull the trigger on the mid-term I’ll have the whole rest of the day to get hours into work. I’ve put in a serious minimum of hours this week so far and even if I put in 7 or 8 today, I probably won’t even break 20. 😱 However, it has been a more balanced week and what I originally signed up for. I’ve learned through the experience of the last few months that 30-35 hours is too many to not start sacrificing my family and school. How I ever worked 45+ is a serious mystery to me. But we all know how that turned out eventually so maybe it’s not THAT much of a mystery.

I told my boss yesterday (one of 3 bosses I have) that if I take this next contract the rest of my hours have to be reduced. I let him know that I was getting married and that I’m wanting to focus more of my time on family and school. The truth is, even with that reduction, I’m still considering taking a semester off just to focus on my personal life. I’ve only got this next year to get Z on track for college and we will also be moving which is a significant life change for us. My time in school is slipping away and I realized in the past month or so that I’m not getting out of it what I am paying into it. I want to change that. I don’t think that’s an excuse to put a pause on it but it might be. I’m not sure actually.

All I know is that I want to study more and write more and even take advantage of the alternate track for the program where you can take an actual on-campus class to satisfy some requirements. That appeals to me quite a bit. I dig the idea of having an actual class with assignments and a curriculum of topics to learn about. The MFA program that I’m in is fantastic in the way that it is structured, but the classroom experience feels like an element that is missing. I don’t think I would have time this spring to take advantage of additional classes but next fall I might. Lots to think about.

In any case, I’ll still be navigating my way through this time puzzle for a while. My thoughts still shift daily and I haven’t quite figured out how to make all the pieces fit. It might be an eternal work in progress. 🤷‍♀️ Who knows. All I know is that I feel great and am ready for whatever happens next.

Whose got two thumbs and is ready for Friday?! THIS GIRL!! 😊

Rolling in the Happy,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-09-25 Failure is Not an Option

Today would be the perfect day to write something new about something that someone, anyone, would find valuable. Anything different and interesting would do, a cheeseburger revue, or an artistic opinion on some local issue. But I’m coming up empty. My mind is completely trained on a different objective…. poetry.

Well not poetry exactly, because the actual goal is a school assignment that has to do with writing some essay on some topic. Whoa.. that’s pretty broad. It’s like writing this blog every day. When I’m staring at that blank screen, it can be anything I want and go anywhere I want. I get to decide. So much power!! However writing official essays for school are never that simple. You know, there is a definite set of parameters which I’m required to remain inside the bounds of.

For example, if I turned in a revue of some local restaurant and their very average cheeseburger, that would not be acceptable. It’s got to be something related to what I’ve been learning and include references to poems or poets that I’ve been studying. This sesh is all about imagery and line and metaphor. I need to keep my eye on the prize but struggling with focus and connecting the dots.

The dictionary of poetic terms has a definition of metaphor that’s like 6 pages long. There’s enough there to think about and write about at length but then I need to pull in examples. Every time I dive into a set of poems my mind starts to wander off to other things and I’m not making good connections. They say that second semester is a good time to fail. They should never say that. It sets a person up with the notion that it’s ok to fail.

It’s like giving someone a new medication and telling them one of the side effects is sleeplessness. They might lie awake nights thinking about that, not sleeping, wondering if it’s the medication causing their sleep to fail. In actuality, it’s a total placebo effect. I’ve also heard people say that failing causes a person to learn and grow. All I can say about my history with failure is that I don’t like the way it makes me feel.

I’ve had failed relationships.. that sucks big time and it always causes lots of grief that lingers way too long. I’ve failed at work only a few times and that’s also rotten. The last time was at my last job when I was forced into a corner with the pile up of expectations and eventually had to throw my hands up in the air admitting I couldn’t do it. That left a nasty scar that I still get twitchy and itchy when I think about it. It really says something when 2 years passes and you still have enough anger about something that you want to punch someone (you know who) in the face (cough – lord Vader – cough).

Anyway, failing is definitely not my cup of tea. I’m going to have to bounce back this semester and really get above that high bar I have set for myself. If I’m going to do that I need to dedicate more time to the effort. That means less time for other things. Yeah, it always comes down to time. If this blog wasn’t so absolutely essential to my well being, I might sacrifice some of the time I spend in it. But I need something constant for my sanity and writing out my thoughts every day always, always makes me feel better. It always opens my mind to new thoughts. It always helps ground me while at the same time lifting me up. In 2014 I blogged every day as a part of my NYR and it often felt like a chore. Now here I am 4 years later and I’m not sure what I would do without it.

I could probably go on and on for hours and hours, but that’s not good either. I need to make positive progress today on these essays. It’s time to jam.

Thanks for Playing Along,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-25 Look Who’s Back, Back Again

I’m at the gym on my elliptical machine. It’s the first time I’m about two weeks and just getting started all I can think about is the start of that Eminem song “Without Me”. Now there’s a master poet! That guy is brilliant. Perhaps troubled, but I think a lot of genius artists are. I was never a huge “fan” but enough of one to have made some music purchases and have that deliciousness in the shuffle rotation of my master playlist.

Hell, I even made Eminem the target subject of one of my critical essays last semester. A perfect example of an artist who made a name (and persona) literally, with his work. At this point, as I get rolling with this term and my first deadline less than a month away, I’m wondering how the heck I’m going to top those essays. The good news is that it’s not a requirement and having a different mentor who doesn’t have access to those essays. She might have the final, not sure, but that’s it. I have a feeling she’s also going to be a very different as a mentor than the person I had last semester and that will be good. Because diversity is good. At any rate, I’m looking forward to it despite the deadlines and all that.

I think that’s why my transition back to “normal” life has been such a challenge. I want to dive right in and get started but I missed 10 days of work which equates to about 50 hours and I have to, need to, do work to cover my bills. Monday was tough and yesterday was even tougher. All of a sudden I’m now on 4 projects instead of 1 and at least one of those I’ve been tasked with doing something I’m going to have to completely learn before I can do it. There are deadlines and my work mentor is busier than I am. Getting half an hour of time is a serious challenge. That’s a problem. Yesterday I was freaking out about it. Today I have to get my shit together and just focus.

Talking to Jim last night was a huge help. I unloaded and he listened and then offered good advice. It was advice I would give myself if I had my head screwed on straight. He’s the best.

Right now I’m 37 minutes into my cardio set and Jason MRAZ just came up in the shuffle with one of my favorites, “No Doubling Back”. If I was in my car, I would be singing out loud.. loud! I don’t think my fellow gym goers would appreciate my singing, so I’ll just keep on typing.

When I got home from Residency, I made a to-do list for personal things which need to be taken care of and looking at that yesterday and seeing all I have done so far this week also made me feel better. I keep adding things to it, so it has grown more than it has shrunk, but seeing checks in the boxes is satisfying.

Tonight, after what I’m sure will be a super successful day “at the office”, I’m going to feed the creative side a little more by going to a reading downtown. Two People I know will be there so that’s a plus going in. Perhaps I will even get inspiration for my first critical essay. That would be amazing.

And just now my morning meeting was cancelled so I can just keep rolling. I’ve really missed my morning cardio and I can’t ever really catch up on steps but I can take this opportunity to hit it harder today. I’m going to be upping the resistance and letting the tunes in my ear carry me away.

What would I do Without This?

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-24 An Unorganized Mash of Spinning Priorities

This could very well turn out to be the most disjointed, unclear, off in all directions post I have ever written. It’s a mirror to my thoughts and feelings and I’m not even sure where to start (other than that disclaimer).

For 8 or 9 days during MFA residency, my whole world of parenting and work and exercise and routine just melts away and is replaced by this beast of a thing that comes charging in. It’s demanding and emotionally, physically, and mentally challenging, and there are parts I really love and parts I really hate. There’s not a lot in the middle that’s just “so-so”. By the end, I seem to have completely forgot about everything else in my life because my writing and goals have taken center stage and nothing else matters. Then I come home and it’s like waking from some crazy dream and I realize, so many things matter.

I wanted to do Sunday stats, but never found the time. My sleep and exercise were shit while I was away and so that’s probably for the best. I did sort of want to see just how shitty, you know, measure the shit, but I never sat down and took a minute to do any accounting of that (I still could, but not now). I can tell you that in the grand scheme, it isn’t just inputs and outputs. Despite my lack of sleep and steps and all the food, I lost 5+ lbs at residency. That was, I am positive, of my bodies direct reaction to stress and anxiety. Even on Sunday, after I was gone from the Lodge and back in the comfort of my usual spaces, the thinking didn’t stop and there to, neither did the anxiety. It’s a real problem.

Sunday evening I went to a dinner gathering my sister’s fiancé threw at their apartment, outside near their community garden. It was nice, but I was so over being social, the thought of making conversation, small talk, whatever with people was not appealing. Jim helped me by carrying most of the conversations. He was by my side the whole time and I’m so grateful for that. Sure it was a family gathering, but my family dynamic is somewhat awkward and my relationships with my parents is, I think, atypical. We’re not that close. When it was over, I drove us home, back to Jim’s place, and we took advantage of the time we had left in the day to watch a show and just snuggle on the couch together.

Monday morning was overcast. I had been so deprived of sleep, my body didn’t want to wake up. I woke at 6AM just before his alarm went off. Then I went back to sleep. He kissed me and urged me to keep sleeping at 6:45 when he went out to make breakfast and again at 7:15 when he left for work. I took his advice and kept sleeping. I felt somewhat like I had taken a sedative or something as my body was so heavy and my mind was so out of it. I think I fell back into deep sleep (I know I did because FitBit recorded the whole thing). When I woke at 9 from uneasy dreams, I knew I had to get up for the day. It was Monday and I had to try and figure out how to get myself back into the right headspace for work.

I came back home, unloaded more of my stuff from my trip and tried to get online to start working. It was tough. I was still tired and despite getting 8+ hours of sleep I still didn’t feel well rested or rejuvenated or ready for anything. I was also still heavy in thinking about residency and Jim and the past and the future. I found it tough to focus on the present moment and do what I should have been doing. I went through the motions on several regular work tasks anyhow and tried to catch up. I’m probably spending more time on each thing than I should be and then I feel like I’m not being productive enough and then I start to worry about that which then contributes to my not being able to focus. It feels like a vicious cycle.

All day I worked on familiar things just to try to do something and I avoided the thing my boss told me was a priority for the week – a new project for which I’m supposed to be doing the architecture for in AWS. Not only that, but my boss is on vacation this week and wants me to take point on meetings while he is gone. The last thing I want to do right now is facilitate meetings and talk AND try to know, somehow clairvoyantly, what is going on in the project after I’ve been out of it for 10 days. I think it’s an unrealistic expectation. Circle back to the AWS thing. Not only have I never been a system architect before, I have barely scratched the surface of understanding AWS, and how in the hell am I supposed to design AND build a system with my limited knowledge and skills. That’s just crazy talk. I mean, I think I could do it if I had enough time and resources to rely on, but looking at the timeline and other people involved, I just don’t.

On top of that, I’m flipping exhausted all the time. Hell, it’s only 10:31 AM and I feel like I could go back to bed and back to sleep right now. I’m so tired and I don’t know why. I look out my window at my back garden and it needs so much work and I want to flipping quit my job right now and just go pull weeds. But I can’t afford to do that. I think I need to have a conversation with my bosses about something, but I don’t know what. I’m feeling overwhelmed at work and it’s only been 1 day back on the job. I wonder if there is something wrong with me or if I should just kind of wait and see if I feel better in a few days. I certainly don’t want to prolong any feelings like this because I’ve been down that road before and that isn’t pretty either.

Then I think, well, I now have deadlines for school and want to get started on my studies for this semester and that all factors into the time balance and then my kids wake up at noon and want my attention and they want and need things and I feel bad putting them off. And the laundry needs done and school starts in a couple weeks and the days of summer are draining away and I don’t want to spend the time unwisely. I want to be outside and I want to hang out with my kids while I can and I want to spend time with Jim and with reading and writing. I don’t want to work anymore but I have to. I’ve got this amazing job, with some really great people, but now all of a sudden in the last month it feels too overwhelming. I can feel the balance is off, I just don’t know what to do about it.

I have a feeling August is going to be a very telling month. Something will give. Something has got to give. As for today, I guess I’ll just press on and see if I can make something out of it. Hope for the best I guess.

Giving it all I’ve got,
~Miss SugarCookie