Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thinking of you who think of me

[FAIR WARNING: This post includes open letters of thanks, a Pollyanna-ish positive thinking manifesto, and more sincerity than I can usually handle one-on-one and in person.]

Oh, the days. It really was an odd sensation watching the first semester students at graduation and knowing they have two whole years of VCFA ahead of them. I'm not jealous . . . exactly. I got my time. I'm ready to be done with being a student for a while.

Which means I have to start working on being an author.

That is scary, but it's a lot less scary than it would have been two years ago. That's to do with my education, yes, but it's also to do with declaring myself as a writer -- and having the people I love respond with support and not with cackles.

No, but for reals, thank you for believing in me. Thank you, family. Thank you, advisors. Thank you, Super Secret Society of Quirk and Quill.

Thanks for the kind bloggy words from Cesar and Varian and Gwenda. Thank you, Rockstar, for the mixed tape. Thank you, [insert long list of friends which is sure to leave some important someone off and hurt said person's feelings] for being nice to me when I was stressed and for asking how this crazy distance learning thing was going and especially for ever even thinking of asking to hear my lecture. If you asked to hear my lecture, you are amazing!

If you asked? To read my novel? Amazing!

For the most part, I'm not ready for that. People like my family, friends who are like my family, I want you to read it when it's ready for the world, not half-cooked. It needs one more round of revisions before I'll feel good about sending it out. If I learned anything in grad school, it's that revision, rewriting from scratch even, is at the heart of writing. I'm giving myself a month for the novel to rest, then a month or so of revision, then it's out.

And I don't know what will happen, but I'm choosing to be all right with that. I talked with a writer friend lately about the weird double-bind of wanting to feel confident and secretly believing that confidence goes hand in hand with self-delusion. Evil double-think, I cast you out. I'm choosing to listen to the good things.

Please know that even when I self-deprecate, even when I demur, your support, your kindnesses, overwhelm me with waves of giddy, awkward awe. Every single person who has ever said one nice thing to me about my writing, I eat it up! I roll it around on my tongue and think about the taste of it for days. It embarrasses me. It makes me cringey-crazy, but it makes a difference. It's the only thing, I think, that lets a writer ever get the guts to finish anything, to send anything out into the world at all.

For my honorable sister . . .

My sister says things like, "I wish I was either shorter or taller."

She said that tonight. After our celebratory dinner at Daniel George. (Which was by the by fantastic. Fig tartlets were shared.) Celebratory because today she graduated from a dental assisting program at UAB.

She graduated with honors, and I'm really proud of her. It's been a long year of clinical rotations and scrubs, and now she tosses around words like "perio" and "oral maxillofacial surgery" that make me go, "wait, what?"

And for the record, she's the perfect height.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It happened

I got my MFA. As proof, here's a pic of Marion Dane Bauer hooding me at the ceremony.

Reading on the last night truly felt like a rite of passage. I know I perform all the time, but there's something different about reading your own words. It was both scarier and much more fun than I anticipated. I picked something flirty since by the end of the last night of residency everyone is braindead.

I could have happily slept for 20 hours after my reading, but my class had an open house at the Martin house where a lot of the grads were staying, and I had to represent. Graduation day we still have to go to lectures and workshop, and the ceremony itself was a blur of bagpipes, slideshow, and a fantastic speech by Sarah Ellis.

Faculty member Julie Larios did a much better job of posting about residency than I did. There's a pic of me knitting in there somewhere.

I'm in Birmingham. Still tired. Very happy.

Monday, July 20, 2009


I've been at my final residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts . . . or as new faculty chair Margaret Bechard calls it, Brigadoon.

I miss you.

Yes, you.

I'll write more later -- you know, when I've had more than 5 hours of sleep in a night for a couple of days in a row -- but for now I'll just say the lecture went great, the reading went swell, and last night the rising 4th semesters threw a Hawaiian theme party for us and fulfilled my dream of being a fifties pin-up girl.

Tomorrow I'm done. I won't be leaving this community for good, no, no. You have not seen the last of me, VCFA.

I leave you with a word from Brigadoon, which applies just as well to VCFA:

"It's the hardest thing in the world to give everything. Though it's usually the only way to get everything."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Moonwalks and mermaids

This week I . . .

I made rich people happy by dressing like an astronaut. Yes, I'll do just about any weird thing for money. While helping people find the bathroom and roof access at the planetarium, I said things like, "all systems go," and "careful coming in for landing" to spice up otherwise mundane activities like walking up and down stairs.

I experienced the 70's time warp that is the Bunny Hutch. Do yourself a favor, go to this website and listen to the theme song. Batting cages, giant ice cream, children behind the counter, serious mini-golf . . .

. . . and an arcade with a claw machine full of equal parts candy and ants. The computerized sex tester tells me I am an "angel." Not as good as "hot pants," but way better than "motherly."

The special, special times at the Bunny Hutch were balanced by days of intensive lecture revising and power point design. When I bragged on FB about how awesome I am at Power Point now, a friend pointed me to the Power Point art of David Byrne. How does one man contain so much weird awesome?

The Neofuturists gave me much joy with their staged reading of Cruising at the film fest, as did my TWG friends on Monday night.

On the fourth of July I celebrated the birth of my favorite baby, who I am proud to call my fake niece. I also celebrated good friends, tabouleh, chocolate pie, a crazy Roger's Park apocalyptic warzone fireworks show by the lake, and Lacy's cat Bowie getting along with Parker.

An old friend came to visit me, and because one Bunny Hutch mermaid was not enough . . .

. . . we tore the Northwestern campus apart and found further proof that mermaids do exist. This one likes lemondrops.

Lest you think my life is full of only good things, yesterday it rained waste water in my apartment, and now my bathroom ceiling looks like this.

Uh-huh. But it cannot get me down, because Thursday I drive to Birmingham, and Friday I fly to Montpelier, and on the 15th I give a lecture and on the 19th I give a reading, and on July 20th, I am going to freaking graduate!