Sunday, November 20, 2011

damn you, mr. darcy

Is it (the blog) too cute? It might be. But I kind of love it. And I think the cuteness will offset the occasional cursing rather nicely.

I wonder how many times I've written this post.

I have a love/hate relationship with Jane Austen and her men. Darcy, Bingley, Edward Ferrars, Colonel Brandon, Edmund, Mr. Knightley, Captain Wentworth, and, of course, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, and Colin Firth. These men are not real. I know this, you know this, and we love them anyway.

I just checked, and the last time Mr. Darcy was referenced on my blog it was 2006. I'm not sure what happened there. Am I regressing? Maybe.

That last post (five years ago?!) was about how I tend to like imaginary men over real men. I have a new theory as of late: I approach all men as if they were imaginary. And by "all men," I mean "available men" or "unattached men" or something like that. The men who I should be considering or hoping that they consider me, they're not real. They're. . . they're Mr. Darcy.

There is a part of me that is insanely frustrated that this seems to be the eternal conversation on this blog. Or in my life. I spent Friday night (a) swooning over HHS's production of Aida, directed by my genius friend,  and (b) apologizing to my (other genius) friend that I was talking about a boy. A boy who is a man who is not Mr. Darcy.

I wonder if all this is my real frustration. Because I have a long list of them right now. Maybe not that long. I'm tired of being alone, but the aforementioned genius friends have alleviated that to some degree. I kind of love my genius friends. I want more of them. I should just clone them, keep them in my linen closet.

So more genius friends. The other frustration is the (lack of) writing and sending writing out since I graduated. I know that there is an easy solution there, but I just haven't been able to produce anything I'm happy with since I left Chicago. I miss that more than Mr. Darcy. I want to write and I want people to read my writing and I want to be a writer. I'm not sure I can say I am one right now.

Oh, the self-doubt. I want to shake it off, go to work tomorrow without anything holding me back. I don't think that's going to happen. But at least I have a cute blog.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

blogging and the beast

Hello world. I haven't blogged in over a month, but I've been thinking a lot about blogging.

I had a professor who would ask me why I blogged. S/he thought it would take my attention away from my academic and creative writing. I tried to explain that blogging was a different kind of writing, that it's a way of sorting through ideas, that it's fun. The prof didn't get it at first, but a few years ago, s/he started blogging.

I started blogging in 2004. Seven years ago this month. Go team. I started because Kristen started, and Kristen started because Jeremy started. Nothing like peer pressure. But really it was about a conversation. For a few years, I was part of two groups of writers who all blogged. It was another way for us to create our community. There weren't a lot of other types of blogs out there yet--the only blogs I knew were "writer" blogs.

Now I follow over a dozen blogs. There are still writer blogs, but there are also art blogs and home blogs and wedding blogs and the all-powerful mommy blogs. It's not the same activity. My own blog went from being part of this small, almost exclusive, community, to a travel blog when I was in London, to a way of letting my family and friends know that I was still alive in Chicago.

All this just leads me to this (overwhelming) question of what this blog is now. Do I stay here? Do I start a new blog? Do I blog at all? I've toyed over the years with starting separate blogs for my not-so-secret wedding/event obsession. More recently I thought about a writing blog modeled after an exercise we used at NU that was usually successful. Or even a blog to chronicle my thoughts on religion, scripture, etc.

I'm not the same editorgirl who started this blog seven years ago. This blog is a record of how I've become who I've become. And I love it for that. But I don't know if I belong here anymore.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

this is in my head

"He looked like an angle mostly because the inside was so dark and it was sunny outside creating a shine behind him, like I would imagine an angle would look like coming out of heaven."


"The souls of my shoes started to melt." This student also "concurred a beast."


Listening to Adele again. I know it's not healthy, but at least this time it's "Set Fire to the Rain," which is pretty much the best song I've listened to all day. It might be the only song I've listened to today.


I was teaching today, with this exercise where students write questions down about the current assignment, but because I've usually already answered these questions ten times, I have the class answer as a "panel" of "experts." It's a good use of a class period, if only because it makes them realize that they know what they're doing--at least in theory. And it went well today. Very well, even. Until I completely lost it when a nice, unassuming student was answering a question. And by lost it, I mean that I laughed. Hysterically. Turned red. No reason, really. Just wild, lovely, manic laughter at the worst time possible.

At least I didn't swear at the kid.


I've realized, once again, that I am a lonely person. The problem with being lonely is that you get bored, fast. I actually tried to watch "Extreme Couponing" today, but that might be what brought on the aforementioned hysterical laughter. So I need friends. Angles need not apply.

Friday, September 16, 2011

someone like you

I've been listening to Adele. On repeat. Mostly track 11. Which is this song.

This cannot be healthy. In addition to messing with my emotional well being, it's preventing me from coming up with a solid lesson plan for tomorrow.

We're starting the "Problematizing a Significant Event" paper, which is UVU speak for the personal essay. This is the paper I live to teach, where I can bring up every crazy bit of creative writer in me.

I'm a little worried that the creative writer in me has left the building.

I love teaching. Want to do it for the rest of my life. But I'm missing the other parts of my life. I'm missing the other people in my life. I forget to turn off the teacher, and find myself on autopilot two hours after classes are over. And don't even get me started on the days I don't teach.

I'm missing talking about poetry and literature and language. The things I love, the things I want to be teaching. I'm trying to decide if it's worth one more run at PhD programs. Listening to this song makes me think that maybe rejection isn't a bad thing. Maybe it's beautiful. Maybe it's an invitation to try again.

Maybe it's rejection.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

it's a Utah

The view from my parents' front porch is ridiculous--and one of my favorite things in this world. It looks out over the Salt Lake Valley, which is always bright with lights. On either side are the mountains, and in the forefront are trees that break across the skyline. Tonight there was wind and I sat on the front porch steps, watching the trees bend in the wind, watching their silhouettes change the shape of the lights in front of me.

I wasn't meaning to write a metaphor, but it seems rather appropriate for what I've experienced in the six weeks I've been home. I've jokingly called it a Utah-induced coma--maybe not so jokingly. I love Utah. I love the view from the front porch. I love being home with my family, knowing where I am and who I am in relation to these people who love me even when I'm being me. I'm excited for Seth to come home and Lauren to come visit, and the world will feel complete. But then the wind will blow, and the shapes will change, and I'll need to decide what it is I'm looking at.

A few important things have happened in the past six weeks. I interviewed for (and was offered a job!) teaching English 1010 at Utah Valley University. I'll be there starting at 8 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I am not a morning person, but I am a teacher, and I'll do anything to teach.

The next thing came out of the blue--or maybe not so out of the blue as it seems. I've been told to throw as many darts as possible, in the hope that one or two might stick. After many many many rejections (I should probably throw one more many in there), I found out that I'm a finalist for the 2011 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship. Which is bigger than any other dart I could have thrown at this point in my career. I'll find out on Sept 1 if I'm one of five winners, but being a finalist is enough for tonight.

Don't laugh at the last thing, but I went on my first blind date. Maybe you should laugh. Maybe I should laugh. After an email from him, and an email from me that was designed to scare him, he suggested an evening I couldn't say no to. And I'm glad I didn't. It was a slow, comfortable date that led to another date, and maybe to another. Whatever it was, or is, it helped me get over some of my fears and anxiety about dating. At 28, it's about time.

Which reminds me of a short story, which will bring us full circle to my parents' front porch. A few weeks ago the doorbell rang. I was the only person around, so I slowly pulled myself away from the book I was reading and walked to the front door. I saw a little person looking in through the clouded glass. She backed away as I opened the door, and I saw two little girls, one nervously holding a note in her hands. She looked at me and asked if my husband was home. "My husband doesn't exist," I told her, "but my dad lives here. He's not home right now, but I can give him a message." She solemnly handed me the note and asked me to give it to my dad. I thanked her and started to close the door, but not before I saw her little sister lean over to her and ask, "Why doesn't her husband exist?"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. 2 Nephi 9:41

I don't usually write about church, or about scripture, or about spiritual things on this blog. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I don't talk about them very often. But this scripture has been stuck in my head since Sunday. They used it in Gospel Doctrine to talk about the straight and narrow way we must take to come to Christ. It was a good lesson, but there was a phrase that seemed more important to me, at least right now: Remember that his paths are righteous.

Paths. Plural. Multiple paths. There is only one way, but there are multiple paths. Because God has multiple children, individual children. He's not going to set us all down the same path. He's going to give us our own righteous path.

I just said good-bye to four of the most important people in my life, people that I didn't know three years ago. They're the four poets I've been in workshop with the most. Three years ago, I was still mad that I wasn't in a PhD program, mad that I was living in Chicago, mad that these poets weren't the poets I had worked with before. And now I can't imagine my life, my writing, without them. Tonight we sat in my apartment, ate pizza, talked, and read poetry. It was a perfect night--even with the humidity and the thunderstorm and the flickering lights and the sirens going past my window. It was a moment when you know that this was the path you were always meant to be on.

I've said it many times on this blog--I don't know what comes next. But I can see where I've been, and I know that my life has become amazing. I can only hope that this path continues forward.

Monday, June 13, 2011

a story in which I will use an inappropriate word two times

now that that's out of my system: Anna, this story is for you.

I read Jane Eyre at least once a year. At least. And every time I brace myself when Rochester shows up, because I know that I'm about to fall hard for the bad-tempered, ill-favored perfect perfect man. (I do the same thing when Benedick opens his mouth in Much Ado. Which reminds me--how did no one tell me that this song was Much Ado in the most perfect way possible?)

So Jane Eyre. It was the last text of my "Large Romanticism" class. I read it, in the midst of writing my 15 page paper in less than 12 hours.

We sat in class, and we discussed Jane. We discussed Brocklehurst. We discussed Helen Burns. And then, finally, Rochester. And I'm silently swooning as the class begins the discussion--about how hard it is to like Rochester. Wait. What? And my face. . .

I'm not sure what my face was doing, but it prompted my professor to direct his attention on me as he said, "Rochester is a badass." Still not sure what my face was doing, but the professor asked, "Don't you agree?"

"Definitely," I said. And I was prepared to defend myself. But a few women in the class jumped in to discuss how Rochester isn't bad--he takes in Adele, he tries to save Bertha, etc, etc, etc--until I stop them.

I stop them. "Rochester isn't bad. He's a badass."


And then a few heads nod. My professor looks at me, shakes his head. And then says, "That's all I was trying to say."

See you next year, Rochester.

this is.

I was thinking about calling you, but then I decided I should just write. Fewer interruptions, clearer sentences.

Maybe not.

I'm feeling this crazy sense of loss right now. I have 17 days left in Chicago. I graduate on Friday, my parents and sister are visiting this weekend, there's a graduation brunch open house thing being planned. I have things to do, people to see. And I'm trying to pretend that it's not happening.

I got another rejection in the inbox today--this time for a journal that I've sent poetry to at least three times. And every time the editor makes a comment on how close my work is. Close but no cigar. Today's comment was "Interesting work and approach." (This is addition to "very interested, but not interested enough" sugar coated.) Part of me is so used to rejection. And part of me is so frustrated. And part of me is wondering if I just wasted three years of my life studying poetry.

Now you'll comment, say that I'm being ridiculous. But I'm not. I could have been working, could have been creating a future. I feel future-less right now. I want to publish, but I don't know what more I can do. And I want to teach, but it seems like every door and window is shut. And there are freelance and consulting opportunities, and I can get excited about those, but they're not enough for a life.

I've spent three years creating this life, and I'm walking away from it. And I can't explain it. I can't say that I have a plan, and I'm starting to wonder if I even have faith. I have fear. And this nervous sense that I'm not going to be good enough, ever.

It's this awful feeling, and it's not what I was going to write about. I was going to tell you how wonderful Chicago is, how lucky I am. How lucky I was. What do I do now? Where do I go from here?

. . . .

My last assignment to turn in was a cento. A cento is a poem created by using lines from other poems and poets--all the lines of this cento are from Susan Slaviero. It's a little more intense than what I usually write, but it's something--and I need something.


Naked, you are all hello, holograph.
Nothing especially miraculous.

This is something you might see
—these concrete constellations—

to simulate the stain of pomegranate.
to kiss the stump of your pretty neck.

In the right kind of shadow, she could be
starlike dents, a row of rivets.
                                                This Madonna
bribed to cut out her mechanical heart.

This is a beautiful horror
when everything bleeds sepia.           

Sunday, May 29, 2011

are one two three

apparently deb is a life coach.

this means nothing to you unless you work in the office, and if you work in the office, you shouldn't be reading my blog.

anyway, deb is a life coach. I found this out when she kept referring to the "other" coaches, and I finally asked what they were coaching. they were coaching life.

apparently life coaches go on retreats to places with mountains. a lot of people like to bond with me over mountains. there are no mountains in chicago or evanston, but there is a lake, which anyone will tell you is east. and when you point out that you're in a city of skyscapers, etc, they will tell you that the lake is east and if you can't see the lake, you can feel it. feel the lake.

in utah, you can see the mountains.

this was supposed to be about deb being a life coach and her brief moment of coaching me when I told her "I don't know" what comes next, "I don't know" why I'm moving back to utah, "I don't know" what I want. except I do know. I just don't know if I can get to it--

so deb, who I would hire as a life coach if I had any money, but that's the first problem, told me to journal. she said that you have to put those thoughts about what you want out into the universe (she was looking up, and nervous to say God in the workplace, but she kept giving me these looks, and then nodding to the heavens. or the people on the fourth floor).

I wanted to say "I'm a writer. what do you think I've been doing?" I wanted to say, "uh-huh, sure." I wanted to say "I blog! does that count." except then deb, the life coach, would know that I have a blog and we don't talk about it in the office.

so I am blogging, which is as close as it gets to journaling. I figure this way I at least know that my universe is listening. and I've (just) decided that I get three wishes to send out there, life coach, journal-style.

wish one: I want roots. I have my family in utah, but the past three years have shown me that I can live and adapt anywhere. now I want a place that is my place. I want to paint walls and hang pictures and secretly wish that emily henderson was going to come over to conduct a style diagnostic. (careful about that link--it's addicting.)

wish two: I want a job. I would like it to be teaching or writing, but I was putting together my chapbook and thinking I could do document design and editing and be pretty happy with life. I'm going to write and teach (as mentioned in an earlier post) regardless of the job I hold. I'd rather it not be in finance, and I don't think I can work at a university without being jealous of the faculty and students, but other than that--I think I'm open. anyone need a writer?

wish three: roots, job, I know what comes next. and it's the hardest thing to put out into the universe, or whatever this is. roots, job, relationship. I've had a lot of time to do what I wanted to do, and to process past experiences. there are a few things I'd like to figure out before I'm all-in, but I'm kind of planning on addressing a few of those this summer. mostly because I'm not sure I can write a 15-page paper without ice cream.

so there you are, deb, life coach, universe. I put it out there. now let's see what you've got.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

can't go back now

I am become far too familiar with rejections. (I like the phrase "I am become," but it doesn't belong on a blog, does it?)

After enough rejections, you become immune. It hurts for just a moment, your pride twitches, and then you shrug your shoulders and wait for the next one.

Today's hurt a little more than most. I had (once again) half-convinced myself that this was it--my future--and it wasn't. But then I had emailed Chris in the morning, before I knew it was going to hurt, and asked him for a blessing. I'm so glad they made one of my best friends my home teacher. And when he called to say he could come, I was home, prepared to wallow my way through the evening.

Instead, I had a beautiful blessing, a visit with Chris and President K, two of my favorite people in Evanston, another job application to complete, and a crazy-wonderful response when I tried to find references for editing/writing jobs.

I've been so focused on what I don't have, that I forget what I do have. And what I have is a lot. Not just food and a roof (in the form of the perfect studio apt), but friends and family who are ready to cheer me on. A manuscript that keeps growing, and that I'm so happy with.

I have two weeks left of classes, two weeks to live this life, and then there's another waiting for me. And it's scary and awful and I want to chain myself to my desk and refuse to leave my apartment. But then I think of all the possibilities. That's what I have right now. I want to finish my manuscript, I want to publish, I want to write. And the teaching will come. But tonight I realized that I'm always going to teach. I have to put the writing first. I have to put the words first. "In the beginning was the word." Everything else will follow.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

it is finished, 1711.

I have this poem, that I'm pretty happy with, that's about St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Actually, I have three poems about St. Paul's. And they are all called "Psalmist at St. Paul's" because for some reason no one likes the word peregrine.

But that's not what I came here to say.

The first St. Paul's poem is a bit of a history recitation. St. Paul's was built, destroyed, rinse, repeat, at least four times. The last time it was built they started in 1675, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It's the St. Paul's that is still standing. After twenty-two years, they were able to hold services. In 1711, they (I'm not sure who they are) declared the structure complete. And ten years after that they were still adding statues of the apostles to the roof, etc.

The poem plays with this idea of what it means to be "finished," arguing in the end that St. Paul's can't be completely finished until people come and experience the building, all of the building. The first two times I was in London I went to St. Paul's. I took the tour. I marveled. I'm an excellent marvel-er. But the third time, I went up. To the Whispering Gallery, and then the Stone Gallery. And that was the first time I'd ever been to St. Paul's. From the Stone Gallery, you have a view of London that I would argue is better than the view of Paris from the Eiffel Tower. (I kind of hate the Eiffel Tower.)

Why am I telling you this now, four years after I climbed the steps of St. Paul's? Because this idea of finishing is very real tonight. I just put together the title page and table of contents for my thesis. It's done. And it's been done before--when I had written enough poems, when I revised those poems, when I compiled those poems, when I arranged the manuscript. And now it's finished again. And I still have a good twelve-or-so pages to write for it to be a full length manuscript.

I'm not sure a manuscript is ever finished. Because even if it's ever published, it won't be finished until it has a reader. And that journey will be completed every time a new reader comes to the poems. And then where do they go from there?

It's exciting to be at this point. I have a thesis. I'm going to graduate. But it's just as exciting--maybe even more exciting--to think about what comes next.

If you'll excuse me, I think I have a poem to write.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

good night moon

I don't know what to do with myself. The obvious answer is to go to bed. All I have wanted to do for the past week or two is go to bed. And now, tonight, when I could be in bed, I'm sitting on my bed (which is what you do in a studio apartment) not wanting to sleep. At all. Possibly ever.

The problem is, I don't want to do anything. I kind of want to work on the thesis. And I kind of want to watch an episode of Numb3rs. And I kind of want to. . . but no, not really.

I'm ready. Not to sleep. To move forward. I don't know what "forward" will be, but it's time. My thesis got the thumbs up from my professor yesterday, so all I need to do are some minor revisions. After that I need to finish my courses with a chapbook (!) and a 15-page paper on Ossian and Romantic literature. I like Ossian--I like all blind third-century fictitious bards. I just don't want to write a paper on him. But spending 15 pages with Wordsworth will make me jump.

So schoolwork, check. And work--well, I told them that I'm leaving. I had to submit a letter of resignation, which was odd. But on June 24, I'm saying good-bye to McCormick and co. And then sometime that next week, I'll drive off into the sunset to that great beehive in the west.

And then. I don't know. But let's not spoil this.

Maybe I do have some poet-ing in me tonight after all.

[P.S. Today was Claire's birthday. She's one and all smiles. I was trying to figure out how I would remember her birthday. I was reciting how Sam's is on the 24th of July and Abby's is burned into my memory, and Claire's was just a random day. And my co-worker looked at me for a minute, like she was waiting for me to catch on. I didn't, so she said, "You mean Cinco de Mayo?" Yeah, Claire. I won't forget.]

Friday, April 08, 2011

confession and announcement

My birthday isn't until next week. My family is just awesome and impatient. But thank you for all the (early) wishes. I needed them.

And why I needed them: I didn't get in. Anywhere. I've been processing this for a few weeks now, and I should have told you (collective and individual) sooner, but I thought I'd have good news to offset the bad. And then I found out that I didn't get that job either.

So. I'm not sure what comes next. I'm open to suggestions. There's part of me that is relieved, that is thinking after a decade of college it's time for a break. And then there's the part of me telling that part to shut the hell up. And then the third part--maybe the best part--is angry and annoyed and is throwing as many poems at as many journals as I can to prove those PhD admission people very very wrong.

I'm telling you this today because I am on vacation. And I'm with my best friend, which means I can handle telling the rest of the world that somehow I'm back to not knowing what I'm doing after June 17. I know I have options, I'm just not sure what to do with those options. I'm not sure what I want to do with those options. But feel free to stayed tuned.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

and sometime others will celebrate for you

I have the best family.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

sometimes you have to make your own celebration

At the point in the waiting process, it feels like my mailbox is mocking me. I'm pretty sure it is. I know Utah sent out acceptances last week. Nothing. No thing. Nada.

Well, nothing from Utah. I did get something from my work benefits plan, my electricity bill, and some exciting mailers from a local dentist. Why he felt the need to send me three, I'll never know.

Ohio and Denver should start making offers this week or next, but those chances are slim.

I'm turning into a crazy person. And I don't like it. This isn't cool crazy. This is crazy crazy. Staring down the cell phone crazy. Checking the same three sites for acceptance updates over and over again. It was on the hour. Now it's every 15 minutes when I'm at work. I'm not sure what I'm going to do at work when this is all over.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do when this is all over. And I'm not sure what I'll be doing after June 17 (graduation). But I do know what I'm going to be doing in one month:

(do you want to guess?)

I'm going to make my way down to South Carolina to see Anna and Brooke and celebrate. Celebrate me getting old, Anna getting older, and anything else I feel like celebrating.

I think a paper chain is in order.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

good things happened today

There's a room on campus called (appropriately) the Great Room. It's a mini-dining hall. Decent food, excellent surroundings, and usually very quiet. I like to go there to write on my lunch break. Yesterday I needed to write. Too bad I had already committed my lunch to picking up a Very Large Book from my thesis advisor.

But I needed to write, and I felt that I should inform Thesis Advisor of my DENY from UIC, so I emailed him, begging forgiveness and asking if I could come today. And in the postscript, I included a note about the DENY. And yes, it has to be all in caps every time.

But this set the stage for good things to happen today.

Thesis Advisor couldn't meet me until 3:00 this afternoon. The walk from my office to his and back to my office is a decent fifteen minutes, give or take a cold wind. Add to that a few minutes for chatting, and I was going to be gone at least a half hour at the end of the day. My plan was to eat lunch at my desk to make room for the half hour, but that was thwarted when my boss and I got a table at Einsteins (a rare feat), so we stayed and chatted and used the hour.

On the way back from lunch, I mentioned (again) to Boss that I needed to pick up this Very Large Book at 3:00. And then I said I was thinking of not coming back to work, going home to check the mail, and maybe get up the nerve to call schools.

So at 3:00, I left work, and picked up my (wait for it) Very Large Book from Thesis Advisor, and talked with him a little about the remaining schools. This conversation began my good things. He told me he was surprised I had been DENY'd, he told me that I was going to graduate on time with a solid thesis, he told me that he feels my thesis could be the solid core of a solid book of poetry, and he called himself my mentor. This is not a man who says things lightly. And all this happened in time for me to catch the 3:30 bus home.

Except I didn't go home. I didn't check my mail, and I didn't call schools. I called Chris, who sometimes answers his phone, and today he did. After he gave me grief for not being at worked, I asked him what his plans for the afternoon were. His response: "Oh, I'm going to see a movie with you." And so we did. I got off at the next stop, walked over to his place, left the Very Large Book, and we made it to the 3:40 show. We were in a nearly empty theater, at matinee prices, and laughed our way through a thoroughly ridiculous show.

It was just what both of us needed.

So then I came home, checked the mail--and there was nothing. No emails while I was out either. But I'm not completely discouraged yet.

That will come next week.

Monday, February 28, 2011

I take it back

I've told a few people that I just want to have an answer on grad apps, even if it's a bad answer. I lied. I don't want to know. Maybe ever. I want to live in a blissful state of "the admissions committee is so enthralled by my application they are unable to leave it to send me an acceptance." It's a nice place.

It's an awful place. But at least there is hope. A glimmer. Or a large chunk of "no chance in hell, but enjoy it while it lasts."

Am I being overdramatic? Maybe. But tonight was my first in what I'm almost positive will be a long list of "Deny." And this was the worst kind of deny. Not a letter (or I'll take an email) with a gentle but firm tone of "we had so many qualified applicants." I'd even take the "seriously? you thought you'd get in here? enjoy your inflated sense of self-worth, but enjoy it far away from our hallowed institution." This was a one-word update to my application status: Deny.

There's some catharsis in writing this post, so please, no sympathies. It's stupid and awful and part of me wants to curl up and cry, and the other part of me wants to write a poem so brilliant that they'll be physically ill when they realized they could have accepted me.

But I wouldn't want to go there anyway.*

*This is a lie.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

and another thing

I've been told it's normal to want to punch someone/thing when you're waiting to hear back on grad apps. At least, this is what Sven and I decided today in a burst of sibling affection (laced with violence).

It has been a month since I decided I could write anything here. There were several reasons, the biggest one being that my life was consumed with a surprise birthday party (which became parties) for a long-time reader (Hi Mom!), so I couldn't write about it here. And if I wasn't writing about cakes and invitations and fabric flowers, what was I going to write about?

Maybe those darn grad school apps. At this point, I just want to know. Even if it's bad news (especially if it's bad news). I want to move forward. I feel like I'm stuck in jail during a particularly tedious game of Monopoly and I can't roll the right combination of the dice. Eventually I'm going to have to pay my fine. . . oh wait. I already did that.

When I'm being completely honest with myself (which I rarely am), I just want to move back to Utah. I miss being close to family, and there are things I feel I should be in Utah for. I want to be there when Seth gets home. I want be around for Maryn's high school events. And I want to be in SLC so that I can nephew-sit. Because Sam is only the coolest kid ever.

But I can't justify hauling my life back to Utah without a job or grad school or something. I know my family would support me, but when do I get to start being an adult? Every once in a while, I get the faint whiff of adulthood, but then I walk back into my glorified-dorm-room of an apartment, or I listen to my friends talk about buying houses and raising children, or I eat another bowl of Cheerios for dinner (or better yet, half a box of Eggos because they're there), and I just can't handle it.


In other news, the most perfect staging of "As You Like It" ever. If I have to live in a world, can I live in that one? With poems hanging from trees and a man who realizes it's better to play the fool than be wise?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

how do you do?

Welcome to this week's edition of "Sarah tries to write a poem" or "What the hell, Ed?" Ed is my professor. He's amazing. And so are his assignments. I never know what he's going to throw at us at the end of class. And I never know what to write until I've written it. Hence the need to blog first, write later.

Last week's assignment was (supposed to be) a landscape or a still life. No people. So I started my poem with "I am not to let you in" and then wrote about an exhibit I saw at the V&A in 2002 and a bronze sculpture a professor once described to me. It was a Very Odd poem. And it worked. I'm not sure how. I kind of know how. But now. . .

The problem with writing a good poem one week, is that it's harder to write anything the next week. At least for me. Maybe there are other writers who just ride the "awesome" wave and keep writing. I freeze up. Hello, Freeze.

Ed assigned us another landscape. This one he wanted us to research the subject, then write it. (see: C.S. Giscombe) I was fine with this idea until. . . well, until I actually started to write the poem. I have a landscape, I have the research, I just don't. . . no poem. Nada. Words words words. I should be writing a Wikipedia entry. Maybe I should just lineate a Wikipedia entry.

This is not helping. Must write poem. Must. . . stop saying must. And using ellipses.

See you on the other side.

Monday, January 17, 2011

two much, or let your light so shine

Yep, I did that on purpose. Moving on.

I managed to overcommitt myself this week. I have no idea how a would-be hermit does that, but I was up bright and early Saturday morning to make the 1.5 hour trip to the Museum of Science and Industry (check that off my Chicago list), explore the Museum, head north again for 1.5 hours courtesy of the CTA, eat a sandwich, head slightly west to Palindrome Girl's birthday (happy #1!), then south again to see Charity. Not a metaphor. Over five hours on the CTA, many hours with many good people, and I was tired. So the next morning I went to church, came home determined to crash, and baked cupcakes instead for a dessert night hosted by Matt and Mike--or was it Mike and Matt?

Side note: Mike teaches Sunday School. He was trying to get the class started, but couldn't get people to stop talking. I was sitting near the front (gasp!) and he said something to me about it being impossible. So I offered to get class started for him. I'm pretty sure he didn't think I could do it, but I've got the Teacher Voice down. I got everyone's attention, introduced them to Quiet Coyote, and turned the class over to Mike. Who called on someone to offer the opening prayer, and suggested they pray for the Coyote.

All of this would be wonderful to the nth degree if I wasn't so tired (left out the "damn" for you, Maryn) and this cold wasn't making every inch of my body ache like the old woman that I am. It's a delightful cocktail of exhaustion and insomnia--hence the post at quarter to one in the a.m.

But don't cry for me Chicago, Salt Lake, or Seattle. I'm pretty sure that after winter comes spring, and after Monday comes Tuesday. At least, I hope that's how it works. Tomorrow is another day. Or today is another day. Might as well live it.

The Coyote and I will see you then.

Sunday, January 09, 2011


Maybe it will be a Sunday thing. And by "it," I mean blogging. Naturally.

I was all excited to get back into the classroom. As student, not teacher. I still am. Even more excited that it's a workshop. I could listen to Ed Roberson talk all day and all night long. It's never scripted, always brilliant. He was the reason I chose to start NU in the fall instead of the winter--or at least the reason Reg gave me.

This is my third workshop with Ed. He has exactly one flaw. He wants poems on Sunday night. Regardless of what day of the week class is on (Wednesday), he wants poems on Sunday. Sunday is not a good poem-ing day for me. Neither is Saturday, Friday, and Thursday is a maybe. I need time to process and write the assignment. Because the great thing about Ed is that he always gives an assignment that's specific enough to keep conversation in class going, and broad enough that you can do whatever the hell you want and fulfill the assignment. The horrible thing about Ed is that he never knows what next week's assignment will be until Wednesday night. Which means you can't write Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday for class.

Do you see my dilemma?

The goal was actually to write last night, revise tonight, post in one hour to Blackboard. That was before I was asked to fill in for another RS teacher who apparently moved to Idaho. So I prepped a lesson. Or avoided prepping a lesson. Which is only slightly different from avoiding writing a poem. Different Aaron Sorkin series.

The assignment this week is to take inspiration from poems by Albert Mobilio and Terrance Hayes. I've read the poems and nothing is jumping. Except, as I say that, I doubt myself.

From Mobilio:
"denial is // a prisoner's / lyre"
"I'm solo, mesmerized" (both from "Circuit Breaks")

"On this sixth day of windshield strain / rise up without a word // Semi-private, semi-circling thoughts, / the season seaps beneath my hat // A head full of clauses"
"I want to be ready when the cry goes up" (from "Social Struggle")

"My night watch: night watches me"
"My headache passes overhead, / far along & thus we row" (from "Far as Mine Goes")

"Pretend if you can / that it's last August's fairground"
"I'm hearing her sway / in her best-dressed / evasion" (from "We Hold Our Heads High")

"The action just takes you"
"breakage is // a kind of bruise--the air / around me aches." (from "Swing Music")

"I've learned to read the way I write" (from "What the Great Ones Do")

And the best line, maybe of all:
"I'm stealing your poem because it's / almost, nearly entirely mine" (also from "What the Great Ones Do")

P.S. I'm also a fan of Hayes, and I really like Lighthead, which is what our reading came from. Just sayin'.

Sunday, January 02, 2011


I made a semi-conscious decision not to blog until the New Year. The original non-plan was actually to stay away from blogging during my Utah holiday and start up again when I hit Chicago on January 4, but a racing mind and a dose of painkillers that tend to keep me awake (and my first Diet Coke in weeks) have other plans for me.

I think I've said this before, but just in case: I hate New Year's Resolutions. In fact, I hate New Years period. Maybe it's just because the holiday is oversold on every movie ever made, but I've never really had a great or even a good New Year's Eve/New Year's Day. This year I took it to the extreme by forgetting that it was a holiday. I sat around in my pajamas, listened to my sister who had just returned from her in-laws in Alabama, and sometime near midnight I had another pomegranate 7-Up (diet). Happy New Years to me.

So the resolutions. It's just an excuse to make goals that you have no intention of following through on. Resolutions are meant to be broken. Smashed. Trashed. And other rhyming words. Says the cynic who blogs here.

I find myself facing an uncertain 2011. I spent the past few sleepless nights (cheers painkillers!) worrying about the lack of a plan and my complete lack of control over that plan, at least for the next few months.

No New Year's Resolutions. But some New Year's Mile Markers. It's like being on a long hike. You tell yourself you can only go as far as that tree. And when you get to the tree, you can only go as far as the next rise of the road. And when you get to that rise in the road. . . well, usually I take a long break there, and consider turning around. But for the sake of this analogy, we're going to pretend I'm a better hiker.

Mile marker one: Winter Quarter. Last workshop with Ed Roberson. First of my last four classes.

Mile marker two: Hearing back from schools on the PhD apps I sent off into the unknown last week. If it's good news, I should hear in March. If it's bad news. . .

Mile marker three: Spring Quarter. Last workshop with Simone Muench. Thesis with Mary Kinzie. Lit course that will have me reading all the books I usually read when I'm avoiding lit class reading, plus Paradise Lost.

Mile marker four: Graduate from Northwestern on June 17. Circle that on your calendars.

And after that. . . I don't know. In a glass half-full kind of mood, I'm planning road trips and a long summer before jumping back into school. In a glass completely-empty kind of mood, I'm sitting at a computer reviewing spreadsheets and wondering why I'm sitting at a computer. In both glasses, I get to see Seth in July or August, and then it's a blank.

Feel free to fill it in.

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