Paint Nite Providence

In October, I went with two of my closest girlfriends to PaintNite in Providence, RI. Anytime I’m with my friends, it’s a great time, but painting and drinking with them was especially fun. Here are a few pictures of the process from start to finish. I definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to have a girls night and try something new.

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I’m No Longer a Yoga Virgin

I went to yoga on July 7th for the first time in my life with Cinderella!

Yoga is something I’ve always wanted to try out, but have always been afraid to do. I’m not the most athletic person, so I shy away from gyms and health centers. To be completely honest, the reason I usually don’t try out new physical activities is because I’m self-conscious. I’m afraid I won’t know how to do what everyone else in the class is doing or that people will look at me funny or something else terrible will happen. Bad attitude, I know, but it’s how I felt.

Now that I’ve made it through my first yoga class, I’m really exciting about going back. It was relaxing, but not easy. It was nice. The best part was that there was a man in the class who farted three times! I’ve heard so many friends talk about people farting at yoga, but it all seemed so unbelievable to me. I couldn’t imagine someone letting out gas-whether purposefully or not-in a yoga class, but believe me folks, it does happen.

Update: I went to my second yoga class on Sunday, and there was no farting all class.

 

Starting Fresh: The Beginning

So two weeks ago, I wrote about how I was starting over.

I’m happy to report that two weeks have gone by, and I feel pretty successful. A few days after I wrote that post, we went on a fun-filled, awesome family vacation for a week, and now we’ve been home a few days. To be completely honest, the reason I’ve been so successful is largely due to my vacation. It was a happy time that focused 100% on me and my two guys. Okay, to be fair, there was a teeny tiny bit of reading for Spry that took place during one of our low-key days, but that only helped accomplish my refocusing, so all is good in the hood.

When we got home we celebrated Wolverine’s 7th birthday and my father’s birthday (on the same day). I love those two guys so much, and I’m so happy to celebrate them both. Both of them have significantly influenced me and changed my life, and I’m so happy I have such great guys in my life.

I’m so excited to kick-start my eating and exercising again now that I am home from vacation. Usually, one of my favorite parts of going on vacation is eating out, but I can’t quite say I loved all the burgers and pizza and french fries and junk I consumed while in Orlando. My body is loving the fact that I’m fueling it with green juice. I never thought I’d enjoy healthy eating as much as I do now. I guess that means I’m getting older. To top off my new wellness lifestyle, I’ll be going to yoga for the first time with my best friend on Sunday.

Life is good, friends. It does take effort to  make big life changes, but I relish the easy moments of wonderfulness like being on vacation with my guys.

Summertime and the living is easy…

I like new beginnings. Remember how excited I was to start the new year? I think it is just the idea of starting fresh.

The idea of 2013 was super exciting for me. I had big plans, and so far it has been a pretty good year. But I feel like I’ve been so busy this entire year trying to do so many things that I haven’t quite experienced the past 5 1/2 months. I’m not a fan of that. I’ve spent too much of my short life rushing through things, and starting in 2010, I really learned to absorb and experience the moments in my life. I need to find a way back there.

So today, my friends, is a new beginning. There is nothing like the beginning of summer to start fresh, to relish in the upcoming moments. I love summer and I can’t wait to refocus my life and my priorities.

I can’t wait to spend time with Wolverine and Mr. O. This summer we have our big family vacation, weekend camping trips, baseball games, and so many other activities planned (like Wolverine’s massive birthday party). I really can’t wait for every event, but I’m going to make every effort to be as present as possible during all the activities.

I plan on taking the summer to enjoy time with my friends and family, work on Spry, kick-start my own writing and focus on my career track.

Who I am At 28

Note: This was originally drafted the week of my birthday, although I never finished it. I just read it in my drafts folder, and thought it was a good post to share, even if it isn’t fully complete. So here is something written last month, in my last few days of being 27.

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A few years ago, I would make some pretty stellar birthday lists. No, not as wish lists, but more like “lessons I’ve learned” or “goals for the coming year” kind of lists. Somewhere in the past few years (I blame grad school), I stopped making these lists. After reading Jenn’s most recent post about her 25th birthday (Happy Birthday, Jenn!), I decided to not let another year go by without writing something. Now, I have enough goals to last me, you, and your extended family a few years so there is no need to come up with any more. (I’ll just finally put some effort into my 101 in 1001 list!)  So here is a portrait of who I am (inspired by Nora from last year if you can believe it*) at the age of 28.

If you look at my hair, you will see that for the first birthday of my life, I am a brunette. There were days in the past 11 months that I missed being a blonde, but now I’m comfortably settled into the simplicity of brown hair. If you look at my face, you may notice the lack of glasses. I’m entering the first birthday of my life with perfect vision, and I see a great future in the distance. If you looked at my skin you’d notice many imperfections and scars. I’ve been cut into and biopsied and am eternally grateful to every imperfection because they prove that I am healthy and alive.

If you looked at my wrist you’d notice the only jewelry I wear: a Pandora bracelet from Mr. O with beads chosen carefully and purposely, beads that symbolize important moments for our little family. If you looked at my clothing, I’ll probably be either in work clothes or extremely comfortable clothing like pajamas or jeans and a tee-shirt. If you looked at my feet you’d see flip flops as I’m trying to get in every possible last day with them before it becomes boot weather. My accoutrements are various. If I am out of the house, I pretty much need sunglasses, my iPhone and keys; however, I will have much more on my person. I carry a huge black pocketbook, and if you dump it out, you will find: an agenda, a small notebook, at least 5 pens/markers, a wallet, a camera, many receipts, cough drop wrappers and a full bag of cough drops, a pill-box full of vitamins, eyeshadow, band-aids, tissues, finger puppets, paper clips, chap stick and lip gloss, and random other goodies.

If you watched me as I went about my day you’d notice I usually do multiple things at once. At work I seem to do four different projects at once. I’m not advocating this is a good idea (because it isn’t), but I can’t seem to get things done if I don’t multitask.

If you could peek into my brain you’d see that I most often think about my relationship with Mr. O, Wolverine, what I’m going to eat, my friends and family, Spry, work stuff and mundane tasks like getting gas or food shopping.

If you wondered what my life would look like in the near future, I’d tell you that I will be content. That I make the choice to be happy, and while I struggle from time to time, I still choose happiness over the alternative. I will tell you about Spry, the literary journal my colleague Linsey and I just founded. By this time next year we will have published two issues and be working on our third. I will tell you about Mr. O and Wolverine and how happy I still am with my two guys. I will tell you that this year of my life I plan on thriving and creating and relaxing.

Thank you, twenty-eight for the endless possibilities. I have faith that this will be an exciting year.

September Observations

September Highlights:

  • Mr. O and I celebrated our birthdays. What was really nice about this year is that we kept it pretty simple. For my birthday (it was a storm outside like usual) we picked up some Pho and ate some ice cream cake. For Mr. O’s birthday, we went out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, then came home to relax and play some games.
  • Mr. O and I had a joint birthday party/my graduation party and it was nice to have our friends over for a cookout. It was also pretty nice to see our friends and family mingle. Ideally, I’d like to have a cookout every year in September. That way we don’t need to make a big deal of planning a night out with friends, get babysitters, spend loads of money, etc. People can just come over for the night with their kids and eat lots of yummy food.
  • Spry Literary Journal continued accepting submissions all month. Linsey and I set a goal for the amount of submissions we hoped to receive in our first month of our first reading period. We were so fortunate to receive a number that was far more than our estimate. We love the faith writers have in new literary journals. However, we’ve only gotten a small number of creative nonfiction submissions, so if you write CNF, send us your work!
  • I’m doing a great job keeping up with my 365 photo project. As of today, I am on day 240. Nuts.

Stinky September Moments:

  • I don’t have much to complain about this month. I had a head cold that lingered, a few cranky/miserable days and work was a bit nutso, but overall, nothing particular stands out which is nice.

Other Mentionable Moments:

  • Baby Dylan was born. One of my closest friends had her baby boy on 9/26, and I am so in love with him.
  • Mr. O’s mom retired! Congratulations! She had the best surprise retirement party last weekend. It was a great night.
  • Wolverine has been trying harder in football. He’s had a game every weekend, so we spend a few nights a week at practice and then the weekends practicing/playing another team. Go football!
  • Mr. O and I went to see Gabriel Inglesias at Foxwoods and the show was great.
  • After a brief hiatus, my girlfriends and I reunited for our monthly girl’s night.

I’m looking forward to____ in October:
What I like most about October is pumpkin coffee and hot apple cider. Oh, I also love to see the kids in their costumes and I’m pretty pumped because we will have Wolverine for trick-or-treating this year. I can’t wait to decorate our pumpkins. I’m hoping to continue getting quality submissions for Spry, especially in creative nonfiction (my favorite). We are about to hire an intern, so I hope that process goes smoothly. Wolverine has a few more football games. Mr. O and I are going away for a weekend, which is our birthday gift to ourselves. It will be nice to spend some quality time with my love away from our apartment and normal surroundings.

Overall Thoughts:
September was a nice month. I’m a fan of birthdays, so it was nice to celebrate me and Mr. O. It went by quickly. I spent much of the month worrying about work and Spry. I feel like I’ve been on a go-go-go type of outlook. I don’t have much to say about September. I always get a bit anxious this time of year, because I don’t like when it starts to get darker at night; I don’t like when it gets colder. I wish it could stay warm and bright outside. But I do love cuddling up to Mr. O and stealing his body heat, so I guess I can’t complain. What was nice about September, was this it was a normal month. There were no crazy or dramatic moments, and the calmness of the month was nice.

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Want to know more about my experiences in 2012? Check out the previous months: January and February and March and April and May and June and July and August

August Observations

August Highlights:

  • Mr. O, Wolverine and I went to DC and VA on a road trip for our summer vacation. This was a fantastic trip, because not only did we get to do fun things with Wolverine (the National Zoo, Smithsonian’s Museums of Natural History and American History), but we also spent a few quality days with one of my closest friends who lives in VA. She just had a beautiful baby girl last month, so it was so nice to be with mommy, daddy and baby (and puppies!).
  • Wolverine started playing football this month. He is such a little stud. He’s the youngest guy on the team, and he has a lot to learn, but he’s trying hard. It is so damn cute to see him at the water breaks, because he takes his helmet off and his face is all red and his hair is sweaty. He’s going to break so many hearts when he gets older.
  • Spry Literary Journal began accepting submissions! I can’t even describe how I felt when we got our first submission (and it was a GREAT submission too). It was incredible to read someone’s work after all the effort we put in to this journal. If you are a writer, please consider submitting your work to my literary journal.
  • We went to Mr. O’s work “picnic” in the middle of the month. When I say picnic, I really mean carnival. It is always so much fun. I held an alligator while I was there!
  • I’m doing a great job keeping up with my 365 photo project. As of today, I am on day 210. TWO HUNDRED AND TEN!?!

Stinky August Moments:

  • I’m no longer a graduate student. Weird, I know, because all I did was complain about school while I was in it. I just miss it.
  • I’ve felt pretty busy and disorganized this month. I expected things to slow down a bit after graduation, but that didn’t happen one bit. In fact, I feel as if I was working even harder to catch up, and stay on track (or close to the tracks at least).
  • I only spent a few days with my friends from VA! I know I mentioned this as a highlight, and it truly was. It is just hard to leave such incredible friends. Especially when they have a new addition to their life. I love babies. So now, I’m saying goodbye to three people (and two dogs), not just two people. Sigh. It’s hard to live far away from your friends.
  • Dr’s appointments. Between my primary care, my dermatologist and my dentist, I feel like all I’ve done is go to appointments this month..

Other Mentionable Moments:

  • My parents and my brother and sister-in-law celebrated anniversaries this month.
  • I cancelled my graduation party because of a horrible weather forecast, and then the day ended up being pretty nice. Oh well, I rescheduled it for September and combined it with my and Mr. O’s birthdays… So it will now be Erin and Mr. O’s Birthday and Graduation Extravaganza!

I’m looking forward to____ in September:
September is a fun month for Mr. O and I, because we both have birthdays in September. We’re going to a comedy show at Foxwoods, which will be fun because we both like to eat and gamble. We have our party which I just mentioned. I’m hoping to get a lot of submissions this month for Spry too!

Overall Thoughts:
August was a nice month. I was busy, which made the month go by quickly, but overall, it was a good time. I felt crappy for about two weeks of the month which is never fun. All in all, I’m kind of glad to start a new month. I’m done with August. The only thing that stinks about being done with August is that the nights are getting darker earlier (which bums me out) and the weather is getting chillier. I love summer. I like fall too, but I hate winter and I can never enjoy fall because I’m always bummed about the upcoming winter. Oh well. Here’s to September!

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Want to know more about my experiences in 2012? Check out the previous months: January and February and March and April and May and June and July

July Observations

July Highlights:

  • I graduated from the best MFA program in the universe.
  • My last residency was incredible. I loved meeting the incredible incoming class. I loved spending time with some of my mentors. I loved teaching my seminar and giving my reading. I loved it all.
  • I am very happy with my graduation speech. It went so smoothly and I think I did a good job of involving the whole class in my speech. I’ve been toying with posting it here, but I’m not sure if I should.
  • Wolverine’s birthday party was a blast. The weather held out all day, which meant no rain until the party was over! Our water slide also worked the entire time. Mr. O put a lot of hard work into patching the holes on the slide, and the kids loved playing on the slide.
  • Announcing Spry Literary Journal. (Ha, I didn’t quite announce it yet, but the big announcement should come tomorrow!)
  • I’m doing a great job keeping up with my 365 photo project. As of today, I am on day 179.

Stinky July Moments:

  • My dad had a heart attack while I was away at school which was very scary. Because of this he and my mother couldn’t come to my graduation. I’m very lucky to have a great boyfriend who videotaped the whole thing so that they could watch me graduate from the comfort of their living room!
  • Everything happened at once. Between school, work, the literary journal, another editing project I’m involved in and my personal life… everything happened this month. Oh, well. All good stuff.
  • Running into people I’d rather not see.

Other Mentionable Moments:

  • My fantastic friend gave birth to a healthy little baby girl. Welcome to the world Isabella.
  • Wolverine, my dad, Lauren, Kerri, Linsey and both of my grandparents all celebrated birthdays. Those same grandparents also celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

I’m looking forward to____ in August:
August should be busy! Mr. O, Wolverine and I will be road-tripping down to DC and then heading to Virginia to visit some great friends and their new baby girl. We are also hoping to go camping this month. We’re going to a carnival and my brother’s annual cookout (which I’ve missed the past two years). August 15th will be the first day my literary journal will be accepting submissions.

Overall Thoughts:
July was incredible. I’m so happy and proud of the fact that I graduated from my MFA program. At the same time though, I will miss it terribly. I’m so grateful that my dad is okay and I hope his healing process is smooth. I’m glad that Wolverine loved his actual birthday and his birthday party. I’m tired, but happy.

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Want to know more about my experiences in 2012? Check out the previous months: January and February and March and April and May and June

Friendship: Online and In Real Life

I have always been blessed to have such wonderful friends in my life. Sometimes I think, “How did I get so lucky to meet these incredible people,” but then I realize, in a strange way, I have a high standard of friendship. I meet lots of people, but you aren’t going to be in my close circle unless you’re a fantastic person. That, and kindness attracts kindness; friendliness attracts friendliness. I’m also lucky that the majority of my friends are also friends with each other. I honestly cannot wait to own my own home (especially in the summer) because I just want to have an open invitation to all my and Mr. O’s friends to have cookouts and get-togethers regularly.

But I’m getting away from the point. I started blogging in 2008. I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d “get” from blogging. I knew I wanted to write and was hoping it would get my mo-jo back to apply to graduate programs in creative writing. I never expected to make real friends from blogging…but I have. Two of my all time favorite bloggers are Erin from Speckled Palate and Kate from Suburban Sweetheart. I’ve known them both for years now, and they are spectacular humans. Erin really made me feel comfortable with the process of becoming friends with someone you’ve never met before. We’d text each other and chat about our days; sometimes we’d talk on the phone . Kate and I used to chat online all the time a few years ago and were in similar life situations. Then she moved to the state near me, and for a few years we lived about an hour away YET, we never hung out until a few months before she moved to New Jersey. We are such sillies.

The first blogger I ever hung out with was the lovely and multifaceted Elizabeth from Her New Deal. She and her husband were living in Boston at the time and we went shopping and to dinner. Unfortunately she now lives in Texas (do I drive bloggers states away?) but I love to read the updates on her beautiful daughter and the incredible things happening to Elizabeth as well. The second blogger I ever met was Kristen from Life By Kristen. She was a Stratejoy Blogger last season and then one day I realized she lived in the next town over from me. How wild is that?

Last week, I was head over heels after meeting San from The In Between Is Mine and her awesome husband. San and I found each other’s blogs sometime last year and hit it off right away. We are so similar in so many ways. We started the Fierce Love course at the same time, and we’re going to keep each other on track with our goals. San and her hubbie were on vacation on the east coast last week and they were kind enough to take a slight detour in MA to visit with me. We went to lunch right down the street from my work, and they both had Portuguese food for the first time. I was so sad to see them go after having such a nice afternoon.

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Years ago, I would have thought it were nuts to make friends on the internet. Now, I’m just so thankful to have met these incredible humans. Sometimes I wish I lived right near all of them so we could spend more time together, but I know I’m just lucky to have them in my life. Thanks, guys.

 

June Observations

June Highlights:

  • We put in our air conditioners! That deserves its own bullet point.
  • Tball. I just love it. I was bummed because there were a few rainouts and Wolverine was sick for one of the games, but I have a blast watching all the little kids play. Wolverine is much more into it this year versus last year, and its fun to see him excited and into something.
  • Father’s Day. I’ll celebrate Mr. O for any reason, but I especially like to celebrate him as a father, because he is an incredible dad.
  • Wolverine got a reading award at school…
  • and even better than that…. he graduated kindergarten! He is so grown up now!
  • I’m actually keeping up with my 365 photo project. As of today, I am on day 148.

Stinky June Moments:

  • The few bad weather days in between the awesome warm and sunny days.
  • Everything happening at once. Every project I am involved in between work, school and my personal stuff is all HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. I have no clue how I am going to accomplish everything.
  • Getting excited about a possibility only to find out it is no longer possible. Sigh.

Other Mentionable Moments:

  • My friends Thien, Amy S,  Audrey, Daisy, Chris, Trueblood and Trish all celebrated birthdays. My brother and his wife celebrated a wedding anniversary, and so did my good friend’s E & C.
  • J and J are getting married tonight! And I am very excited about getting dressed up and spending time with my friends.
  • My friend Linsey and I are working hard on our business venture. It is a LOT of work, but I’m enjoying the process.

I’m looking forward to____ in July:
I’m graduating! This coming residency will be magical, I’m sure. I get to spend ten days on an island with incredible like-minded creatures. I can’t wait to be with my friends again and absorb everything possible from my last residency of graduate school. I am so excited about being a TA, giving a seminar on my third semester project- The Story Behind the Status, doing a public reading, workshopping my newest story and giving a graduation speech. I’m excited to celebrate the birthdays of so many people I love. I can’t wait for Wolverine’s party. I’ll be happy to come home from residency and jump back into my “normal” life with Mr. O and Wolverine. I’m also pretty pumped to make the grand announcement about my new business venture.

Overall Thoughts:
I liked June a lot. There was a lot of nice weather, a lot of time spent outside. It was a busy month filled with errands and birthday parties and school/work/business/life stuff, but I can’t complain about being busy. It was overwhelming, but filled with mostly good happy things. I consider myself very lucky.

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Want to know more about my experiences in 2012? Check out the previous months: January and February and March and April and May

May Observations

May Highlights:

  • I went to Augusten Burrough’s reading and book signing in Boston with the lovely Michaela.
  • Mr. O and I also went to Fenway park
  • My thesis is 100% complete. Wow. I don’t even know what to say about that.
  • I found out I’m going to be an auntie again for the 5th time!
  • One of Mr. O’s closest friends baby was born. I’m so happy for N &J!
  • And to keep the baby theme going, we found out that another one of Mr. O’s closest friends is having a baby in November!
  • I’m actually keeping up with my 365 photo project. As of today, I am on day 118.
  • Mr. O and I found a bunch of four-leaf clovers this month. Wolverine actually found his first four-leaf clover–all by himself too– although it was hacked a bit by a lawn mower. Either way, that’s pretty cool for a 5-year-old. I didn’t find my first clover until I was 24!

Stinky May Moments:

  • It was a slightly gloomy month with the amount of fog/rain/clouds we had this month.
  • This month was full of a LOT of last-minute mini revisions. Lots of lists and organization to figure out what else I needed to get together. Plus, I spent a lot of time at the post office getting things mailed out to the right people.
  • For years now, I keep forgetting to buy my parking passes for a Sox game THE WEEK BEFORE THE GAME!!!! I seem to always think I can buy them a day or two before the game. This is not the case! You must buy them one week before the game for a SIGNIFICANT discount. Otherwise you’re just going to waste money on the day of!

Other Mentionable Moments:

  • My writing group is meeting at my favorite Vietnamese/Cantonese/Cambodian restaurant this evening. Yum yum yum.
  • My mom celebrated a big birthday this month. It was also Ryan S. and Ryan G.’s birthday; they are married to two of my close girlfriends and I love them so.
  • My friends Holly and Ryan celebrated their second anniversary and it was also the sixth anniversary of my best friend’s parents’ wedding.
  • Holly also found out she was having a boy!

I’m looking forward to____ in June:
The strange thing about this section is for once I don’t have much to write about! I have a bunch of friends who have birthdays this month, so maybe there will be some get-togethers, but honestly, there is almost nothing planned! I have a wedding to attend on the 30th, and we’re taking Mr. O’s sister out for a belated birthday dinner this weekend. I do have more to do in preparation for school next month, but it looks like the rest of June will be relaxing. I expect to be watching a bunch of Tball games, playing at the park and enjoying the nice weather.

Overall Thoughts:

I think May was a really nice month. The weather is getting warmer, which I absolutely love. That being said, it was kind of gloomy and rainy for much of the month, and that was no fun. Overall though, I spent a lot of time outside– at Wolverine’s Tball games and cookouts for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day and trips to the park. I can’t believe I did so much school work and actually MAILED IN my completed, approved thesis to Fairfield. I’m done? Really?

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Want to know more about my experiences in 2012? Check out the previous months: January and February and March and April

Acknowledgements

Y’all know that I am finishing my graduate school thesis. That’s all I seem to talk about on here.

At this point, I’m about 90% done with the thesis and 90% done the preface for the thesis.

I am 0% done with the abstract, 0% done with the acknowledgements page and 0% done with the bibliography. I do think the abstract and bibliography will be relatively easy though.

The acknowledgements though? It scares me. Why? Because I am too grateful. I don’t know where to start. I don’t even know if there is a limit to the amount of pages I can include for this section. I’m thankful for every moment I wrote about in my thesis. I’m thankful for ever person who influenced the manuscript. I’m thankful for all the schools that denied my fiction application when I applied as an undergraduate even though it broke my heart. I’m grateful for the nonfiction graduate class I signed up for at Umass Dartmouth even though I wasn’t a student, just to get my writing juices flowing. I’m grateful for Christina McCarroll who taught the class and all the amazing students who read and helped me hone my nonfiction craft (I’d never written a lick on nonfiction before this!). The two main stories I wrote in this class became my application for the seven graduate schools I applied to. I’m beyond grateful for being accepted to every one of those graduate schools. That is by far one of my favorite life moments. I was so proud of myself. I’m so thankful for Michael White, my program director. Fairfield was tied for first place on my wish list with two other schools. I’m grateful that Michael recognized my talent and was the first school to accept me (only a few days after receiving my application). I’m fortunate for all the students I met in my graduate school career. I couldn’t begin to thank them for their encouragement, their suggestions on my stories. I’m beyond thankful to the MFA gods for giving me Phil as a big brother and Daisy as a little sister in the program. I’m still thankful for earning the Trueblood Award my first residency (now called the Truben Award) and also for being voted the graduation speaker this last residency. I am eternally grateful to all of my mentors: Lary Bloom, Joan Connor, Porochista Khakpour and Kim Dana Kupperman who worked one on one with me over my four semesters. For the teachers who guided my workshops: Kim, Lary, Da Chen, Leila Philip, Baron Wormser, and Marita Golden- their guidance unearthed some of my best impromptu writing, all of which made it into my final thesis. I’m grateful that Baron will be my second reader for my thesis, and I cannot wait to hear him read my words as I walk across the stage to accept my diploma. I’m thankful that Fairfield led me to Phil (my big bro), Trueblood (yep, the award was named after him) and Linsey, as we formed the Masshole Writers Group. The stories I’ve written have changed sometimes very dramatically with their suggestions. Plus, we go out to eat when we critique each other’s work and I love food. I’m grateful for GChat, which allowed me to brainstorm with my school friends at times I might not have been able to easily communicate. I’m grateful for everything Ender’s Island. That place is the perfect place to study creative writing. That island will always be one of my favorite places and it as a place has truly opened me up. I’m actually thankful that I broke my foot on the island during my third residency. It taught me to rely on others, something I don’t know I ever really knew how to do. I am so glad to have worked on Mason’s Road, Fairfield MFA’s literary journal since my first semester. I was a nonfiction reader for three issues and this semester I am serving as the co-editor with my incredible MFA little sis, Daisy. Mason’s Road has greatly impacted my writing. Reading other people’s work is a great way to expand your knowledge and to see first hand what works and what doesn’t work. It has helped me critique and edit my own work. I am eternally grateful to the people outside of the program who have supported or assisted me in any way. I have to thank Kate for editing assistance. I’m thankful for all my friends who encouraged me, or scheduled plans around my busy schedule. I’m grateful for my family for not only encouraging me, but also being characters in my manuscript. I’m thankful for Mr. O’s family and friends who understood if I wasn’t able to go to dinners or get-togethers because I was too busy writing. I’m grateful for Wolverine’s excitement about graduation and the amount of homework we both have to do. He graduates Kindergarten in June (and he still is quite shocked that he graduates before me!) and my graduation is in July. Not only that, but I have to thank Wolverine for completely changing my life. The combination of school and Wolverine in my life has taught me more than I ever could learn about forgiveness and parenting. He has opened me up to selfless unconditional love. He’s helped me learn and grow, and I love him so much for that. I couldn’t end here without acknowledging the person who has probably been my main support throughout this whole experience: Mr. O. I’m thankful for all the times he cooked dinner or cleaned up the apartment or went places without me all so that I could write. I’m grateful for the times he sternly told me to do my homework– he’s the best dad. I’m thankful for the suggestions and perspective he gave me on my writing. I’m thankful that he’s honest and willing to tell me something doesn’t work, or he doesn’t get the point I’m going for. I’m glad he doesn’t judge what I say as he’s probably the only non-school person to read the stories. But besides the actual work, I’m so grateful that he supported me emotionally as well. He pushed me when I wanted to give up, he held and kissed me when it all felt too overwhelming (and then he made me stop crying and start writing.) The biggest thing he did was always keep put things into perspective for me.

Can I acknowledge myself? I’ve written what is now a 114 page manuscript (that could change a bit before May 1st). Wow. That my friends doesn’t account for all the other numerous pages I’ve written and revised in the past two years. It doesn’t account for my preface, for my craft essays, for my graduation speech. It doesn’t account for my class I’ll teach. It doesn’t account for the notes I’ve taken, the stories I’ve started but never finished. I’ve completed (almost) a manuscript, and I need to pat myself on the back as well. Good job, Erin.  I’m proud of you.

Well, I guess acknowledging wasn’t as scary as I thought it could be. Now all I need to do is edit, remove the zillion adverbs and it looks like I might be at least 90% done on my acknowledgment section as well.

March Observations

March Highlights:

  • Vacation! Mr. O, Wolverine and I went to New Hampshire for a long weekend. I love vacations.
  • The Emerson’s came up from GA for a week, and Mr. O finally got to meet the Mr. and Mrs. I wish I could have spent some time with Toddler Emerson seeing as how it has been over a year since I’ve seen him, but I can’t complain. It was amazing to see my friends. I love them so much.
  • Actually writing new material for my thesis. Not only that, but I’m pretty excited to find new uses for old material which I wasn’t planning on including. Even if the essay doesn’t appear in its original form, paragraphs have been brought to life in new essays.
  • My eye doctor is extremely pleased with my healing after the Lasik surgery last month. I’m pretty pleased with it too.
  • My friend Doodles (not her real name) had her baby! A healthy little baby girl was born on 3/22/12.
  • I’m actually keeping up with my 365 photo project. As of today, I am on day 57.
  • I went to the Blog Better Boston Conference at the Google offices and FINALLY met my blogger friend Kate. I also met new friends like Sara and Lindsay and Germana.

Stinky March Moments:

  • My boss’s husband passed away…and her dog too. Her husband was young and healthy and loved and he died too quickly. I was incredibly moved by his death, and wish there was something I could do to change the past few months in her life. I can’t. Then her dog died. This sucks.
  • A few other acquaintances–family friends–passed away.
  • I got a vicious migraine at the beginning of the month. I haven’t had a bad one like that in quite some time, so it was very scary.
  • This is my thesis semester. Boo. It is a lot of work. (I’m thinking this might be here every month until I graduate).
  • I had to get an old filling fixed. I like my dentist, but I don’t love dental procedures. Actually, I had a whole bunch of doctor appointments. Same goes for them. I like my doctors, but I’d rather spend my time elsewhere.

Other Mentionable Moments:

  • March 12 made one year since I was hit by a drunk driver. I’ll be honest. I was happy to make it home unscathed that day. I’m proud to admit no one under the influence has driven into me this year (so far- fingers crossed.
  • My god-daughter/niece turned two years old this month.
  • My wonderful friends Ashley, Michaela, Jessica, Jim, Gail, Mr. O’s mom and three of our friend’s children also had birthdays. This month was full of birthday parties and baby showers.
  • Mr. O did my taxes for me. I mailed them in, and then they mailed me a refund! Woot Woot.
  • Wolverine built a pretty fancy Leprechaun trap. We actually thought it worked and we caught a leprechaun, but when we opened up the trap door, we realized the leprechaun was too smart for us. He somehow stole all the gold and escaped! We will get you next year, Lucky!
  • I finally got a massage that Mr. O’s family bought me as part of my birthday present (in September). That was nice.

I’m looking forward to____ in April:

  • Mr. O, Wolverine and I are going to the Museum of Science in Boston. I’ve wanted to go for a very long time now. It even found its way onto my current 101 in 1001 goals list.
  • Another one of my pregnant friends is due to deliver in April… on my brother’s birthday actually. There are a lot of birthdays coming in April.
  • I will be reviewing my first book for TLC book tours. Look for it at the end of the month.
  • Finishing my thesis. Or at least being SOOOOO CLOSE to being finished. It needs to get approved during the month of May, so I pretty much need to be 100% done editing my creative writing and my critical introduction before I turn it in for approval. I can do this (fingers crossed).

Overall Thoughts:

Like February, March was just an okay month. I felt pretty overwhelmed all month, but I survived. I am so thankful that winter is over. I love Spring and I look forward to the days getting longer and the temperature getting warmer. I’m actually so done with this month. It’s not like I hated February and March, I just didn’t enjoy them. I loved cuddling on the couch with Mr. O, building the leprechaun trap with Wolverine, going to the hospital to meet and hold (I love holding newborns!) Doodle’s new baby and the Blog Better Boston Conference. It’s not like there weren’t good moments. I’m just glad the month is finished. I’m ready for April.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Want to know more about my year? Check out the previous months: January and February

january observations

So last week I mentioned how I always want to do an end of the year recap, but I never seem to make time for it in January. I’m going to try to work around that for 2012 and better prepare myself. I’ve decided to end each month by writing a post which recaps the highlights (and pitfalls) that happened during the month. That way, at the end of 2012, my year will already be summed up for me.

January Highlights:

  • Mr. O and I did the Polar Bear Plunge. It was my second time and his first.
  • I was chosen by my fellow classmates to be the graduation speaker in July!
  • Officially living with Mr. O
  • Finding out that Kim Dana Kupperman would be my thesis semester mentor!
  • Mr. O and I celebrated our anniversary
  • Finding out another super duper close friend is having a baby!

Stinky January Moments:

  • I got sick right after I came back from school. Which means that I needed to take more time off of work after just being away for ten days.
  • One of my very close friends who is pregnant fell at work and needed to be admitted to the hospital for a few days. Now she is on home rest for the rest of her pregnancy. But, things seem to be okay. She is still having a lot of issues, but the longer the baby stays inside, the better things will be. Stay in, baby. It is cold out here!
  • When we moved, it was the day after a huge snowstorm, and Mr. O’s old landlord didn’t shovel the walks or the driveways. Not fun.
  • Starting my thesis semester. Boo. Now, I could have mentioned this in the highlight section, as it is exciting to even be in my final semester of graduate school, but I chose to put it in the stinky section for a few reasons. 1)It means I’m going to have to work my ass off this semester. I’m lazy. 2) It means that I am going to graduate, and as cool as it will be to have MFA, I’m going to desperately miss my writing program.
  • A person I care about found out that both her husband and sibling are very sick. I need my blogging friends to rally their positive, healing thoughts together to send good energy their way.

Other Mentionable Moments:

  • My handsome nephew turned four years old.
  • His mother- my sister-in-law- also had a birthday.
  • My mentor from last semester celebrated another year of awesomeness as well. Happy bday PK!
  • I finished my final residency in graduate school. Yes, I still have a residency in July to attend, but it will be a bit different since it will be my graduation residency. In July I’ll have to teach a seminar, give a reading of my work and graduate! It was an interesting residency since the septic broke on the island where we stay. But they were kind enough to put us up in hotels off island, so I can’t complain.

I’m looking forward to____ in February:

  • LASIK eye surgery! I won’t lie; I’m quite nervous about this one.
  • Valentine’s Day. Last year Mr. O and I had a perfect VDay. This year Wolverine will be joining us, so I’m sure it’s going to be absolutely epic.
  • Kicking ass with the new writing I need to do this semester.
  • A baby shower for one of my close friends
  • A handful of birthdays for people I love a whole lot.

new around this neck of the woods?

Bonjour!

Have you recently found your way over here from Erin or Ashley’s blogs? If so, welcome! Make yourself at home. I bet you’re wondering, “Who is this Erin character?” Now, that is a good question. The easiest way to get a brief overview of who I am is to check out the “About the Girl” tab at the top of this page (which really does need to be updated, sigh). However, I’ve provided a short list below because I like to make things nice and simple for you.

  • I’m afraid of bees. However, alligators are my favorite animals.
  • I am a graduate student studying creative nonfiction and I do a lot of whining about how I procrastinate too much. (I also don’t have good grammar on this blog, beware!)
  • Besides my day job, I have a part-time gig as a relief worker for adults with mental illnesses, and I also coordinate and plan events such as weddings and concerts. (I’m available for hire! Wink Wink)
  • If I told you that I was a great cook then I’d be lying to you, and I really am an honest person. I can however tell you that I want to be a good cook one day. My boyfriend makes fantastic meals; he’s teaching me what he knows, and the rest we plan on learning together. I’ve been updating this blog with all the cooking I’ve been doing. I cook every single week. Occasionally I’ve been recooking some previously attempted meals, but I like to try new things best.
  • I think everyone really should have a lucky number and a favorite color.
  • I also really want to know people’s middle names. I try to imagine what the middle names might be if people don’t tell me.
  • If it wasn’t for 20 Something Bloggers, I don’t know if I would have continued to blog since I first started in 2008. I also owe a lot of my blogging gratitude to my 101 in 1001 goals list and NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo and Grace in Small Things as well.
  • I love everything about home improvement. However, I still do not own my own home. Still, I fantasize about home design projects and knocking down walls and painting and everything that could have to do with houses. Mr. O and I are trying to buy a house right now,  but the process isn’t as glamorous as it may seem.
  • I love to travel. Anywhere.

And here are some of the key players on this blog:

  • Mr. O: The most wonderful man in the world (at least in my eyes). As corny as it may sound, Mr. O is my boyfriend and my best friend. I tend to profess my love for him on here.  I’m apologizing for that ahead of time.
  • Wolverine: The most wonderful boy in the world. Wolverine is Mr. O’s son, and he truly makes every single one of my days better by just being in it. I try not to write too much about him on the blog, but I occasionally profess my love for him as well.
  • Fairfield University MFA Program: I write a LOT about my grad school experiences, and on top of that, you have the chance to get to know some of my classmates, like Phil and AJ and Reuben (who was a guest blogger twice!) and Brooke and Ioanna.
  • Fenway: My Chihuahua/Terrier mix. She’s a rescue dog I adopted while living in Virginia. She definitely keeps me on my toes.

Oh…and these things happen often around these parts.

  • The Defining Moments Guest Series: So far Amanda, AJ, Phil, Brooke, Reuben, Heidi ,Kat, Micaela, Justin, Michaela (with an ‘H’), Holly and Ioanna have all posted about moments of reinvention or inspiration. This series has been a big hit for my readers, and I am always looking for more people to write a guest blog on this topic. You don’t have to be a regular blogger to do this. Kat wasn’t a blogger when she first wrote her post for me… now she has a Tumblr. Micaela still isn’t a blogger, but enjoyed the experience.
  • My Lessons- The Thoughts on Love Series: Now, I’m not an expert, but I’ve been thinking a lot about love this year…what it takes to be in a relationship, choices people make, how other people can affect your relationships, etc. I started this series to share my observations, thoughts and feelings.

So… That’s all folks! I’d love it if you introduced yourself, because I love to check out new blogs. Have an amazing day!

blogging to do list

There is a lot I would like to do here on this ol’ blog. Like, for example post more often… I can’t fault myself though. I successfully completed NaBloPoMo in December of 2011, and I can understand that after posting every single day for the month, there is only so much I can write about afterward.

It seems like I always want to do a year-end recap, but never get around to it on here. I’m going to have to work on that. Who knows, maybe in February I’ll share my highlights of 2011! I always get to things late, but you know, I’m okay with that. There are no rules on the blog. If I want to post a recap of 2008 on here, I don’t see why I can’t do that either.

I’m lucky to live near one of my friends from my MFA program (who happens to be in the same semester as I am!), so we try to meet weekly to help each other with the semester. I wish we did this during our first two semesters, because I can’t stress how helpful it is to meet with her. Last night I was worried about what I was going to discuss. I have so much to write this semester (it’s my thesis semester), but I didn’t have any ideas really before she came over. When we meet, we talk about our ideas and we help flesh them out. Anyway, when she left last night, I had three super fleshed out essay ideas. How amazing is that?!? I can’t stress how helpful it was to have her help last semester, and this one is the big one, so I’m even more grateful for her now.

Hmm, what else is on my to-do list for the blog? Well, I’d like to do another giveaway. That was fun. My first giveaway was this past December, so I think next month I’ll have giveaway #2! Keep your eyes posted.

I’m also inspired by the marvelous Kate at Suburban Sweetheart to start posting more “reviews” here on the blog. There are a lot of products, and also customer service, that I think are both good and bad, and I’d like to share my thoughts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried out products from fellow blogger’s suggestions, so I think I should step it up and share my favorite (and not so favorite) products.

I desperately need to update my 101 challenge. I recently registered my own domain for it (I’m on my second 101 list), but I haven’t updated that- or the original blog- since mid 2011!!!! My new list started on 10/2/2011! I don’t even have any of the new stuff posted yet. Yikes! I need it to be posted to hold myself accountable, and I can’t do that if it isn’t updated.

Oh, I’ve got quite a few recipes to post as well! Don’t you worry… I’m still cooking weekly. The only time I didn’t cook was when I was away at school for 10 days, and I’m totally okay with that. When I was home on my day off I think I made cookies with Mr. O, and I’ve already repeated recipes, so I’m totally covered on that goal.