So Lucky to be Engaged

erin ollila rings reinventing erinWith all the decisions we have to make or things we need to research for the wedding, it’s really easy to just get drawn into it all. Right now, thinking about Mr. O, I’m just so happy to be in a relationship with him. I’m such a lucky girl, and I couldn’t be any more grateful to be engaged. Since we’ll have a relatively short engagement, I really want to just relish in this moment and enjoy the limbo between dating and married.

I love you Mr. O.

This entry was posted in Mr. O.

Wedding-Planning Whirl

Mr. O and I got engaged on October 13, 2013, and since then, it has been a rush of planning.

We’re aiming to get married sometime in the late Spring to mid-Summer 2014. This means that from day one of being engaged until the day of the wedding, there are only seven to nine months for us to plan. Yikes!

Here’s the good news: I’ve been around the wedding block. Not only was I a bridesmaid a whole bunch of times, but I worked in both the event-planning industry and also the flower industry.

Here’s the bad news: Being deeply involved and understanding of wedding culture, I know how much of everything is up-sold and overly expensive just because it is for a wedding. I don’t like that at all.

As I’ve mentioned on the blog, Mr. O and I have been actively looking to buy a house, which means we’ve been actively saving to buy a house. I can totally appreciate (and enjoy) putting $8,000 in the bank right now as savings (if anyone wants to give me the money), but what I cannot-in any way-appreciate is paying $8,000 to simply rent a space for the reception (not including tables, chairs, linens or even silverware for that matter).

I’m not trying to be a cheapskate. I understand that this will be one of the most special days in my life, and I shouldn’t skimp on costs. But then my next thought is this: A wedding lasts for one day; a house lasts for many days. Am I right?

Anyway, I know I’m not the first bride to feel this way. The whole point of what I am trying to articulate is this: I am going to spend the next six to eight months (Yes! Almost a whole month has passed since we got engaged!) working hard to plan the most splendid beautiful day celebrating the love between Mr. O and I. At this point, I have found the dress (but I haven’t said yes to it yet!), and we have narrowed down the venue to our top three choices (which we hope to decide on this weekend). We started looking at photographers and bridal party clothing and invitations.

Basically, I’m in a six-to-eight month cyclone of all things wedding related. I hope you don’t mind taking the ride with me.


To My Future Husband: The Proposal

Dearest Future Husband,

I wanted to take a moment out of the whirl that has been wedding planning to thank you.

Growing up, I never thought too much about my wedding, but I did wonder about the proposal. In the new world of social media, we see elaborate wedding proposals all of the time. There are flash mobs singing to a future bride. There are staged dance routines. A boyfriend creates a proposal video and airs it in the local movie theater under the guise they are watching a real film. I’m a sucker for love, and every single one of these got me.

But, I’ve wondered: how would our proposal happen?

Well, I no longer have to wonder. You created the most beautiful, most us wedding proposal. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better, more personal way to do it. It was surprising and heartfelt and funny and it honored the both of us. That is what I loved most. The fact that the proposal wasn’t all about me. It wasn’t all about you. It honored the both of us.

I cannot articulate how happy I am to one day be your wife. I love you.

Thank you so much for the perfect proposal.

With all my love,

Your Future Wife

I’m Engaged!

I am so happy to announce that Mr. O proposed, and I said yes!

We’ve been engaged for two whole weeks now, and I’m on top of the world. I’m so happy to have the chance to marry my best friend, and I look forward to sharing more about the wedding planning process with you all.


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.

October Observations

October Highlights:

  • Mr. O and I took a mini-vacation by ourselves to Plymouth, Ma. It was a quick vacation, but so nice to just get away from our normal routine. We stopped by some touristy sites briefly, ate some incredible food, went to a few antique shops, took a haunted tour and cuddled quite a bit.
  • Not only did Spry Literary Journal keep receiving great submissions all month, but we hired our first two interns! We also added a new reader to our group. Our reading period ends on November 15, 2012, so if you plan on submitting your writing, make sure to do so soon!
  • I’m doing a great job keeping up with my 365 photo project. As of today, I am on day 271. Nuts.

Stinky October Moments:

  • Work has been a bit overwhelming. I cannot seem to stay organized or get projects completed. There is a bunch of change happening at my organization, so besides working on my normal responsibilities, I’m trying to figure out/take on more. I’m not complaining about work, and I know I very rarely discuss it on the blog. I’m just indicating that it has been a tough month at work. I am still so grateful for my job.

Other Mentionable Moments:

  • Wolverine has been trying harder in football. This past Sunday was actually the last game of the season and they tied 0-0. He does have a “championship bowl” on Saturday, but since the kids are so tiny, they’re doing it for fun, not to keep score.
  • After a brief hiatus, my girlfriends and I actually managed to make it out two months in a row for our monthly girls’ night.
  • We carved our pumpkins which was fun. Wolverine actually carved his first pumpkin on his own (well, with minimal help). I’ll post pictures soon.
  • Hurricane Sandy. I was fortunate to be relatively untouched by the hurricane, but it still effected my work days and the electricity at home too.

I’m looking forward to____ in November: Thanksgiving: I’m a huge fan of the holiday. Also, I’m even more excited about Logan coming back to our house (Logan is our Elf on the Shelf!). I cannot wait to see all the mischief this little guy gets into. There is a chance that I like Logan even more than Wolverine does, but who cares.  I’m hoping to continue getting quality submissions for Spry, especially in creative nonfiction (my favorite) because our submissions manager is low on CNF.

Overall Thoughts: October was a nice month, but there really isn’t too much to report. I feel like I am working my butt off and can’t keep up, but that happens from time to time. It was a great month for Spry and the journal got a lot of exposure. I’m looking forward to November and the start of holiday season.

Happy Halloween everyone!

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 and September

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.


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.

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!

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

Checking Two Items Off My Bucket List

I’ve got some exciting news to share with you. I can officially report that I completed two items from my bucket list.

The first is that I graduated from my MFA program. I’ve obviously updated you on this, but I thought I should just report it here to make it bucket list official.


The second is that I pet an alligator. I love alligators. When I was younger (I think I had just graduated high school), I pet a random alligator in a local mall in a small summer petting zoo they had set up for little kids. I always wanted to do it again, and I had the chance this past weekend at Mr. O’s work picnic (which is really like a huge carnival, not a picnic). Not only did I get to pet the gator, but they let me hold it! I’m pretty excited about this all. Side note: I have no clue who that little kid is in the photos. I wish I could have cropped him out, but since I couldn’t, I just whited out his name badge. I always wanted to hold an alligator

 Did y’all know I have a page on the blog just for my bucket list? If not, check it out and let me know if you can help me make any of these goals happen.

To My Future Husband: Letter #2

Hello My Love,

I never realized how important physical proximity in a relationship was to me until you came along. I love being near you, being able to hug you and kiss you or just even hold your hand. I love that you pet my hair and I love when we lay on our tiny couch together. I love that we spend a lot of time together, versus running errands separately or residing in different rooms while relaxing at night.

Thank you for always being my radiator. You are always hot and I am always cold, yet you still allow me to curl up against you and steal your body heat. Thank you for always kissing me goodnight and always kissing me goodbye in the morning. These are some of the most important parts of my day.

One of my biggest wishes for us as we age and we accumulate anniversaries is that we always stay as physically close as we are now. I want us to hold hands, to lay cuddled together, to relax together, to run errands together, to go to our kids’ events together. My heart absolutely melts when I see an elderly couple holding hands. I want that to be us. I want us to be old and gray. I want our wrinkles to mingle and my hands to always be in yours.

Thank you for always being within my reach.

I love you; I love you; I love you,
Your Future Wife

(Click here to read the first letter I wrote to my future husband or click here to read the third letter I wrote to him).

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.

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

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.

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

A Letter to My Future Husband

Dear Future Husband,

This isn’t the first letter I’ve written to you. This may be the first one I’m sharing with you (and others), but I want you to know I’ve been thinking of you for some time now. Years ago I tried to imagine what you’d look like, the things we’d do, the places we’d go. I wrote to you in my head; I wrote to you on paper. I wanted you to know me- the single me, the me before you, the me before we became an “us”. I thought that was important. In some ways, I suppose it is. In other ways, I think the people we are before we become an “us” is irrelevant. By irrelevant, I do not mean unimportant, because the people we were and the choices that we made, both good and bad, are what brought us to each other. I understand now that the important factor is the person I am now, the person I will be in the future.

Writing this letter now that I know who you are (or at least I hope it’s you) feels slightly awkward. I tried to write a letter to my future husband pretending I had no clue who he was, but the letter was generic and impersonal. I tried to write the letter to you pretending we were already married, but seeing as I’m writing to my future husband, it ended up making little to no sense. So I’m here, writing to you, Mr. O, with the assumption that one day you will be my husband.

That word- husband -makes my heart swell.

You are the realist. I am the positivity-ist. But I’m going to jump in your shoes for a second. As much as my rose-colored glasses would want to believe, I know that marriage won’t always be easy. I know we will have our ups and downs and our perfect moments and our trying moments. I know that throughout our life together we will be faced with situations we might not have faced before. I know there will be situations where we might not like decisions or actions the other person chooses. I can accept this. I figure instead of being anxious about it, I might as well embrace it.

And while I can acknowledge these things, I want you to know the most important thing I know for sure. I know that no matter what happens in our life, I will always aim to be the kindest wife, best friend, most caring partner possible. I can’t promise you that I will always be kind. I can’t promise you that I will always be patient. I can’t promise you that I’ll never sulk. I can’t promise you that I’ll never say things I don’t truly mean.

I can promise you that I will try with every ounce of my being to be the best partner I can be for you. I can promise you that I will always try to put my love for you before any other emotion. I can promise you to always put our family first.

We might not be married yet; we might not even be engaged to be married yet, but I want you to know that no matter what our future has in store for us, I will show up every day ready to take on our life together.

I love you with all of my heart,
Your future wife


Did you know it is “Write a Letter to Your Future Spouse Week”? Well, according to Peter, it is. So this post was inspired by the holiday week, and Peter’s own letters to his future wife.

(The second letter I wrote to my future husband can be found here and the third letter I wrote to him is here)


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.