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.

what really is normal?

Apparently, after a successful NaBloPoMo, one doesn’t post for two weeks. Or maybe that is just me…

I realized this morning that I spend so much of my time wondering what “normal” is. Unfortunately, this is something I have done my entire life. I guess when I get down to it, it’s because I’m a very emotional, sensitive person and I feel things very deeply. So a lot of the time, I think to myself, Is feeling like this normal? Do other people feel this way, or is it just me?

My life is good: My life is filled with extreme love and joy. But like I said, I feel things very strongly. This is great when I feel Mr. O’s love or if I’m playing with Wolverine or spending time with my friends. This isn’t so great when I feel tension between myself and someone else or work/school gets stressful or when I’m sorting through my grandmother’s belongings, since she now lives in a nursing home. Times like this I really feel the tension or the sadness.

And I guess the question I’m asking is, when it comes to emotions, what is normal? Do I just sit an experience all these emotions, or do I do something? And what is there to do?

I watched The Green Mile last night and loved the movie. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone if you’ve never watched it, so let’s just say that at some point someone in the movie was 108 years old and mentioned how they’ve outlived all the people in their life. It got me thinking about my memere (grandmother).

In three weeks my memere will be 101 years old. Up until about 4 months ago, she lived in her own apartment with minor assistance. But at that point, my memere needed a great amount of assistance, and the only option was a nursing home. I like the place she is in. It is small, clean, and her roommate is quite funny. But the whole situation can get a little overwhelming at times. Like now, when I’m cleaning out her apartment with my father. Sorting through her stuff- deciding what is worthy of being kept, who will get what, what do toss and what to donate (does anyone need an alarm clock?) isn’t that easy. Much of her stuff can go. I don’t need a hundred pamphlets from the 80’s when my dad started a business. I don’t need twenty rosaries. I don’t need her very pretty dishes or silverware because I already own too much. But I hate throwing it away (we’re donating quite a bit, but you get my point). I feel like it is just erasing a part of her from my life.

The funny thing was, it didn’t catch up to me until last night. I cleaned away, tossed the trash, wrapped up the dishes, etc to be donated. And then last night, when the movie was over and Mr. O and I were starting to fall asleep, I just felt so utterly sad about it all. My chin was quivering before I even could say “I miss my memere.” I spent so much of my life in her apartment, watching soap operas, Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy, cartoons, etc. Every Saturday morning when I woke up, I would go there for Pop Tarts and KoolAid rather than head down to my own kitchen. I was lucky to never really have babysitters; my memere watched us. I understand I should be lucky that my she is still alive. But it feels like I’m mourning her.

Is that normal? Part of me feels like “normal” humans wouldn’t feel this way. I mean, I’m assuming “normal” humans would get sad if they had to sort through a love one’s belongings, but I think they would maybe take it “better” than I am and just go about their day, appreciate that she is still alive. Don’t get me wrong I am happy she is alive, but I just feel bad that almost all her friends and family have passed away. I feel bad that she is in a nursing home. I feel bad that there is so little she remembers. Is she happy? I don’t know. I just want her to be happy.

In the past few years, I’ve come to understand that “normal” doesn’t really exist. We all have to figure out what our own baseline is. No one can figure that out for us; we have to do that on our own. We can’t compare ourselves to anyone else either, because things affect us all differently. I understand this, but when I’m feeling low, it still makes me wonder… is this normal?

randoms

  • I’m not a big fan of waiting. I’m an action girl. I like to make things happen, not sit and wait for them to happen.
  • I am a very positive person, and believe in the power of intention.
  • I really need to type up and post my new 101 in 1001 list that went live 10/2/11.
  • Even more than that, I need to post all the updates for my original 101 challenge that ended 10/1/11.
  • I need to organize my entire life… because it isn’t.
  • I also need to see Michaela soon, because it has been ages since we have been together, and that, well that just doesn’t feel right.
  • I am addicted to Pinterest. It’s true. I can’t stop pinning. I just want to do it all the time.
  • I’m getting a coffee this weekend with Kristen, the fantastic Season 5 Statejoy blogger who happens to live near me. This will be epic.
  • I’ve cooked a whole lot since I started the new 101 challenge. At least once a week. So I need to get those blog posts written and posted.
  • My graduate school project is coming to a quick end, and I’m already wishing I had more time to develop it. I loved studying social media and its relation to writing. I definitely want to do more with this project in the future.
  • Speaking of school, my kick ass mentor Porochista won a NEA Grant! And so did two other amazing teachers in my program. Great job ladies!
  • Oh, and the Director of my MFA program won the Best Fiction Connecticut Book Award for his novel Beautiful Assassin.

 

Edit: I never finished this post yesterday morning. I had plans of finishing it when I got home, but instead I watched some X Factor and fell asleep. This morning I woke up to a comment from the aforementioned Michaela, and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy, because we were both thinking of each other yesterday. I really miss her.

welcome new friends!

49 go on a cruise (9)Ola, amigos. Have you recently found your way over here from Kyla’s blog? If so, welcome! Make yourself at home. I bet you’re wondering, “Who is this Erin character?” That’s 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. However, I’ve provided a short list below cause 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.
  • 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 think everyone really should have a lucky number and a favorite color.
  • I also really want to know people’s middle names.
  • 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 gratitide 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 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.
  • 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. Sorry, folks.
  • 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 and Brooke.
  • 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 and Kat 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. There are two more guest bloggers that will be coming up this week. One of them has never blogged before, and probably won’t again (unless I can convince her to write another guest post!).
  • 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.

MLK Quote

I was talking to Micaela about  Osama bin Ladin’s death and my sordid emotions, and she sent me a quote I really liked, so I’m sharing it with you. I asked her if she minded if I shared it on my blog, and she said “Nah, I don’t think Martin Luther King would mind too much.

“I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” -Martin Luther King, Jr

it isn’t going to happen…

I’m in one of those moods where I feel like I’ve got so much to say.

  • I want to tell you all about the two books I read for my first packet.
  • I want to whine all about how I have barely been writing and how much that is bothering me.
  • I want to chat all about how I now have an air cast for my foot, and even though I’m still totally broken, I’m in love with my new contraption.
  • I want to write about crushes and a handsome man.
  • I want to complain about how tired I am and how I wish I didn’t leave my contacts in so long for.
  • I want to update y’all on a lot of things.

But unfortunately, I’m tired… and I’m just in one of those moods. One of those moods where you really want to share, but when its time to sit down and do so….it doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore.

So goodnight friends. Sleep tight.

just in case

Things I should probably remember just in case I break another foot…

  • Do not hop in the shower. I repeat- do not hop in the shower!
  • Give up on even trying to blow-dry your hair. It isn’t going to happen. Not only will you lose your heels for a long time, but your luscious locks are going to look quite dull. Wait…now that I think about it… if you can sit while you dry your hair, you might be able to pull this off.
  • Warm fuzzy socks are a must.
  • If your foot gets freezing cold, put on a thin sock and then wrap it with an ace bandage and then put on a warm fuzzy sock.
  • You will develop the sudden need to do massive shopping, yet not be able to make your way around the store. Enlist some caring friends and provide them with a detailed list. If you don’t, then you’re guaranteed to not get what you want.
  • Just because you can feel where the bone is broken does not mean you should continue to poke and prod it. Eventually you’ll just hurt yourself.
  • Always keep it wrapped while sleeping. It hurts much less to move your foot in the wrong direction while wrapped than it does unwrapped.
  • Plan your trips up and down the stairs accordingly. You are not going to want to go up and down more than necessary.
  • Use the time you have in bed to write, because you certainly didn’t do that this time around.
  • Pretty much EVERYTHING you do has to be altered. Want to make a sandwich? Well, you better take everything out of the fridge at once so that you wont have to walk back and forth. You’re getting a ride to work? Well, make sure you don’t forget your car keys, or you will be locked out of your house. Going to the airport? Umm, how do you plan on walking, carrying your luggage and going through terminals? You get the point.

This list isn’t even a quarter of the way complete yet…

if clowns can do it, so can i

Deadlines do not like me. Yeah, I’m placing all the blame on the actual deadlines, no blame on myself.

That being said, I am finding school and work and life and sleep and hygene and cleaning and driving to be slightly consuming. Its like I am an ankle deep in quicksand, but the rest of me is on firm land, with an arm wrapped around a sturdy branch to steady me even more. Whats odd is that I do not necessarily feel like I am sinking… I just feel nervous. Its like I need to try as hard as I can to stay focused so that ankle doesn’t slip further and pull my entire body into the sand.

But doesn’t focusing too hard on one thing make you lose sight on the rest? School, work and life right now need to be more of a juggling act, not a balancing act. I should know this by now. Life is a constant flux of paying enough attention to whatever priority actually needs the care.  Sometimes you need to let a ball or two drop, and what happens when they hit the floor? Nothing. You juggle the balls you have in the air until you have a chance to stoop and pick up the ones you dropped.

Don’t be negative, you cynics, you!

Juggling is fun. I’m serious- I swear there is no sarcasm in that statement. Pick up a few objects, toss them in the air, try to keep them in the air… tell me you aren’t smiling. You can’t tell me that, because you are smiling.

Keep that thought in mind the next time you feel overwhelmed. It feels tough- in fact, it is tough- but how can you juggle without a smile on your face?