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.

reinventing erin…

I made a good choice when I decided to make that the blog’s name. I mean, I had a bunch of other good ideas, but the reason why it made the final cut was because I wanted a blog that would be able to grow with me as my life expanded and evolved. I mean look how much I’ve changed in the seven months since I’ve had this blog….

I started a new job right around the time I started the blog. I met some great new friends, and started being more social again.  I broke my foot, and needed to learn to rely on other people. I became a girlfriend to the most amazing man on earth. I got hit by a drunk driver; there’s nothing like a head on collision to make you want to start living.

And that is what I have been doing…Living…Living and Learning. I started this year saying that I wanted the word “Brave” to symbolize 2011. Part of me isn’t sure whether to be happy or sad that I chose that particular word. I’ve had to be brave in all aspects: I ran into the ice cold water on New Year’s Day for the Polar Bear Plunge; I met someone and had to learn to be in a relationship, not just be alone. I needed to get back into the driver’s seat after not driving for over two months (broken foot) and deal with the fact that just because I see headlights coming toward me, it doesn’t mean that car is going to cross into my lane and hit me. I’ve been brave simply by being honest with myself and choosing to put in the effort to be happy.

And happy I am. My heart is exploding with love. It is so nice to be alive.

 

polar bear plunge 2011

I thought y’all deserved to see a few pictures from my first ever Polar Bear Plunge. Will I do it again next year…probably! Can’t believe I didn’t hate it like I thought I would. Instead I actually enjoyed it (kind of).

member of the club

Proof that I did the FU MFA Polar bear Plunge:

Ender’s Island- January 1, 2011!

intention

So, I’ve got this thing… It’s called: A GREAT LIFE.

I feel the most myself here on little Ender’s Island during my graduate school residency. I’m surrounded by brilliance in so many shapes and colors and sizes.

There are the teachers who have published remarkable books and memoirs and poetry. The teachers who are passionate about sharing what they know of the craft. The teachers who not only want to help you grow as a student writer, but as an individual- someone who will influence the world in small and large ways. The teachers who are cheerleaders, motivating us whether or not we’ve ever stepped foot in their classroom or their seminars. The teachers, who might write in a different genre than us, but are devoted to our survival and success and honestly invested in our writing and goals for this program and beyond. The teachers you get to know on a personal level. They ask how my dog Fenway is, congratulate me on the birth of my nieces, inquire about my new job.

And the beauty. The beauty of the river as the sun sets in the morning, the snow, the sand, the rocks, the waves, the buildings, the chapels. Pictures will follow for sure.

My peers are remarkable individuals from all walks of life- accountants, teachers, psychiatrists, waiters, census employees, nurses, recent college graduates, people who got their first degree 50 years before, CEOs of large corporations, travel writers, stay at home dads, drummers…. I was blessed with the best FU MFA family. My “big bro” and “little sis” feel real to me, like we share the same cells. I love them. I admire them. I want to emulate their goodness and intelligence.

The biggest lesson this school has taught me and I have absorbed in every cell of my body is to trust in the process. Kind of like a whatever is meant to be will be kind of thing. I don’t questions things here on the island. I don’t worry about who I will get as a mentor or what I will do over the semester for example, because I know that I will get exactly what I need…and I am sure of that. I feel it and know it deep down.

I need to start bringing this feeling and acceptance and intention into other areas of my life.

Today has been a beautiful day. Starting last night: I ate a scrumptious dinner with great friends, listened to three amazing faculty readings (one of which my my mentor from last semester whom I admire more and more and more every single time I listen to him), and then partied the night away with faculty and students on a gorgeous island. We counted down the seconds until 2011 (one of my favorite moments every year) and then I followed my MFA little sister’s Cuban heritage by having 12 red grapes and taking a moment to reflect and think of a goal, well less a goal and more of an intention. I stood up until 5am, woke up early  and then ran into the water with a bunch of other crazy writers for the Polar Bear Plunge. I felt alive. I had lively discussions at lunch, came back to my room and relaxed and landed in a conversation with the wonderful girl across the hall who’s determination and dedication to her writing I admire. I didn’t leave the island to go get a coffee or photograph the Mystic bridge or get some more floss like I had planned. I didn’t nap like I really should have.

I also didn’t complain or worry about everything I didn’t do like I normally would have. Why? Because I was present in every moment of this day. I am alive and experiencing everything- an unexpected conversation, tea instead of coffee, pretzel M&Ms, the rush and burn of the ice cold water- the ache in my shoulders and back mostly because I need some more rest. I didn’t do everything I wanted to do, but I did do everything I should be doing. Trust….in the process….

I have very mixed feelings about resolutions. I’ve mentioned here before that I really like new beginnings in all forms. The first of the month makes me happy. My birthday and new years start my life fresh for me. Weddings, babies, graduations, etc= all fresh starts. But resolutions always feel empty to me.

So…my intent? I intend to be a more dedicated student and writer. I intend to “trust in the process” in all areas of my life. I intend to love my friends and family deeply. I intend to remember to also love myself deeply and treat myself kindly. But most of all… I intend to be brave.

If I had to sum up 2010 in one word, I’d probably choose Change or Opportunity or something in that regards.

For 2011? In 2011, I want my word to be Brave.

whats my name, again?

I have stitches.

I very well might be taking out my own stitches while I’m away at school.

It will probably happen on New Year’s Eve, the day before I do the Polar Bear Plunge.

I thought about all these facts tonight, and I just realized….

I am pretty damn hardcore. Like I’m pretty much rockstar material. Damn Straight.

I’m still the Trueblood Award Winner until January 5th. I’m gonna keep acting like one until then 😉

i’m not a newbie anymore!

So, not only have I finished my first semester of graduate school, but I have also finished all my training at work! Technically, I’ve got a lot to learn still, but it will be more of a on the spot training. I’m moving on up in the world, folks!

So lets just put this out in the open: I did not finish NaBloPoMo OR NaNoWriMo….wah. I have no one or nothing to blame but myself.

The next 20SB Blog Swap will be on 12/20 and I am so very excited. My swap partner is actually brand new to me; I’ve been a bad 20SB blogger. Not “bad,” I’ve just neglected my membership. I’m actually very glad I got paired with a person I’ve never communicated with before, because I am looking for some new people to follow! Make sure y’all tune back here on the 20th so you can read what my swap partner has to say 😉

I’m going to Atlanta in less than a month!

Over the course of my first semester, I came across some article or blogs I found interesting or helpful. I figured I would share them, in case any of you budding writers (or readers) might be interested.
Check out Sari Botton’s Conversations With Writer’s Braver Than Me. Her first interview is with Vivian Gornick. How awesome is that? She’s done 4-5 more since then that I can’t wait to read.
Also, you might want to check out this random post I found about Joan Didion. I love the quotations on here.
The Forums on Nathan Bransford’s Blog are kind of fantastic. Don’t forget to check out the actual blog as well. It’s pretty great.
For writers (like me) who find the idea of writing 15-20 pages (on deadline) daunting and scary, you should check out this site.

Will someone please get me this shirt or mug? I found this on Sari Botton’s Tumbler, but it can be purchased in The Rumpus Store.

I still have yet to put up my Christmas Tree or send out my holiday cards or decorate for the holidays (besides some garland on my desk at work, which I will make sure to photograph and post). I’m thinking next year that I will do all this stuff after Halloween, because November and December fly by for me, and I am always upset that I have not completed any of these tasks. Oh well, I’ll put up my tree (its a wire tree) and I’ll keep it up til Valentine’s Day. Who says you have to take down a tree right after Christmas, anyway?

So, I’m doing the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day. Has anyone else done this before? Any suggestions? I’m getting nervous about it. I think I’m going to start jumping in the shower without putting the hot water on, and then gradually work up to the hot water. HA!