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.

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.

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.

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?