Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year, New Beginnings

It's the eve of a new year, and everyone's talking about their New Year resolutions. Except, I kind of stopped making resolutions ages ago. I got kind of tired of making them just to break them a few months in. And I guess in general, I figure that each day should be a journey toward self-improvement and so what's the big deal about the new year?

If I'm honest though, new years ARE a big deal. For me, they've always felt like a new beginning. A chance to sort of clean the slate and start fresh. And seeing as 2010 has probably been one of the suckiest years of my life (2002 is either tied or a close second... senior year of high school was pretty miserable), I'm really excited for 2011. I figure it just can't get any worse, right?

So while I am still not exactly making New Year resolutions... I am looking forward to a few things, and have a few goals and stuff too. They are...
  • Starting student teaching: In 2009, I did an alternative teaching certification program and while I finished the classes, I never actually got my official certification. Well, starting January 6th, I should be in a 4th/5th grade classroom teaching English and by April I should be officially certified. Whether or not I will go on to teach full-time, only the year will tell. But it's an exciting possibility for 2011. So I'm stoked! 
  • Beginning my MFA: If I don't go into teaching full-time in 2011, it's because I got accepted into an MFA program and will be going for that instead. It's been my goal in life to be an author and spend my days working on stories and novels, and after this year began spiraling downward for me I decided to suck it up and seriously think about pursuing that goal. I know I don't need an MFA to become a published author, but I'd like one. That way I can also use the degree to teach in a school or within the community as well. I won't find out if I get into a program until March/April. Hopefully the waiting won't kill me. 
  • Write more: Even if I don't get into am MFA program. I want to write more. For me. It's something I hadn't done in a long time until I began applying for programs, and it felt sooooo good. So, don't ever want to let that go again. 
  • Learning to sew: I don't know how to sew on even a button. It's pathetic. And I've been dying to make a t-shirt quilt for the last two years. So, the plan is to get on it! A few friends have expressed interest in helping me, so... we'll see. 
  • Letting music overrun my life again: I used to play the piano. In fact, I own a piano. And I haven't played it in probably 6-8 months. I know that I am no where as good as I should be, or used to me. But I've decided to stop letting that feeling on inadequacy stop me from playing. Because I miss playing the piano. A lot. I also miss singing without abandon. I used to sing all the time... and while I'm a bit shy about performing for people, I miss doing that too. So, somehow this year, I'm going to sing more. And maybe (since I also own one) I'll learn how to play the guitar, too?
  • Be more green: This... well, this is more of a challenge I'm doing the first week of January. A friend of mine is the web editor at Yes! magazine, and they are doing a No Impact Week, which she convinced me to participate in. Now, while I am in no way anti-green, it just seems like A LOT of work. I mean, the guy who started this whole thing went a year without toilet paper!!! I don't know if I can be that hardcore! But, it should be interesting... and hopefully I'll learn some things that might change my life for the better (which is kind of the purpose of the whole experiment). I'll be blogging about my week, and I'll try to keep you updated on here, too. 
  • Take more pictures: I've been having a lot of fun with my SLR camera, since I got it in September. I have a lot to learn though. And I definitely plan to spend the year becoming more and more of a photographer
  • Being a better daughter, sister, aunt, and friend: No explanation needed here, I think. Just hold me accountable if you think I'm slacking, please! :)
  • Seek God more and more and more: Like I've mentioned before, this past year was tough. And I don't really expect 2011 to start out super easy or anything, but regardless of whatever happens I really want my every minute of 2011 to be committed to God. There are a lot of things I want to happen in 2011. It'd be nice to have a steady income again; it'd be nice to get into my first choice of graduate school; it'd be nice if my student teaching led to some really cool opportunities; it'd be nice if I was dating. But it'd only all be nice if it's in God's will. That's probably the most important thing to me for 2011--to seek God and live in God's will. His plan for me is so much greater than I could probably even imagine. So... 2011 is Yours, God. Do with it what You will.

I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Eve! Here's to all of our new beginnings. 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Fahoo fores dahoo dores
Welcome Christmas, Christmas day
Welcome, welcome fahoo ramus
Welcome, welcome dahoo damus
Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp
Fahoo fores dahoo dores
Welcome Christmas bring your cheer
Fahoo fores dahoo dores
Welcome all Whos far and near
Welcome Christmas, fahoo ramus
Welcome Christmas, dahoo damus
Christmas day will always be
Just so long as we have we

Merry Christmas, all! Hope everyone is having a blessed Christmas Day! And remember... Jesus is the reason for the season! 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

In case you were wondering...

... I quit the YMCA.

...  I did not take that job. It just wasn't the right fit for me.

... I did not successful complete NaNoWriMo. I didn't even get a quarter way through. (Although, personally, I am fine with it because I DID complete three short stories, which I can now use for my MFA applications.)

... and speaking of MFA applications, UT-Austin, Ohio State, Brown, Cornell and Wash-U officially have my complete application. Five down and seven to go (I've decided to apply to all 12 on my original list). Now that the writing samples are all done and in great shape, I might go ahead and submit them all before the end of the week. Although, that is a little contingent on if my bank account can handle it.

Somebody's Christmas

Todrick's CD is finally available for purchase on iTunes! Go buy it!

I've already listened to it three times and I love it! I'm so proud of this boy!

My favorite songs are "Rudolph" and his tribute to his grandmother, "Ethel's Song."

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Out of My Hands

So, last night I had a mini panic attack. I was in the process of going through my checklist for UT-Austin and Ohio State University--you know, dotting my i's and crossing my t's--and checking to see if the application materials had to be received by December 15, or just postmarked (I was kind of hoping that maybe if I had one more day, I could include the new version of "Ruined," too).

UT stressed that it must be received by, and OSU said postmarked. Except, then I noticed that on their website, OSU had the deadline listed as December 1. My heart stopped. I was pretty positive that I saw December 15 on their website when I was first creating my list of schools, where had this December 1 date come from? I was 13 days late!

I didn't know if I should cry, scream, rip out my hair, put on ashes and sackcloth... . I had spent like $40 dollars requesting transcripts, $23 on a GRE score, pestered my recommenders to 'get on it!' AND just 4 days ago, on December 10, I submitted my application only and relinquished $40 doing that. That was A LOT of money and time going into a school I wouldn't even be considered for!

I kept repeating, "Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Shoot," and lost all drive to even work on any of the schools. I mean, really? How did I confuse December 1 with December 15?

Turns out the school had December 1, 2010 as the deadline, but on another page had December 15, 2008 as another. Somehow I focused on the '08 date. I took this as a sign that I am too big of an idiot to be trying to go back to school. And went to bed dejected.

This morning, however, I decided to give OSU a call and apparently tons of other applicants made the same mistake I did and they were making December 15 their deadline! I hadn't missed it!

So, today two large envelops were put in the mail. My applications to UT-Austin and Ohio State University are officially complete. And now I have to submit the other three online before midnight, and then begin focusing on the remaining seven.

And then, everything will all be completely out of my hands. I'll just have to sit around to March, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for a decision. In a way, I actually can't wait to reach that point. I'm not even half-way through and I'm exhausted.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crunch Time

Today is December 13th. On December 15th, in two days, five of my 12 MFA applications are due. Three, thankfully, are entirely submittable online. I just have to hit "enter" before 11:59pm Wednesday night. The other two, I actually have submitted applications for already. But they require me to mail in my writing samples.

To some degree, this upsets me. It means I can't work until the last minute tweaking sentences, replacing verbs, etc. I actually have to get to the post office tomorrow, with two packets of writing I'm proud enough to let represent me. Tomorrow.

So far, I'm sufficiently happy with one story. It's a re-write of a story called "Laundry Day." It started out as a short vignette (which you can read here) and now has grown to be a 7-page story about a girl and her sisters preparing for the big move to Nigeria. It's the only one that I feel is in a good enough place to stop and say, "you can be submitted."

I've also been working on a re-write of "Her Blood," which is based on something that really happened in my family. But which I've fictionalized quite a bit (although I'm sure my sisters would still recognize themselves in the story if they read it. Same for "Laundry Day" actually. In fact, for that one, I used their names for the characters.)
"Her Blood," I think is almost there. There might be one or two more pass-throughs before I'm confident in what  it says about me and my writing capabilities.

I do have one more story I'm working on. A complete re-write of a non-fiction piece I wrote some years back. A complete re-write because besides the epiphany at the end, and the situation that led to said epiphany, the story is now completely fictional. I was hoping the story would be done today, and that maybe tonight or tomorrow morning I could do some more edits and include it in my submission packet.

So far that doesn't look like it's going to happen. And so while "Ruined" might make it into the writing sample for other application, "Laundry Day" and "Her Blood" are probably the only ones I'll end up sticking in envelopes and sending off in the mail tomorrow. And all I can think of is, will they be enough? Will they open the door for this opportunity I so desperately want?

I really don't know, and while I'm sure I'll be hyperventilating as I print them out, label the envelopes, drive to the post-office, pay for postage, and watch them go through the slot to be sorted and sent out... I ultimately just can't worry about it. Time's up. Whether I feel ready or not. 
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