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Almost Home

Figure 1. Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon. This has nothing to do with anything.

Figure 1. Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon. This has nothing to do with anything.

 

My friend Nancye lives in Tacoma and she generously is putting me and several other people from my graduate program up at her house and her daughter’s house, which are on the same plot of land. It’s beautiful here, indoors and out, and I’m so happy to have a place to just relax after all the craziness of residency.

I will be home late tomorrow night. I guess my own house is a disaster of demolition and re-roofing and remodeling and framing-in.

This was my fourth and last residency at the Rainier Writing Workshop. And it was the first time here that I was missing my family and anxious to get home, actually; every other year, I’ve just enjoyed hanging out with my writer friends so much. But still, I’m sad, thinking that I don’t get to go to Hogwarts/Writing Camp anymore. Graduation is like being shown the door, in many ways.

I am super tired.

I have 20,000 words left on book #2 to finish and deliver by September 1. That is a new thing for me, a hard deadline. I hope I can get all my facetime in with Matilda and Adrian and re-route myself from travel to stasis rather quickly in order to get book #2 done. In a lot of ways, I kind of like that I don’t have a choice.

My fellow graduates? Are writing some amazing things, yall. Really. I was blown away by their skill. And the variety! We all created such different manuscripts. It just pleases me so much, having made these friends.

I think the point of an MFA program is making good friends.

I bought Matilda a toy and some other little things. I like coming home from places and busting stuff out of my suitcase for her. I couldn’t find anything for Adrian this time. Last time I bought him a t-shirt of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. A book I hate and a book he’ll never read. Though he wears the t-shirt regularly.

I haven’t run since I did the half-marathon. I didn’t even take the stairs if I could help it.

There was some Genre Snobbery this time around at residency and at first I felt both smug and offended but now I’m like, oh who fucking cares, already; where me and my newly-pressed MFA degree are going, that shit will not matter. Because, in my office, where I make things up about Fake People, nobody gives a shit about genre.

 

The Race Is Over

Figure 1. Norman Reedus rocking the tie & v-neck sweater. This has nothing to do with running.

Figure 1. Norman Reedus rocking the tie & v-neck sweater.  I mean, is the man cute enough in all ways? This has nothing to do with running.

I did my half-marathon in Tacoma.

It was hard. It was okay. Parts of it were good. My body is hurting. My feet are covered in blisters. I hope to get a nice pedicure soon to massage out all the soreness. Now I’m at graduate school and I am hobbling around up the stairs and stuff, but am guessing that shit’ll go away soon.

In terms of execution and anticipation, doing this 13.1 mile race was probably the hardest thing I’ve done all year. Harder than writing my graduate school thesis or critical paper. Harder than any of the fiction stuff I did, either.

I am such a goddamn pussy, you guys.

You cannot know how glad I am to be done with this event. Now I can just run as a civilian and not be beholden to some notion of training.

I’m not a fast runner. I’m not an elegant runner. I didn’t start running until I was 36 years old. I don’t give one shit about my times. I’m not competitive by nature and I’m not that interested in my own physical fitness because I continually eat shitty foods and am not the type of lady to go around in spandex and a sports bra so I’m sort of weird to be doing all this, I suppose. But really, I just go running because I’m out of ideas with my writing. I need to just mull over my thoughts and not be distracted. One of the best things about going running is that I get to be alone. This is why I don’t like races; you have to be next to all these bodies and all these people doing all their weird pre-race rituals and stretching and wearing their strange garments and appliances and devices and Jesus Fucking Christ, I just don’t want to take in any more data, get the hell away from me.

(Also, Male Runners? Do you really have to stretch like that while wearing those tights/short shorts? I can’t help but think you’re being somewhat hostile and aggressive in the way you pump up your nuts in everyone’s face like that. Gaaaaahhhhhhhd.)

There was a lady that I ran with for several miles. She’d run for 30 seconds, then walk. I’d pass her while she walked, then she’d pass me running. This went on FOREVER. I kind of wanted to kill her, to be honest. I wanted her to get the fuck out of my personal bubble and stay in her own lane. I don’t get people who do the walk-run thing in races. I only do that when things are going shitty; it’s not a strategy. Myself, I find it harder to get back into running when I stop to walk all the time. Just face facts; it’s kind of sucky and it’s not gonna get less sucky if you keep quitting and slowing down.

Plus, walking is walking.

Anyway, there’s no moral to this story. Just that the discussion of running will probably cease for a bit. As well as the complaining about it on Twitter.

Poetry Reading Pro Tips

I went to hear my friend Wendy Willis read some poetry Monday night and it was such a good experience. Mostly because of the fact that a) her poems are BEAUTIFUL b) I’d read the poems before, which were almost all from her collection Blood Sisters of the Republic.

But then I did a genius move, which was to bring the book with, and read along quietly while Wendy spoke the poems, too.

This helped on many levels.

One, since I have notoriously poor hearing (mumblers, you are on notice), it helped me gain more clarity for individual words.

Two, I could ‘see’ the internal rhyme while ‘hearing’ it. I dunno if quotes are appropriate there. But you know what I mean.

Three, now when I read the poems, I have the memory of Wendy’s voice guiding me through them.

Anyway, I know this won’t always be possible, but as there are many faculty poetry readings at my grad school residency, it’s a trick I might try again.

Also, the way Wendy set up her poems with anecdotes and context? That is my favorite. I love that. So much more juicy than going straight, un-qualified and cold into a poem.

Also having the reading in the cozy and close-knit space at SubText was also a big plus.

Wendy is also reading tonight at the Blue Ox Coffee Company in Minneapolis at 7 pm. I will share my book with you if you want to get in on my highly sneaky and excellent tip…

The Rainier Writing Workshop

I’m going into my third year of graduate school. I love residency (10 days in Tacoma where we take classes,  listen to craft talks, eat and drink together, dink around like idiots, etc.) but this year I am happy to be home.

My bed is wayyyyy more comfortable than that plastic-coated dorm atrocity.

I don’t have to feel shy about dealing with Bathroom Visits of Major Import.

I can pet my dog and listen to my kid giggle.

I can enjoy the new patio Adrian built for our backyard.

I can go back to being sober and thus not tempted to smoke cigarettes. I drink almost every night at residency, as opposed to at home, where I drink about .001% of the time.

It was very hot in the Pacific Northwest, which was too bad, as no place has air conditioning, I guess…because it’s the Pacific Northwest. Like all bad weather, I took this very personally. I hate sweating when I’m just sitting around.

The other problem with a three-year program is that each new class that comes in is full of interesting people and then I’m contending with consta-socializing. This is a nice problem to have, of course, but it takes a toll on Introverted Me, because I cannot refuse to chit-chat, or I’ll lose my chance! I only see these peeps once a year, so I have to cram in everything in ten days.

There’s some nice beer in the PNW. Also, there’s that one giant mountain and whatever, plus the Glass Blower Guy, but who cares, really. Let’s be honest: all I did was kvetch with my writer friends and snicker and eat a lot of meals I didn’t cook (salmon!) and act like a dumbass. It was divine.

I Can’t Believe That Was Only Two Weeks Ago

So, I went to Tacoma and ran a half-marathon across that city. After surviving a plane ride from Minneapolis, thanks to Xanax.

I ran the half and finished and wasn’t last to cross the finish line, either. I couldn’t have done it without Gretchen, talking to me, giving me bits of Power Bar, telling me to walk the water stops, to walk the hills, telling me all sorts of things that kept my mind off the distress going on in my body. The last mile was all downhill, literally, which I appreciated. The only lasting effects were some giant blisters on my feet. I’d totally do it again next year. Also, I ran over a suspension bridge! And through some stadium called Cheney Stadium, which I hope was not named after Fuckface Cheney.

Then I went to my residency for grad school and whir/whoosh/wahoo, that was over in ten days, and after many beers and lectures and workshops and salmon dinners and side conversations while brushing my teeth and buying coffee and smoking cigarettes (don’t panic, it was a Las Vegas kind of reaction), the Residency Monster spit me out back to my home in Minneapolis (thanks to Xanax for making the flight home completely unmemorable).

I am home with the mandate to read some Lorrie Moore and Edna O’Brien and pick one of the best of the YA books I go through like underwear and write some reviews of all three. Then to keep working on my second novel and some short stories. My mentor this year for grad school is awesome and I can’t wait to start working.

Also, I’ve decided I need arm muscles. Because I want to get another tattoo – such a noble reason – and my arm is probably the only place for it, and I don’t want to have a tattoo with bingo wings. So it’s clean eating (barf) and weight lifting and, of course, running from here on out.

Also, I’m done with summer. I haven’t even eaten a tomato out of our garden and I’m done. I think next year we’ll just plant the raised beds with wild flowers and say fuck it. Go to the farmer’s market when we want vegetables. Leave the farming to the professionals.

Also, today I went to the Steele County Fun Fair and I really tried, I did, to be a sport about it, the heat and the crowds and the depressing nature of people with meth mouth pushing strollers and the bad tattoos and the obesity and the fried pickles and the flagrant safety violations, but then I made a fatal move and told Tilly I’d go on the Tilt-A-Whirl with her and all my good intentions went straight to hell.