2020-01-17 The Perfect Storm for Dissolving Doubt

It feels like a Saturday because everything is closed. The radar when we woke up today looked like something from the movie “The Day After Tomorrow”. A storm cell covering 1/4th of the country, starting in Minnesota and going all the way down into Texas, covering all of Nebraska moving slowly into Iowa. School was called off last night before I went to bed and this AM I was surprised that the alarm did not go off, which meant that Jim’s Office was closed too.

It was perfect timing as we really needed this extra day together to kick the final wedding prep in high gear. We’re making the most of this snow day and have already checked a bunch of boxes. I’m feeling good about things, finally. Mostly I just needed to check with him to review and get buy-in on what I’ve decided- readings, decor, cake, etc. it’s all good.

We are running a few errands today and among them is the courthouse. One of our to-do tasks was to apply for a marriage license. I was sort of on a caffeine/wedding planning/butt kicking high but then the form happened. Nothing kills a good vibe buzz like having to mine your past looking for your divorce date. Why is it with all the paperwork I’ve saved over the years my divorce decree (the official one with the dates) is not in my possession? I literally have my taxes saved back to 1993. I also have most important events in FB back to 2008ish, but not that. Why?

I Ended up digging into my old journal entries to find the exact date. But wowza if reading the surrounding words aren’t a mood killer, I don’t know what is. Not only that, but I found the reason none of it was on FB. I apparently deleted all of it. Or rather.. cut it and pasted it all into that word document at the bottom of my journal entry from March 14, 2010. All the surrounding posts with thoughts, poems, likes, and comments all retained just for this very moment for me to find.

So my divorce was final March 15, 2010 (the Ides!! How appropriate!!!). I kinda remembered that but now I know for a fact that was it. 10 effing years ago almost. And scrolling back through the last 10 years of ones life on FB is trippy.

The last 5 years I’ve not been very active since I hate FB and social media in general. But before that, I apparently posted a bunch. Events, check ins at restaurants, vacations, holidays, etc. I scrolled back through past relationships, Matt and SV and my jobs at OTTR and Methodist Hospital. Lots of pics with people I don’t see or hang out with anymore. Lots of history and also sadness for losing touch with people. Also sort of holding my breath on a few folks I’ve invited to the wedding, hopeful they will show despite not getting RSVPs back (looking at you RH!!!)

Reading that journal entry reminds me how conflicted and confused I was. I was pulling the trigger on a big life decision and yet still held so much doubt. Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s exactly how things are now. Doubt is just a part of life I guess and you can never be 100% solid on your decisions.

Things are more 20/20 in the rear view. Getting married at 19 was naive, but i wouldn’t trade it or my life to follow for the world. Getting a divorce was also the right decision. No two ways about it. All the big decisions before and after that have all been good ones. Leaving the hospital after 17 years was good. Leaving OTTR after 5 was one of my best decisions ever. Leaving Matt was also a good call, and now, thinking about all of this, I have gained more clarity on what’s going down 15 days from now.

(Yes.. 15 days to go! 💍💕)

It’s the right decision and my doubt is fading fast. Maybe it’s the adrenaline of this caffeinated snow day that’s got me in this mood. Maybe it’s the worry in me that’s just giving up the fight. It’s losing/lost the battle and walking away. I’m finding myself in the sweet spot between doubt and party/wedding day anxiety.

Jim being here probably has a lot to do with that. He’s such a constant stabilizing force. He’s just amazing. I’m a lucky girl. 🍀💚🥰

That’s enough mush mush for today. What a wild ride for a Friday. Looking forward to the weekend.

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-01-14 A Fast Moving Train

Full speed ahead. 18 days to go and last night before falling asleep I touched my forehead to his forehead in bed and asked for him to help me with my anxiety. He promised me it would be alright and that when it comes to it, he’ll talk me away from the edge. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. That’s all I’ve needed, all my days.

I’ve spent the last hour googling love poems and marriage poems and reading through old and new poems, funny and poignant, long and short. I need a few for the reading we are having as a part of the ceremony and it’s one of those details I’ve been procrastinating. One of the many details.

Things are moving fast now though. The days are numbered (for real!) and as the numbers get smaller, my unease becomes more intense. My to-do list today is about 75% wedding related and 25% work and school.

I’ve been pulled into a project for work which may take like 5-10 hours a week and yesterday I got the feedback for the first half of my MFA thesis manuscript and I’m itching to pour through that. I’m easily distracted by these shiny objects but I can’t put off some of this wedding stuff any longer. What I’m trying to avoid is a mad scramble the last 7 days where I lose my mind.

But.. if I do, Jim has promised to talk me away from the edge. I’m keeping those words in my back pocket.

Getting a little cray-cray is probably unavoidable at this point. I need to just focus to get stuff done. I haven’t been able to write much since returning home from Res. I start but then I just sit thinking and can’t seem to find any words. Even now I’m struggling.

I think I’m gonna cut and run for today.. before this post turns into a Tuesday to-do list.

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-01-10 Frying Pans and Forest Fires

One of my goals at Residency is to blog my experience every single day. I almost made it. 8 out of 10 days made their way into the official record. Then things just started moving way too fast and my priorities and desires went elsewhere (appropriately).

At the time I thought to myself that I would catch up on Sunday but I was in serious need of a down day and had to try and recover mentally and emotionally and get myself together. And, oh yeah, sleep.

My average night of sleep at Res was 4.5 hours. Longest night being 5.5 hours and shortest being 2.5. It’s not because I was staying up late drinking and socializing. It’s just cuz I don’t sleep well during immersion. Too much stimulus and I can’t turn my brain off. I digress.

The other reality when I returned home was that there were responsibilities waiting. Not only did I get tapped on by work for some ASAP stuff, but I also had the return of the kids and daily life. If that was it, no problem. But wait, there’s more.

The procrastination has finally caught up with me and now I’m in a mad scramble to move on some wedding planning details. Meeting with the caterer/event coordinator, ordering a wedding cake, gathering supplies for decorations, and touching base with my officiant who, by the way has not met Jim yet. 😱 I’m compiling RSVPs and thinking about readings and vows and the flow of the events (of which there are two), the wedding and the party the night before).

There are 22 days to go, and counting. I’m so full of anxiety that I can barely eat. I mean, I can eat but I’m walking around all day feeling sick to my stomach. I’m not great at asking for help. I’m not great at accepting help. I need to get over that.

That’s really enough, to keep me off my daily routine. But wait.. there’s more…

Because of the wedding planning, wedding, honeymoon thing, about 2-3 weeks of my semester are going to be lost and I had to adjust my deadlines accordingly. This means that the first packet which includes a first draft of my thesis manuscript had to be moved up. That deadline is today. Yup, 75 pages of creative work organized into a cohesive collection with some overarching theme.

Thankfully, I have about 100 passable poems to work with! I literally put that shit together in the space equivalent to about 2 work days. I have to remind myself that it’s just a draft and I have all semester to revise and move things around. But it had to be done ASAP because it needs to be in the hands of my new mentor who has not had a lot of exposure to my work previously.

My thought process was to get this little nugget to him and then shift my focus back to home and work and wedding planning. It’s not a little nugget, it’s a lot to chew on. I’m hoping he takes a couple of weeks on it. If not, At least a week.

I sent two large documents to him this morning with a substantial letter. I’ve sent a draft of what is sure to be a masterpiece into the universe and now?? Now I release myself to walk on my treadmill (which I have not done in 5 days) and write and truly get my thoughts together.

That pretty much sums things up and brings me to the current moment. I’ve been walking for 40 minutes and will keep on till I hit my hour. Then I’ve got a huge set list of tasks that need my attention. Work, house chores, wedding prep, and a few errands. I’ve really got to just take things a task at a time and not get overwhelmed by the list.

First up is house chores. Yay! 😏

I will say that one of the saving graces of my return home and a big part of how I’ve been able to stay sane is Jim and how he did everything while I was away. He even put ALL the Christmas decorations away. That’s hours and hours of work that I didn’t have to do or think about. It was just done. He’s truly the best and I’m a lucky girl!

Ok.. I think that’s really it now. That’s enough already though right??! 😉

Looking Forward,

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-01-01 MFA Res Day 4 – Sisters of the Star Blossoms

This is the day I’ve been waiting for All My Life

All My Life, Life

My All, I give you my all, all my alll

And everything I have acquired. All

That has been imprinted upon me by this

Cruel and magnificent life. My

Brilliant insignificance and you, your

Unanswerable questions and unknowable elusive answers and endless abstractions. Yes, I noticed it. Thank you. For your gift of the tools and desire to unwrap them. A thirst for Christmas morning. So giddy with anticipation and wonder. Laying awake wondering if it’s time yet. The silhouetted shadow cracking light into the door saying it’s time. Pulse quickening, eyes jumping out of bed and rushing still in a nightgown. Unprepared and as prepared as I have ever been as I was born with all of the essence I had before I met you. Down the stairs, rushing hand on the wooden banister, skipping every other step and picking up speed, Seeing the lights of the tree, twinkling in the dark morning. A bounty spread under the branches, spilling out on the living room floor. Pausing to bask in the wonder for an impossible moment and rushing in. Reckless abandon, fingers sliding under the seam and tearing, ripping, turning over. more tearing revealing. Wild joy as I hold my treasure up, beaming, for the camera to capture the moment. The gift and i In our inaugural moment. Together at last, never to be separated again.

So many gifts to open. This

is what I have been waiting for.

All my life.

***

Yesterday was the last day of 2019, the last day of December, the last day of the decade. The end of the SugarCookie that was and the beginning of the SugarCookie that will be.

We sipped and talked in the lobby of the lodge. We wandered into the library lounge and congregated at the bar and then out again. We settled into overstuffed couches and chairs and put our energy into oracle cards, Kuantans Yin, each choosing one and reading in the book what it meant for us right now, on the precipice of a new day, month, year, and decade. I received Sisters of the Star Blossoms which was impossibly appropriate for my situation right now in life, down to the details only the universe knows.

We wrote wishes for 2020 on paper and then ventured out into the cold Nebraska night to stand in a circle and burn them, sending our wish to the universe. Ritualistically Placing our trust and faith in a higher energy. I believe that if I believe it, the magic will happen.

(Just watch the polar express and try to prove me wrong).

We milled about a little longer, then hugged and exchanged well wishes and wandered down the hallways, some going up and down stairs leading to our separate rooms to sleep and wake up new and changed.

That was four hours ago. I’m not necessarily refreshed of course as four hours is just a long nap but I’m jazzed and ready to roll. Today is my workshop and that’s exciting cuz I love it and also nice as I don’t have to prepare, just show up and listen.

I have two back to back lectures starting at 9am first. Before that I have to get dressed for the day and eat something. Before that I have to finish this walk.

In order to do that I have to finish my current thought. I have so many swirling it’s hard to cut it but I need to do that. I’d probably stay here in the basement for another hour if I had the time. I don’t have that luxury though so I’m going to have to just end it.

With gratitude and love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-12-21 Winter Solstice Baby

We had a great Friday night last night hanging out and talking and randomly flipping through shows to watch, though we never found one. It feels a rare treat to get that QT with my fiancé with no kids and no obligations to go anywhere or do anything.

For a long while we just hung out in the kitchen drinking and he was able to chill while I stayed busy wrapping a few more gifts. The floor around our tree is a cup that runeth over and it’s a beautiful thing to see. It’s mostly things if course, but that’s just the nature of the season. It’s lovely to be able to give the kids what they want. Even the cats have stockings hung on the mantle and gifts under the tree. Yeah, we’re all pretty spoiled and I know that but also extremely grateful.

Today the kid-less train keeps rolling and our big plan for the day is to get down and dirty with the wedding planning (43 days to go 😱) and those conversations are desperately needed by yours truly as the whole thing is something I’ve discovered (like a lot of things in life) that I just wont do without accountability to another person or people. I just need that little extra push push of support to get it, whatever IT is, done.

From Jazzercise classes to writing groups, a little accountability goes a long way. This wedding planning business is no exception. Jim declaring this Saturday as THE day we’re going to get a lot done I’m that department is glorious. Not only will it push me to work on those little things I’ve been procrastinating (like the whole cake thing), but also helps with the feeling that I’m alone on an island and everything is just up to me.

So that’s happening. Not to be minimized though is the fact that it’s opening weekend for Star Wars Episode 9 and that’s a big deal. Huge! We have tix to see a 6:20 show at the Majestic. I’m super excited.

What else? As far as Christmas is concerned, I only have a few things to do Monday that can only be done last minute because they are time sensitive.

I think that’s it. Time is short today since it’s Winter Solstice and the shortest “daylight” day of the year. Let’s go!!

XOXOXO,

~Miss PeppermintDelight

2019-12-13 Island of Misfit Divinity

When I was a wee lass my grandmother (my mother’s mother) always spent quite a bit of effort at Christmas time making cookies. It was part of her tradition and there was always a healthy spread of festive plates piled high with treats on card tables in the back room of the basement on Christmas Eve. The basement was the only room big enough to fit our family for dinner and year after year, the sequence of events didn’t really change much.

We would arrive close to dinner time. All the men would take seats in the living room where some sports ball event would be on the big cabinet that was a tube TV. All the women would congregate in the kitchen and dining room finishing preparations for dinner, my aunt Barb faithfully at the stove as it was her job to make the gravy which was the very last thing to get done. All the cousins would gather in the back bedroom. It was a 2 bedroom house with 1 bathroom on the main and that tiny back bedroom had two twin beds. That’s the room my mom and aunt shared growing up. It was a small space but somehow it was big enough for them and subsequently big enough for the 8 cousins. I don’t remember specifics of activities except one year someone brought a ouija board. Even way back then I was highly skeptical and didn’t believe in the validity of the messages that came through. I always wondered which one of my cousins was the faker. I’ll probably never know.

Once the turkey was done my grandpa would get in the kitchen to carve the bird. Apparently that’s was a man’s job. And after.. we would form a line around the dining room table where all the dishes people brought were set out and then the group would head down to the main room of the basement. The adults would eat at the tables set up in the main room in front of a fake fireplace (it was electric) and the kids would eat at other card tables set up in the unfinished utility room next to the ones with the desserts. There was limited space so even the washer and dryer were used for the overflow of cookie trays.

Grandma made batches of ginger snaps, fudge, sugar cookies, those disgusting coconut birds nests, peanut brittle, rice crispy marshmallow balls, chocolate dipped pretzels, peanut butter melt-aways, and my very favorite.. divinity!! It was my favorite because of course it’s basically pure sugar. She would always press a giant ugly walnut into the top while they were still soft and I had to pluck that out and sneak it into the trash but other than that, they were perfection.

I was in high school when the traditions started to fade and my aging grandparents could no longer host the event. It was really the last time that side of my family would ever be together as no-one took on the task of playing host. The cousins grew up and some moved away and of course some started families and created new traditions.

I have a few faded memories that linger.. my uncle Chuck putting on country music after dinner when we all moved the tables and chairs and he tried to teach us how to two-step. We also sometimes played games after dinner like twister and of course the part where we exchanged gifts.

Someone once told me my grandpa wore a cologne called Jade East and the fancy stuff could only be found at Walgreens. I got him some every year. I’m sure it was terrible and thinking on it now it’s possible he had a cabinet full of unopened bottles, though when he opened it he would always smile and thank me.

As it is with the past, there are always some not so great memories too. I remember being in high school and still sitting at that kids card table in the back room when my cousin, who was the same age as me, got to sit with the adults. It was always clear who my grandmother’s favorites were and I was not among them. They spent way more time with grandma than we did. And they had money and nice clothes and I was the shy, smaller girl who lived on her cousins hand-me-downs. I never voiced my feelings.

Anyway, at some point it was decided that all those cookie recipes would be collected and put into books and distributed to the family. Women only of course as that’s still just how things were. Finally I had the secret of divinity in my grasp and could carry on the tradition. Or so I thought.

What I found on my first attempt was that there were secret ingredients which I did not have the key to… temperature and timing. I knew the sugar had to boil for a certain amount of time but I didn’t have the first clue what that was. At that time, I could still ask.

I made a special visit to my grandmother’s house where she showed me the secret. She was able to tell the sugar was ready by running a spoon of it into a stream of cold water from the faucet. If the ribbon dripping off the spoon turned to “glass” and was easily cracked into hard pieces, it was ready to mix into to fluffed egg whites.

“It’s as easy as that” she said and told how when she was 10, her and her siblings would wait until their parents would be distracted with business on the farm or other errands and they would sneak into the kitchen at the farmhouse and whip up a batch. I remember thinking that if a 10 year old girl could make this treat that I certainly could too.

I was proved wrong time and time again. Most of my attempts turned into gooey messes and flat sticky pancakes of taffy that never “set up” or hardened into the fluffy yet dense texture they were supposed to be. I pretty much gave up trying. My grandmother is long gone now and I’ll never to be able to ask her about that I any other stories from growing up on a farm. It’s sad to think about what has been lost from that generation. Unless we tell stories, the history of it just fades away.

With my current plan to try and be a different cookie every day from now until Christmas, it was only natural that Divinity would find its way into the mix. So today it is!!! And to put an exclamation point on it, I decided last night to try once again to make them.

This time, instead of using the recipe from my grandmothers cookie book, I consulted the internet. I found a recipe that had 5 stars and got out the ingredients and supplies and got to work.

Now I mentioned before that some of the magic had to do with timing and temperature but what I was still missing was a better measure of patience. Instead of constantly testing the boiling sugar for the right done-ness, I used a candy thermometer and waited and waited with my high-speed mixer and bowl of whipped egg-whites ready for the exact moment the temp was 260 degrees Fahrenheit or “hard-ball stage”. Miraculously, that the trick!!

I slowly poured the hot liquid into the egg whites while mixing at a high speed. Then, working quickly because the mixture starts to harden as soon as the mixer is off, I dropped heaping teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. I was truly amazed that they actually looked close to what I remembered having as a child. Of course, I left off that last step with the walnut (and did not put any nuts in actually as most store bought divinity has).

I even had enough “batter” left to try and mix in some cherry pieces which was something the internet recipe suggested. However I made the mistake of adding too much cherry juice and that made the mixture turn back into that gooey substance that never hardens. Even now, the morning after, they are still sticky to the touch.

Anyway.. so that’s the very long, winding tale that led to me finally meeting with divine success. Now I have about 2 dozen cookies to share. They aren’t pretty.. as my dropping technique still needs some work, but they have the right taste and consistency. I’m going to surprise my mom with some when I meet her for lunch today. Hopefully it will lead to some good conversation about her childhood. I want to hear more about that while there’s still time.

In the Mood to Reminisce,

~Miss Divinity

2019-12-12 Channeling the Chocolate Chip

This post must be dedicated to Michelle without whom I would not be inspired to try and be a Chocolate Chip cookie – today or ever! 😉 (Thanks for being a great accountability partner and an awesome human).

I love a good chocolate chippy as much as the next girl, but for some reason the energy of this cookie is difficult for me to channel. It makes no sense really, as it is very universal and well liked and should be easy to break down into bite size pieces and consume, but something about it is eluding me.

Perhaps this is the classic scenario, with me and the Chippy, you know the “It’s me not you” thing. I’m just unable to get my act together enough for brown sugar and white sugar and butter and eggs and flour and baking soda and salt and vanilla and what else?.. Oh yes!.. The chocolate chips!! OMG, talk about making a mess.

***

Today I’m supposed to meet a fellow MFAer for lunch and it’s one of the more reliable people so the whole thing will go down just as we have planned it. It’s always an interesting chat with her (you remember what I said yesterday about the word interesting?). I never know how it’s going to go and I can’t predict where the conversation will wander. Of course we will be discussing our semester, of which I am certain mine was superior because of other rumblings I have heard from other folks.

This morning I sent my final five revised poems to my professor as a part of one of the last requirements for the Poetry Studio class and now I’m one step closer to being done-done with that (bout time!). One of the poems (the one that made quite a stir in workshop) was one that I revised and included and let me tell you I toiled over it for hours trying to get two more lines to fit into the first stanza/sonnet and then rework the last 4-6 lines in the second stanza/sonnet. It’s a double sonnet and I’m still unsure about the end but I’m letting that go (for now). I am doing much the same with all the rest.

Once I have that last class on Monday I’m going to let go completely for several weeks and not worry about any of that. I will still have reading to do for residency which starts in 15 days but I will not have to do any more writing or revisions for a while. I daresay that even in the first month of my last semester I am not going to do a lot of that because I will have a huge focus elsewhere (insert throat clearing cough here).. my wedding. Yeah, it’s freaking me out a little to think that less than two months from now I will be married. 52 days to be exact. Yowza!!

Anyway, time is moving really fast on all fronts and I have to try to stay focussed on the next most important thing. What does that mean for today? Well, it should mean finishing that last assignment for class, getting back to one of the vendors we got a quote from for services the week of our big event, and maybe even doing a little Christmas shopping, but we’ll see how all that goes. My plan is to do that lunch meetup and then see how I feel. I’ve got the distinct impression now that this chocolate chip cookie attitude is not going to work out no matter how hard I focus.

I did try though… and that should count for something right?! 😉

Made with Love,

~Miss ChocolateChipCookie