2019-07-21 MFA Res Days 8 and 9 – Tough Choices

The last two days I’ve felt less anxiety and less pressure, mostly, yet still inspired by so many shiny objects. On the downhill slide, the back of the back 9, the preparing for a return to reality from the dream, I find that the most difficult task is the necessity to chose between things, people, places, moments, activities, and food. A sense or acknowledgement that I cannot, infact, have it all as it is an impossibility and am faced with decision making. Not my strong suit.

Do I hang with people I just met, or my closest allies here who have grown more dear to me by the hour, or perhaps the faculty who I would get more wisdom from. It is not lost on me that everyone is on their own back 9 and also having to choose.

I had to choose between watching the sunset and talking with one of my previous mentors. We both kept crossing paths all week and promising each other we would take some time and catch up, but the time never materialized. We have similar dispositions and both worry about doing everything that needs doing and focusing on the next thing at hand. We were both prioritizing (though some of mine was dictated by basic needs sort of stuff). I chose the conversation, the sunset behind me. It was one of the easier choices and well worth it.

Later I had to choose between staying at the lodge and leaving for a walk with a few folks. Should I stay at the physical place that embodies the spirit of the program with its diversity of great people and potential conversations and possibilities for fun and games and amusement? Or do I leave the place and choose to reward myself with physical activity and the opportunity to have a more intimate conversation with a select few? More of a difficult choice, but I went with my gut. What I needed.

Some walking and digestion. Less sensory input, not more (except for that one bar we stopped in along the way where it was all just much too much). Less drinking not more. Less chaos of conversation not more. I made my choice and In return I was again rewarded by the universe by having a wonderful walk and conversation with two really incredible people. One a mentor and the other, a woman I met in the program who is now more than just a fellow writer, peer, safe space at the dining table, she’s a friend. Not the ‘see you later, let’s do lunch’ type of friend, but a genuine human I want in my life for a long time.

The walk deserves a whole blog post of its own, perhaps a collection of poems. Isnt that something!?! But my time for this one is getting short now and I’ll have to wrap soon. You know what they say about time.

This morning I woke naturally after the most amount of sleep I’ve had in 9 nights. I opened my eyes and shortly thereafter heard the low rumble of thunder. I got up and opened my window which revealed the pouring rain. I thought to myself “how god damned appropriate is that?”. “IT” was still happening, the serendipitous-ness of the program and the place and its people, even as everyone was well on their way back to their own realities.

The release, the transition, the dramatic change being echoed by nature. Or felt by it, or being mourned by it. It took me two trips to get all my stuff loaded into the car. I closed the trunk of my car and looked up at the sky, the rain on my face felt wonderful.

With peace and so much love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-18 MFA Res Day 4 (And 5 And 6)- Going Beyond the Pale…

And trying to get back.

I’ve pushed past cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and have moved into territory that is a little unfamiliar. Is this what this is supposed to be like? This has happened a little in the past two residencies but not like this one. I’m in such a strange headspace, bodyspace, universe space I’m not sure what to make of it.

Yeah, I’m out my body and out of my mind and trying to figure out if I’m ever going to be the same. Think, if you’d like, that I’m being overly dramatic, but I’m not. I’m being nauseously, wrecklessly serious. I’ve lost 5 or 6 pounds in the last 5 days (verified this morning). Every time I eat, I feel sick to my stomach. I’ll stop short of going into the other sketch physical details, just know, it’s not pretty.

The problem manifests with physical symptoms, but it 90% mental, I am certain. I’m trying to maintain some sliver of routine, but it’s damn near impossible and my brain fixates on an idea and I can’t shake it and it throws me off whatever well-intended course I have.

My morning rituals, for example. This morning is the first morning I’ve really been able to find my way to the treadmill. When you don’t start like you normally start the day, it’s already off the rails. Then it goes into the weeds and grass on a paved path which turns into dirt trails leading into the woods. The packed brown earth beneath the feet begins to narrow and the canopy becomes more dense and you can’t stop and before you wake from the rythem of the daydream of your silent footsteps, you are lost, and when you turn and peer back and squint you can see the pale behind you.

Yesterday I was still in that place and so punch-drunk with the euphoria of the freedom that comes from being in an unfamiliar space. It’s exciting and you know you should leave, call for help, retrace your steps, ask for a map (you are not alone), or just slow down. But you don’t want to.

The instinct of logic has left your side and your left-brain, being absent, leaves your right brain scurrying around wild-eyed and manic. It just wants to know how far this path that is not a path goes.

***

I’m back on the treadmill now and need to get my act together because I have a lot of important business to take care of today. Fighting through the constant distraction of seemingly brilliant beginnings of thought is probably going to pose the greatest challenge. Every shiny object popping up right in front of me will be tough to resist. I need to try and stay on task.

As if on queue it happened just now. I started thinking about a person I got to know a little better yesterday who introduced me to some new music and I spent at least 74 seconds on that thread of thought. I just can’t do that and I have to resist the impulse that that is EXACTLY what I should be doing. Following those thoughts off Into the woods. “Isn’t that why we are here!”, my right brain insists.

When I got to the workout room this morning Bob was on the treadmill already. There is only one. I was here on the start of the first full day which feels like about 25 days ago now, and he asked me how long I would be. I had just started and selfishly replied “about 50 more minutes.” He left.

The second encounter was the following day when he sat behind me in lecture and asked me, as I was scanning the room before the start of it, “What time are you going to walk tomorrow?”.

I still felt guilty for presumably bursting his bubble previously and looked at the schedule and said “I’m not going tomorrow because the nature walk is that day and I don’t need to.” I shied away from explaining that I can’t predict what might happen over 12 hours in the future here. I can neither predict or commit to anything as concrete as a time of day. I just can’t. Ask me what I’m doing for the next 4 hours, sure, but tomorrow? Forget it.

I could tell a lot about Bob by the simple detail that he never formally introduced himself to me in those two encounters (I didn’t either). I thought about it after the fact so this morning I made a point to do it before he left the room. So that’s Bob.

He left less than 5 minutes after I arrived. He said I had good timing and I smiled and replied that that was the first time anyone had ever said that to me. I withheld a wink.

That’s it for now. As I said I need to focus and stay on task today. Get back to crossing necessary things of the mental list I’ve composed for the next 4 hours. After that. All bets are off.

Wandering Back,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-13 MFA Res Day 0 – Stepping into the Familiar

Yesterday was a scramble to wrap up preparations and mid-afternoon I made the quick trip from my home-sweet-home to Nebraska City. Unlike a lot of the people in the program I live relatively close and don’t have far to go. Most traveling by car had a rough go because of all the flooding in the area. Those flying, well, had that nonsense to deal with of course. In truth, the drive was one of the best parts of my day. I would not have minded a detour that took me two hours off a regular route (as long as it was expected). I covet the time I’m the car to think about life.

My thoughts largely rotated around my expectations for the next ten days. I’ve got a week and a half of immersion in all things writing related and Lied Lodge Living. It’s an experience that truely does not compare to any other in my life. I can expect to laugh, and cry, and be filled with anxiety, doubt, confidence, and satisfaction. Sometimes all at the same time.

On my drive I was thinking about my first Res and how one of the people in the “upper class” said something about crying. At the time I’m sure the look in my face was screwed up with disbelief. What on earth is there to cry about? She just said “you’ll see”. Now that I’ve been here twice before, I know exactly what she’s talking about and was thinking about that in the car.

What will it be? How does one spiral into that frantic state. Is it the total immersion? The people? The overwhelming amount of thought my brain goes through? Probably a combination of all of it and the only other question will be “when”. Then again, life always has a way of surprising us so maybe something about this time will be different. So far though, that has not been the case.

Day 0 and I’ve already gone through the familiar first steps of coming together with the group, feeling awkward like I don’t belong, worrying about where to sit (there were not very many open seats when I came in the room and none next to any familiar faces), and then sitting alone in the front row.

Time slowed down to a snails pace and the next 15 minutes in that seat felt like 5 painful years creeping by. Why the hell would they say to be there at 6:15 if they were not going to start the welcome presentation until 6:30? Good grief.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the dinner to follow was equally awkward. I went into the dining room with a friend from my weekly writing group and we selected a table and made a straight line for the buffet. When I returned I found someone else’s plate at my space at the table which left no open seat for me to sit and eat. My choices? Sitting at the adjacent table alone which would make me a stark center of attention, or sitting with people I didn’t know, or squeezing in – making that 4-top into a 5-top. I choose the latter. It was super awkward.

I fucking hate the dining room. Hate it.

Anyway, after a dinner of salad and chocolate cake I lingered a bit because Margret was telling a story and then i left at the same time as she did. I went to my room to recover. It sounds like no freaking big deal, any normal person would not batt an eyelash. But not yours truly. I wish I could get over myself. Good grief! 🤦🏼‍♀️

After that I went for a walk and that felt great. The sun was nearing the horizon and I knew I had about 45 minutes to go out and come back to the back patio of the lodge to watch it dip below the tree line. That’s exactly what I did. The walk was peaceful albeit not exactly refreshing as I could not relax my mind. I got a few nice snaps in of a tiny lake area that I had not visited before. Then, returning to my starting point, found a lovely inconspicuous spot on the patio.

The sunset was so-so. I’m sure there will be better ones in the future because I’ve seen it.

After the sunset I lingered again and a first year student came out solo for a view or a bit of fresh air. That’s when I did a thing I almost never do, which is approach and introduce myself. We chatted about the program for about a half an hour and it was good. A highlight of the night really. One on one is much more my speed.

When that conversation exhausted itself, I excused myself and went to the “bookstore” to help a few of my friends do inventory. That was it for my night. What would follow is the familiar return to the room for a night of tossing and turning and trouble falling asleep.

Fitbit says I got 6 hours, but it certainly does not feel like it.

Right about now I’m 54 minutes into a sesh with the treadmill in the exercise room at the lodge. Another familiar space, and a welcoming one. I only have a few more minutes before I need to scoot my booty to get dressed for the day, eat breakfast (sans dining room), and get to student orientation which starts at 8:30 (or will it be 8:45? 😉).

I’ve gotten some steps and now it’s time to dive in!

Peace,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-25 The Colorado Wrap Up

As I eluded to in my last post, it’s now three days after the day I was writing about and I’ve been home for several days. Life just moves too fast sometimes.

On Sunday we woke to more snow falling and though it was beautiful, I was kinda over it and ready to get back to Nebraska and real summer temps. I’ve made a little note to my future self to not travel back to Grandby Ranch in June. When we go again it will be in July or August.

Sunday was our travel home day and the intent was to make stops to visit both my sister and brother before heading for the airport and that’s exactly what we did.

My sister moved to Denver this past week so it was literally her second day in her new apartment which was lovely. She’s already on a weekend camp/hike with one of her besties and I’m positive she will be super happy in her new home. That makes me happy.

My brother has lived in Broomfield for about 20 years (I asked when we were at his house in the afternoon) and his oldest child who just graduated this past May was born there. He’s also an avid hiker and goes out a lot, in all kinds of weather. If it’s not hiking, it’s snow-shoeing. They will probably spend the rest of their lives in Colorado.

Jim and I agreed that Colorado is cool but have ruled it out for ever moving there. Visiting with all these folks has made us think about where else we might like to live though, and that’s fun to daydream about. For us it’s much more likely to be Oregon, probably somewhere near the coast. I’m partial to the Lincoln City area. I’ve driven the stretch of road from Manzenita to northern Cali about 3 times now and just love it. But this post isn’t about Oregon, it’s about Colorado.

I’m inclined to wrap this up with some things I want to remember before the vividness of the trip fades into a daydream…

All my initial plans to visit folks arriving Tuesday were squashed by sitting on a plane for 4 hours (2.5 longer than expected). We actually sat on the plane on the ground in Omaha longer than we were in the air. I ended up spending the night in Denver instead of driving the mountain pass that night.

The view from the apartment on Larimer Street.

We had one nice day of weather and took advantage of that by being outside for the majority of the day. A couple of hikes with the dogs and the kids. We rode the ski-lift up and hiked back down.

We came upon a small herd of deer on one hike and tried to quietly approach to get pics but that area is littered with mountain bike trails and a biker came zooming through and they all scattered across our path.

I also saw a fox (twice) and a big horn sheep on the trip. I’ve not seen either before out in the wild.

I really enjoyed the drive to and from Denver and got to travel it several times, once with bright sunny weather and once with snow. Both incredibly beautiful!

On Wednesday I did some journaling from the back deck of my friend’s house and their daughter who is 7 wanted to join me. She was excited to get markers and paper and then crayons and a book to use as a hard surface to write on. I gave her a few suggestions to get started and she ended up writing a brief letter to a friend and drew a picture. It was sweet. What was even sweeter was that later in the day she said it was her favorite part of the day, “writing with Aunt Shyla”. 😊

During our stay the card game of choice was some Monopoly Spin-off game, Monopoly Duel, which I had never played before. I had a great run of beginners luck and won like 8 of 10 games I played, though I feel like I had found a great strategy for the game. I’m considering buying it for the kids and I. Who doesn’t love winning. 😜

Despite all I have written this far, the trip was not all fun and games. Our room was in the basement right under the kitchen and not only was it frigid with the drop in temps.. if there was anyone in the kitchen and dining area it was impossible to sleep with the foot noise. We had a couple of very short nights and even considered trying to get a hotel room in town for the last night.

It was also a bummer to not get to do the things we wanted in Winter Park including riding the gondola up the mountain and the alpine slide. But whatevs.

I got to meet the two new pups, Wally and Winston. Always Reliably excited to see new people coming in the door and always up for a walk. When they crashed, they crashed hard and have not yet figured out they have outgrown sitting on laps. 🐶❤️🙃

Last, and certainly not least, I had bites of cheeseburgers from three different establishments. I don’t have much to say about that except I discovered I’m not a fan of goat-cheese on a burger. Ewwwww. Reviews of those places will not be coming to a blog near you anytime soon as the details (besides the goat cheese) have already been let-go.

That, my friends, concludes the latest SugarCookie Colorado Adventure. My next trip will actually be back in Nebraska City for my MFA residency, which opens up a whole other host of topics. I’ve got about 2 and a half more weeks until then. Just enough time to solidify my thoughts on what I want to get from my 3rd term. We’ll see.

Glad to be Home,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-22 Colorado Day 4 – Snow on the First Day of Summer 😱

Snow, for real!! Last night my friends and I stayed up late playing a card game and talking. It was a fairly rainy/stormy day, off and on, and as we sat by the picture window we could see the sky light up periodically with lightning. As we crossed over from the First Day of Summer to the second, the rain transformed into large fluffy snow flakes and began covering the Field grass and wildflowers with white.

Then Steph says “I’ve never been where there it was snowing on my birthday.” Quite right. I think it is rare indeed to have snow anywhere in the US on the first day of Summer. Of course it has something to do with the elevation but “locals” here are saying it is truly atypical to have this kind of weather here at this time in the year. Were at 9k feet and you can see the snow on the caps of the mountains in the distance but it’s rare for it to be snowing here in June.

When we woke this AM it was already sunny and most of the snow was melted. I knew we would have limited time to get outside as the weather conditions held the promise of more rain and snow. It sort of feels like the sketch weather we had on our Nebraska adventure in May followed us right to our little Colorado Adventure. Go figure!

We wanted to go to Winter Park to ride the Gondola and Apline Slide but when we arrived they were not running the lifts because there was the threat of lightning. Instead we sat at a bistro having lunch and talking. I avoided drinking as it has not agreeing with me on the trip at all. I had a headache almost immediately both times I had a drink and felt so much better today not drinking.

The weather has put a damper on our activities for sure, but I’m not too bothered by it because I travel to spend time with my good friends. For me the focus is on catching up and spending QT and it does not matter what we are doing. It was also a chance for them to get to know Jim a little better which makes me happy.

In any case, it was sort of cool to see Snow in Summer. ❄️ ⛄️ Someone has taken the time to make a snowman at Winter Park. That would have been a good pic but I didn’t think of that at the time.

***

It’s like 3 days later and I’m finally getting back to finishing this up. I’ve got a little more to say about our trip to really wrap it but today is not the day for that. Perhaps tomorrow. 😉

Cheers,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-21 Colorado Day 3 – Rained In

We woke up this morning to very overcast skies and pouring rain. When there was a break in that action we took the dogs back up the trail on the opposite side of the hill from where we went yesterday. I’m sad I did not bring my camera as there were more beautiful fields and views from that side that were both completely the same and completely different than those we saw the day before.

Today’s promise is rain but it is very tough to tell if it is truly a promise or just a threat. The skies are still dark and stuffed with clouds of every shade of grey. Which is like 73 and not 50 like some writers might lead you to believe. In any case, it is tough to try to plan the day when you don’t know what the weather is really going to do.

I believe that we are calling it early though. No hiking, ski-lift rides, alpine slides, or anything with an extended time outside. That folks, means that we are in for a full day of indoor fun-filled activities, which, as it should be when your on vacation, starts with bloody Mary’s.

In all fairness, it is already like 2PM and we just got back from a long lunch in town and went back to the grocery store to get supplies, so it’s not like we are starting super early.

We have a few card games and gaint Jenga to keep us occupied for a while plus some conversation starter game called “Fifty questions I ask people when I want to talk abou myself” (or something like that). That should be fun.. especially after a few cocktails.

At this point the kids are watching a show downstairs having their popcorn and we are gathered in the kitchen/dining area having our “adult snacks”. No matter what happens, we are going to make the most of it. And as I’m very fond of saying lately, things will happen the way they are supposed to. It is just the Way.

Hugs and Kisses,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-06-20 Colorado Day 2 – The Picture of a Perfect Day

Yesterday was a good day with the stress of traveling behind me and the peace of being in a very special place taking over. The drive here was incredible and though I had a bit of a challenge adjusting to the altitude (headache, upset stomach, yadda, yadda), catching up with my peeps into the evening was great. The promise of today is even better.

I woke up headache free, thankfully, and refreshed and ready for what looks like will be the best weather day of the trip. There is a chance for rain and isolated storms almost every day but not today. Today will be sunny with a high of 71. It is fairly chilly at this elevation when the sun is not out, but when the sun is out, 71 feels quite warm.

After breakfast my friend and I took the dogs and the kids for a walk up on trails through the hills. The sky is so blue and everyone is in the best mood.

When we were done with walking the dogs we came back to the house and continued our walk along the streets of this little community just meandering, you know, and catching up one on one. That’s the best. I’m not sure what else is in store, really. I think we’ll go on a more serious hike later without the kids and talked about also taking the tennis racquets down to the court to do some volleying. We’ve already agreed that the point of tennis should be to see how long we can volley back and forth and stay in control and that it’s no fun at all to see if you can make the other person miss. Those are my kind of people.

Whatever is in store this afternoon, I will need to wrap it up by about 4:30 because I’ll be making my way back to the airport to pick up Jim. It’s about 4 hours round trip and it will be dark when we arrive back at the house. I’m actually enjoying not having a set agenda and also looking forward to doing that scenic drive again. Then Jim and I will have a nice time in the car catching up (though it’s only been a day and a half) before joining the group.

I’m really feeling the peace of being detached from the normal daily routine. I’ve never been in this place before or in this house but something about it just feels like home. That’s one thing I’ve found that always rings true in life – home is not about the place, it is about the people. Although when you are some place that Is as quiet and remote and beautiful as this, its even easier to get to that feeling.

I’ve got just a few more minutes alone, sitting in the sunshine, looking at the view off the back deck before we will be on the move again. I think I’ll try to get a bit of reading in.

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie