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

2020-01-04 MFA Day 7 – It Will Find It’s Way Out

(making up for my brevity yesterday apparently so.. long post)

Your voice, your words, your emotions, your suppressed or unsuppressed opinions and thoughts. The things pushed deep inside or those loitering silently just below the surface. Whatever it is, it will find it’s way out. Especially in moments when you feel like you can trust the ones around you or if you are pushed to your limits.

Here in this place I have both conditions active so it’s no wonder that the things I hold inside find their way out. It’s not in the group dynamic mind you, it’s in those intimate moments where I’ve had the opportunity to talk, really talk, one on one or with just two other people about what’s happening in our lives.

And surprisingly it’s not sharing what’s going on with me but listening, really listening, to those people. Feeling with them in their moments of reflection, contemplation, and clarity. It’s incredible actually. It makes me feel like a whole person.

One of the things that have been different about this residency compared to others is that I haven’t given in to the flight or flight response that has caused me to have a need to get in my car and drive home. In past residencies I’ve found myself at a breaking point and just made the executive decision to leave for the night. Not just to sleep in my own bed but to disconnect enough to be in my own space and consider my own issues and make sure I can still reach my center of gravity.

What happens on those 45 minute car rides was unexpected but somewhat reliable. I’m on the highway like 5 minutes, enough time to get out of town and confirm I was headed in the right direction and let go of that and start letting my mind wander. Almost as if a switch has been flipped, I think some thought and am moved to tears.

And not just a teary eye, and uneven breath, but uncontrollable sobbing. The kind where you can’t catch your breath and the highway ahead becomes so blurry like a massive rainstorm when windshield wipers can’t keep up. It’s raining on the inside and everything on the inside just comes out. it pours, for a good 20 minutes and then just as suddenly as it came, it’s gone.

It’s not one thing, it’s all the things. It’s an overwhelming force, but once it’s over, I return to a state where my head is clear and I can start to put together my thoughts in a logical fashion again. I arrive home, find my center (or like I said, at least confirm it’s location), sleep, wake up, and return for another day.

So what’s different this time? I guess it is that I am getting more comfortable, have established relationships and trust with people here, and no longer feel that fight or flight in the same way as before. I have not gone home. I won’t go home until tomorrow when this is all over.

But that buildup of stuff, whatever it is, whatever has contributed to it, whatever it is made of is still happening and has been happening since day zero. I’ve felt myself teetering on the verge of tears. I don’t particularly like crying in public (though it did happen once last Residency and big time), so I breathe through those moments and maintain my composure.

Late afternoon yesterday the last of three graduating students presented their reading. One of the requirements to graduate is to give a 20 minute reading of content that you wrote during the course of your time in the program. She presented three pieces, two narratives and a one act play. It was exquisite. It was so moving and so well written that the narratives felt like long prose poems, constructed with language that carried powerful meaning while also singing and and creating a unique aesthetic experience for those of us fortunate enough to be in the room to hear it. And hear it in the authors voice, which was both soft and and strong in conviction with confidence and, a few times, with the brief line or two which were actual song.

When it was over the typical routine is for people to applaud and then approach and offer hugs and words of encouragement and congratulations. That happened, but as she started receiving hugs the applause did not subside and people began standing. A standing ovation. A first for me to witness here.

After the first hug and words ended, the author looked up and realized it. She was stunned. It was incredibly moving. I was moved to tears (still standing and clapping mind you). A line formed for continued hugs and those quiet words whispered into her ears. I took my plane in line. It was an honor to witness the moment and an honor to be able to tell this woman, who I barely knew, how her writing and presentation moved me.

After that the group dispersed and continued on with their own objectives and plans. I did too.

This morning I woke up just before 4. My mind was immediately there, back in that moment. Perhaps I was dreaming it all over again and moved so much it woke me. I sat up and realized I was about to cry. It came on like that rainstorm in the car, so suddenly and so hard. I wasn’t even fully awake or aware of what was happening. 4 am and it found its way out.

I had a good cry, albeit brief and that was followed by an epiphany. A rush of thoughts about my thesis and it’s content and organization and preface and the accompanying lecture and reading. All in a rush it came to me. What it is and what I have to do next.

I spent the next hour making notes. And now I’m well past an hour (approaching 1.5 hours) on this treadmill writing this post.

Because of the extra time I took today I’m running a little late to find Miss Margret up in the dining room to have our morning breakfast chat. Which means I’ve got to go.

Lots to do In the next 24 hours.


~Miss SugarCookie

2020-01-02 MFA Day 6 – Telegraph for Today

Worst sleep ever. Stop

Literally. Stop

My own fault. Stop

Complete sentences. Gone. Stop

Too much. Stop

Send help. Please.


Yesterday was a long day and I would recap but I just don’t have it in me right now. I would provide a sneak peek of today, but it’s kinda the same thing. So much has changed from day to day yet everything feels like a repeat of the day before. Same activities, people, food (though I went off campus twice yesterday, once for lunch and again for dinner), same sleep deprivation, same exercise, same thoughts rotating in my brain over and over and over. Still, there’s a progression and developments that contribute and carry me forward to each next minute, a changed being.

That’s fairly non-specific, nebulous, and abstract.

I’m just gonna be honest (not that I have previously been dishonest), but I’m just gonna give this up. I just wanna walk and listen to music, think, and stretch.

Perhaps I need to give myself permission. And not just a pass for this first hour of my day but for other thoughts of what’s required. These requirements are mostly self imposed. So convincing myself that it’s ok not to do something is an inner dialogue and it really should not be such a struggle.

It’s first draft Friday again and perhaps I’ll let that be my contribution and give this day meaning and voice.

On that note. Ciao for now.

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-01-02 MFA Day 5 – Balls

The lead in to of the lectures I attended yesterday lobbied that we should have 10 balls in the air at the all time. That if we did, it would be a bit of chaos but that it would increase our chances that some thing, even just one, would land and turn out golden. She proceeded to tell the story of what her journey has been and how that philosophy has played out.. with great success.

Some parts of that equation that she made perfectly clear was the need for perseverance and having a great desire. What she did not speak to as much, probably in order to stay within the 50 minute time constraint, was the hard work and time commitment and focus that we’re also required. No time to talk about all the other balls that did not work or were dropped in pursuit of the one that did turn out golden. But I know — I can infer that it wasn’t just sheer luck that the things that happened to her happened. It was the effort and drive.

At this point I already feel like I’ve got multiple endeavors in the air and another large thing has just been tossed in my direction. I have to be very careful. I don’t know how to say no. If I’m going to catch it and do it, I would want for my role and contribution to not be half ass. That’s not how I roll. When I’m in it, I’m going to win it.

But now my brain is stuck on that and this whole thesis thing I’ve got to get done is idling in my left hand (because the left hand is controlled by the right brain). My left brain is latching on to this new idea and the machine is revving. It’s that point in the start up process the flywheel is doing it’s thing. I need to remember that though this organizational, process driven idea feels vital, it’s not the most important thing. Or should not be.

The primary objective in my writing like right now is me, and my growth and development and making the biggest leap forward toward a fulfilling life as a writer. Mario (the spokesperson for my left brain) contends that this new project is vital because it’s fulfilling the requirement to build contacts and a resume that proves I’m a part of the literary community, and invested in it. There’s a seriousness in it and it needs to be given that measure of consideration and effort.

Conversations need to happen before I leave Nebraska city and so that’s what my brain keeps focusing on now. I think I’ve just done the opposite of what I set out to do in writing this. Instead of making a case for minimizing it, I’ve made a case for it being vitally important.

Yesterday was long and I had 4 hours of sleep the night before. This morning I woke at 5am and Fitbit reports 4.5 hours were had last night. At 6:30am (which is what it is now), I’m approaching an hour on the treadmill and still energized about the day ahead. I know from yesterday that by 3 in the afternoon my mind and energy is going to crash. I know that by 7pm I’ll be approaching zombie status. And tonight is a long one. Talent show followed by movie night. I would skip out of movie night but there is a requirement to see that movie in order to participate in one of the workshop/lectures tomorrow.

Yes, lots of balls indeed. And lots to prepare for just for today which is calling me back to my room. Study plans discussion prep, workshop prep, talent show prep. Yeah.. for real.. I gotta go.

I guess today was more thinking than writing but it is what it is.

Peace and Love,

~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

2019-12-31 MFA Res Day 3 – Holding Ones Breath

First of all, I slept like doggy dodo last night and I would say I’ve only got myself to blame (staying up past midnight, not paying attention during the day to things piling up needing to be done, Etc.) but there are other factors outside of my control. Dare I say a longer list not worthy of writing out.

I can’t provide legit stats on it as my Fitbit won’t sync in the basement. Perhaps later when I’m in range of WiFi I’ll check, but that’s a lofty hope at this point (because there’s a myriad of things building in my brain and I’ll never remember.

Second of all, when I was not sleeping, half sleeping, being awake wondering if I had slept but not wanting to check and expose my eyes to a waking sort of light, I had a song in my head. If you’re following along you know yesterday it was Star-fighter Pilot by Snow Patrol. This time it was Manic Monday by the Bangles. Ironic because all day yesterday it was Monday and I couldn’t wrap my brain around that fact because I’m in a portal somewhere between here and there and the days of the weeks don’t have names. I didn’t have a weekend and the concept of weekdays is like “wut?”.

I contemplated that the song came to me sometime during my morning walk and that I was so engrossed in what I was writing that I didn’t notice it. It’s plausible. So today I’m pausing with each new song (counter to the idea of stream of consciousness) to record the song and the artist.

Thirdly, I have forgotten what I really wanted to write about today which is what happens when you add the first point to the second one above. So I have to settle for whatever thought happens next. It probably has something to do with what actually happened yesterday which was my 3rd full day in Nebraska City. So much remarkable and at the same wholly unremarkable. Like five lectures and workshop and readings and lunch and dinner and some great conversations.

Two highlights would be the lecture by my friend Michelle who is graduating which was really interesting and opens the door to lots more consideration I would like to give to her topic, the shadow self. One thing suggested was something called writing “morning pages” which sounds a lot like my relationship with this blog. 40 minutes was not enough time for the topic. I would love to read more about it and the good news is that I can do that if I want to AND as a bonus plan she’s moving to omaha so there will be opportunities to chat about it again. 💃💃💃

After that it was the big reveal of the mentor pairings and I’ve learned from past experience that submitting comments explaining your preferences is beneficial. Last semester I was extremely spoiled and was the only student who had my mentor and it was an amazing experience. Good rapport and lots of communication. More than I’ve had before by a wide margin. Also we were geographically close so we could meet in person. Again, bonus plan.

This semester I wavered and was unsure what would be the best thing for me. I put all the things I was sure about in my comments and left it to the powers to be do the thing they do the best which is sort it all out and make the best choice (lots of factors in and out of control mind you). There are thresholds, other students’ preferences, the evaluation of where a person is at and what they need that, quite frankly, they might not know they need. Also what might not be a good match based on sheer personality I suppose. That could have played in to this one big time and in hind site I would not disagree.

It took me a little while after the reveal to wrap my brain around the shift in the vision I had for the way the rest of this Residency would go and also the semester as a whole. Just a little while though. I think the not sleeping over night and thinking was enough time and I’m now there. I guess what I am trying to say (clearly lacking a measure of eloquence that I would like to have) is that I feel like I have arrived.

Just now, I look up and see that title I selected and that reminds me of what my original topic was. Ahhh, the saving grace of titles when serious distraction is involved. Sometimes all I get is a title but hopefully, it leads to something else more substantial.

Yesterday I did yoga with a group of folks and was reminded that sometimes we are holding a pose and forget to breathe. There are times that I feel that way about this whole residency thing. That I am at times holding my breath and forgetting to exhale. The nice thing about getting yoga instruction is that the person facilitating does remind people to soften, relax, breathe and so when you forget, you get that reminder. Nobody in this 10 day stretch does that. I have to be responsible for my own exhale and also for giving myself a break. I try to remember. I’m always trying to do better.

Seeee .. now I have wandered around too much. Too much meandering and that last bit wasn’t really how I wanted to say that either because I’ve flat run out of time. Perhaps the point is that I need to take a break. I’m going to do that. I’m going to take a break and inhale and exhale several times.

Peace and Love and Cheers to the End of a Decade!


~Miss SugarCookie

PS Set List for this Session:

Signature Move by Pink

Working Man by Imagine Dragons

The One I Love by REM

Easy to Crash by Cake

Open Your Eyes by Snow Patrol

Off He Goes by Pearl Jam

Race Car Ya-Yas by Cake

Building a Religion by Cake

My Religion by Skillet (skipped)

Digital Love by Daft Punk

City Love by John Mayer

Stacked Actors by foo fighters

Mr. Jones by the Counting Crows

Ode to Sleep by Twenty One Pilots (skipped)

Sleeping to Dream by Jason Mraz

Here is no why by smashing pumpkins (skipped)

Things Happen by Dawes

Things we lost in the fire by Bastille

2019-12-30 MFA Res Day 2 – On Music and Magic and Math

The song “Straighter Pilot” by Snow Patrol was in my head when I woke up. It’s not one of their more popular songs. It’s kinda quirky and kinda nerdy and truly atypical compared to the rest of their body of work.

It’s a good reminder of what you can do with the freedom that comes with success. Maybe success is not the right word. Maybe it’s experience. You do a thing long enough, you are bound to gain acclaim, or at least a reputation. That history, that putting in the time, is like building credit up in the bank of life. You earn the right to flip a script or two. Perhaps it’s less about earning the right as it is acquiring a sense of not giving a fuck. “I’ve done all that you asked of me, and now I’m going to do what I damn well please.”

I’m as sure about that phenomenon with my own life as I am that it probably has nothing to do with the composition and execution of Starfighter Pilot. Things are often not what they appear and you don’t ever really know. No person can be in the head of any other person (thank the universe).

That last bit was part of the intro to a lecture I went to yesterday which turned out to be a discussion about the difference between speculative thinking and writing and magical thinking and writing. It was a fascinating lecture and it concluded with the person giving the lecture using his own story as an example. It left me teary. Not a surprise.

I became teary a couple times yesterday. No full-on crying, but it’s there, somewhere inside building it’s gumption and energy. A sticky ball rolling and picking up artifacts as it goes. It started as a little walnut and now it’s got tinfoil and bits of umbrella stuck to it and it’s about the size of a tennis ball. It’s lodged somewhere deep in my body cavity at the moment. No where near my heart or my throat. Its nestled next to my spleen, teetering back and forth with indecision and mounting momentum. It’s preparing to begin rolling again. A thing that’s as inevitable as the sun rising.

I will say, it’s nice here, with the sun still sleeping and this reliable treadmill. I guess that’s what I mean about balance. There has to be sleep and a return to center to counter what happens with the unpredictability of every day.

I suppose one theory about why people I’m centuries past didn’t live as long as they do I’m today’s day and age. When there’s so much volatility around just acquiring basic needs.. sleep, food, shelter, the body and mind have no time to reset and that ages a person pretty rapidly. Modern medicine plays in of course, but I think balance it the bigger factor by a wide margin.

There’s acute occurrences that can now be overcome, but life is long. The chronic condition of being human is what we have to live with from the day we are born.

Right now the shuffle (which I’ve invited the Universe to dictate for my time here) is feeding Taylor Swift’s “Welcome to New York”. Now there’s an artist with so much experience and talent that she’s able to re-invent herself again and again AND find success. An extraordinary example of an artist that has it figured out.

It feels as though there must be some equation that translates the speculative into the magical. What, oh what, are the variables and constants? What are the multipliers and factors that subtract? Does one approach it with the FOIL method or as a proof? Is it largely geometric or does algebra take over? Can it be elementary or does one need to grasp quantum physics to crack the code and unravel the mystery?

Perhaps the secret is in the letting go of expectations. That sounds like a task of which I’m completely capable of doing. Im going to roll with that.

Speaking of rolling, the sun is about to come up and that ball inside me is gearing up for the day. My hour is up anyway.

Balance + Experience + Being Open = Magic and Longevity

~Miss SugarCookie