2020-03-22 Super-Sized Sunday Status

It’s Sunday again and I really need to get some steps to boost my stats and get my heart going. Plus, I’ve got a lot to say today so this could get long.

Imma start with school. Yesterday I had a two hour phone conversation with my assigned mentor for the semester and though it was a good conversation, it leads me to conclude I’m behind schedule. Those are my words and not his. He actually said I was in great shape.

However, it feels like the deadlines are coming in hot and I’m all duck-and-cover like the 16 year old me afraid of the volleyball in PE headed straight for me.

This is my 4th and final semester in the MFA program at the University of Nebraska. As such, I’ve worked with three mentors in previous terms and each has been a very different experience. Each opening my eyes to various aspects of the poetic discourse, craft, and the writers life. However different though, it’s tough not to start to compare one semester to another and one mentor to another. That’s human nature.

The mentor I have this term has been, by a good margin, tougher on me than the past three. I naturally push myself hard, trying to exceed expectation so to have someone pushing me even harder is not what I’m used to. The result, I recognize, is going farther and taking my writing to a whole new level. I feel I’ve made more progress this term already than I thought was possible and perhaps that I was also naive in thinking I didn’t have much farther to go.

Yeah, super foolish, SugarCookie! There are miles and miles to go and when you get over that little ridge ahead you will still see a mountain rising up before you.

The progress, however satisfying when you look back, is not without pain.

How many poems have I written and revised countless times. How many have I been so proud of? And how many were actually done-done? As it turns out, none.

With poetry the devil really is in the details. All the information I’ve absorbed in previous semesters about image and line and juxtaposition and the signified and the signifier, the interplay between the mind of the poet, the reader, and the poem itself, as well as learning how to give in to the destructiveness of a subject is all conceptual and very big-picture.

This semester I’m down in the weeds with grammar and syntax. I’m in a cage-match with punctuation and line breaks. And I’m having to cut and slash and, at times, re-imagine where I have been to try and rewrite the scene. I’ve learned so much about what those adjectives and adverbs are doing to my work and how passive voice seems to be my default and that just wont do.

Now, I think my mentor last semester was getting to some of this with me but I just wasn’t there yet and I just wasn’t getting it. Now I think I’m getting it. It’s starting to click. I just needed someone to point out specific examples. Which I now have a ton of. Which is good, but it stings a little, you know.

Paraphrasing a comment I’ve seen several times, “I think there could be a poem hiding in all this”. Ouch!

I mean when you hand over your baby and are so proud of how wonderful she is, it’s tough to have the response be “I’m not sure that’s even a baby. It could be a puppy. It’s cute but really, go back and try again.” Ha!

That’s overly dramatic of course, but that’s pretty close to how I feel reading some of the feedback. Speaking of overly dramatic, apparently that’s another one of my problems. Some of my poems were tagged as too melodramatic, too preachy, or too clever.

Too clever? Part of me is like so what? I like clever.

Oh, clever is not one of the goals and neither is preachy. People apparently don’t like that and I need to cut that shit out. There I go… cut, cut, cut. /shrug

There are a few references in a couple of my poems to the speaker weeping. Ummmm, that actually happened and in case there’s any question the speaker is yours truly. Please tell me how I’m supposed to write about the most difficult parts of my life without the reality that I sometimes cry about it?

It’s clicking now though. I get it. I don’t have to include every detail and however sincere, I can use the images to try and evoke a feeling. So I cut cut cut. Several poems have been cut completely out of my thesis manuscript. Among those are some of those tough moments that I still can’t completely capture successfully in a poem. I may never be able to do that.

My five year relationship that failed and left me devastated was represented in a poem that’s now been cut. I’ve re-written that poem like 10 times now in 10 different ways and it’s still too raw. Instead, I’ve got a short little baby that’s about 10 lines to represent that part of the story. And that one is a play on cliche.

So, yeah, having one of the most impactful things I’ve gone through being reduced to a pile-up of cliches makes my heart hurt.

Anyway, the conversation I had with my mentor yesterday was a lot more positive than all that and I think a few more things are clicking now for me to finish out my revisions of this book. I need to get that done so I can move on to the other requirements for the thesis and also developing a kick-ass lecture to get me to the finish line.

***

One hour in and I think I’ve finally exhausted my thoughts on that topic. But I’m not done yet, yo, it’s Sunday and I’ve still got to check myself on status.

Steps and exercise are not up to par. I’m just shy of 10k steps per day and my goal is 12k.

My sleep is a puzzle. On one hand my sleep quality has gone up and holding steady at an average score of 77. On the other, the average duration of my sleep is suffering and has fallen to about 6.5 hours a night. Whatever.

Work hours went up again this week and I’m now close to a full-time work week. That’s one reason the other things are suffering. Like school and writing.

I did not submit any of my writing this week so that’s a fail.

I did not write anything new so that’s a fail.

I did not read anything new so that’s a fail.

I did finish watching Batman Begins with Jim and we continue to also watch the documentary-drama on Netflix about Ted Kazinsky (I know that’s not spelled right but “meh”). We also watched 1917 this weekend with one of the kids. I didn’t like it and would not recommend. For a war drama, it did a poor job pulling me in emotionally. And I’m typically a sucker for that shit. I often get teary-eyed during emotional scenes. I mean I cried like 4 tunes during “Onward”. But I just didn’t feel that connection with the movie 1917. We should watch Saving Private Ryan again to see how that is. I’ve seen it but it was a long, long time ago.

What else? Yeah, my healthy eating goals are still being ignored for the most part. Ha!

I think that’s it. The household is probably waking up now and I’ve got to get to rolling with the day.

Take care and be well,

~Miss SugarCookie

2020-02-29 Cheers to Leap-Day and the Double-Dot ..

Today feels like a bonus day. Yesterday I wrote about some goals I have. Those are more general in nature and anyone who knows me knows that I also like to have little weekly and mid-tier monthly goals too. I have a white board that lives behind the door of my office that has a list of my monthly goals.

In the first few days of the month I check it, erase what got done, and replace that with new stuff. Yes, I always have things that don’t get done so each new month is a new color (that way I can tell how old something is). Right now though, the white board is blank.

Everything happening at the start of this has sort of hijacked my normal routines. I let it all go. Now that I’m back in action, I’m excited to begin again. But what’s that got to do with today being a bonus day (Besides being an extra day of the year)?

It’s that I get to ignore March and all the tasks I’ve committed to doing during that month (if only for just one more day). Ha! 😜

Also, it’s going to get up to 60+ degrees outside today and Jim and I have plans to get out there and enjoy that. That will probably include some measure of yard work or at least assessing the damage of the winter on the back yard. Hopefully it will also mean exploring someplace new.

I had great sleep last night and I feel as though I can take on the world today. And I haven’t even had any caffeine yet. If I have coffee I’ll probably start feeling like I have god-like super powers. it’s like the stars are aligning and the perfect time to work on projects. Goodness knows I’ve got a lot of balls in the air (even if they are mostly in my head).

In other related news, I got my second set of written feedback from my mentor yesterday with comments about my manuscript and revisions. I almost don’t want to open it because I don’t want to kill my Saturday feels. I think I’ll file that away in the “do this in March” list.

I’ve spent a lot of years of my life perfecting the art of procrastinating so this is just one of the classic go-to moves. On the outside it seems like I’m super organized and goal-oriented but on the inside the truth is it’s all just a play to categorize things into the future.

That bit is a dirty little secret so let’s keep that on the DL.. Ok?

Speaking of feedback. One of my most oft used punctuation marks is the double-dot “..”. For me it has come to signify something more than the end of a sentence but less than a full ellipses.

The ellipsis, “…”, is commonly used when there’s a continuation or more content that is not included in the text.

What I’m affectionately calling my “double-dot” (as of this moment) is like a longer pause, for contemplation. Where there might be more to consider but it’s up to the readers interpretation.. It’s not like actual defined text or content is missing. It’s an invitation to consider what else there could be within the context of ones own experience.

Yeah. I’m declaring the double-dot as official new punctuation today. Can I do that? Yes, of course I can. I mean the English language is always evolving and today is a good day for cool new stuff. Someone, somewhere, In the not so distant past put the words gigantic and enormous together and came up with ginormous. In 2007 it was officially added to the dictionary.

It’s been a long time since we had new punctuation to work with. And since punctuation is apparently one of the biggest problems with my poems, I might as well embrace it.. or fight it to the death.. or make my own mark on literary discourse.. Literally. 😂

Too much? Of course! 💃💃💃

So you heard it here folks. Yours truly has just invented the double-dot. Now when I read the question in feedback from my mentor that they don’t know what that is, I’ll just explain that it’s new and “all the cool kids are using it”.

How did I get from leap-day to the double-dot?.. 🤷‍♀️

Happy, Thank You, More Please,

~Miss SugarCookie

PS. Today’s featured image is a view from a hike on Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail.. Shipwreck Beach to Punahoa Point

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

2020-01-01 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

2019-12-29 MFA Res Day 1 – Unpredictable

It’s not quite 6am and I’m on the treadmill. I went to bed at a decent time but my Fitbit is still reporting less than 6 hours with poor quality for sleep. I dunno.. I think that’s unavoidable. Still I feel pretty good and ready to get after this day.

Yesterday, which I thought was super action packed was actually kind of slow moving. The morning crawled along and we had orientation and our first workshop and that was great. A long break later and there were a couple of lectures and that was fine too. I actually had enough break in-between things to return to my room and think about life and make sure I was prepared for the next thing. I even printed some material that I need to read for a session like 5 days away.

I was thinking that there’s something very different this time. Perhaps it’s just me. My anxiety is still hovering around minimum and I’ve always before been a bit cray-cray and I’m just not (yet). I always freak out packing and load my bag with books to have something to do, worried I’ll “need” that and I never have. I’ve always been irritated with the neurosis that caused me to lug my books with me. “A waste of space and weight”, I’ve furrowed.

This time? I didn’t bring any books. I thought “I’m fixing mistakes I’ve made before.. ha!”.

The Universe just smirks “wrong”.

Yesterday I wished several times I had a book to read. A good story to get lost in for an hour and so instead I just sat and tried to think of what I could possibly do to be more prepared for something else. And of course a fair bit of thinking about not having any books. “Fine, Universe, you win.”

That being said, the schedule for today looks to be more action packed and this time I think it’s for real. There’s about 8 things I want to go to on the schedule and that does not include meals. I’m definitely ready and very much looking forward to all of it. Except of course the meals. I still hate the dining room.

I don’t think that’s ever going to change. “You hear me Universe?! It’s NEVER going to change. Let’s see you flip that script! Ha!!”

What else? Oh! I wrote like 3 new poems so far and one of them might even have the potential to be pretty good. I would declare that I’m going to try to write at least one a day but I don’t want to set the bar too high. That way lies madness. But, a girl can dream right?

Though I may end up sleep deprived, I think it’s totally worth it to have this hour of the day alone. It’s so strange for it to be so quiet and calm now when in just a hot little bit this place will be teeming with activity. The Chateau is packed this go round, complete with faculty, staff, students, families gathering for the holiday, and people getting ready to kick off the New Year. There’s no escaping the crowd. I need to enjoy all the quiet contemplation I can.

With that, my hour is up and I’m in desperate need of a shower.

Hittn’ It and Gittn’ It,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-12-27 MFA Res Day 0.5 – Midnight in December

6PM on December 27th in Nowheresville Nebraska and it might as well be midnight. Last time I was here I had to request a new room after 3 days because of a wasp problem and this time? It might be a neighbor problem. Time will tell. I’m not next to my friends anyway so they can put me wherever. Put me back home or wherever. Or whenever.

I looked at the first two or three days of the schedule and tried to consume it. Tried to put some ginger snaps in my mouth before and after to make it taste better but it doesn’t. My hearts not in it and all of a sudden this feels like a big mistake. I’m going to write a thesis? A What?! Are you looking at me when you say those words. I don’t even the hell know what a thesis is. I don’t know if I can learn the definition in time. Too many other things to do, you know, and never enough time.

It’s so dark and I’m already missing home. The cats and the kids and Jim. Not the dishes or the laundry though. Nine days not doing laundry is truly the definition of a saving grace.

There’s dinner tonight and as dark as it is now it will feel like a late night snack. All 62 of us sneaking down to the pantry to pull a plate of some baked chicken and sauce de jour. Please, oh please, let it be marinara tonight. With some motz cheese and maybe a noodle or two to twist onto my fork. Who doesn’t love a midnight snack?

The schedule for tomorrow has six events I want to go to and the day after that is 7 and already I’m exhausted because I haven’t slept for three days. I’m exhausted from not sleeping for the next 3 or 5 or 8 days and I don’t believe I have enough Xanax to get me through.

Oh my but how it is cold at midnight in Nebraska. I suspect the temp in this room is a fickle as my grandmother said it was her prerogative to be. Just scooch a degree up and watch her say “you want it hot?! Fine.. I’ll show you hot”. Every room a different shade of grandmother in this chateau. “Lodge” is such a rustic word. Such a hard square word that sort of chokes you when you try to say or unsay it.

I’m afraid it’s too late to unsay this little adventure. And this post. And what’s about to happen now. Soon it will be 1AM and for the love of all the trees in the world, please let me be sleeping by then.

XOXO,

~Miss SugarCookie

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