2019-12-17 So Much Sweetness

Today I’m doing a happy dance as my seemingly never ending semester is finally.. FINALLY over! 💃💃💃

Yesterday was my last class on campus and we had pizza did a fun little exercise where everyone writes a line of a poem on a piece of paper and then fold that over and pass it to the next person who can’t see the line and they write another. And so on around the room until your original paper comes back to you and taa-daa!.. instant poem!!

Then we went around the room and read our masterpieces. It was fun. And it was kind of cool to see how the different minds could be melted into a cohesive unit, especially when read with dramatic emphasis. You can make any silly thing sound impactful if you put some force behind it.

As I said the professor brought pizza for the occasion and I spent a little time in the kitchen making one of the sweetest treats of the holiday season.. my universal favorite, Almond Roca. It’s basically a layer of toffee fused with a layer of chocolate and some other finishing ingredient sprinkled on top. Almonds are the most common (hence the name), but I split this batch into thirds.

A third was almonds, a third was crushed peppermint sticks, and the final third was plane Jane. Just the toffee and chocolate for those people who don’t like nuts and also don’t like peppermint. It’s a big hit, but it’s not surprising as it’s another one of those treats that’s mostly just sugar. Truly

People think it’s got to be tricky to make the toffee but it’s a snap. Melt equal parts sugar and butter plus a small amount of water and just let that boil until the goopy, bubbling syrup reaches 300 degrees Fahrenheit (hard crack stage on the candy thermometer). Pour the hot mess onto a nonstick cookie sheet and tilt until it’s an even layer across the pan. It’s so hot that it melts chocolate chips sprinkled on top and then those can also be spread into an even layer. Then, as I said, finish by sprinkling your topping of choice on top.

Good gravy.. I did not intend for this to be a recipe post, but oh well. I’m just happy to have something I can share with folks I’m meeting up with this last week before Christmas.

Today I got roped into driving to Blair which I think is about 30 minutes from here to help someone with some technical difficulties. Some people assume that since I’ve worked in IT that I’m a pro with PC stuff, but honestly it’s not how that works. When it comes to most IT things, I’m just googling the question or task I need to get done. Whatever it is, the internet probably knows the answer.

I really don’t know what issues I’m up against today as the person I’m helping was really vague about her problem. I know it’s not a good sign when a person doesn’t even know how to describe their issue. Something about PowerPoint but that doesn’t reveal much. Without more info, It could still really be almost anything. I did confirm with her she has good internet so hopefully whatever it is, I can help.

Part of me is inclined to think she just wants me to visit her, but we’ll see. Before I head out there I’m going to to Jazzercise and maybe a quick stop into a store to get some info about a gift I’m planning to give my son at Christmas.

All of that will likely eat up most of my day and then tonight??!!… tonight I’m free and clear to spend some serious and much needed QT with my fiancé.

(47 days to go ya’ll 🥂 💍 👰)

Time to Jam,

~Miss AlmondRoca

2019-11-24 The Current Trifecta

It feels like time is moving too fast. At the same time the minutes and hours of every day seem to creep by. I’m keeping a close eye on the calendar and have a growing list of things to do. Most of it has something to do with one of three main topics.. wedding planning or school stuff or parenting. Ask me any hour of the day and that’s what’a consuming me.

As far as wedding planning goes, I’ve successfully ruled out having a big wedding cake and am going to opt for a dessert table instead. I also was ducking floored by photographer prices and were not cool with that either. I simply hate the fact that people hear the word “wedding” and the price triples. Now all the alternatives are stacking up into a lot of work the days leading up to the ceremony. And I’m starting to feel like I’m going to end up running around the town like a chicken with it’s head cut off. I should probably start asking for help. I’m no good at asking for help.

As far as school goes the MFA semester is winding down and I’ve received what I think will be the last bit of feedback. That came in yesterday and I was really hoping for a little more and maybe another in-person meet up but that’s not the vibe I’m getting. I feel like I’ve been quite spoiled this term with such an abundance of feedback and encouragement that this last go-round feels almost like leaving unfinished business left on the table. I may be reading the tea leaves wrong though, as this last communication comes so soon after I’ve been triple-dissed by other persons. Too many grey clouds looming in my brain right now. I should probably just smile and nod and move along, but that’s tough for me too.

My on campus class is also in a bit of a lull and the last assignment was one that I didn’t necessarily resist, but the result is a poem I would never submit to any publication, ever. Not to say it’s terrible, it’s not. It’s very average but the subject matter is something I didn’t want to write about in the first place. It’s about my mom and it doesn’t paint the best picture. I may spend some time trying to do a new one so I don’t have to turn the other in. I dunno. For that class I just have one more poem reading response and a 3-4 page book review to do. Easy enough I suppose after tackling a 45 page craft paper.

All-in-all the semester seems to be running long and I’m kinda feeling just over it. I’m looking forward to a break. I’m also looking forward to that break for my kids too. Both of them.

The semester has gotten long for C and he’s fighting losing battles in several classes. Our weeks together are a constant struggle to get past due assignments and he’s now on a fast track to failing German. Of all the things I’ve been dealing with, this makes me the sickest in my stomach and in my heart. I want to help him and don’t know how. Of all the things I don’t know how to do right now, this is the worst.

And then he goes to his dads and I turn a blind eye. Relief for a few days where I can ignore it and focus on other things. Then I feel guilty. It’s a puzzle which doesn’t seem to have a solution.

On the bright side, things with Z are fairly positive and I don’t have to worry about her in the same sense. With her my worry is more about her independence and driving and I wonder how long that feeling will stretch out into the future. Last night her and I went to Frozen 2 which she’s been talking about for weeks.

The movie wasn’t as good as the first but I’m glad her and I had that time to spend together, just us. We both cried at the end of the movie. Then we came back home and I sat with her while she went through all her mail. All sorts of communications from colleges wanting her to apply and done she’s already been accepted to.

At this point she’s been accepted to all 5 places she’s applied and I’m proud of her. My thoughts might be consumed with my wedding and my school but we also have her graduation in spring and that’s a huge deal. The whole time I’m looking at pictures for my wedding video, I’m also thinking about her life and the graduation party we will be having for her. It’s going to be grand.

That’s my hour for today. Time to Jam.

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-11-11 Sort, Organize, File.. Repeat

First things first, tipping my hat today as a loyal numbers nerd. It’s eleven eleven. That’s got to mean today is going to be a great day, doesn’t it?… Yes!!

There were a lot of things that happened on Saturday. As I said yesterday, it was too much and too overwhelming to write about. Like a big plate of broccoli.. if there’s one serving on your plate, you have no trouble digging in to consume that deliciousness. But a whole plate overflowing with green florets and stems might just make you turn your nose up, put your hand up, and just say “nope.”

Yeah.. it’s was just like that. Yesterday I began to compartmentalize so I could consume all of Saturday. Some things get lost in processing, forgotten as I sift through fading memories. But I do believe I successfully sectioned things into a set of perfect portions. Each of these could be a blog post, I suppose, if I do continue to have the urge to write about it at all. But no promises.

As life continues to happen, whatever is happening today could easily become more important. Still I think that the list will be helpful for posterity….

1. Notes on the 7 presentations I went to at Barcamp.

2. Notes on my own presentation and what I did to cope with my anxiety.

3. Interactions with other Barcamp attendees which included two people I previously dated. Doh!!

4. What happened after it was all over, lunch and walking the Old Market with my daughter, which should include both eating delicious cheeseburgers and a visit to Hollywood Candy.

5. Notes about getting home just before dark and doing yard work. Which seems minimal compared to the rest of the day, but it’s not.

6. Deciding to reward myself with binge-watching a tv show (Stranger Things season 3), which I gave a third shot to after a terrible first and second episode. I wasn’t disappointed.

7. Not being able to sleep despite the 20 hour day! Good Gravy— what is wrong with me?!!

8. A wrap-up on my time alone in the castle.

I think that’s it. Like I said, life keeps happening and things that need to get done for school and the kids and Jim more of a priority.

That includes finishing the poetry assignment due today for Advanced Poetry Studio and several forms and workshop materials that have to get submitted for winter Residency for my MFA today.

The kids are out of school because it’s veteran’s day. And it’s snowed. Not that THAT is news or has anything to do with anything except ewwww snow! Ick!!

Jim is back home and took the day off too just to get a bunch of stuff done before going back to work tomorrow. Needless to say, my attentions are already being tested.

On that note, I’m gonna Jam before the day really starts getting away from me.

Taking One damn bite at a time,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-10-07 The Assignment

The assignment (I may have mentioned) was to select the most difficult time of your life and write about it. I tried to. I wrote some words and turned them in. It felt like a failed experiment. How do you put yourself back in a place you tried so hard to climb out of and forget. How do you find imaginative language to help you describe your pain?

The assignment, though well meaning, was just all wrong for me. I tried to follow the prompts but the heart and mind aren’t always compliant. It all just feels so far away and it would be nice to forget, you know?

A question on my mind happens to be about writing what comes when it does versus putting your mind into a frame where it’s got to produce something. What’s right? What’s better. I get all these exercises. I get the point, but I read the words from my peers and it just makes me feel unworthy. They wrote some really great stuff from those prompts. Mines just garbage.

Turning that rock over in my palm, the other stuff I’ve written this semester, sans prompts, has been better. Quite good, in my not so humble opinion. This is obviously leading me to a conclusion. But what of it? It is what it is.

It’s Monday again and I have class today and we’re doing workshop. Yay for more feedback. I really enjoy going to class and so far the reading assignments have been good. I’ll be interested in how workshop in class will differ from the MFA Res workshop.

I really don’t have a lot to muse about today. The kids are going to their dads house for a week and that always makes me a little grumpy. It’s 11:30am and I’m still off caffeine and feeling a bit eye dead. It seems when I’m tired my eyes feel it the most. They get sore and I have a hard time focusing. I’m on the treadmill and looking at myself in the mirror and they are red and I look like I’m on the verge of tears. Maybe I am. I dunno.

I think that’s all I have in me today. Just one of those days.

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-23 Skiddle-de-Do

The assignment due today? Pour the worst time in your life into a poem and make it linguistically beautiful and tragic and don’t forget to turn all the abstraction to concrete image. It’s the toughest assignment I’ve ever had.

How do you turn all that black out drunk grief wailing near the top of the stairs because you don’t have enough left to take on one more step? How?

It started with writing 3-5 sentences of moments that had been burned into the brain, so deep, you can still conjure how your body felt. Then mold it to fit the tiny space of one piece of paper.

The last instruction.. end mid movement without a conclusion. Thank the universe, as I will never remember what happened after the black out. I mean, of course I remember parts of the next day, the next month, the next year, as I clawed my way, agonizingly, back to sanity. Most of it anyway.

Still, I find it a challenge to recall with clarity what visceral movements were involved with the end of 2016. It’s a distant memory tempered by time and the healing that comes with support from someone who wants to see you, know you, be with you.

And where does one start or stop anyway? Life is so complicated that it’s not ever one thing that’s involved with the downward spiral. How could I possibly explain that not only was I broken hearted, but also drowning at work, struggling as a parent, and hating the world for what it had become? And limit myself to one page? And make it all make sense? That’s the challenge. Reach the reader and pull them into the swirl.

Good Grief!

Anyway, I wrote some words and they are getting turned in today and then I’m turning my attention to packet 2 feedback which was received incredibly less than 36 hours after the packet was submitted last Friday. I have an in-person meeting with my mentor for this semester tomorrow and I have to be prepared. I need to show up to class, be on-point with my peers there and then continue to ride that wave through tomorrow.

This one calls for purple hair I think. I’m feeling all right right now despite the fact that today was day 1 of my cycle. Funny thing I didn’t have any noteworthy PMS this time. Perhaps my left ovary has been taken over by apathy and every other month I’ll get a break from the usual drama (a girl can dream).

I’ve only got a short bit before I’ve got to get ready to go. I need to jet. Yeah, that’s my Monday

Peace In and Peace Out,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-10 OR..91019!💃💃💃

What’s with the dancing you ask? Well.. my dear friend Michelle pointed out to me yesterday that we are rolling into a glorious 10 day stretch of dates that are PALINDROMES! Let me tell you that when she texted me that yesterday it made me grin from ear to ear, not only because I’m a numbers nerd, but more because I have people in my life who really get me. That’s the secret sauce you know, and it shouldn’t be a secret which is why I’m making that my Fall mantra. The statement “teamwork makes the dream work” is overdone, but there’s a reason for that.

Things that are true get a lot of reps. That stands for both repetition and reputation. This reminds me of a topic I’ve pondered lately because of a craft essay I recently read for school. It was An excerpt from Marge Percy’s “Midgame: Making It Better, Truer, Clearer, More Gorgeous” and one of the sections talks about trend and cliche. Anybody that has studied poetry for even a hot minute knows that you generally try to shy away from the cliche. Comparing something beautiful to a rose, saying something is as deep as the ocean, or referencing the moon (or really any thing that happens to exist in the realm of the celestial). I mean, there are no rules really but if something becomes cliche then that means it’s sort of exhausted itself in a literary sense. The essay speaks a little on why.

It has to do with universal understanding and trends to some degree. Every poetic era is slanted by the thing that all the cool kids are doing. Back in the day (when the Rose 🌹 found out its claim to fame) iambic pentameter was king. And so too, was the traditional sonnet form. But how many traditional sonnets do we see in contemporary poetry? Not a lot. Why? Because it’s payed out and been replaced by free verse.

There was a time that end rhyme was all the rage and that’s like death to a poet nowadays. I mean, I still do it, because it’s in my blood but none of those little nuggets of deliciousness will ever be published. It’s not cool. The landscape of the current poetic discourse has evolved into something else, in which the rhyme and form still have a place, but are changed.

In the essay she says that yesterday’s trend by the nature of the beast becomes the very thing that people avoid, almost detest “today”. So what’s the new cool kid on the block? Believe me, that is the question de jour.

My mind bends into this question and the answer snaps back from a couple different places… The first is from the exploration of contemporary poets. People who are being published today, winning prizes, being celebrated. What their work is IS the essence of the current landscape. Absorb that. Lean into imitation and you’re a third of the way there (the other two thirds come from instinct/individual voice and careful attention to craft).

The second part of the answer comes from the mouths of mentors and classroom professors and conductors of workshops and peers. Over and over again it’s “make it interesting”, “make it weird”, “make it different/unique”. There is so much poetry out there. Millions of poems and more being born every day. They exist, but to survive and persist they have to call attention to themselves. They have to have a hook, to get someone’s attention. That someone is a gate keeper that looks at hundreds of poems all day every day. They see ordinary, cliche, antiquated form and that poem goes right into the bit bucket, trash bin, or paper shredder. So today’s landscape is the anti-cliche.

Death to the Rose and Moon. So long slow sunset, fading away with your seven different luscious fruit flavors into to the void of yesterdays fame. Goodbye Ocean Tide, ocean swell, ocean magic. Isn’t it just tragic.

But.. here’s my dirty little secret. I don’t care. It’s a glorious feeling. It’s freeing really, that I can get my head around all of this and come to an understanding with it and let my inner voice reign supreme anyway. It too, will evolve with every poem and poet I’m touched by, and perhaps it will be altered naturally into what it is meant to be. I can remove “perhaps” from that statement because it’s already happened, and is happening — daily. The evidence is staring back at me every time I compare yesterday’s work with what I am writing today.

That’s why I don’t have a problem dismissing the notion that cliche is taboo. I embrace the bone white moon in all her glorious phases. I drink the sunrise and sunset. I feel Teamwork making the dream work pulsing in my veins. And I’m not afraid to say it!

If you made it this far, thanks for staying with me, it’s you I’m talking about! We have 10 days of magic starting today.. make them count!

Dance Dance Dance,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-09-10 Turn and Return To Center

It’s taco Tuesday again y’all. Let’s just be honest though, everyday is taco day. It’s just the way of things.. you know?

So here’s where my brain is at today, cuz that’s as good a place to start as any. Things have definitely leveled out since the major spin-out I had last week. This time last week I was circling certain doom. I forced myself to connect the dots with some important peeps and that helped tremendously. The weekend was very average and aside from a mini freak out Sunday/Monday about an assignment for class on Monday, all was well.

As a team, Jim, Z, and I made great forward progress on clearing out the room that is on the opposite side of the garage, intended to be a workshop/craft room but became a dumping ground for all things we didn’t know what to do with when we moved in. We sorted through stacked storage bins, furniture, and a whole bunch of random shit. It’s all out now and mostly moved to more appropriate places. There’s a little more prep work required, but we’re almost to painting. It’s a good thing for all us. More on that in the future. Perhaps a before and after post. I know Z took pics and she’s ga-ga for diy YouTube channels and Pinterest and all that stuff so we probably will end up with enough content for whatever we would want.

As far as today is concerned, there will be no tacos. I’ve literally got the whole day to work on house chores, writing, reading, and more work on that room if I get super motivated. The writing biz is blowing up now. I’m working on several projects for my Poetry Studio class which are very specific. For real. It’s all like.. here’s the subject and the form and also put a slant on it with this lenses/context in mind. I’m so used to free writing, fitting myself into a certain shape box is interesting. I’m still unsure how I feel about it, but I get the exercise. If I can do it, I’ll be a better writer for it.

I also need to make forward progress on the 3rd term craft paper which has me looking at other poets. Though I have permission from both my profs to cross the streams, it may not exactly work out that way because of timing.

Speaking of timing.. my time is up today and I need to jet.

Wash.. Rinse.. Repeat,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-07-01 Big Bites

A few days ago I got a present in the mail which I was super excited to receive.. my packet of materials for my MFA residency coming up this month. It feels a bit like Christmas morning, getting a first look at some really great material. I always love reading other peoples poems (reading mine revision after revision gets old).

Last night I did a first pass at my classmates submissions. It’s such a different mix of stuff each time, based on author of course. People definitely take on a certain style.. I think they refer to that as voice. I’m curios if when people read my stuff they pick up on a particular common voice or tone?

Last week in one of my posts I eluded to the fact that this next semester is beginning to look a little terrifying. That’s not for no reason as I may have bitten off more than I can chew.

Not only am I in my 3rd term and have all the standard requirements, which includes a 45 page craft paper, but I also am taking 7 additional credit hours in graduate level courses. The thought I had in mind was to be able to get the most out of these last two terms as possible, but I know once I start reading and writing full time AND get a grasp on what is involved with the two additional classes, I’ll be like “what the hell was I thinking?!”

The core graduate work will begin mid-July with residency in Nebraska City and the classes on campus will not start until August so I’m hoping to have enough done for the former when the second round hits. But you know what they say about the “best laid plans”… heh!!

In any case, I’ve got a few good weeks to think more about it and truly, the classes that start in the fall can be dropped in August if need be. So I guess I have time to simmer about it.

The next things on my to-do list for school involve coming up with a proposed reading list for the term and maybe a short list of possible topics for my craft paper. The more prepared I am going in, the more I will get out of it. Right?!

Of course I have big ideas and that’s what gets me into trouble. I’m sure as soon as I’m done posting this I’ll be onto the next thing (or the things I had in my list last week or last month that are still not done). That’s just part of the SugarCookie life. 🙃😉

Time to roll.

Peace Out,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-11-29 Aaaaand That’s a Wrap…

Last night I finished polishing all the documents required for my MFA final that is due this week. I haven’t yet got feedback from my mentor on my 4th packet, but that’s not really a requirement. That’s one more thing checked off my list for November and I feel great about it. ✅😊❤️

I’m a little sad to not be attending residency this winter but it was a necessary sacrifice for my family and my sanity. Having a semester break between my first and second years in the program makes so much sense for several reasons…

1. My focus needs to be on moving and selling my house and finishing all my current work projects. I want those experiences to be positive and I want to have time to do a fantastic job and not just half-ass things. 🕰⏳⏰

2. Financially I can maximize the tax benefit of contributing to a 529 for all 4 semesters (4 years of max contribution) which equates to 2000 extra bucks in my pocket at tax time (500 per semester). 💵💰💲

3. Once my house is sold I will have enough to cover the next two semesters without taking a student loan. Again important for my bank account as I will save in whatever that interest would have cost me. 🏠💶💃

4. I’m skipping a term that starts with a residency in the winter. Being in Nebraska City in winter over Christmas break and the new year holiday is not awesome. Doing it this way I will get two more summer residencies and only one more that is over NYE. ⛄️👎🏻🌨

5. I will have my graduating lecture and graduation in Summer term which is superior to winter and I’ll be graduating in a traditional spring term with a larger class. ☀️🌈🥂👍🏻

I’ll also be sad about not graduating with the people I started the program with but, the benefits of skipping a term outweigh the negative things. And by now, you should know me. I’m all about that balance. ⚖️

So today I will not only be submitting those final assignments and sending hard copies in the mail, but also turning my attention to the rest of my November checklist which there are only two more days to complete.

I’m so looking forward to everything in December. 😊🎄📦 However, I also want to not jump ahead to quickly. I need to take some time and have some celebration for this semesters success and accomplishment. 💃🎉🍾 🎈

Time for me to go get this Thursday party started and tie a nice little bow on my final submission.

So Much Awesome!

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-11-25 Spin that Sunday Status DJ

It’s been such a strange long holiday weekend that today hardly feels like a Sunday. Alas it is yet, it will continue to not feel like Sunday since I have to work on multiple projects including preparing for another release of software tomorrow. I also have the house decorating party with the kids today and if I’m feeling ambitious I will work on my final summaries for school. We’ll see.

Last night I fell asleep at around 8 and woke up after 9. Since I’m low on sleep right now it would have been great to just sleep right through to this morning but that didn’t happen. I ended up going back to sleep around midnight with a little help from my little blue friend, Doxylamine succinate (Unisom SleepTabs). It’s an OTC antihistamine like Benadryl. It knocked my ass out and I slept until nearly 9, which was glorious. That kind of stuff leaves me feeling groggy and I don’t like that so I try not to do it too often. Like I said, it felt necessary which is the perfect lead in for today’s status…

Sleep.. 6 hours and 23 minutes per night on average for the week. Well under goal caused by a few seriously short nights. What’s up with that Mr. DJ??!! That made my monthly and yearly averages go down and I’m now just below my overall goal of 7 hours. 🤔

Exercise.. 14.3K steps per day. At the moment I’m only getting exercise from gym time and not taking classes at all so that’s all coming from the elliptical and treadmill and yard work. I haven’t lifted for months and I’m afraid my arms have turned to flab. I’m thinking about starting Jazzercise again which would help with that. 😊 I’m sort of holding off on that until the semester is over so I don’t start using that as an excuse to procrastinate.

Healthy Eating… Nearing the end of the month and at the beginning of November I had such high hopes with my goals. I’m sad to report most of that went to shit. There was too much drinking and indulging and the only thing I would count as a success is my abstaining from coffee and sweet drinks like that. It’s probably the wrong way to look at things but.. there’s always next month. 🤷‍♀️

Work.. My hours are low due to the holiday and I haven’t yet added them up for the week. I’m going to give this one a double – 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♀️

School.. Wrapping up the semester this next week. I spent a ton of time in the last week working on my 4th packet and finally pulled the trigger on sending that off yesterday (only 4 days late). Great success! ✅👍🏻✅. I also had a conversation with the coordinator of my MFA program letting her know I’m not enrolling this next term and will be returning in the fall. She understood and was overjoyed to hear about my engagement. Which leads right to my relationship status..

Happily Engaged! 💍 1 month out from celebrating our first Christmas together , 🎄, 2 months out from moving 🏰. These are crazy times. There’s nothing like getting everything you own out for decorating and packing at the same time. My house is likely to be a disaster for the next two months. Strangely, I’m ok with that. 😜

It feels like I’m forgetting something DJ?! What, oh what could that possibly be because I feel like I’ve already said too much.

Without further ado, It’s time now for me to switch gears and get back to enjoying my Sunday that’s not really a Sunday. 🎄✅😜👍🏻💍🤔🏰🤷‍♀️😊

12K and Climbing,

~Miss SugarCookie