2019-07-14 MFA Res Day 1 – Four, Three, Two, One.. Go!

The train has officially left the station and no time has been wasted getting up to full speed. The short story on what happened yesterday includes 4 lectures, 3 orientation/training sessions, 2 trips to the dining room, and 1 workshop. As an added bonus there was a faculty reading in the evening which is always one of my favorite events to attend.

The longer story includes my decision to switch things up with regard to the dining room to alleviate some anxiety about any awkward situations. In the morning I skipped breakfast and then had a quick bite in my room later in the morning (it’s not my first rodeo and I came prepared). At lunch I waited until lunch was almost over and then snuck in the dining room to eat alone. That felt a little strange but also just comforting somehow, being able to eat at my own pace without having to make small talk. I was planning to do a similar thing for dinner and hit the room super early when most people would still be in a mentor intro session. What I found when I arrived was one of my favorite mentors milling about and we grabbed a 4 top. Two other students joined us and it was a really great conversation! I left feeling like “if it was always like that, the dining room would not be a thing of dread”. Life!

Workshop was a generative session which was something new they added on for just this session for the poets, to balance with the record number of fiction and CNF crew in attendance this go round. The workshop was an open dialogue with the faculty about writing and risk it was superb.

The lectures were all top-notch as is typical and I took gobbs of notes. There’s far too much to consume and internalize but this I already expect and have let go of really trying. If I had a dollar for every author and book and article and poem and short story that are referenced as a “must read”, I would be able to buy a bookstore and committing to read them would mean reserving the rest of my life; doing nothing but reading. Not humanly possible.

At the end of the day, as is my way, I took my leave of all the people and found a quiet spot on the back deck, this time with a nice glass of red wine, to watch the sunset. Sunsets in Nebraska can be amazing and I don’t want to miss any opportunity to witness the plunge of light as the sun is swallowed by a canopy of trees, turning the sky to sherrbert for just an instant before darkness takes another turn at the helm.

Two nights ago I met Patrick on the balcony for the first time and last night he appeared again, as if just on que with the darkness. He sat his glass of wine next to mine on the table and we chatted for a while. I’m not sure how long. It was another great conversation.

Despite it being a nice time, thinking about it when I came inside made me feel homesick for Jim and I called him when I got back to my room. It was a quick chat, about nothing important, which was comforting. I then did some final prep for workshop today and then fell into bed for, what I hoped would be, better than the first night. I don’t care about leaving that to chance and took a Xanax.

According to my Fitbit I got only 4 hours and 46 minutes but for some reason I feel more refreshed today than I did yesterday. I’m thinking that has to be about quality and not quantity and the fact that today promises to be less action packed.

My hour here is almost up and I’m in serious need of a long shower and possibly some eggs from the breakfast buffet. If I’m going to make all that happen before our 8:30 start, I’ve gotta Jam.

Stay Frosty My Friends,

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-14 MFA Day 0 – Sunset at the Lodge

I arrived last night at 5PM sharp and almost EVERYTHING in my life decided to converge at that moment. I ended up missing the window for the MFA check-in which was supposed to be 3-5PM and let that go because getting to my room became an incredible priority for multiple reasons.

First, I had a conference call from 5-5:30 and that was my bad, for telling my boss 5-6 would be my only window of opportunity to meet. I misjudged the time and had zero minutes and zero seconds to get checked into the hotel and get my stuff into the room and hooked up to wifi for the call. At the EXACT same time, (and mind you I had been running around all afternoon AND driving to get to Nebraska City), my body decided to open the floodgates on the whole monthly cycle thing. *Spoiler alert* – GROSS! I literally had blood dripping down my leg as I hit my room, if that had happened 5 minutes earlier in the lobby, It would have been a complete disaster.

I spent the first 10 minutes of my conference call in the bathroom trying to take care of that mess. It WAS a mess. Why oh why does this ALWAYS seem to happen? (That’s rhetorical of course). All I can say is thank the Universe for audio only conferencing and mute buttons.

Then I had another call at 5:30 which went straight up to the moment I was supposed to be downstairs for the first meeting, a somewhat mandatory intro/orientation for the entire group out here this session – faculty, students, administrators. So I had to get there and switch gears in my brain with a quickness. That’s no easy task. I was frazzled, but hopefully It wasn’t obvious.

Straight away after that, was dinner (with the entire group), which was the first of many dining room events that cause me a fair bit of anxiety. I followed Margaret in and sat at the end of the table next to her and tried to make myself seem as invisible as possible. I just wasn’t any mood to be social, but I had to eat. Whatever. After that, I was able to go back to my room and slow down.

I made a few trips back and forth to my car to get the rest of my things and then also walked around the grounds a bit as the sun was setting. It was a fabulous sunset and I didn’t want to miss it so I stayed outside. Incidentally, my room this time is on the third floor and faces the woods behind the lodge and it’s just gorgeous. I’ll never tire of watching the sunset. I probably take to many pictures, and looking at them today it’s hard to say which one is best.

In any case, time alone, and having a few moments to decompress and process the events of the afternoon, I successfully navigated my way back to my happy place. I even ended up writing two poems and finished preparing for the first workshop which is this morning. I’ve got to get ready for that soon. The schedule today is fairly packed and I have an interest in just about every session, so it’s going to be busy busy.

Cheers to the Start of Something Great!

~Miss SugarCookie

2018-07-06 All’s Well That Ends Well

Yesterday I was in a funk for most of the day and felt highly UN-motivated about pretty much everytging. Then about 3:30 in the afternoon things started to turn around. What happenened? Well I picked my kids up from their dads house. A very not-noteworthy event but I dare say it was not a coincidence that after that things started popping.

When we arrived back home, I got back to work and had a call at 4pm which was very productive. Productive in the way that things are when an ever-elusive co-worker is actually present and hot on the trail of fixing something which has been blocking forward momentum (for me anyway). With that one, getting an ack that there’s a problem is the first step.

After that Z and I went for a drive to get our favorite fast food. It’s actually about a 20-25 minute drive from our place. Totally worth it though. Some QT in the car with just her and I and then the delish dinner. C elected to stay home and “fend for himself” since he was so newly reunited with the PC and gaming with his friends. I told him that would be ok as long as dinner wasn’t a bag of microwave popcorn (yeah, that’s me trying to parent). Whatev.

When we got back home, the aforementioned Work issue had been resolved so I was FINALLY able to do some real work. Not that the other stuff I was doing wasn’t real work, it just wasn’t real satisfying. I’ve decided my newest favorite thing to work on is AWS QuickSight. That’s the new hotness.

I’m connecting to data sources and writing custom fields and pulling all the data into some beautiful visualizations which can be published on dashboards. Sweet sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I still dig documentation, but let’s face it, That stuff is sometimes monotonous and boring.

After I pulled the trigger on sharing my results, I was super pumped and decided to use that burst of energy to go for a walk. I went to the track at the High Schoil and as I came over the hill to get there, I was provided with the gift of a pretty amazing sunset.

I walked as the Sun went down and the fireworks started again. No doubt with the storm that blew in on the 4th, People packed in for the night and ended up having a supply of unlit explosives. As I approached 15k steps, I heard back home. The Fitbit on my wrist buzzed before I arrived, signaling I hat hit my target goal for the day. More sweet sauce.

Despite how late it was, I still felt pretty awake so I decided some editing was in order. I’ve been remis at doing revisions of some of my poems based on feedback and it was on my to-do list to circle back and finish that up. I did a few and then got stuck on one particular one that’s a new style I was trying out. As I sat there thinking about the best way to describe the smell of gunpowder from a discharged air-bag, I started to feel myself fall asleep. That was my cue to call it a night.

It’s good to know that even when there are dips, things can bounce back easily. That’s life I guess.

Riding the Waves, 🌊🌊🌊

~Miss SugarCookie

2017-11-02 Maui Day 4 🌋

Of all the things to see and do while in Maui, visiting the volcanic area that is Haleakala was in the top three on my list. I say “was” because as of right now, that’s done and in the rearview.

Today we got an earlier start that any day thus far and were on the road in the 9AM hour. We discovered about a day after arriving that to see the sunrise, like one would normally try to do, you now have to reserve a parking pass because the summit is just too crowded at that time of day. At the time we were informed of this, it was already too late and all the reservations for the duration of our stay on the island were sold out. So we opted for sunset instead. This meant we didn’t have to hurry, which, as it turns out, is almost a necessity because my children seem very incapable of moving with any speed at all.

The drive to the mountain was mostly highway and nothing special. Navigating the road up was cake compared to what I drove yesterday. There was only one time I was a little freaked out and that had nothing to do with switchbacks, cliff drops, or sheer elevation. It had to do with potential breaks overheating.

Due to the fact we had plenty of time between 10AM and sunset at 6PM, I elected to take a side road, Waipoli, which was noteworthy in the guidebook Ken left on his coffee table. It is reported to have spectacular views, a stretch of road that goes through a redwood forest, and at the end, Polipoli state park. We got about 3/4 the way up and having driven through the “redwoods” already and enjoyed the view, I decided to not go the distance to the state park and just turn around and drive back down. As we neared the bottom of the road, I pulled off to the side of the road so I could put our next map destination into my phone, but when I did, I smelled something burning and smoke was coming from the car on the drivers side. Cue my mini freak out.

Back up a minute and let me describe our car situation. We are driving a 1995 Honda Accord (Ken’s “other” car) and it has over 200,000 miles on it. It looks and sounds pretty rough and when we first got in at the airport I sort of wondered whether this car would hold up with all the driving I knew I was going to be doing (plus the intensity of elevation climb and drop that comes with going up the side of a mountain). But Ken knows his car and didn’t seem worried, so I sort of shrugged it off as well. Right up until the moment I saw and smelled the smoke.

I didn’t let the kids see my anxiety because I want them to learn to stay calm in these situations and use their heads. Instead, I took a deep breath, popped the hood, and got out to take a look like I knew what I was looking for. Thankfully, the small bit of smoke I saw and the burning smell was coming up from under the wheel well and when I opened the hood, there was no sign of anything awry there. That was a huge relief.

Just about that time, a big SUV that had passed us going down the hill came back by and stopped to ask if we needed help. I explained the situation and they immediately concurred with me that the brakes had overheated. They asked if I had the parking break on slightly (which I didn’t) but had been riding the regular brakes pretty hard. They suggested letting it cool down a bit and then employing engine braking the rest of the way down. I know about this, but have never had to do it before. First time for everything.

I didn’t have patience to wait a half an hour like they suggested, so in another five minutes we were on our way again.. in second gear. It was not long before we were on the main highway and making our way back up another set of twisting and turning roads to get to Haleakala National Park.

We got to the park with hours to spare before sunset and were able to get to all the coolest scenic overlooks and mini hikes up and around the “carter” area. We even hiked for a bit on the “sliding sands” trail which extended miles into the valley of the mountain. When it got close to sunset we turned back and were able to get back up to the summit in time to find a nice spot to sit, huddled together with all our winter gear on (it’s super cold at 10,000 feet), waiting for that magic moment.

There were hundreds of other people waiting with us and it was not as peaceful as I would have liked, but I still had the same sense of joy and happiness wash over me as yesterday when we went to Nakalele. At one point Z looked up at me and said “Momma what’s wrong?”.

Tears streaming down my face, I could hardly verbalize how I felt. “I’m just so happy to be here with you, sharing this moment”. The sunset was amazing, but sharing it with my two beautiful children was priceless.

After the sun had sunk below the cloud line, we waited as lots of other people started to depart. There was another half an hour of colors changing in the sky on what was a horizon of clouds. We actually waited until it was quite dark before leaving because we wanted to see the stars. If it had not been for the full moon, I think the stargazing would have been spectacular. We were one of the last cars to drive back down the mountain.

As I was driving, I was thinking it was quite lucky that I learned my lesson about being in low gear on the way down to save the brakes. If I had not known to do that, we would have surely burned them up on the descent off the mountain and that could have ended very badly. It’s funny how life sometimes works out like that and you may not even realize it. All the decisions that we made lead us to learn things and potentially could have saved us from suffering some terrible tragedy.

This day was the earliest we were up in the morning and the latest we out at night. A long, yet satisfying day. Tomorrow.. The Road to Hana!

Mahalo,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-08-05 The “Hopeless” in Hopeless Romantic

Today I found myself feeling very anti-social and melancholy and consequently walking around Walnut Creek again. I arrived just about 45 minutes prior to sunset and when I began walking I paced myself so that I could enjoy the sunset from the path on east side of the lake looking west.

Most of the music that came up on shuffle tonight was not inspirational, until the very last turn when Soma by the Smashing Pumpkins came on and I thought to myself, “No more appropriate song to serenade the sunset for me tonight”. As I rounded that last corner, still walking east I kept peering behind me hoping I was not going to miss the final dip into the horizon. I didn’t. I even walked off the path toward the lake to have a seat in the grass and revel in the glory of the final minutes and seconds of the suns light as it disappeared from the sky.

I’ve always been captivated by the sunrise and sunset. I’ve always felt a certain tug from nature and a desire to make those events my number one priority in the instances the opportunities are near. I’ll drive in the wrong direction to have a better view. I will go out of my way to get to a higher vantage point or spend extra time waiting even if there is somewhere else I am supposed to be. There is just something special about witnessing the sunset. Something that just can’t compare to most things really.

It’s an acknowledgement of the cyclical nature of things and the significance and insignificance of everything we see and feel in this world. It brings about reflection about ones place in the universe and a peace that is complex and masterful. It’s a reminder of the variability of life and the cynical nature of time. The sun sets ever so slowly but is gone in the blink of an eye. As with life it is both quick and long and as long as I am able, I will continue to seek out these moments, these moments that happen every day but are also so few and far between. I want to sing to the sun “Nothing left to say; And All I’ve left to do; Is Run away from you”. It’s part of the nature of me. Some sort of hopeless romantic.

But what does the hopeless in hopeless romantic really mean? The very terminology is quite ironic as someone who is blessed or cursed with this affliction as I am knows, “hopeless” really means bound forever to hope. Hopeless in the way that there is no escaping from the hope of the grand ideals of romance. The endless daydream of something that is a kin to a fairy-tale story for the loves they may have in their life. Its a grandiose escape from reality. Some notion that the one true love of ones life is a perfect match that will sweep them off their feet and that life together will be bliss.

Not only that, but that every day will be one after the next of stolen kisses and holding hands and long walks and talks by the lake at sunset. Real life persists, but love conquers all. There is nothing hopeless about any of that, save the constant flutter that can’t be satisfied in ones heart at the thought of some of these daydreams coming true.

I blame this quality in myself for my inability to make connections with people I’ve met… because I’m hoping for something more. I described the other night how I felt when I first laid eyes on Matt and how I don’t really want to settle for anything less. If I dial it back a few years before that, I had the same feeling about another person, when they put their arm around me late in the night after driving me home from a party. And going back further still, way back to the beginning of my dating days when I first began speaking to Brian and felt that spark of something more. I know what it feels like and so now I will not settle for less.

I can say I have had it genuinely only once with the new people I have met recently and I’m having a hard time separating that or distilling it down to know if what I am feeling is real, or if it is just the fact that I want so badly to feel it. Are my daydreams getting the best of me or can there possibly be something more there? I’m hopeful and therefore I am hopeless. You see how ironic that is?

So it’s 10PM now and I’ve had a glass or two of wine on this fine Saturday evening. I’d decided hours ago that I wanted to spend the evening alone with my thoughts so I could try and gain some clarity in several areas. Ironic again because clarity does not present itself easily when wine is involved. A good night sleep probably won’t either, but I have all day tomorrow to relax and recover if I don’t sleep well. Hell, I have all day tomorrow and the next and the next and the one after that if I need it. So bring on another glass and let the daydreaming continue.

Cheers,
~Miss SugarCookie

2017-07-13 Sand Dollar Sunset Cheeseburger.. 4.25

I ended up booking a hotel in Rockaway Oregon because there were no rooms in Manzanita. Insert super sad face here but it’s good because I need to learn to branch out and try new things. I am now glad that I did because if it went differently I never would have experienced the Sand Dollar Cheeseburger.

The kids and I checked into the Silver Sands Motel around 5:30 PM and they immediately put their swim suits on and headed for the pool. The motel offered an indoor pool and hot tub which is, I think, pretty rare for these beach town motels. The pool was OK, and after I surveyed that they would be safe there, I wandered up and down the beach a bit. We spent so much time at the first beach we went to, the kids had no interest in this one, but that’s OK.

Later as the sun started to set it was time to figure out the dinner situation. I made the kids eat a piece of fruit while we talked about it. All they really wanted was french fries and I was in no mood to argue about it so I said I would find a place and bring them back some. The lady at the motel desk recommended the Sand Dollar, which was a convenient two block walk away.

Just as I arrived the sun was very low and I opted to sit out on the patio and have my cheeseburger while the sun set. It was a very generous patty cooked medium at my request. And for the first time in a while, it was actually served medium like they knew what they were doing. I ordered just the basic burger which came with Tillamook cheddar cheese (of course), onion, tomato, and house aioli (no lettuce at my request). It was served on a fresh and tasty bun. I ordered it with fries, which were cooked to perfection and had some really nice seasoning.

The first thing I did was cut the burger in half because it was quite large and I was sure that was all I would be able to eat. It was juicy but not too juicy and the sauce was really good, but not overpowering. The flavor of the burger came through nicely. At some places all you can taste is the sauce or the bun or something else, but this was just right. It was the perfect proportion of all the ingredients.

The sun set while I was waiting for my food and the place closes at 9PM. I did not want to linger and overstay their hospitality for allowing me to order so late so I quickly finished my half burger and took the rest to-go with an extra side of fries for the kids.

When I arrived back at the motel, they were starving and it had only been about 15 minutes since I left the restaurant but I opted to eat the other half of the burger right then. It was so good. The kids did not care for the seasoning on the fries, but what do they know, they are just kids. 😛

I would highly recommend this restaurant, not just for the food, but also the friendly service and wonderful view. I give it a solid 4.25. My only other comment would be to arrive early enough that you relax on the patio and enjoy the view while you dine. I would definitely go there again.

Cheers,
~Miss SugarCookie