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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 136

You know what question I hate? "What do you write?" I always want to answer smart-alecky, like, "Oh, words mostly. Sometimes single letters, often including various forms of punctuation. Like commas, I write a lot of commas."

I never do, though. I say, "Essays." [blank look] "Like, personal essays?" [right now that person thinks I am hoping to make a living off of book reports, what I did over summer vacation pieces, and world geography themes] "Like memoirs, only about places, and birds or rocks. Sort of. It's called creative nonfiction." [the last bit is sort of mumbley trailed off]

I wrote a half page on the new theme for 52/250, but likely won't submit it. I have a couple of other ideas, both better than this one--but at least I forced myself to write something. I also spoke more with the guy who might need a tech writer. I am worried that he is running a dotcom, not a viable business, so we shall see.

Still tired, still uninspired, still too beat to soldier on anyway. Some nights there are comforting sounds of domesticity in my apartment complex, other nights the sounds are eerie, furtive--I lie awake trying to work them out.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 135

I'm slipping.

My days are spent in an unsatisfactory and unchallenging haze. I have no energy to write and am getting more and more restless. I don't want to get out of bed in the morning--I prolong having to start another crappy day until the last damn minute. By the time I get home, I am too frustrated, sad, and overstimulated to write.

I feel like I have been stuck in a very small space for a long time. My mind is always wandering; I can't focus and I have an abundance of nervous energy. Add that to the pissed off thing, and I am a veritable BUNDLE OF GOODNESS, by which I mean the exact and complete opposite of that.

I just want to climb under the blankets with a book and read until I fall asleep. That's all I want to do in the world. And I won't wake up until things are better. Until there's something to hope for again, until there is a plan to execute. I remember the waiting being excruciating last year. I wanted something else to occupy my mind this year, but maybe that's an impossible wish.

I guess that's it. I am going to do some Spanish homework before passing out. I feel like today was an epic fail.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 134

I might not like people enough to be a writer. I think I have brought this up before.

I'm pissed off most of the time. I used to add "lately" to that sentence, but for how many years can you add lately before it needs to just be dropped. Maybe I am just pissed right now because I am stuck in a town I mostly despise in a job that is wildly beneath my abilities. Maybe that's it.

And before, it was because I had no direction and was partying too much to have any self-respect. And before that, because I had given my life over to someone with nothing to give back, not even decency. Before that... I had married badly. And before that? Maybe I wasn't so pissed? I can't remember. I don't think I used to be mad all the time. 

So, for the past fifteen years, I have been frustrated by my willingness to take the easy, rather than right road. It seems reasonable, that I am my own worst enemy, etc etc. Except, that isn't the problem now, is it? Unless waking up late is the easy road vs. getting up to write (right). Was moving here the easy road? Fuck it doesn't feel like that. And even if it was, I am definitely glad I took it (even if I REALLY don't like this town, moving here has been good).

I am just tired of being mad and frustrated all the time. I don't see how I can shift my expectations or adjust my attitude in my current situation. I mean, I can't even picture what that might look like. To me, acceptance is acquiescence. Looking on the bright side means settling, giving up.

It's late. I need to sleep. This morning, I wrote a little on the Night essay and later, I exchanged a set of emails with the potential job contact. Fingers crossed.

Monday, December 27, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 133

I wish I was in bed right now. Instead, I am trying to wait out the world's most stubborn cat who refuses to use his new litterbox, thus allowing me to drift unworried to sleep. It's a glamorous life, folks.

The Night essay got a little love this morning, and should get more tomorrow. I also wrote to someone who may have, or know of, a technical writing gig. Man, that would rock.


In other news, I need some sleep. Fingers crossed that the jerky cat gets it right tonight. 'Cause right now, he's just standing in front of it howling and moaning like Blanche Devereaux.

In even OTHER news, I have a sweet new docking station, but when I tried to move files from my old computer to my grand and roomier external drive, one of the drives on Old Bessie vanished (full disclosure: I walked away for a minute and when I came back the screen was just at the desktop like I had never even been transferring files). It is still gone after multiple restarts and any pointers to it are now unrecognized. It's like, Atlantis gone. Advice? Would fixing the boot record possibly help?

365 days of being a writer: day 132

The holiday has my schedule all off. This is really last night's post. Pretend all those hours of weird uncomfortable dreams of not-quite-success never happened. Unless that was just me, in which case, never mind.

Yesterday, I didn't write. I could have, but I suppose I was taking another day off. Or else, I let lazy win for the day. Possibly, I didn't care. It's hard to tell.

Sending off all the applications leaves kind of a vacuum. I need to get cracking more seriously on my Night essay. I know the things I want to talk about, but I am not sure why, and there needs to be an "arc" in this new age of literature. No one wants to read an essay that simply informs, maybe not even me--why else would I prefer David Quammen's funny biology essays so much more than Stephen Jay Gould's scientific ones?

I did some work organizing some Spanish lessons on my iPod and I went to the botanical garden and got a book I've been looking for on pollinators. Will anyone take science essays seriously from someone without a science degree? Does anyone out there know of any precedents?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 131

I took yesterday off.

And then, at the end of it, I started to write. It was all just pent up feelings of anger and sadness about the last couple of days with my family. It wasn't soothing or cathartic to let it out: it felt mean and bitter. So I crumpled it up and threw it out. Not everything that can be written down, should be.

Friday, December 24, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 130

Or, there's not enough eggnog in town to take my edge off.

It was slow enough this morning at work that I managed to get a bit of writing done. It was a hard day, I ruined a couple of Christmases (or so you'd think to hear it), and was up all day. First, I thought my hours had been cut then I had to watch people rush around on their most inconsiderate and intolerant behavior.

Then I had to go to my parents for Christmas Eve, where I thought I would be doing a gift exchange with my folks and sister's family. Once there, and unable to leave, I was told no, I would just be opening my presents in front of a bunch of extended family members (half of whom I've never met before). It was awesome. Not.

It frustrates me that I don't have the option of retreat or withdrawal here. If I am going to be stressed out frustrated in a crowd, why am I a shithead for wanting to stay out of the crowd? Why is it inconsiderate of me to want to preserve my sanity?

I didn't used to think that I had one of those difficult families that make the holidays hard, but that's because I lived far away for over 15 years. That is what I need to do again, and as soon as possible.

As far as the writing and brainstorming, I am thinking about night and being a night owl and how the night affects pollinators and flowers. I am not sure yet how they tie in together, but I've still got a bit of time.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 129

Retail work makes many people hate Christmas. I try hard not to be one of them, but then I don't have time to get a tree, people are rushing around being jerks, holiday bonuses-like ration books-are this mystical thing people in the olden days used to get, and "time with my loved ones" becomes a couple of hours after my shift.

We can laugh with each other on the sales floor some days. And if you aren't there, you miss the joke. We see people trying to steal extra samples, cutting in front of each other in line, deciding how much to spend based on how much care they feel ("It's just my brother's family"), treating the "help" like servants.

People just suck. They are greedy and small minded and will get away with as much as they can. That's what retail teaches you. That money and things are the most important things in the world. If I worked in an emergency room I might suspect it was blood and plasma, but I don't.

So. I was helping people get their prime ribs and their turkeys and their cheese platters today. There was no time to write and there won't be tomorrow. I read up a bit on literary criticism during breaks--it was the best I could do.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 128

I'm pretty lucky. Not that it feels that way, not that I feel that way, but I know it to be true. It's probably one of those things I just have to say over and over until I believe it all the way.

Today was pretty awful. But despite all the unpleasantness, I finished my app to the University of Washington. It goes Priority Mail tomorrow.

UW done

Only one school left, and that one is going in Feb. I can exhale a little: it's in the hands of the Professors of the World, now. And now, I can get back to writing.

But for RIGHT now, there is a brilliant thunder and rain storm, and bed, in the dark is the best where and how for that.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 127

I am going to try EXTRA hard to rush this and then get into bed.

I stay up too late.

Today was full of more money-induced anxiety. I am being railroaded, because the assumption on the bank's part is that I have no way to fight back. And they're right. I asked the woman on the phone today, "How is any of this supposed to encourage me to pay my debt off? Or do you not care about that anymore?" My bank has sent my debt off somewhere, and they don't care about it anymore. Except somehow they do, but they don't care about me anymore in the equation. Since I am no longer a "good" customer, I no longer deserve courtesy or respect or decency. These times, I tells ya.

But enough about that. I filled out my online app for Washington. Still need to fill out the LONG and COMPLICATED assistantship application. That I already filled out once, but didn't (apparently) save. Why are they all different? Why can't there be one application? They all need the same information. Why can't you fill out one application and then upload all of your different docs and pay your fees like Submishmash? But then, do I really want college to be one big slush pile? No, I do not.

I did not win even a mention of a mention in the American Literary Review competition. I don't seem to have been a finalist, either. That happens.

Today I wrote a lot of tweets, both for work and for me.

I am getting really tired of freaking out all the time. Is it just this town, just finally knowing what I want to do and being unable to do it like I'd like, or just just? Goodnight, moon.

Monday, December 20, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 126

I accomplished nothing today.

At work, I spent a 20 minutes writing a few paragraphs, at home I spent over an hour fighting with first my printer, then my stapler. I won in the former case, lost in the latter. And I was an asshole throughout the process.

Even though I got all three of my recommendations tonight, I can't mail out my University of Washington application yet. It is due ON January 2nd. So, I am probably paying for some crazy shipping at this point. I am so tired of applying right now. I really just want to be done, so I can move on to the fingernail chewing waiting and going nuts waiting and oh my god why won't they just send the letter waiting. And then, after that, I can just be done. Think up something else to do. I am a master at thinking up things to do.

Other things I didn't finish today: the dishes, cleaning my house, the laundry, etc. I had to enter one mall and one strip mall. I wrapped some presents. I got the bare minimum of decorations up (with help), but again--not without being a jerk about the whole thing. I can only think of jerky things to say at this point, so I am putting myself to bed.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 125

This is the coolest thing ever. This fellow Twitter-er and cnf-er, @spitballarmy, posted a little challenge last week: write some music-inspired tweets and you could win a music mix inspired by your cnftweets. Well, I won!

Here is Fred's mix, which I totally dig, along with the cnftweets of mine he used for inspiration.

Lieutenant, my nose will not stop running!*

I haven't written yet, spending the bulk of the day hiking up, then down a local mountain. But I am about to remedy that with some pre-sleep free writing about night. Things that go bump in the, the right times, silent, etc.

Here's me hiking the shit outta that shit (and before low blood sugar and screaming knees turned me into a sourpuss):

*apologies to Galway Kinnell

Saturday, December 18, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 124

Christmas time carried me to bookstores today. I got some good gifts for me immediate family. There a couple of staunch non-readers, and they'll be getting alcohol. Otherwise, everyone gets books. I showed remarkable restraint and only bought myself two books. One is some great "literary canon" type essays on National Parks--Twain, Stenger, Muir, etc. The other is a book of nonfiction "picto-essays" -- basically comics, but essays. I'm really stoked fir the coming season of reading.

My perfect life would be one involving reading and walking around all day, then writing about same. Maybe for a couple of years, garden--and write about that, then, a couple if years, travel. This is why in hoping for that Publishers Clearinghouse thing to come through.

All of the edits on the bees are done. Tomorrow, I'll print it and add it to the UW packet.

The Night contest deadline was extended, so that is the next priority. And then KSU and then a piece for a magazine that I have in mind. Consider that my Pipeline for now.

Friday, December 17, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 123

What's the half-way point of a year? 182? Seems like a long way off, but it's not at all.

I applied to Penn State today. That's five. The only two left are Washington and Kansas--and the latter won't go out until February. The half-way point.

Today I lost it. I got really caught up with how trapped I am here. Which is true, but also unhelpful. The applications feel like the only lifeline out, so trying to get them right, good enough, whatever becomes the only thing that matters.

I'm beat to hell. I'm tired. It's been four months of this experiment, and I don't have any clearer idea about it being the right thing to do. I'll just leave it at that for tonight.

A mini piece is up at the 52 / 250 blog: Fishing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 122

The days are just blending now. I am not so stoked for this Christmas. I think I like the holidays when I can't buy anyone all the stuff I'd like to the least, and being here, that fact is unavoidable. I can't just send a card. They'll ALL be here. And they all just want STUFF. It's depressing that that's what Christmas is all about over here, is I guess what I'm saying.

I did get up early today, sort of. I did not get up early ENOUGH but then I stayed home later than normal to make up for it. This means I had to drive instead of taking the bus. You know what I hate? Driving. And owning a car. And also driving it.

I get demoralized when I have to drive, and I am always just on the edge of a nervous breakdown. And I get pissed. Fucking traffic. Fucking rocks flying around hitting windshields (that aren't covered under fucking Arizona goddamn insurance). Stupid ass hoses and belts and tires and all other manner of bits of the godamned thing that crack or snap or flatten or tear. And did I mention traffic? O how I hate shit-eating jerkoffs who have to: beat you to the light, cut around you even though you're ALREADY fucking speeding, ride your ass 'cause you're not speeding ENOUGH, slow down as soon as they get around you just to be a dick, weave in and out of all the lanes trying to get ONE LOUSY CAR LENGTH ahead of everyone else, gun their engines in the turn lane to get around you, make their brakes a disco ball 'cause they're riding the person in front of THEM, talk on the phone and thusly weave over all the lanes and play the gas pedal like it's a musical fucking instrument and the speed limit is a damn fugue. You know? Not that it has anything to do with writing but it makes me SO DAMN MAD that I can't do anything else except slam doors and kick the cat around after having to drive during rush hour.

I don't really kick the cat. Come ON.

SO, that said, I would love to hear what makes any of y'all out there so mad you can't write or play or whatever it is that you do. It would help me feel a little less freakish.

This morning I worked on a probably-final edit of the bees. There might be one more bit of feedback coming in. Now I'm just waiting for my letters of recommendation before sending off this UWashington app.

(Aside: I just went to YouTube to find a suitable "temper tantrum" video to include, and well. There's a lot. And except for a couple of the four year olds, none were very close. But then I figured that the big ass sweary paragraph up there probably gives a good enough impression. So instead, here's another nice song.)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 121

People often ask me what a Transatlantic Enchilada is, exactly (in my mind). So here is the story behind the blog name.

A week after I got laid off from my well-paying job AND dumped by a millionaire-- all in one day, a friend came to visit from England. She is heaps of fun, vivacious, a devil-may-care type. In that PARTICULAR week, I was a shell-shocked, bawling, high and also drunk type (moreso than I had been prior to the layoff and such, anyway). We did not exactly MESH over that particular visit--aside: this is all the more tragic as the last time she had visited, I was unhappily--and loudly so--married to a drunk and living in New Orleans. I swear, there are some good times around here. Sometimes.

Anyway, we had this grand idea to start up a blog, wherein we would write literary-types of letters to each other across the Atlantic. So there's your trans bit. The enchilada part comes from this John Prine video:

(Incidentally, how lovely are those kitchen chairs?)

Read the lyrics, lady!

Our blog never took off, as she didn't "get" blogging. So then I invoked (I almost typed Manifest Destiny) Eminent Domain, took the place over and built my factory here.

Today I got up early and wrote a dense, single-spaced page without stopping. Going to sleep now so I can do the same again tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 120

I really wanted to watch some TV when I got home today. It's such a symptom of over-stimulation and under-nourishment.

And I looked for something to watch, too. Luckily, my favorite shows are on break and I couldn't find the movie Sweetgrass online. Instead, I slogged through the online application for the University of Wyoming. So now, I've applied there, too.

That's four.

Preliminary reviews on the bee essay are positive. If I hear back from my letter of recommendation-ers I will be ready to mail that application next week. Kansas won't be until after the end of January. So that leaves Penn State. I am waiting to hear back from them about emailing my new writing sample and SOP.

I also scribbled the first few paragraphs of maybe a short story. Maybe. Now, I am going to take a hot bath, and then go to sleep so I can get up early and write.

Anyone know any good resources to help drill how to avoid comma splices into my head? I am the fucking QUEEN of the comma splice, and I would like not to be.

Monday, December 13, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 119

Must sleep.

Today I edited the bees, made notes for a possible inrto to an essay about Night, and submitted to three schools.

Texas Tech is an online app, so there is no sweet pic, but here are the other two:


U of AZ

If all goes well, they will be in tomorrow's mail. That's three down, four to go.

Now, as the sewer rats say in Rangoon, "We wait."

Sunday, December 12, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 118

The packets are nearly all assembled, I finished draft two of the bees. It was a hard edit and I was totally a baby about it first thing in the morning.

I need time with edits. I need the chance to look them over and get comfortable with them before having to talk about them, I think. By the end of today, I was looking forward to thinking about and acting on information that was unwelcomed in the morning (especially unfortunate for my thoughtful and attentive editor).

My brain has been spinning about what I want to write next. I really wanted to submit to Creative Nonfiction's "Night" contest, but I don't think now that I'll have time. I'm still going to try and at least put something together. I have also started thinking about how I might want to go about my literary criticism paper for KSU. I want to talk about Diane Ackerman and hummingbirds, about truth and fact, and about the responsibility of an essayist vs a poet to write not just truth, but also fact. Maybe. Could I make that a ten page paper?

This happened last year, and I can't stop it from happening again, but I have been allowing myself to envision a next year reality where I am in school, focusing on writing and classes. It's dangerous stuff considering the likelihood that my heart will be broken again. It is hard to balance the desire to have a back-up plan and the desire to spend my energy right now doing what I can to make my first choice happen.

If you want to read 15 pages about bees, drop me a line and I will email you a copy. If you don't, I'll still love you.

365 days of being a writer: day 117

Today I went over to a friend's house and sewed a skirt, with generous amounts of help from said friend. It was great.

I think I needed some gratification, to "make" something and have it be a success. That is the good thing about knitting, but it also takes a lot of time--whereas this skirt only took a few hours (because I am painfully slow at sewing). With the writing, I might finish a piece and never have the same kind of gratification as 'it fits! and it looks like an actual skirt! and I'm not embarrassed to wear it! I really can sew!' It makes me want to start another sweater is what it does...

I also printed off all of the manuscripts and SOPs. I still need to do a final edit on the bees, and I have time on the KSU application. I just realized that I haven't gotten my letters of recommendation back yet, so I need to send out a reminder tomorrow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 116

Today was saved from complete lassitude by two emails. One was from one of the (editors? organizers? cat herders?) over at 52 / 250. It was complementary of my submission. They post all submissions, so that's not exactly a "win" per se, but his feedback was much needed.

The second was actually an email wherein an editor I admire recommended I write to Kristin Hersh and see if she'd let me interview her. Which I did. Eeeeee! I don't know if I'll hear back, but it would be pretty awesome if I did.

The rest of the day was spent lizarding, lazying, and otherwise lay-abouting. Sometimes you just have to lay around all day, I guess.

365 days of being a writer: day 115

I tried to make pita bread tonight, but I rushed the yeast, and it failed to rise. Instead of airy pockets, I have chewy, dense disks. If I only I could analogize this experience somehow...?

I have tomorrow off; I will be trying to bundle packets. I will be paying some application fees, finalizing some manuscripts.

Today I wrote 250 words for a flash fiction site. The theme was "Missing the Bus," a situation with which I have much familiarity.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 114

I have an Internet reprieve.

In other news, something in my house smells like onions, but there are no onions here.

Still other news, I'd like to talk briefly about how stoked I am that the two directors at TTU and KSU spoke with me at such length. I have not called all of the schools, so I can't speak for every one of them, but at Penn State, Portland State, and University of Washington I was never "patched through" to the program director. I got an email address or an offer of help from the admin who answered. I have not called University of Wyoming or University of Arizona (I have had an offer to get introduced to someone at UA, and it is interesting to me that I haven't wanted to take that offer).

Both of the MA directors were honest and encouraging, notwithstanding the fact that I might not even make the cut into one of their programs.

Today I submitted the starlings to Iron Horse (TTU's lit mag). And I made a huge batch of falafel, so I will fall asleep to the smell of blackened chickpeas in grease. But they were goddamned good.

I tweeted about WikiLeaks today. This means I can't get a job at the State Department.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 113

Still no Internet. Apparently the online payments weren't going through and it was shut off. Remember how you used to get warnings? Oh well. I may go without Internet for a bit the , as I'm not willing to be charged a reconnection fee. This may involve some creativity on the part of keeping up the project. Can't go to the coffeeshop everyday.

Anyway, I wanted to write about how I talked to the director of KSU's grad program and about how informative and gracious he was to me. How the only other school to take the time to talk with me (that I've reached out to, to be fair) is Texas Tech. I wanted to ponder how telling it is that only admin assistants seem to have time or interest in talking with me in the MFA programs... But instead, I'm gong to bed cause I Fucking hate trying to blog on my iPhone.

Monday, December 6, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 112

No Internet at home means a shitty post full of auto-correctedness. After two solid days of writing, I'll admit it, I slept in. My only writing today was a small blurb on promoting native pollinators (so weird that opportunity would appear after a weekend of writing about just that thing...)

I also tried to call KSU, but missed the director. Will try back on wednesday. When I got home I start assembling the materials I have into packets. Tomorrow I will take a stab at reworking the bee intro.

Goodnight, y'all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 111

I finished a draft of the bee essay. I think it sort of crumples upon itself in the last page, but I will be editing it this week, along with assembling my packets for schools. The only school I won't be putting together is KSU, as I still need to talk with the director about whether or not I should apply.

Today was hard, I sat in my apartment and wrote all day, taking breaks only to make food and surf the web.

It was lonesome work.

The words themselves came relatively easily, after compiling the scads and scads of research, except for the intro and conclusion. Those definitely need work. And I need to make sure I have decent transitions. This whole paper is just for University of Washington, and I don't even know if they'll accept it. Hah! But it's more experience, right? And it inspired another piece that I may or may not try to put together for the Creative Nonfiction competition in January.  In any case, now I need to collapse myself.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 110

Bees bees bees bees bees bees bees bees. I have spent most of the day writing or getting ready to write or taking a break from writing about bees.

Tonight I tried to be social for a change and failed as usual. I am putting the blame squarely on this crummy town (for the sake of preserving the delicate bit of self-esteem I've shored up in the last few years). People here don't seem interested in making new friends. This has nothing to do with writing, just more bitching about needing to get out of here.

I also spent a bit of time listening to two academics (I think they might remember it as "us" talking). While their exclusionary style of conversation was pretty annoying, I was envious of their passion. If I were in an academic setting, I suppose I could go chat up some biology grad students about bees, or talk research with a scientific writing major.

Honestly, I'd probably have just as much trouble at cocktail parties anywhere. Firstly, I'm a watcher, not a performer. And B, I require warming up and warming up to. To be fair, I gave up on this town at some point over the summer. I am no longer invested in the process of reaching out, of making connections. I have one foot out the door.

Where was I? Oh right, bees, bees, bees, bees, bees, bees, bees, bees.

Friday, December 3, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 109

I know most of the words to a Pussycat Dolls song. I might have sung along to it at karaoke. I did NOT sing actual karaoke, Pussycat Dolls or otherwise.

But it does make me think about the snobbiness of my reading and writing. I am a snob about everything. It's funny, because I am usually all self-deprecating, like 'who am I to say what's good and what isn't?' Yet, I will wrinkle up my nose and then look dramatically down it at all sorts of things. NCIS? Cheesy. Lie to Me? Interesting. ER? Fuggetaboutit. House? Bookmarked on Hulu. The Historian? Read it. Twilight series. Nuh uh. I am hoping that once the hipster is out of vogue, we can stop worrying about liking things ironically or not. You know what? I like Britney Spears' Circus. I like Stephen King short stories. I like hostess cupcakes. They aren't guilty or ironic pleasures. Singing along in the car to music so loud it's rattling the windows is fun. Giving myself the heebee-jeebees, also fun.

Why is the MFA the degree everyone wants? Is it because they are all certain (despite mountains of evidence to the contrary) that it's a short cut to the magical land of teaching jobs and getting out of the slush pile? I have no such delusions. At this point, I accept that I will need a PhD to do anything academically. I am hoping that any program that accepts me and that I can afford will give me an indication as to whether or not I want to continue in academia.

Maybe I'll hate being back in school. I doubt it, but maybe I'll hate being broke all the time.

All of December will be applications. I really had hoped to be done by now with all this. I wrote a little blurb today, just the beginning kernel of an essay. It'll have to wait until the bees are done though.

The best thing I read all day was this: Reference Season. Wherein our intrepid former MFA professor walks us through how he decided who would get the axe and who the wreath of roses. It's a marvelous, scary, and imperceptibly encouraging piece. Maybe maybe maybe.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 108

It's tough to be bummed out when it is someone's birthday. I drank some honey wine tonight and bowled (terribly). But this space is about writing.

I spent most of today trying to make something of a birthday happen, not writing. I did call two universities to clarify some requirements, and I made some adjustments to my manuscripts and statements as a result. I also finished requesting transcripts from Portland Community College (I took Environmental Science perspectives in Biology back in 1993). All that's left (transcript-wise) is Rio Salado and this last semester of astronomy.

I also made tiramisu and finished a sock, but that's neither here nor there. And I watched a great episode of Nature at on Cuba. Man I want to go to Cuba. They have the world's smallest hummingbird AND the world's smallest bat. And the Cuban crocodile.

AND I received a book in the mail from a fellow writer, and I am really excited to read some of it tomorrow on the bus for #FridayReads.

Finally, my Utah essay was already turned down by the journal I submitted it to on Sunday or Monday, whenever it was. And @cnfonline retweeted THREE of my tweets from the last week. Look, I'll take what I can get.

Happiness is a mindset, a state of mind. My debt is really depressing. My commute and day job suck. But there are good things. I mean for years something was wrong and I didn't know what--I had no long term plan, no ultimate goal. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I have somewhat of a handle on what I want and need. These are good things, even if I can't quite envision all of the steps to get there just yet..

As far as things I have accomplished in the last year, here are three:
1. I finished a half marathon.
2. I was published in McSweeney's Internet, Sea Stories, VenusZine, and The Rumpus.
3. I paid off my car (year and a half early).

That's not nothing. Everything's a process and it'll all turn out in the end.

I really want to go to school next fall, though. Really. I hope someone will take a chance on me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 107

Welcome to InsomniaLand: You can sleep when you're dead! A friend is turning 38 this week, and we talked briefly about how that felt. I will be turning 38 in six months, and need to prepare.

"I just thought that by now..." and then he put his finger to his mouth, like his own hand didn't want him to finish that sentence. I wasn't sure if I should coax the rest out, or let it stay in. It's a private place, this place of uncertainty. Though, I can't guess at what his next line would have been, here are some of mine (I'll probably revisit this theme more than once during "wait for word" season):
  1. ...I'd have an actual home, with maybe a garden, and a sewing room, and someone to share it with.
  2. ...I'd be doing a reasonable facsimile of what I want to do with my life, career-wise.
  3. ...I'd be making time for travel (instead of paying off soul-crushing debt).
  4. ...I'd be in a financial situation that didn't trigger a full-blown anxiety attack every time I thought about it for more than 3 minutes.
OK, I am supposed to be glad that I was laid off, so that I could realize that I'm a writer, not a computer programmer or paper-pusher. But fuck me. This is a dumb idea on so many levels, it is awfully hard to appreciate the loss of my livelihood.

I shouldn't be trying to go to school just to teach over-privileged kids how to write or trying to get stupid lit mags to print my ridiculous essays for nothing. I should be trying like crazy to get another job that pays actual money. I should be spending 365 days trying to get a gig programming or pushing paper so I can get out from under my debt.

And for those who feel the urge welling up within them to say something like, "You're still young! Try being 97 (or 43 or 62) and feeling that way!" Please don't. That just reinforces the hopelessness of the situation, if all I can look forward to is the next sixty years sucking as much as right now does.

Who honestly thinks that line helps anyone? You're broke? At least you HAVE a job. You think you have it rough? Try being A GAY HIGH SCHOOL KID. YOU'RE BUMMED OUT? TRY NOT HAVING ANY FINGERS OR TOES OR EYELIDS. Oddly enough, the fact that misery and sadness and unfocused rage is everywhere isn't as comforting as some would have you believe.

I am so afraid of drowning some days, it feels like I'm gulping at air all day. This isn't bravery, it's not clarity of vision. It's some kind of desperation play to hold on to a life of immaturity and gratification until I am dragged kicking and screaming from it to pauper's prison. It's the most selfish and childish choice I could have made two years ago.

But since there are ten more minutes of recess: today I stayed home because I felt shitty. I thought I would rest up and get some writing done, but I did not. I did get the last of my research documented and organized, I compiled three manuscripts (in three different lengths) for five of the seven schools. I decided to add a line about wanting to focus on longer essays -- so much of what I have written is brief, I'd really like the luxury of time and attention to spend on a subject. Especially birds and rocks. Those are the two things that I'd like to explore, lately. And the places they both congregate, like on hikes and in National Parks. Anyway. It all seems like elaborate daydream architecture right now. Daydreaming is definitely something that Tiggers do best, so I'm going to go lie down and get back to it.