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The latest issue of Dappled Things arrived in my mailbox late last week–complete with my new name in the table of contents and on page one.


I am so thrilled to be a part of this publication, and in particular to have this little story appear in it–the first that I ever wrote and workshopped in grad school. And what is more, my story is also up on their website!

There are some pretty nifty things in this issue, including a great story by Arthur Powers and (as usual) some amazing poetry. So I highly recommend you buy the issue–your money won’t go to waste.


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Thirty Days

It is my second to last real day in this apartment before I pack up some things and move back with my parents to await the wedding. When I come back—save, maybe, a night here and there if I need to be in the city for some reason—it will be with Keith, and it will not be to this corner bedroom, with its sunny windows and desk in the corner. I am both glad of that, and a little nostalgic.

Right now I am knitting nupps for my bridal shawl, and it isn’t the horrid struggle so many knitters complain of, but a peaceful process. I sit here, all the blinds drawn open, surrounded by trees that wave through the windows, as though I myself am sitting in their branches. There are passing cars and muffled voices, but those tend to fade into the background of my awareness. There is also a chiming from someone’s windcatcher, a series of high, melancholy notes that follow one another sometimes at a distance, sometimes on each other’s heels, and I think I should like to write the story they are telling, the one that pulls at something in my chest and the corners of my eyes.

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Here are a few of the things I did yesterday evening instead of finishing the syllabus for my summer course:

–Loaded 1/3 of the bridal shower gifts into my car so I can transport them to the apartment tomorrow or Tuesday.

–Sorted through the old (bordering on ancient) AWP Chronicle mags and throwing out 15 of them. (I kept four because they had articles that looked interesting, but the probability is I will never read them.)

–Thrown away some ratty clothes, put away some nice clothes in a bag for Goodwill. Probably more will end up in this bag. But it seems I have to consider giving clothes away a couple times before I decide to actually do it. (Except for that hoodie in the back of my closet that an ex-boyfriend gave me. I could’ve sworn I’d already gotten rid of that. Into the bag.)

–Sorted through half a shelf of paper junk, including: my writing from when I was 15 and under; printed out emails; printed out recipes; printed out directions for polymer clay projects; my “I’m famous” folder of all my publications, newspaper appearances, etc; pictures people have drawn for me; etc. The recipes, polymer clay projects, etc have all been tossed. My writing and “famous” stuff is still around, but condensed into fewer folders.

–Made a half-hearted attempt to go through the letter drawer in the desk before realizing this was a project for another day. (Note that in addition to this drawer, I have six shoe-boxes full of handwritten letters.)

–Wrote this blog post.

Getting rid of stuff is always cathartic and satisfying. But there’s a real element of difficulty to some of it. Those letters, for example. There’s no question of throwing away the ones written by my cousins over the years … especially now that both of those cousins are in the convent. But there’s a box of letters, too, from a bunch of girls I met on a trip to Rome and kept in touch with for a few months … and who are now completely absent from my life. They all went to a boarding school in Rhode Island, a beautiful place I once went to on retreat–a school run by an organization I was very involved with as a girl but which I would be isolated from as a teenager.

I could throw away those letters.

But the thing is those letters–tangible objects–are really the only things that remind me of that part of my life. That those girls existed, that for a short time I was emotionally invested in them, and they (to varying degrees) in me. My trip to Rome; the school in Rhode Island; the organization and the good and bad memories I have of it … That particular letter-writing phase was a small, distinct chapter in my life, one which carries meaning, but isn’t something I carry around consciously. And I forget about it, even though it is, in some way, a part of me. It’ll be in my psyche somewhere if I throw away the letters, sure. But will I ever remember it? Won’t I be throwing away some tangible part of myself?

(This is probably how people become horders, isn’t it?)

Most of the boxes in the new place are unpacked, except for the books. I don’t want to bring boxes of baggage with me into a marriage, or leave (too many) of them behind for my parents to keep. But my tossing will be thoughtful. Maybe too much so. Maybe not.

(PS: The syllabus did, in fact, get done. Yay.)

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Creative Kindle Use

Two weeks ago I received my new Kindle in the mail. Last week I mailed the old one back. I haven’t yet had a chance to sync the new gadget with my old account. But having a Kindle again means I’ll probably be posting about my (sort of) complicated relationship to it on here at some point.

In the meantime, I found this interesting post about a writerly use of the Kindle. It makes me want to send one of my own stories to my Kindle right now. I wonder if it would give me the same feeling as seeing my words in print?

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I’ve been posting much more often over here these past few weeks, and I think that reflects my general state of being. I am very busy with teaching and being a student and writing, but it isn’t what occupies my mind for the time being.

I feel this sharp juxtaposition right now between “grad school” and “real life.” I guess because I’m getting married, planning for the future, dealing with the stuff of adulthood. (Because really, grad school doesn’t completely require you to be an adult, although it helps.) That juxtaposition is part truth and part illusion, because life is whatever and wherever you’re living in a moment, not some abstract concept. And yet when it comes to where I imagine myself being, and who I imagine myself to be, this MFA program is transient. Important, desired, but over in another year. I’m not entirely certain what lies on the other end of that year, but I’m eager to find out.

Committing regular time for writing has been difficult. Partly because of this blasted business, but also because my attention has been focused on other things. I find that writing requires a balance of stillness and activity. Too much of one leads to stagnation, too much of the other doesn’t allow one(/me) that interior quiet that’s necessary for creation.

If good writing captures the spark of life, it seems to me that it’s necessary for the writer to life a full life (which isn’t the same thing as a busy one). But when life is exceptionally full, I often find myself drawn away from writing, or simply forgetful. (Except there is always that guilt gnawing away at the corners of my mind, asking me how I can call myself a writer, which will only be silenced by writing, and writing, and writing well.)

I’ve no conclusion to this train of thought.

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For Your Enjoyment

Yes, I ought to be writing and/or grading essays. But I had to share this blog post by author David Abrams about his visit to Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home. Hilarious.

(And hey, it’s been far too long since I used that Flannery O’Connor tag.)

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… I’ve been submitting stories. To a contest and a literary magazine most recently; planning on sending another thing out in the next week or so.

I feel like a writer. Woohoo!

It’s been a bit too long since I last submitted anything, honestly; same as it’s been too long since I posted on this blog. One always intends to do that sort of thing over Spring Break, but then things happen. Like surprise bridal showers and apartment hunting. (Other things don’t happen as much, like homework.)

To be honest, it’s when all that Real Life stuff starts taking over that I stop and wonder, why the heck am I still in school, again?

And then, gradually, I remember Reasons. To be part of a writing community; to better myself as a writer and an individual; and, of course, to write.

And I certainly know there are many aspects of academia that I’ll miss sorely once I’m finished. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past two years, it’s that I have absolutely no desire for an academic lifestyle on a long term basis. And there’s always a part of me that’s chomping at the bit, waiting to be finished.

I guess it’s pretty lucky time doesn’t listen to my whims.

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