Tough Times

This year has been tough on the old psyche. I’m not 100% sure why, but I think a lot of it has to do with the way that Jerimiah and I spent last year growing and changing. We both opened ourselves up to seeing the world from other’s people’s perspectives. We decided to get very serious about anti-racism, often holding our friends and family accountable in a truly uncomfortable, but necessary way. We were the most political we’ve ever been and it showed. We realized the sort of people we want to be and the sort of people we want to surround ourselves with and unfortunately that means leaving some people and opening ourselves up to new ones. It has been tough, really tough. When basically one whole side of your family either unfriends you or unfollows you from FB, well, you know you’re doing something right! Growing and changing and holding people accountable. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

But all this has really done a number on us mentally and emotionally. Like sometimes we just look at each other and sigh because really, what is there to say? We know who we are, where we stand, what we expect from people, grown adults and our own kid, our parents, our siblings, extended family and our friends, and if they can’t or won’t live up to those standards, well there’s no way we can help, we’ve been lowering our standards for too long. Then there’s the fact that we live hundreds of miles away from the people we care about and for the last decade at least we have spent considerable time trying to stay connected. We were always the ones traveling, even with a baby, then a toddler, then a kid. We were always the ones calling and texting, inviting them to holidays and trying to get everyone together in the summer, well until recently. Honestly keeping tabs on everyone, trying so hard to stay connected when we are so far away from them, it really gets tiring. Y’all know this. We know this. So we are taking a break. Which means it will get worse before it gets better.

To top it off this is my last “real” semester in grad school. Next semester all I have is thesis and if you have never had a “real” last semester of grad school let me liken it to, oh what shall I liken it to? Dog shit? Horse shit? Oh I know, do you remember when you were a senior in high school and the “senior-tis” hit you hard right in the face? Like you could see the finish line. You could see the pot of gold. You could see your dumb, overcrowded state school in the horizon with all the beer that you could handle and you wanted so badly to be there you stopped sort of caring about anything else, eyes on the future instead? Freedom. Yeah, I’m there now, only grades still count and I won’t actually be done with my terminal degree until I finish this damn semester. Bleh.

And for the final cherry on top! Are you ready?! Jerimiah has been offered a new position in a totally different part of the country than we have ever lived before. Sigh. It’s really all you can do sometimes.

But as luck would have it our favorite time of year is rolling around! Christmastime! Jackson came inside a month ago when my mom was visiting and she had just picked up a can of smell-good stuff and sprayed it without paying attention to the scent and it happened to be “Christmas Magic”and Jackson came inside and was all, “OHHHHH, it smells like Christmas! I love it!” Then he went into a deep dive about how freaking excited he is this year for Christmas and he doesn’t know why.

I know why. The same reason Jerimiah and I are excited. A reprieve. A rest. Time together just the three of us, to relax, recharge, and reflect. To do puzzles at the kitchen island and watch Christmas movies. To build Legos and model cars. To zoom Hot Wheels through the Christmas village. To plan how we want to decorate the tree and which new snow globe we will buy. It’s the baking and the giving, oh he loves the giving! He likes the getting too, make no mistake, but he loves to bake all day the Sunday before Christmas and run around the cul-de-sac passing out treats and gifts. Mini apple pies for Mr. Charlie. A giant bone for Cookie, the neighbor’s chocolate lab. A Korean pear in return from Mrs. Kim. He loves it all.

Santa Claus still visits us too, but you already know that. You already know we plan to let that Christmas magic always flow through him and hopefully one day when he’s older, in college, or a single guy living on his own, or with his own children, he will be able to summon that spirit for himself too. Even when he least expects it, but so desperately needs it.

So yeah, things are freaking tough right now, but there is an end in sight. It’s so near I can almost taste it, and it tastes like pumpkin pie!

Stay safe and sane, y’all.

M.

Last First Day

Today is my first day of the last year of grad school. I know I’ve been here before saying it was the first day of the last year of grad school but this time I am serious. This is my last year in my MFA program and while the year didn’t exactly look like I wanted it to (whose did?) I am still having all the emotions today, but mainly I am stressed, per yoozh. *Bonus Side Tangent: There is no definitive answer on how to shorten the word “usual.” Even Merriam-Webster sorta just gave up, but it is important to note that while I rarely say the abbreviated word in spoken form, I do like to write with it especially because of the ending with the, what did they call it, a post-alveolar fricative (duh I know exactly what that is I’m an English major) because well, it’s just fucking fun.

Anywho, today is truly my last first day and I’m feeling all the feels. I’m super nervous because I have to start thesis this semester and while I’ve already written a thesis before, umm, no, I have not, not like this. This one is me pushing me way out of my comfort zone. Plus it’s a whole lot more than I wrote last time (like double!) and I don’t feel ready or excited at all. If it weren’t for my advisor, a person I’ve only known for a year, but feels like way longer you know those kinda people, I’d be a hot fucking mess, but as it sits I’m just a hot mess.

The other good thing, nay great thing, is that I have a group of friends to get through this year with. In fact, these people have been amazing and wonderful and all the things. It was by far the most important thing for me in finding an MFA program. I wanted to find a place that felt like home, even though y’all know I have no idea what home is anymore but I am happy to report I found it and it includes a group of women who are kick-ass and truly supportive and who “get it,” which is by far the most important.

Oh wow, I could go on but I won’t instead I will say this, last first days are scary and hard and emotional. But we will make it through just fine. Just fine.

Go forth and do something scary today, you’ll be okay. Just wear your mask.

M.

It’s Friday

I’ve been waiting all week for it to be Friday! All. Week. Why? Because I’m officially finished with my first semester of my MFA program and I’m not gonna lie, it feels better than I thought it would. Like way better. This was a tough semester, y’all, in a tough year, with some tough moments, and I don’t just mean the political climate, or the pandemic, but I’ve had one of the toughest years in the last decade mentally and emotionally and physically too and I am so looking forward for reasons to celebrate. Today, I have one.

Woohoo! School’s out for one month!

Of course I’m reading for next semester already. And I’m reading for a literature contest, and I’m trying to learn to read for fun again, and I’ll be working on revisions from work I did this semester and I’ll be trying to come up with ideas for all my fictions classes next semester, but still, you know, no deadlines for a month! Woohoo!

Oh, and the holidays at home with my people, just Jerimiah and Jackson and the dogs and me. This pandemic has pulled us all so close that I’m afraid what will happen when life goes back to normal. But, I can’t worry about that today. Today is for celebrating! And maybe eating pizza and ice cream, and certainly watching some old episodes of “The Gilmore Girls” or maybe a sad-ass crime documentary, I don’t know! There are so many possibilities!

Whatever you are doing today, do it with a little pep in your step, y’all because as Rebecca Black would say, “It’s Friday, Friday, gotta get down on Friday!”

M.

Changing Times

Struggling this week. Few weeks left in my shortened semester. My first semester back in grad school. My last first semester. It’s been rough, tougher than usual. For all of us. Residency took all my energy last week. Now it’s time for writing papers. Now it’s time for sleeping less. Now it’s time for picking up slack from that weekend I went to the pumpkin patch or played board games with my boys. Now it’s long days at my desk, sore knees and wrists. Running to rummage something up for dinner in between workshop Zoom calls and more reading. Now the cold is setting in.

I’m not complaining. Geez, I know it seems like I am. I do recognize my situation is pretty good. All things considered. And I do wish other’s were just as good. I don’t want to complain. I don’t mean to complain.

The air is changing. The semester is changing. The world is changing. I want to think it’s all changing for the good. I want to feel that way, but I don’t. Not today. Maybe tomorrow. Probably tomorrow.

I hope your changing times are okay. Are hopeful and necessary. Are as pain free as they can be.

M.

Is Today Wednesday?

I keep thinking, as the weeks go by, that I will remember what it is like to be in grad school. The skills I learned the first time around might come back to me as suddenly as Cinderella losing her slippers at midnight. But alas, there is no pumpkin turned coach this week. No tiny mice running around behind the scenes helping me out. Well, there was a dead mouse in the basement, but that’s a different story better saved for a different day.

Today I’m confused about what day it is. Today I’m trying to keep track which poetry book I’m caught up on, which craft essay is due first, and whether or not I’ll sneeze and fart at the same time on one of my many Zoom calls this week. It’s a lot.

To top it off, Jackson is in the middle of MAP testing. Virtually. Jerimiah is in the midst of budget season, and we have the holidays around the corner. Sometimes it feels like I’m running but not getting anywhere. I’m the treadmill of life I suppose. The damn treadmill of life.

I hope you’re making ground today.

Oh, it is Wednesday.

Make it a good one!

M.

Grad School and Other Stresses

Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by all that I have to do that I sort of spiral into a moment (or several consecutive moments) of hell right before my family’s loving eyes. That’s the thing that happened Wednesday. Luckily, Jackson was outside traipsing through the woods with his friend Bella and wasn’t privy to my “breakdown” of sorts. But Jerimiah saw it all. (Long sigh). Sorry, Jerimiah.

Wednesday it was all the things. You know those days, right? It’s copy editing time on the lit review. I have my first presentation next week. I missed workshop this week and a Southern Fiction meeting all to celebrate Jackson’s birthday. I’m not sad about those decisions, we had a great time celebrating, but it does put me behind.

I haven’t read ALL week. Ugh.

Then there’s the fact that my kid turned twelve yesterday. TWELVE, y’all. That’s an existential crisis just waiting to happen. So far I’ve kept it at bay, mainly because I don’t have the time to spiral totally out of control right now, but man, Thanksgiving break is probably gonna be rough.

We have been celebrating the 12 days of turning 12, and while it’s mainly been fun, you know for a Momma it’s also mainly been stressful. Trying to balance all the secret events, special surprises, the cakes, favorite dinners, and that look of inevitable disappointment when he opens what he suspects is a video game and it turns out to be a book. Man. Managing other people’s expectations is hard.

BUT, we made it. We did right? Like, it’s Friday, right?! I sure hope so.

Let’s say this, if I made it through this week, I’m sure y’all did too. And I’m sure it was rough as hell, as most weeks are nowadays. I mean, did you even catch the highlights of the presidential debate?! Ugh.

But look at you! Look at me! We did it!

Now take a load off.

I love y’all.

M.

Grad School

Yous guys, this MFA program I’m headed into in the fall got me buggin’. Like, I’m NERVOUS. One, I don’t like most people. Two, I am definitely afraid of new people. Three, I’m just learning how to take myself seriously as a writer. Four, Imposter Syndrome. This isn’t my first rodeo. Five, I gotta stop making lists. That’s why I’m in the mess I’m in today, I made a list. I made a mental list of all the ways I could fuck up grad school and the list is exhaustive. I won’t share it now, cause most of it is bogus and you’d be like, really, Missy? And then I’d have to defend how crazy and dumb I am, and I’m not good at defending myself, which meeeeeans (making full circle motions with my hands) when I have to defend a BOOK LENGTH work at the end of this program I will die. Literally. Then the ghost of Missy will have to finish the program, and honestly, I don’t trust that bitch. She shady.

So why did I even do this? Why did I even apply for an MFA program? That’s a great question you guys, and one I don’t have an answer for. I’m hoping to write my way to answer, meanwhile I’ll just sit here and wonder about all the ways I am meant to watch my life ignite, sizzle, and burst into flames.

Stand back.

M.