The Calm Before the Storm

This must be the calm before the storm.

Two people suggested that I stop the blog as soon as I arrive at residency – seeing that as the perfect storybook ending to the beginning of my writing life, phase one.

Today, I confessed to a fellow writer: “Well, I’m in a no man’s land. I’m not submitting new work. I’m a week and a half away from Oregon. I’m reading faculty books. It’s all strangely slow yet blurring by.”

Bob, the PhD ready to submit his own memoir manuscript for publishing, looked at me with furrowed brow. “That means you should do nothing. Slow down. Absorb this time while you can.”

“Because pretty soon I’m going to be incredibly busy?” I asked, hesitating.

He nodded knowingly. Visions of a stressed out summer flashed before my eyes. But no, instead of asking what I’m giving up, I must ask what I’m going after and what opportunities are before me. That is the only way to dive in – head first – and then do a hell of a lot more than just tread water through the storm…Write books that will be my life rafts!

A party invitation arrives via email from Pacific. Prom the last night, some sort of costume graduation ball in honor of the graduating MFA participants. How ironic; I never went to prom in high school and will probably include some chapters about that in my memoir. Now? Now, I’m supposed to go to prom? At least I’m old enough to buy alcohol myself and don’t have drive to the sketchy part of the city to get it illegally from the 4’6” Thai man on 32nd and Hawthorne (har, har). Britt says I should dress up as Virginia Woolf for the costume prom, wearing my hair in a low bun and stuffing stones into my pockets (since that is how she killed herself, making her own body a human weight to sink underwater and drown). Better yet, Britt says, tack puzzle pieces to an old sweatshirt and go as James Frey’s “Million Little Pieces.”

A second email arrives. Potluck the first night. “FYI, Hamm’s, Merlot, and chocolate go over really well with this crowd, but somebody might consider bringing some real food.”

Clearly I have chosen the right school: Those who work hard, play hard (and who ever said playing rugby couldn’t teach me about life lessons?). I’ve done that before. I can do it again (though I’m a bit wiser now, post rugby days). Furthermore, ten days of residency means balls to the wall for 240 hours of mind-blowing adventures on the stormy seas of the written word. I’ll have my sails up and ready to steer with the wind, trails of verbs and adjectives in my wake.

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