Friday, October 11, 2013

Where I've Mostly Been

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We're going to call the above "my office" for the purposes of discussion. This is the solution when you're into single digits before a big due date and your husband is out of town so it's you and the kids and you don't have an office and you lock yourself in the bedroom and you're like no, I mean it--don't come in unless one of you is bleeding; I'll be out at 11:30 to make lunch.

This is helpful, yes? #notevenmycat

Or, I've been here, sometimes. With other people's cats that stand on my books. It's way easier to get writing done when I'm out of my own house. Cats notwithstanding.

It's all thesis writing, all the time. I'm pretty sure my brain is broken. And not just from the book finishing. That's actually not as bad as I thought it would be. The whole "being PDawg" thing is really paying off in terms of accomplishing work. It's just the rest of life that is so demanding.

And complicated.

But anyway. I interrupt this long period of blog silence because I've had a string of unbelievable good things happening in terms of book reviewing. Last fall at my professor's suggestion, I started to think about the idea of doing some review work professionally. At the time it didn't seem like something that I could really do, but the encouragement was wonderful and I was excited about even the possibility. This spring I worked hard to learn everything I could about critical work, and I found that the more criticism I read (and wrote), the more I loved it. This summer, I tried really hard to stay on top of the opportunities that made themselves available to me in June at residency. I've been reading and writing like crazy for the last few months.

And in the last few weeks, I have had three reviews published. I'm ecstatic. Two on The Rumpus, and one on Bookslut. (Click the pictures to read the reviews.)





I have a few more coming up, too. To say I am thrilled is the understatement of the year. I have found my niche, what I love. Book reviewing makes my nerd heart sing.

So yeah. That doesn't suck. I feel so happy to be working for wonderful editors and happy to have my words out in the world.

Here's some of the wonderful life stuff that's been happening while I haven't been writing about it here.

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My good friend K was the Grand Marshal of our Homecoming Parade, I spent a lovely day visiting the Ferry Building in San Francisco, my awesome kids won some awards and have been reading like crazy (Henry at his sister's swim practice--hence the feet on the grey fleece). The monkeys finally discovered Harry Potter for real and it's been a real Nerd Fest over here. Ooh, and speaking of swimming, Addie is practically starting to grow fins... I see a lot of swim meets in our future. I think Hurley Dog can sense that something's up with me... he's been following me around with even more care and concern than normal. He will NOT leave my side lately.

How's that for a recap?

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I have a lot of nervous energy right now. Like, a lot. The kind of that if left unchecked, leads to too many hours online and too much WebMDing yourself or repetitively looking at nothing while you wait for the internet to come up with something new. I'm putting that angst into stitches. I finished one afghan last week and started this one (above) this week. Yarn over, pull up a loop. Might as well make something while I wring my hands.

The bags under my eyes have bags under them.

Mostly I've been spending a lot of time looking like a hot mess. And being exhausted, which is (I think) not fun to read about. I feel out of my mind in a way that I haven't felt since after my babies were born. That's the only thing I can liken it to--I knew then that I was not quite right in my head, but I also knew I couldn't fix it and I just had to get through each day and wait it out. That's the strategy right now. Just take care of each thing as it comes. Make lists. Cross things off. Use the calendar rather than my brain to remember.

For about six months I've been sad as all get out about graduating, not wanting to leave my friends and the safe harbor of grad school where I could go and play and learn and grow. All of the sudden I feel so emphatically like I want this phase to be over. So I don't want to leave anyone, and I know I'm going to be sad, but this quarter, working on my thesis while I try to teach and mother and clean the litter box and cook dinner and be the one who goes to Costco and remembers things is the hardest thing I've ever done. Never have I also felt so much the weight of my regular job keeping me in place. Felt so many aspects of it (the bureaucratic ones, not the ones having to do with kids) being so asinine. Even though I changed a lot of things about my work responsibilities this year, my job just is as it is and I don't think that even altering my course load really changed the nature of the work. It's just damn hard. Trying to do this right now while I teach--write a book--has really made me think a lot about how possible that is if I keep teaching high school. Of course, that comes with (as my friend Maggie would say) ALL THE FEELINGS.

My brain is broken, though. That's never a good time to sort anything out. I'm getting things done. I'm making it through. And I'm so exceedingly proud to see my name in a byline on multiple book reviews for wonderful sites. My family is rad and they are putting up with me right now. So that's all wonderful. And in two months I'll have an MFA.

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