Thursday, December 20, 2012

Of MFAs and Twilight Zone Marathons

Dear Ashley,

Guess who's going to be living upstate again in a week?

Oh, that'd be me.

Ben got the job at Oneonta, so we're frantically packing up (actually, not frantically, yet, but next week I'm sure it will be, simply because it's not now. I'm stressed about it, but at the same time, I need stuff in the next week and it can't all be in boxes. So, there will be frantic packing in my near future.) and we're going to be moving up the end of next week.

As I believe I've already said on facebook: Holy Fuck.

We're moving into his parents house and rooming with his sister while his parents are gone for the winter. I really like Jen, but after two years of just us in an apartment, I'm reluctant to move in with someone else. Even if she's totally grateful, because she admits she's scared in the house by herself, and it's too much for one person to maintain all through the winter.

I'm really really really hoping to get the Co-Manager job at Damascene Book Cellar. Seriously. I had an interview with Dan Birnbaum, who owns it, and he knows Dave and Kelly (the same Dave who got me and Ben together) so hopefully I have a chance. Because it would be the PERFECT job for me. Basically doing what I'm doing now, except with books, and not a neurotic asshole for a boss AND more money plus benefits.
BENEFITS!! It's been like five years since I've had health insurance. I'm dying for it. Pun intended.

I had a Skype interview with him Tuesday night, and I think it went well, so I'm hoping to hear back from him today or tomorrow at the latest about coming in next week while we're home for a second interview. Keep your fingers crossed, because this would take sooooo much stress out of my life it isn't even funny.

In other news, I did promise to tell you more about MFAs in Creative Writing.
I think I'm going to go for it.
I feel like if I could get on the wait list for super-selective NYU, then I have a decent chance of getting into Bennington College, which is currently my top choice school. They have a low-residency MFA too. It'd be great- I could hold a full time job and still get my Masters. Also, something that I just learned, was that MFA is a terminal degree. Meaning, it's the highest level degree that is possible in that given field. And thus, I could teach Creative Writing at a University level with one.

I still want a PhD, mostly just to flaunt it, but also because I still think a PhD in CompLit would be great, and allow me to teach whatever the hell I wanted, once I'd been doing it long enough. But right now, I'm not totally sure what I'd want it in, specifically, and I don't think I have a good enough resume to get into someplace like Cornell (top choice for PhD). And, I sort of just want the MFA. I think it's all the thinking that we've been doing lately about how we took all the right steps, and did everything we were supposed to, but we still can't get where we want to go. So it's time to do what I want.

I'm going to be in debt for the rest of my life anyway.
The odds of me writing the next Twilight and becoming independently wealthy are sort of slim.
The economy has gone to shit and there's no such thing as a good stable job anymore, so why not go for the things that were too risky before (like writing, and theater).
Because really, being a cashier at a grocery store is a risky job these days.

So that's my thought process.
I'm going to need regular writing days complete with coffee and possibly a movie to preserve my sanity once we're back.

Speaking of movies... want to go see Les Mis on New Year's Eve? I think that's the first free day I'll have with no moving and I'll need a break from unpacking. Also, I don't know what our plans are for New Year's yet, but I've been hoarding a bottle of Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio for the occasion. If it's anything like what we usually do (pick an ethnicity and make a bunch of food to eat while we watch the Twilight Zone marathon that is invariably on television) I will let you know and invite you over for the night :)

See you soon!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why I'm Going Insane (Today)

Dear Ashley,

I think I've told you this, but I haven't told the blog this- I think your current plan is a good one. To go back to school for Psych (not the TV show, although I love it. So dopey, and yet, awesome.) sounds like a good idea. And since you got your undergrad in that, it's at least something that you're interested in.

My news for today, is that we may be back and talking regularly face to face sooner than anticipated. Potentially, three weeks.  [insert mild  full blown panic attack here]

Oneonta High School is in need of a long term Biology Sub from January to June. Ben was sort of offered this job at the beginning of the year, but it was about two days after he had already started back at his current school, and we couldn't afford to move, so he turned it down. It just wasn't a rational thing to do, then. So whomever they got for the job clearly didn't work out because they're hiring again.

And Ben is losing his mind here. He hates so much that he had to be here for another year, that he's just going crazy, and he's depressed, and he hates the person that he's becoming. So while we really can't afford to move, and don't even know where we'd live, or what the hell I'd do with myself, he's applying. And there is a definite chance that he'll get the job. And if they offer it to him this time, he's going to take it, because it will make him happy to be there and he's more concerned with that at this point than paying his bills.

Which is lovely, really, but not at all rational. So as I'm sure you know, I'm flipping out. I don't want to be here, either. But I most definitely don't want to be there. You know as well as I do that there is nothing in the greater Oneonta area that interests me in the least.

Of course I would love to leave my job. But I'd love to leave it for something that I would enjoy doing, not to be unemployed and end up working in Cooperstown as a waitress again. So...yeah.

We've sort of skirted the issue of: He wants to be there. I can't exist there. And he will always choose his family land over me. But...we haven't had a full blown discussion and/or argument about it. So I'm not really sure what to do.

There's a bookstore on SUCO's campus that's looking for a co-manager, he told me today. I could do that. And I might have to, since I can't afford to exist here by myself. And the thing is, I'm fine leaving Philly, but I would like a little more than three weeks notice. The landlady probably would, too.

I don't even have a car. or enough money saved to really buy one. How am I supposed to get around the land of no transportation to find a job? Oh, right, and where would we live? His brother is currently living in his grandmother's house-  right. The one he's doing all of this to get back to is currently occupied.

And that's why I'm going insane today.

I swear the next post will be a happy one full of Christmassy Cheer from NYC.


Friday, November 30, 2012

Plan...Wait what letter are we on again?


You say you like my bravery (I think I'd probably call it recklessness, buy I appreciate it all the same!) well I admire your caution.

Sometimes running headfirst into something you're not sure about simply leaves you confused. I was catatonic for a month (at least) after I got home wondering if I'd just wasted a year of my life and even now when I have a little distance from the crushing feeling of failure I'm still doubting my ability to make life choices...

But for better or worse I'm not a cautious person.

Soooo where you've spent the last year carefully analyzing program and there pros and cons, waiting to take action until the time was right (which incidentally I think is the right way to do this) I'm jumping right into the next plan.

I love psychology. I love children. I love working with children who have in someway been damaged and watching them smile when I finally get through to them. I'm going to go back to school for my PsyD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on treating children! I think where I went wrong with policy was wanting to make a difference and thinking that it would be a bigger difference on a bigger scale, but its not.

So psychology it is!

I've narrowed the list to 12 and when I have a much more manageable group I'll give them to you for your devil's advocate speech :)

But right now my top choice is the University of Indianapolis - you should see if they have good programs for you and Ben cause as unlikely as it is that all three of us would like the same school how awesome would it be!?

 I already emailed my three potential references and now I just have to worry about GRE scores - boo! I can't find my last score report online and I really don't want to pay $175 (one hundred and seventy five dollars!!!) especially with so little time to prep, but I'm hoping my undergrad GPA and the respectable grades I received in Hungary will go towards helping me if I have a low score. Maybe next time you're up we should have a GRE cram session with sweat pants and chocolate... I like the chocolate part!  

And just so you know if I go a day without thinking about what would have happened if I'd grown a set earlier and gone to school for theater it's astonishing. I think that this year we should make a new years resolution to stop living in the land of what ifs and just start living!


P.S. Love the Friends reference.
P.P.S. I abandoned my novel back in week 2 (you're much more disciplined than I am), but I would love to read what you have!!       

In Which There is (Probably) Much Whining

Dear Ashley,

I have to say I'm incredibly jealous of your bravery. I really admire your ability to decide to do something crazy (and awesome, but really, crazy) like go to Budapest, or not finish a program, and actually do it. I feel like I say how much I'd love to do X,Y and Z, but I don't actually have the balls to go DO X, Y and Z.

So I think it's awesome that you're going to go figure out something that you really want to do with your life. I'm definitely not. At least, not right now. I completely loathe my job.

TANGENT! I'm actually at work right now, but I'm watching the owner's baby, and the baby is sleeping *knock on wood.* But the walls of these old row houses are so thin that their neighbor sounds like she's coughing up a lung in the next house over and I had a mild panic attack that it was the baby making that noise. Because it sounds like it's the next room, not the next house.  /end tangent.

So anyway, I feel like I'm doing absolutely nothing with my life. I dread going to work every day. Mostly, I want to curl up in a little ball of depressed writer and cry. And watch shows like Grimm and wonder about being an actor.

Last night, winning NaNo a whole day early made me feel awesome...I haven't written that much in about two years. And I felt like I could do things again. I need to figure out how to harness that feeling though, and stick with it, because I'm feeling it slipping away again.

I need to start studying for the GRE. You should totally look into programs, because most of my deadlines are in January, and a couple of them are even in February, so there might still be plenty of time for you to get into something for next fall. Then this blog can turn into a bitch fest about how hard grad school is :)

Anyway, I'm going to apply to schools because I don't know what else to do with myself. I just know that I need something different. Thankfully, the Philly NaNo group is going to keep posting weekly progress update threads on the forum, so maybe with that sense of community I can keep working on things. And then there's EditMo in January, so my goal is work on applications and Christmas knitting in December and then Letters to Myself in January. I haven't looked at it all month, which I think is good. I never really let it simmer before I tried to start working on revising it, and all I could focus on were the things that didn't work, but I didn't know how to change them. Hopefully with a fresher eye, I'll have more inspiration.

So I tried really hard not to make this whole post one long whine, but I clearly didn't succeed. That's about where my life is right now, though. Boring, stagnant, in need of a change.
I told my mom the other day that I was like Friends circa Season 8: when it's not funny anymore, just sort of sad.

Let me know if I can help at all with your school picking process- I'll even give you my GRE book when I'm done with it- there's no way I'll get through all 8 practice tests.

To end with something positive, I'm pleased with my NaNo novel. It's complete and utter crap, but I like the characters, and I like the idea. I told Ben the other night, somewhere around 46,000 words, that I was feeling like I was figuring out who my characters were, and where they needed to go. And it only took 80 pages to get to that point!

But seriously, I think I can use some of this stuff. I definitely need to go back and research and plot. There was a lot of:  "It's June!" and then three sentences later it was October because that's when the event actually happened. Psh. Research is for suckers.

Anyway, it's almost time for me to go home, so I'm going to end this now.
Talk to you soon, I'm sure!


Monday, November 26, 2012

I Just Jumped and it Feels Great (I think)!

I feel like I haven't been completely honest with you and tonight I made a crazy, irresponsible choice and I'd like to share it with you.

Budapest was lovely and incredible and eye opening and I would never ever take it back. I met some wonderful people and learned some new things, but the last few months I fell into a bit of a slump and couldn't finish a few papers and my thesis. I was granted an extension till November 30.

Tonight I decided not to finish the program.

I don't love policy. Ok I love debating policy and reading about it and now I can comment on it intelligently, but its not my thing. You know?

I've decided to get back to Psychology. I didn't much like the counseling classes in undergrad, but I love talking to people and helping them and I think I'm pretty good at it! I'm gonna go in that direction - probably :p

I just wanted to let you know that your input means a lot to me and now we can go through the finding grad school thing together :)

That's all on my end. 

Congrats on 40,000 words! Can't wait to read it!!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I Really am Having a Quarter Life Crisis and Other Musings


I miss this.
I mean at least when i was in Budapest, even though I was slowly drowning in self-doubt about potential career paths/life choices, I felt like I was actually living. But now I'm back in Oneonta and the self-doubt turns into a pity party a lot quicker without the view.

I'm working on the self-motivation thing - its certainly better than staring at the wall and wishing for my fairy godmother to drop in and give me until midnight to find my destiny which I certainly hope is more than a handsome prince, but I wouldn't say no to one of those either! I'll let you know how it's going when  I actually look away from the wall...

Sorry had to get that out of the way.

Happy NaNo!

I'm loving all your status updates and can't wait to read what you come up with!

I'm working very slowly having lost my 'whole day doing whatever I want time' to work. It's ok  though, actually having a paycheck makes it worth the lagging word count! And as mentioned on facebook I think I'll be able to catch up this weekend. Yay optimism.

Speaking of optimism. Any news on the GRE yet? Or decisions on which programs you're thinking about signing your soul away to? 

One last thing before I turn in for the night (10:00 - I'm like a little old woman!): Woot woot America! I was honestly worried for a second that the next four years would bring no change in our financial outlook and that our social policies would fall so far back I'd be praising God for my job as a secretary and begging potential suitors to view my working status not as empowerment, but a necessity for keeping house. I'm cautiously optimistic about our chances of improving as a country and that's all I'll say on the matter.

Happy writing!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Dear Ashley,

I thought maybe if I started with a short blog post I might be able to break the writer's block/ complete and utter lack of motivation that I've been having.

I've read through all the prompts so far on the PhillyWrimos page, and nothing has inspired me to pick up a pen. Or even write more query letters for the novel that's already written.

I'm not sure where this is coming from, but I really haven't been able to write anything substantial in almost a year. Maybe I'm just out of ideas?

There's a write in online tonight that I'm going to try to join- hopefully being with other people (sort of) will prompt me to do something. I also need to be looking at grad schools. I hope I can get into one. But if I did, what would I do there? No idea. I've been seriously considering seeing a psychologist.

Mostly, all I want to do is lay around and knit.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Farwell Europe Photo Tour


Thanks for my postcard!! You should have thought of this months ago – I could have sent you lots and lots of post cards and not just the one :)  

This is my I don’t want to pack procrastination post. It’s also my last post from Hungary which makes me really sad. I’m already all nostalgic for Budapest. I came in from Romania last night and was like I’ll probably never use this exact metro station again. Granted it was a night bus and I hadn’t really slept, but still great big sad face!

I saw your post about Baltimore jobs (fingers and toes crossed for you by the way!!) so does that mean you’re defiantly making that your next move? From your last long post it sounds like it would be perfect if all the pieces fall into place. Definitely keep me updated! It’s my turn to live vicariously through you well I’m stranded in Oneonta for the year.

If my Peace Corps medical and legal screenings go alright I will be leaving for Africa next June which seems like a really long time, but in all actuality will probably fly by. They don’t give you all the information about your placement at the nomination stage, I’ll have to wait until I pass medical and get the official invitation, but this is what I know: I’ll be teaching English in a French speaking country, rural because there may be no electricity or running water. Based on past leaving dates and country profiles from the website this means I will most likely be in Cameroon or Burkina Faso. I’m kind of hoping for Cameroon because they also have a large Muslim population and I think it would be a fantastic blend of cultures, but obviously I’ll go wherever they want to send me!!

Since my last post I’ve been making the most of my remaining time in Europe!! I visited a few other Hungarian cities Balatonfur​ed and Visegrad and also made it to Krakow, Poland and a few cities in Romania (Bran, Rasnov, and Brasov).

Balatonfured is one of the cities on Lake Balaton which is like the Hungarian Myrtle Beach – everyone makes there way there during the summer. The policy department took us as a ‘yay you’re done!’ gift which I thought was really nice. Basically we all just sat around staring at the water. I sat with a friend for over an hour watching some guy fly fish – an hour! Needless to say not much was accomplished in the way of touring the city, but I got some good pictures of the park and the lake itself.

Visegrad is apparently at a strategic point of the Danube which means that once upon a time that’s where Hungarian kings (and further back Roman army’s) ruled from. Now it’s just a tall hill with a lower and upper castle that attracts lots of tourists. The exciting part was that it’s located in an area that you can take a boat to get there which was amazing. On the way back we saw this incredible rainbow which was seriously the widest rainbow I’d ever seen, but I couldn’t find my camera so no picture. You’ll just have to take my word for it!

Krakow was lovely. The main attraction in the city is the square which of course makes you think you should be in another century. On every hour a trumpet player stands at the top of the tower and reenacts the warning call used to sound a coming attack. It ends abruptly because it’s a memorial to the all the men killed while holding this position. I was actually up in the tower completely by accident when he played and I got a really cool picture. There was also drunken Karaoke with a couple of English guys, a trip to the salt mines (where there was a chapel made completly of salt - check out the chandelier!), and a Bollywood movie filming right outside of my hostel.  

Auschwitz is about an hour outside of Krakow so we went on the day tour. Take Dachau and multiply it by 100. There was such an oppressive sadness in the air. But you know as well as I do that there are no words to describe visits like these except maybe it really puts our own small problems into perspective... They saved everything there were rooms full of shoes, of dishes, of glasses, and the worst a room full of human hair. I couldn’t even stay in that room. It was awful and brilliant at the same time and the tour guide was very good – I learned things I’d very much like to forget. On a lighter note between Auschwitz one and two my flip flop broke and I had to staple it back together – thank you random lady who owns one of the book stores!!

After a quick stop in Budapest I headed to Transylvania! I didn’t meet Dracula (though I could have bought several t-shirts saying that I did), but I did tour Bran Castle that’s the cover of one of the book editions and a fortress that dates way way back. Took a gondola (swear free because you weren’t there to appreciate it with me!) to the top of a mountain where they have a Hollywood sign only it says Brasov, toured a church, walked around, ate some traditional Romanian food, and spent 6 hours (twice, not to mention the 8 hours on a bus...) on a really slow train which was saved by the views of rolling hills and herds of sheep out of the window.

I can’t believe that I’ll be home in less than a week it’s completely surreal, but at least it will be easier to keep each other motivated for Camp NaNo in August!!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

The I Forgot A Title The First Time I Posted This Post

Dear Ashley,

So I'm not sure I made this clear in my facebook post, but I love, love, LOVE everything you sent me from Europe. It totally made the longing I feel to go back there even stronger. I definitely printed and framed the picture of the graffiti that says 'to always finding our way back.' That hit me so hard the day I saw it, that I almost cried. It means a lot of things to me, some of which there aren't words for, but most importantly it is a reminder to keep working at my goals and make it back to Europe. Soon.

I can't wait until we find a new apartment so I can frame and hang the art that you sent- and the postcards, at least until we have that bookstore and can put them up there. Here's the mask- back in one piece, although I haven't found time to grab paint. it's okay. I love it just the way it is, too.

I hope your thesis is almost done, since it's currently almost 4am on June 8th. Your time, anyway. It's not even 10pm on June 7th here. That never fails to amaze me. You're in a different day. At least, as far as our totally meaningless construct of time is concerned.

I'm having a terrible time with CampNaNo this time around. Hopefully August will be better. I have 517 words, and I believe I've reached the point of never catching up. I might set a new goal of 10,000 for myself, but the real goal is finding a new job. We're seriously considering Baltimore. There's a great Irish music scene there for Ben, along with his teacher Billy, and there's the University of Baltimore that I've been looking at. That's the place with the combination Creative Writing and Publishing Masters program. So it takes you from creating the book all the way up through publication. That would be handy. I'm also still thinking about PhDs and UMass and Cornell and lots of other things. I've got some time, as I don't need to apply until this fall for the next one, but I'm thinking at least.

I did get some good feedback about Letters last weekend. Overwhelmingly positive, which made me feel good about myself. Their idea was the make the "letters" and the scenes with dialogue separate, using italics or something, because they said they had a hard time reading it the way it is. They were in the mindset of letters, but then there was all this present tense stuff makes sense. I'll have to look into that.

They also said the things that allowed them to be okay with Ariah and Tristan's relationship was that a) there was no sex and b) Zach finds out at one point that SHE started it.

They also didn't have as much of a problem with Ariah's flatness of character as you and I did. They thought that if she was any less mature and kind of above the whole high school thing that her relationship with Tristan would be a lot less acceptable. I'd still like to develop her more though, because she bugs me a little. But I definitely don't want to make excuses for her relationship. So it's going to be hard.

There was also talk of getting a high school class to read it, to gauge their reactions. The book club ladies are all teachers, so I was really interested in their response, but the more I think about it, the more I'd be curious was juniors and seniors in high school thought of it too. I might email Ainsworth, my 12th grade english teacher, and be like "hey, want to help me out?" It's totally not what he teaches, but maybe he could get the AP class to read it, or the creative writing club. Actually, that last idea might be the best. There's all ages of high schoolers in the creative writing club.

Also, I might need to change Ariah's name. My friend Josh read it, and pointed out that there's apparently a show called Pretty Little Liars that has a girl named Aria having an affair with a teacher. I mean seriously, what are the freaking odds? And it's not one of the four shows I watch, so I had no idea.

Finally, just to have another picture (omg Spain is beautiful! I want to go to Candyland! And the beach...dying for sand and saltwater. So pretty. Oh, and the Holy Grail! LOL! "Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!")

Anyway. Here's a picture of the baby sweater I'm working on. (For Mike, my boss, and Lauren, his wife. Not for me. Don't panic :) )


Monday, May 28, 2012

Spain as a Procrastination Technique

First and most important: I LOVE that hat! I would wear it in any color. Well maybe not any color, but you get the point :)

Congratulate Ben on graduation for me and thank him for the VSO tip. It looks like a great organization though as you said a bit selective about its American volunteers and being I don’t have fluency in any other language a longshot, but it’s nice to have options!
My Peace Corps interview went well – I should know if I made this quarter’s placement sometime in June. If I don’t get a placement in June I have to wait until October, but either way I’m ready to come back to the states and save up some cash so I can move into a bigger city – preferably NYC – and be self-sufficient. That means a bit of time in Oneonta, but I suppose there are worse places to be plus I can scope out places for our Book and Breakfast/Writers Retreat!!     

I’ve been working on my thesis and by working on my thesis I mean  contemplating the pile of material meant to be absorbed by my sometimes active brain into a brilliant thesis on citizen journalism taking the place of the watchdog role as predicated by the market failure of the fourth estate and wishing it would write itself.

No such luck.

It’s due on June 8th which gives me a few weeks to write 12,000 words that are coherent enough to earn at least a B+ so that I can graduate with merit. I think that if I’d taken a gap year this wouldn’t matter, but my undergrad self keeps comparing my 3.8 to my graduate 3.4 and shaking her head…

On a positive note in a premeditated celebration of my June 14th graduation I’ve been planning my final trip with some friends. We’re going to Romania and Poland. I’m really excited about Romania. We’re going to do the Transylvania area and besides the whole Dracula angle (which of course I’m excited about!) the country side looks breathtaking and there are all sorts of old castles just waiting to be explored.

Speaking of exploring I still haven’t told you how much I loved Spain!

Barcelona was rainy, but I saw a ton of Gaudi architecture which more than made up for the weather. The entrance to the park looked like it came right out of Candy Land!

It was very fanciful. I half expected to find myself transported into some kind of world with Victorian throwback costumes and candy three meals a day, but the rest of the city was quite beautiful as well.

This was at a subway enterance!!

Next I went to Valencia where I had my first taste of paella – delicious.

And my first sip of horchata – surprisingly refreshing!

I also visited the city of arts and science which were amazing! I spent a few hours walking around and I didn’t even go inside.

Oh and did I mention that I saw the Holy Grail. I totally would have had a Monty Python moment too if there had been coconuts available.

Alicante was a beach stop. Enough said :)

Granada was beautiful! I stayed in a little town outside of the main city right in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the scenery was magnificent.

I also got to see some live Flamenco dancing in the caves which is apparently where the Jews, Gypsies, and Arabs were sent after the Christians regained Spain from its Muslim occupation. It’s specific to the area and very passionate. It made me wish I had just an ounce of rhythm in my body.

Seville was in the middle of a festival so there were woman all over the place dressed in traditional attire. Here are a couple at the Place D’Espana – my favorite spot! I could have spent hours looking around at the mosaics alone not to mention the prime people watching opportunities.

Cordoba was just an afternoon stop on my way to Madrid, but I was told by several people along the way that it was a stop I had to make for the mosque (which is now an active church). They were right. It was majestic.

Madrid was my last stop. And though it was much like any other major cities it still had some treasures that just don’t pop up in the states. Like this statue of the fallen angel.

And free student admission to art museums like this

And some other must see attractions.

I underestimated the size of Madrid and didn’t see nearly as much as I’d wanted too, but that just means I have an excuse to go back, right?

Now that I've re-lived my lovely trip it's back to thesis time. Translation: Holding a book open on my lap and wishing I were back in Spain!  


P.S. Any feedback on Letters? Also, feel free to send the new draft and day after June 8th!!