Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Volleyball Chronicles

Two years ago, my friends formed a team and joined the beach volleyball league, which plays each week on courts attached to a local bar. Each week I went to their games and cheered (or read a book, depending on how I felt that day). The team was not very good and rarely won (I say this with love, of course) but they almost always had a great time, and not just because we ordered many buckets of PBR during the course of their games. 

Despite all the fun they seemed to be having, I did not join the team. With the exception of roller derby, I'm not a fan of team sports and harbored a special aversion to volleyball. All that sand! All the diving and jumping! That ball, hurtling towards your face at the most inopportune moments! No, thank you. I'll be over here, in the shade, with a book and a beer. 

This year, however, something changed. I decided to play, even though my friends had given up on asking me. I'm definitely the worst person on our team, the combination of heat and sand and humidity is painful, and the moments when I swing my arms wildly and complete miss the ball are just as mortifying as I'd feared. We play every Sunday and some weeks I feel as if I've improved and am actually doing an okay job; other times, I wish I was still on the sidelines. But I am improving, and my team is lovely and supportive (probably because they're all my friends, and my friends are the best) and despite the moments of fear and shame, I'm having a lot of fun. 

It occurred to me that I'm at a point in my life where I don't often get to try something completely new. When I was in my 20s, new experiences were easy - every moment was a revelation, every thought an epiphany. But now, I'm well into my 30s. I've already done a lot of the big things that people do - go to college, get married, move across the country a few times, run a marathon, go to college again, write a novel, etc. These days, life is fairly predictable and the opportunities for Brand New Experiences, Big Scary Things, and Life Changing Events are becoming more and more rare. As much as I like my life, part of me is upset by this reality. I don't want to be the kind of person who becomes stagnant. I want to keep growing and changing and experiencing and feeling. I'm only in my 30s and I've barely scratched the surface of anything. Now is not the time to settle down. 

Thus: volleyball. In the grand scheme of the world, it's just a sand court at a bar that plays 90s alternative rock and serves ice cold buckets of PBR. In my own little universe, however, it's a chance to try something new and make myself uncomfortable. To swing my arms and grit my teeth and maybe, just maybe, send that ball over the net. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

How Is It Already July and Other Rhetorical Questions

I don't really have any other rhetorical questions, but I am surprised that to see that July is almost half over. There's no reason this should shock me - I was here for the whole thing, after all, but there's something about the passing of time that still seems unfair. At any rate, here's how I've been spending my summer. 

At the beach. No surprise there, since we live on the coast. I am happy to report that we haven't been attacked by any sharks, despite that the fact that they've been snacking nearby. We did, however, kayak out to our favorite island and spend the night there. In the morning we had the whole beach to ourselves and were treated to a playful pod of dolphins just out of reach. We walked about a half mile down the shore and followed them, and they were leaping out of the water and playing and having what looked like a great a time. It was pretty magical. 

In a book. I still haven't recapped my June reading list here (shocker) but I have been reading steadily this summer, and all of 2015. In fact, I'm in the middle of book number 25 and since we're in the 29th week of the year, I'm pretty damn impressed with myself. The only thing longer than the list of books I've read is the list of books I want to read. So many good ones are coming out right now and it feels like an exciting time to be a reader and a writer and a human. Books! Nothing is better. 

At the office. I've been at my job now for almost four months, which flew by. (This probably explains why I looked up and it was suddenly mid-July.) There's not much to say about my job, except that it is pleasant, I like my co-workers, and I appear to be good at what I do.  Would I rather spend 40 hours a week reading a book on the beach? Wouldn't we all? But if you have to have a job (and I do) then I feel lucky and grateful to have this one. 

In the middle of Mad Men. Despite being a Mad Men devotee, I have yet to see the final season of the show. We watch it on Netflix and season 7 hasn't shown up yet, so instead Nathan and I decided to rewatch the whole thing from the beginning, to build anticipation and remember all the things that happened. This has made me believe 1. that I actually am Peggy Olson, especially now that I'm a copy writer at an ad agency, and 2. that Mad Men is the greatest television show that ever existed. I will write a think piece about this when we're done, because if the world needs anything, it's a think piece about Mad Men. 

On Twitter. I may not blog as much as I used to, but I'm still on the Internet all day long. I just spend most of that time on Twitter, which continues to be my favorite social media platform of all time. It's where I find out about everything, from news to writing to nerdy jokes to important culture movements like #BlackLivesMatter. I'm in a place, in life and on the Internet, where listening is more important than speaking, and Twitter is perfect for that. You can find me here, if you're interested, and we can listen to each other. 

You're turn - what are you reading / watching / tweeting? Tell me everything and I will listen closely. 

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Aspen Summer Words 2015

Remember way back in February, when I won a fellowship to Aspen Summer Words, a literary festival in Colorado that takes place each June? I spent all of last week there, soaking in the brilliance of wonderful writers, the kindness of new friends, and the beauty of the mountains. Now I am back home at sea level and ready to tell you all about it. 

Getting to Aspen was a bit of a struggle. I had to fly out of Charlotte, which is four hours away. My 11 year old car's alternator died the day before I left town, so I had to rent a vehicle. US Airways lost my luggage, so I wore the same black t-shirt and pair of jeans Sunday through Tuesday, until the bag was miraculously returned to me. My flight home was delayed and I missed my connection, which meant I got to spend the night in a terrible hotel off the freeway in Dallas. But none of that really mattered, because the time I spent in Aspen was idyllic, inspiring, and worth every headache.

The festival took place at The Gant, an adorable little hotel in the heart of Aspen. I had my own bedroom and bathroom, but shared a living room and kitchen with two of the other fellows, which was actually really nice. I liked having a built-in friend, and before our workshop, one of my roommates and I read that day's manuscripts at the kitchen table and had coffee each morning. Workshops took place from 9AM to 12PM, and my teacher was the kind, generous, and prolific Ann Hood. I learned so much from her in the short week we had, and am so grateful for the opportunity to study with her. Lunch followed workshop, and then the afternoons were filled with lectures and readings from all the faculty. This included Richard Russo, Akhil Sharma (who might find a second career as a stand up comic - I loved his dry humor!), Hannah Tinti, Dani Shapiro, and a handful of editors and agents. In other words, a pretty stellar line up. 

There were seven of us fellows in all, and we were each nominated for the honor by an editor or agent. Getting to know the other fellows was probably the best part of the whole week. We were all considered "emerging writers," though some of us were far more emerged than others. (I, of course, was one of the least emerged. Also, all this talk of emerging is making me think of insects.) In fact, as we chatted over dinner or drinks, in between lectures and on walks through downtown Aspen, I felt quite humbled by everyone's accomplishments. From forthcoming books to major publications to prestigious prizes, it was clear that they were each very talented. And nice, too! I hope we continue to keep in touch and share our work with one another, as we emerge and after. 

This was my first time going to a literary festival or conference of this particular scale. While I've been to AWP twice, that conference felt more like a literary jungle where each writer is out for blood and free books. Aspen, on the other hand, reminded me of a miniature version of my MFA program - an intimate setting, an insular experience, and focused on inspiration and learning above all else. And since we all know how much I loved my MFA program, I was really, really, really happy to be back in that kind of environment.

While hanging out in Aspen and meeting other writers is awesome no matter what, this particular trip came at the perfect time. Last week, while I was in Colorado, I hit the three month mark at my new job. While I've still been writing and revising these last few months, I haven't been working as much or as hard. I told myself I was adjusting to my new schedule, trying to regain the balance of work-life-art that had been thrown immeasurably off. Now, after three months at the new job and one week in Aspen, I feel rested, rejuvenated, and ready to dive back in. It's a very good feeling.

(Here we are, after the closing reception, during which each of the fellows gave a short reading - which was obviously my favorite part. Can you spot me?) 

A thousand thanks to Aspen Words, Ann Hood, my fellow fellows, my new workshop friends, and all the other writers and readers who made this past week so magical. Here's to many more words. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Published in Bodega!

Here is how busy I've been / how much I've been neglecting this space: a whole month ago one of my stories was published in Bodega, a great little literary magazine on the Internet, and I am only getting around to sharing it with you now. (I have, of course, already shared it on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but it doesn't seem real until it claims a space on the blog.) 

The story is called "Southold," and it's part of my collection-in-progress. All the stories in the collection take place in the same small town on Long Island, which is a fictionalized version of the place where I grew up and which I'm calling Bellhaven. (You can read more Bellhaven stories on my website - a few others have also been published.) 

This particular story was the last one I workshopped in my MFA, which means it was written over a year ago. I'd been revising it on and off ever since, but was never quite happy with it. I think I must have switched the POV and the tense about seven or eight times. It feels sort of sacrilegious to admit that even though this story is published, I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes I really love it, and sometimes I am mortified that it exists. I think this conflict is common among writers, and if it is not common, then feel free to lie to me. 

And any rate, I'm grateful to Bodega for loving my story enough to publish it - they're a lovely magazine, publishing just a few stories and poems on the first of each month. I highly recommend reading every issue and sending them your own work, too. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

April & May Reads

Like most intentions when it comes to this blog, I've fallen behind on my goal to chronicle what I read each month. (Though I'm mostly keeping up with Goodreads - I'm almost caught up there.) Before things get too crazy, here are the books I read in April and May. Not included: the second draft of Erica's book, which was better than all of these books combined. 

This book is a post- and also pre-apocalyptic story about a flu that wipes out 99% of human life. What's interesting about this book (as opposed to the other 19294746 apocalyptic stories out there) is that it takes place in the time before the flu and 20 years after it hits, when the worst is over and people are beginning to rebuild their lives. The twenty years in between are hinted at, and the reader knows it was a Very Bad Time, but we don't waste too much space dwelling on those days, and neither do the characters. I thought this choice, for the author, was particularly brilliant. It allows the characters to deal with conflict rather than catastrophe. Instead of seeing them react to the flu, the mayhem, the pain and confusion of those first years, when the goal of each person left is most certainly survival, we see instead the choices they're now (mostly) free to make, the ways in which they rebuild, how they create new families and new homes. I really liked this book - beautiful language, compelling story, creepy post-apocalyptic landscape, and so many thoughtful passages about what it means to be an artist and a survivor.

I'm not a huge fan of self help books but I love thinking and reading about routines and habits, and I'm always searching for ways to improve my own. So when I saw this book by Gretchen Rubin, I decided to give it a try. While I enjoyed the book, I don't think it was anything especially groundbreaking. I kept describing it as "pop psychology." While it's well researched and thoughtful, and I enjoyed the way she wove personal experiences into the narrative, I also felt as if she was building a sort of house of cards, what with all the tendencies, distinctions, and strategies. That said, while reading this book, I had probably the best week of my life, habit-wise. I woke up early, I worked out, I wrote, I ate healthy meals, I even called my mom. Clearly, this book had a good influence on me. And for those struggling with habits, it does have some great tips for improving your quality of life and being "better than before." Overall I enjoyed it, and I will definitely think about whenever I'm trying to form good habits and steer myself away from bad ones. 

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You, by Courtney Maum

Richard had an affair - 7 months long, passionate, and ended not because he came to his senses and remembered he was married, but because his mistress got engaged to someone else. Then Richard's wife finds out and he must spend the rest of the book trying to win her back. It would be an understatement to say that Richard is unlikeable, especially in the first 3/4 of the book. Despite the fact that I like unlikeable characters, I felt very little pity for him and there were many moments when I hoped his wife would realize she was better off without him and move on. But, as the book progressed, Richard started to win me over. His voice remained sort of annoying and whiny, but he did mature. He accepted responsibility for his actions. He tried very hard, in many misguided ways, to make things right. And he had a sense of humor, which I appreciated. I was actually rooting for him by the end, which tells you something about how well this book was written. Besides my complicated feelings about the narrator, I really enjoyed the way this book complicates the idea and realities of marriage. By the end, it felt like a very honest, very nuanced look at love and - as Richard asks in the beginning - "how to make love last." I've seen a number of other reviewers say the ending of this book was predictable, but I disagree. It surprised me very much - not just how it ended, but how much I liked the book by the time I reached the last page.

How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky, by Lydia Netzer

I loved the premise of this book. Two women have babies at the same time (on the same day!) and then raise those babies apart, so they can fall in love with one another when they're grown. The mothers try to ensure that the children - a boy, George, and a girl, Irene - share as many of the same rare books, music, and experiences as possible, so they'll feel like soul mates when they finally meet again. While the idea of taking such a scientific approach to true love is intriguing, the realities are not quite so cut and dry. When George and Irene meet, they do feel a connection, but it's not as simple as their mothers once hoped. The same goes for the book itself - while the premise is great, it falters in moments. That said, I also enjoyed huge parts of this book. Like the fact that Toledo, in this world, is the center of space exploration and study. The prose, which was sweeping and exaggerated in a really satisfying, epic way. The sex scenes, which were tender and funny and strange, all at once. This is an ambitious book filled with big ideas, and at times it felt like it was brimming over. I respected and appreciated the risks the author took, even if a few of them didn't pan out.

The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters 

This was my first time reading a Sarah Waters book, and it wasn't at all what I expected - in a good way! This book takes place in 1922, in England, and is about a woman, Frances, who falls in love with her (married) lodger, Lillian. Obviously a queer romance in 1920s England is probably not going to be al rainbows and sunshine, and very bad things happen as a result of their illicit love affair. Things I liked: From dialogue to setting to descriptions, the prose especially seemed so very real and rooted in the 20s and of England in a perfectly immersive way. There were some very great sex scenes in this book which were awesome, especially compared to how buttoned up the characters and the prose were the rest of the time. Apparently, Waters is known for some crazy plot twists. I had no idea, and so there were moments when my mouth was hanging open in horror and shock at what had just happened. It didn't feel exploitative though, because the book builds in a really natural way, so the horror feels inevitable, which is a different kind of terror. Some sections dragged a bit, but overall I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more from Waters. 

Whew! Thanks for making it to the end of this very long book report. Now it's your turn - what are you currently reading? 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

10 Years Later

Yesterday was the ten year anniversary of this blog. I meant to commemorate the occasion in some big, splashy way. A retrospective, or a giveaway, or at least a photograph of some cupcakes. Instead, I'm a day late and kind of tired, so this will be short. 

Ten years is a long time. I think the only other things I have done for ten years or longer, consistently, are my relationship with Nathan and wanting to be a writer. Everything else - my job, the state in which I live, the people I see every day, my hobbies, my habits - has changed. And yet this blog soldiers on. 

I'm proud of having a blog this old. I mean, it's practically ancient in Internet years and it narrates almost a third of my life, for better and for worse. I used to go back and read old entries pretty often; now, I hardly ever think about them. I used to blog almost every day; now, I'm lucky if I show up once a week. I used to write openly about my feelings, how I spent my day, what I was afraid of; now, there's a lot I hold back. 

Sometimes I think about this blog and wonder why I still feel the need to come here. I spend far more time on Twitter and Instagram, and interact with people on those platforms way more than I do here. Most of the blogs I used to love have shut down or post as sporadically as I do - it seems we're all growing up and moving on, too busy to dissect our lives online, for everyone to see. But there's something about blogging that I still love and can't quite replace. I like the space I have to ramble and spread out. There's no character limit, no hashtags, no filters. I never thought blogging, of all things, would feel retro or old-fashioned, and maybe now that's part of the charm. In a world where everything is made to be created and consumed instantly, blogging takes more time. It's thoughtful, intentional. And even if I only post a few times a month, I like knowing this space is here when I need it.

Here's to the last ten years. Here's to ten more, in some form. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Very Successful Three Day Weekend

Now that I work full time, I have rediscovered the magic of three day weekends. I will admit: at first I was nervous about taking advantage of the long weekend, afraid I might be out of practice, that I would squander the gift of these days by sitting around or, worse, cleaning my house. Friends, I am happy to report that by Monday evening my heart was full, my body tired, and my hangover surprisingly slight. Here's how I managed to have the best Memorial Day weekend ever. 

Step One: Birthday Shenanigans 

Friday night was my friend Kat's birthday, so after work we headed out - and stayed out. We started at the Husk, a downtown bar with a great outdoor area, and drank beers and tequila shots until it got dark and when we got hungry. Then we headed upstairs to Yosake, a very good restaurant (where Nathan and I decided to get married, as it so happens) and stuffed ourselves silly. We ended the evening by dancing the night away at Lula's, despite the fact that Lula's is less a dance club and more a dive bar. The other patrons might have found us insufferable; I have no idea. See tequila shots. At any rate, it was a great time and the fact that I stayed up until 2AM made the weekend seem wonderfully long. 

Step Two: Pick-Your-Own Berries  

I skipped hot yoga on Saturday (see tequila shots) but did manage to rally the troops for an outing to Lewis farms for some berry picking. Our group split up as soon as we hit the fields - half of us wanted to pick strawberries, while the rest wanted blue. Luckily Nathan and I were on different teams, so we ended up with a bucket of each. So far I've been eating a ton of berries every day, but I have grand plans to make blueberry pie and a vegan strawberry shortcake with coconut whipped cream. Will I accomplish these lofty goals before the berries go bad and/or I eat them all by the handful? Only time will tell. 

 Step Three: Breakfast Taco Party 

Finally, the moment I'd been looking forward to for weeks: BREAKFAST TACO PARTY. This party is an annual tradition that my friends K and D host, and it is exactly what it sounds like - a party, celebrating the art of the breakfast taco. There was so much food that I showed up for breakfast and stayed for dinner, because you can never have too many tacos. There was also cornhole and weird fortunes and coffee spiked with bourbon. The weather was glorious and the porch was full of people I love. The best part, however, were the buckets. Buckets are a delicious mixed drink served in (clean) paint cans. The drink contains bourbon, mint, sugar, and fresh squeezed citrus. It is then adorned with many straws and passed around family style for everyone to sip. Is it sanitary? No. Does it contain enough bourbon to kill anything that might be passed on? Probably. Did anyone care? Not when buckets are at stake. 

As you can see, it was a wonderful weekend that left me feeling pretty damn grateful for my life here in Wilmington. If the last few days are any indication, it's going to be an excellent summer. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bringing Home Our Bees, Part Two

It seems the last time I wrote about our adventures in beekeeping was nearly a year ago, when we replaced our queen bee and crossed our fingers. As you may have guessed by my year-long silence on the subject, our hive didn't make it. We didn't get the queen in fast enough, or maybe she didn't take, or perhaps the hive was already too weak. At any rate, the hive was overrun with a wax moth infestation, the whole colony was lost, and we mostly blamed ourselves. Even though we'd had that hive for over two years, beekeeping has a steep learning curve. I'm fairly certain a more experienced beekeeper would have seen the trouble sooner and stepped in before things got out of hand, but alas - we were not those beekeepers. 

And so, we've been hive-less for a year. It was a lonely time. I missed the bees, our suits, the smoke. Our yard felt empty without those white boxes in the corner, the busy highway buzzing across the yard. And then, about ten days ago, we became beekeepers again. We picked up two new hives and moved them our backyard.

It wasn't exactly a seamless process. We (and by "we" I mean "Nathan") decided to try our hand at top bar hives this time, instead of the traditional white boxes. Nathan built the new hives, but it took much longer than anticipated, because he drew up the plans himself and also because that is the nature of projects - they always take at least three times longer than you think they will. So Sunday morning (Mother's Day! Long live the queen! Also Tropical Storm Ana! What a day it was!) we spent hours hammering, gluing, and drilling. I was sure we'd never finish in time, but somehow we did it. 

Of course, there was another problem we had to deal with. You see, we had ordered nucleus colonies from our local bee guy. If you're keeping Langstroth hives like most people in the USA, nucs are very easy to install. Just drop the frames of bees into your box and voila - you're done. Because we're doing top bar hives, however, we (and again, by "we" I mean "Nathan") had to trim the frames (while they were full of bees!) so they would fit in our boxes. This method of beekeeping is said to be gentler and kinder in the long run, but the installation process was a bit traumatic. Or so I heard. Unfortunately Nathan had to do this part Monday morning, alone, because I had to go to work. Oops.

At any rate, the bees made it into the hives, Nathan only got stung once, and a week later we opened them up for the first time since their move-in day to see how things were progressing. And things were looking great! The frames that the bees arrived on were still heavy with honey and brood, and the bees had already started building a lot of comb on the empty bars we'd placed along to the top - AKA, the top bars. It was actually pretty incredible to see how much progress they'd made in just a week, and made me wonder why Langstroth hives are so popular in America. Clearly, the bees know what they're doing, and even though this was my first time inspecting the bee in a top bar hive, the process felt much simpler and calmer. The bees didn't seem to mind us either, which was a nice change.

While one of the hives appears to be thriving, the other one is a tiny bit slower. Hopefully it'll catch up soon and everything will even out. In the meantime we'll keep checking on them, adding bars as needed, and doing our part to keep them comfortable.

Welcome home, bees! We missed you. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Not Quite Beachy Keen, But Close

Good news, y'all: summer is here. This is partly why I've been a terrible blogger (or at least it's my latest excuse). Every evening when the day is over, Nathan and I retreat to the back porch until it gets dark, to sit in the fading sunlight while sipping white wine. (White wine! How I've missed you!) While this has been a truly lovely routine, it doesn't leave much time for blogging, especially after working all day, writing all morning, and occasionally working out at night. A small price to pay. As we all know by this point, I love summer more than any other season, but somehow experiencing it anew each year is still such a pleasant surprise. 

To celebrate the unofficial arrival of summer, we headed to the beach this past Sunday. This wouldn't normally be a huge deal, because we live exactly seven miles from the ocean. This trip, however, was a little more interesting because instead of driving to the beach, fighting for parking, and coughing up $2.50 an hour for the meter, we drove to a marina and stepped onto a lovely little boat. 

One of our new friends just happens to be a captain who works at a marina, and he has access to the boats when he's off duty, which is pretty much the best job perk ever. We took a boat up the Intracoastal Waterway, out past Figure Eight Island, a private island accessible only by super rich people, and anchored ourselves just off Lee Island. Then we spent the whole day in the sun and surf, boogie boarding, eating Snapea Crisps, and drinking a cooler full of beer. It was pretty much perfect, despite my slight sunburn and the terror I experienced every time the boat went around a bend. Mostly, though, it was perfect. 

Other than going to the beach, life has okay. Honestly, the last two weeks have been really busy and I've felt a bit overwhelmed. This probably has something to do with the fact that school ended and now I'm actually working 40 hours a week at the marketing agency - I hadn't realized how much I cramming into those two free mornings, and I've yet to find a way to balance all the components of my life. Yes, I've been pretty good about writing first thing in the morning, but I'm only working out half the time, and cooking anything has been hit or miss. I'm hoping this is the week it all starts to click, because life is pretty good right now but I can't quite enjoy it as fully as I'd like. Once I get some semblance of a balance back, I'll be better equipped to make the most out of each moment. Until then I feel a bit like I'm treading water, waiting for my turn to use the boogie board. 

In the meantime, I need to finish this cup of coffee and go to work. If all goes well and everything falls into place, I'll visit this space again on Friday and tell you all about our new bees (!). 

Until then!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Goodbye, College. I Mean It This Time.

Last week, I submitted grades for the class I taught this past semester at UNCW, which means my short-lived career as a college instructor is officially over (at least until I'm famous). It's a bittersweet moment. On the one hand, I'm glad that now I only have to focus on one job. I won't miss waking early to plan lessons, or grading papers on my lunch break, or responding to a thousand student emails asking a million questions, the answers to which are clearly stated in the syllabus. On the other hand, I will really, really, really miss teaching. 

Before coming to Wilmington, I'd never been a teacher. I'd led a few workshops about social media and given some library presentations, but this was a completely new experience. At first, I was very bad at it. I was nervous, I stuttered and fumbled, I painstakingly created lesson plans that broke my class down into five minute increments because I was terrified of finding myself in front of my class with nothing to say. Four years and twelve classes later, I'm a completely different teacher. I still get nervous, but my students don't seem to notice. (In fact, when I told them that public speaking still terrifies me, they refused to believe me until I held up my hand so they could see that it was indeed trembling.) I no longer over-plan my classes - I have a loose idea of what I want to teach, and I'm able to tailor it in the moment to the students, their mood, and their contributions. This, I think, has been the most exciting evolution of teaching - learning to create a lesson with my students, rather than plotting one out for them. 

While I didn't love teaching First Year Experience the way I loved teaching creative writing, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and so did my students. None of us were passionate about the subject matter and there were many occasions where it may have seemed like a waste of time. But we made the best of it and we had a lot of fun. I like to think I taught them something about life and college, and that they were able to think critically about who they are and what they want out of their time on earth. We asked hard questions, we dug deep, and we got really, really personal. Maybe too personal. I have a hard time holding back. 

This semester was particularly interesting because a few of my students were dealing with some big things, which they revealed to me in their weekly journal entries and in conversation. I felt privileged to be someone they could confide in, and I took the role seriously. This class in particular is supposed to help students adjust to college, to make a smooth transition from their old life to this new one. While my laid back teaching style probably wouldn't have worked in a more academic setting, it seemed to set the right tone in this one. For the first time ever, a number of my students hugged me on the last day of class. And not even for extra credit! It was humbling and lovely and even though we were standing in the same classroom, I already missed them. 

I hope that one day, I'll be back in a classroom, helping a group of students become better writers and maybe better people. Fingers crossed. Until then, I have plenty of work to keep me busy.