Friday, June 03, 2011

The Big Reveal!

Earlier this week I hinted that I had some exciting news to share. Today, I can finally tell you the secret I've been keeping for the last few weeks.

At the end of July, Nathan and I are moving to North Carolina, where I will be a full time student in the MFA program at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington for the next three years! 

photo credit: aaron

photo credit: farmerchris


As many of you know, I've been applying to MFA programs for two years now. Last year, I turned down an acceptance because it didn't come with a teaching position or a stipend and I already have too much student debt to consider taking on even more. This year, I applied to nine schools and was openly blogging about the process when I remembered things like the fact that Nathan and I are currently employed, and I probably didn't want our bosses or co-workers stumbling across our plans to quit our jobs and move far, far away. So I quietly ceased blogging the application adventures, even as the acceptances started rolling in, even as it killed me to keep a secret this big from my blog. Yesterday, I finally gave my notice at my job - my last day will be July 15 and we're aiming to move on July 25 - and everything is out in the open. Can I get a WHEW?

And now for the long version:

After submitting my applications at the end of December and twiddling my thumbs for months, on March 1 I finally got my first bit of good news - UNCW was accepting me into their MFA program! "But do you have any money?" I asked. "Maybe," they replied. "But we won't know until early April." That was a very long time to wait, but I had no choice. I thanked them and did my best to keep from sending daily emails begging for updates.

While I waited on funding, more news came, both good and bad. Waitlisted at Hollins; rejected from Iowa; accepted to the University of Missouri-St. Louis; rejected from Virginia Tech; accepted to George Mason; rejected from University of Virginia; rejected from Penn State; accepted to Colorado State University.

UNCW was still working on the teaching assistantship. St. Louis seemed fairly confident that they could get me a research job in the library, which would have been acceptable but not ideal. Colorado was very tempting (Fort Collins! New Belgium Brewery!) but they also didn't know their funding situation. So frustrating! And yet, I was holding out for UNCW. I knew that I wanted to be back on the East coast; I wanted to be in a three year program; I wanted to study both fiction and creative nonfiction; and last but not least, everyone I'd spoken to from the program had been so welcoming and helpful. At work, on runs, in yoga classes, I silently chanted, "UNCW, UNCW." For over five weeks, it was my mantra.

And then, I got the email. A teaching assistantship had opened up. It was mine if I wanted it. And oh, I wanted it! I couldn't say yes fast enough and immediately let the other schools know that they could give my place to someone else. I knew too well what it feels like to wait for that call and I didn't want to drag the process out for my fellow MFA draftees.

So that's the big news! Not quite as exciting as an engagement or a pregnancy, perhaps, but I personally can't think of a life event more thrilling. I have been working towards this goal for years - writing, submitting, studying, reading, taking classes, and dreaming of the day when I could quit my job, go back to school, and make writing my life. It's hard to believe that day is almost here. Somebody, pinch me.

I'll write more soon - more about moving, packing, the terrifying reality of slashing our income in half (no one, it turns out, gets rich on stipends) and the thing I am avoiding the most - saying goodbye to Texas and all my wonderful friends here. But we can deal with all that later. For now, I'm just going to be glad that everything is in the open and that I can celebrate in full view of the world.

North Carolina, here we come!

63 comments:

  1. that's wonderful! congrats on this next stage of your life. :D

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  2. Um, WAY better than a pregnancy announcement. Congratulations!! I can't wait to see all the changes and new life experiences unfold!

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  3. I've read your blog for awhile now, but never commented. I had to drop in to say congratulations! Although we've never met, I love your writing and am so happy for you. It's nice to see someone who works hard and is talented get the payoff they deserve.  :)

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  4. Chrissy,
    I'm so, so excited for you and for us and to finally meet you! You'll be in Wilmington before I will, but when I get there we'll have to celebrate. See you very soon! 

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  5. This is fabulous! Moving is always so exciting, although I'm sure you and Nathan will miss your home of the last 6/7/8 years? They're lucky to get you! 

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  6. Oh my gosh, I am so excited and happy for you. Don't be surprised if you end up with some visitors (and dogs) headed your way because, c'mon, North Carolina is a much more realistic roadtrip than Texas. 

    (See what I did there? I just invited myself and a bunch of dogs to come and visit you and drink your beer.)

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  7. GREAT news! if you ever want to mentor a recent graduate looking for a program DESPERATELY and struggling every step of the way...you know...if you WANTED to do that...i would love it. :) 

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  8. This is wonderful news!  Congratulations!  You should feel very good about getting accepted into multiple programs and getting funding.  

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  9. Congrats!!!  That is awesome news.  I'd say even more exciting than an engagement or a pregnancy.  That is a true accomplishment and you should be very proud of yourself.  Speaking as a single person who recently finished grad school, successes like this often get overshadowed by weddings and babies.  Anyone can get married and anyone can have a baby.  But not everyone is as talented of a writer as you are.  You are going to do great and your future students will be lucky to have you as a TA! Best of luck.

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  10. Chrissy!! Congratulations! That is the BEST news. They have a great program AND you got an assistantship -- woo hoo! I am super psyched for you! Wilmington is lovely, BTW, and I bet you will love living there. 

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  11. Congratulations! It looks beautiful there!

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  12. Josephine Hamilton11:02 AM, June 03, 2011

    Every bit as awesome and exciting as announcing a pregnancy or engagement. You've worked so hard! Well done!

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  13. BIG congratulations! I know how hard it is to keep things a secret because of work commitments etc and it must be amazing to finally let it all out. Good for you - your hard work has been rewarded! :-D

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  14. Congratulations to you! I think it's way better than a pregnancy or engagement announcement, because it took serious hard work!

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  15. Yay, sooo  exciting! Congratulations and good luck with the move and house hunt, and finally, with the new chapter in your life as a MFA student!! I'm sure you're going to thrive in your new program and I look forward to following along on this next adventure of yours!

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  16. Congratulations on your ideal acceptance and also for successfully keeping the secret!

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  17. I apologize for guessing it was an engagement - I'm just at that place in my 20's where all my friends are announcing as much! 

    While I'm bummed that you won't be in Fort Collins (an hour from me!), I am psyched for your new adventure and so happy for you. Congrats!

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  18. Aw, thank you so much! I can't tell you how much that means to me. :)

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  19. I will hold down the fort until you arrive! (Hopefully, I'll have a fort before you get there. That would be a long time to be homeless!)

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  20. Consider yourself invited, then! I predict we'll have more visitors living in a beach town then we did all the way over here in East Texas. We're definitely going to have a guest bed!

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  21. I would absolutely love to help you out in any way that I can! Are you looking for an MFA program? It's incredibly overwhelming and a difficult process, but I like to think I've got some good tips to share. Email me any time and we can chat!

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  22. Thanks! I really researched my programs this year (as opposed to last year, where I just blindly chose programs based on... I don't even know what!) so I was pretty sure my chances were better this year. I consider myself ridiculously lucky to get the funding - so many schools are in a tough place right now financially. I will not take it for granted!

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  23. Megan, that's so kind of you to say! Of course I am excited for all kinds of milestones in people's lives, but as an academic with no plans for kids it's nice to be recognized in a different way. :) 

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  24. It is amazing! All these super nice comments are definitely worth the weeks of secrecy. :)

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  25. You can be sure I will be faithfully blogging the whole way. How could I do anything but? :)

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  26. Nonsense! I'm in the same place as you so I feel you. I'm just glad you didn't guess pregnancy! ;)

    And as for engagements, we are sort of kind of engaged I guess? Meaning, we are 95% sure on the date and location. Also I don't want an engagement ring. So really, I don't know what to call us. We're not exactly traditionalists. ;)

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  27. Congrats! I am so happy for you!

    And hey, just because it's not marriage or a baby does not make it any less exciting. 

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  28. Also, I feel like I should drive out to Nacogdoches and hug you in person before you leave us for good. :P  LOL.

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  29. Congratulations!! Such good news for you, and you deserve it! North Carolina is a pretty good possibility for one of our duty stations in the near future. Maybe we'll see ya there :)

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  30. Pregnant women are smug......

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  31. If you do, I will be waiting with open arms! :)

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  32. Congratulations!

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  33. I'm thrilled for you! And of course you can always keep Texas in your writing!

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  34. Texas will always be a part of me, for better and for worse. I owe this state a lot! 

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  35. Congratulations! I was wondering what had happened with the graduate school applications....I'm so thrilled this was the reason all went silent! Nothing better than studying the thing you love!

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  36. Heh heh heh!  ;-)  I've seen it too!

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  37. Congratulations, my dear!  This is such wonderful, exciting news.  You are already a talented writer, and my hope is that this program will take you to the next level.  I am so, so happy for you!  Please keep inspiring all of us!

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  38. Oh my gosh!  You're moving to my neck of the woods!  That's awesome.  One of my friends is from Wilmington and she can't say enough wonderful things about it.  Congratulations on your acceptance! 

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  39. I wondered if people would wonder! Being a grown up is hard. :)

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  40. Thank you so much Rose-Anne! Clearly, I am very excited about this next stage of my life and my writing. :)

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  41. I'm so glad to hear that! I've only been to NC once and it was just a drive through Greensboro. But everyone says Wilmington is great so that is definitely a good sign!

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  42. Congratulations! You'll have to write something explaining what creative non-fiction is. 

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  43. WOOHOOOO CONGRATS CHICA!  I'm sad of course that you won't be in Roanoke, but Wilmington is a kick ass school and I'm so glad they found funding for you. I was accepted there the year they couldn't get funding for anyone, so you're one lucky duck and I bet you're going to ***love*** it there.  Great art scene, great food, amazing people.  Some of my good friends graduated from the MFA there and loved it.  I'm so so so happy for you and excited to keep hearing about the adventure.  And if I ever make it to the beach down there (it's very close to Roanoke), I'll have to find you and get dinner and a drink!  Super congrats!

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  44. Congratulations! SUCH exciting news. It sounds like a great program, and yay, for the funding! When I wen to grad school for my Master's in Higher Ed and Student Affairs, I decided to go to the one that gave me an assistantship. I'm chipping away at my teaching certification now - and that comes with no funding - so I'm staying at my job and taking a class or two at a time. It's so hard. I wish it was funded, so that I could go full-time. 

    Can't wait to read about your adventures in North Carolina!

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  45. Congrats Chrissy! There's not better feeling in this world than when all your hard work pays off! You deserve it! Good luck with this new chapter in your life...and don't forget to blog all about it!

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  46. "Not quite as exciting as an engagement or a pregnancy, perhaps..."  WHAT?! This news totally is! Congrats!  ...though I knew Nathan had written his letter of resignation a while back so I thought something like this might be coming.  Yay!

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  47. Short version: it's basically something true and factual, but you write it in the style of a short story as opposed to, say, a news article. 

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  48. This is so good to hear! Seriously - I am a ball of nerves. I was a little sad about Hollins too, but I turned them down before I ever heard yes or no on the waitlist. I didn't want to be filled with even more regret if it was a yes! I have a good feeling about UNCW - I've already looked up the vegetarian options are restaurants. They have a Mellow Mushroom! And it carries Daiya cheese!!!

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  49. Thanks Sarah! I paid for my MLS with loans and it wasn't really worth it, especially considering I'm abandoning that career for writing. I may go back to it eventually, so maybe it won't have been a money pit after all. Either way, it feels good to know I'm going to soon be doing what I love.

    Oh, and I will definitely be blogging the adventures. I wouldn't know how to do anything but! :)

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  50. Thank you so much! Blogging is at the top of my priorities. I will want to document this part of my life for sure!

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  51. Aw, thanks. I didn't mean for that to sound so pathetic. I feel like it's been a year of weddings and babies and that I SHOULD be headed down that road instead of this one. But I'm not. And I'm happy with my choices, even though I know some other folks aren't. (*cough*mom*cough*). Thanks for being excited for us! And come and visit with Bowser! 

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  52. NORTH CAROLINA!!! Very quick read, but will catch up soon.  Needed to know what was happening.  CONGRATULATIONS!!!  Have to say I wish it were Colorado because you'd be closer, but how exciting!  Awww, really happy :)

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  53. I popped over to check you out and I found a lot more than I though I would! This is awesome news. Congratulations. I am so excited for you and Nathan and the next chapter of your amazing journey. I'd pinch you, but I'm pretty far away!  So excited. 

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  54. Did you know that I actually thought about how you stopped blogging about it? Weird that the reason you stopped wasn't a reason I thought about but it was a very good one.

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  55. Just found your blog tonight. Congratulations and welcome to my neck of the woods!

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