This is the strangest moment, and so it’s one of the strangest blogs I’ve ever written. I am in an in-between space and time, when so much (might) happen, but nothing is happening yet. This must be what race horses feel in those seconds before the gates open on the track, all this heavy possibility and built-up energy that has nowhere to go… until suddenly it does.
I’m three days away from my first dance class in (I’m not even joking) thirty years. I also have a pile of essays I’ve written, revised and revised over the past year that, due to my work schedule, I haven’t really sent out until now. So, in other words, my days are spent researching literary journals and magazines, sending out queries along with managing the anxiety of knowing I’ll have to try my hand at this thing (a.k.a.: dancing) I’ll probably be very bad at (but that I have promised that I will blog about because I’d really like to see if I can marry creative expression with movement and the body— my body)—in addition to my FTE, which I will only mention in passing but that occupies 40 hours of my life each week.
Fall, they say is the season of change. For me, this will certainly be true.
So, here’s the thing: I’m 37. And maybe that doesn’t sound like a big admission, but hot damn, when did that happen? A second ago, I was just barely 30, and so it was OK that I wasn’t widely published, and it was OK that I was still finding my voice, and it was OK that I didn’t own a house or a car or have children or was married (you get the idea.) And then one day you (or I) woke up and realized: I’m really an adult now, and all of this stuff I haven’t done is starting to be embarrassing.
The reason why I didn’t pursue a more conventional life was because I was dedicated to myself to my athletic and writing dreams. In my late twenties, I was training for the Olympic Trials in the marathon while pursing dual M.A. degrees in French and English. I lived in an apartment East of UNR my mom affectionately called “the shit hole” and between the miles, the coursework and the classes I taught as a TA, there really wasn’t a lot left over for the “other stuff.”
In the late winter of 2009, the unthinkable happened: I was accepted on scholarship to the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of CA for the following fall semester. For those of you who don’t know what an MFA is, it’s basically an acronym for “Mother Fucking Awesome” (OK not really, but sometimes I feel like it should be) or a Master of Fine Arts, which means you spend two solid years learning how to be a professional writer in the world—both inside and outside of academia.
Even with the scholarships, teaching opportunities, coaching opportunities and my time serving on the College Honor Board, my time at Saint Mary’s College put me in a massive amount of debt I’m still and always working so hard not to take to the grave with me. (I should say that while I was there, I also ran my fastest 5k (in USATC XC) and marathon times: 17:27 and 2:47, respectively, which made me very competitive, but still not eligible for any kind of sponsorship.)
So, here I am: ghost writer of XX number of books (sorry, I signed NDAs) and the coauthor of a book released last year by Beacon Press with a dozen essays that have been published by the top literary journals in the country, and one essay that has been anthologized. Yet, I’m not really the person I’d hoped I’d be. And so, what do you do?
Honestly: how can a person not feel beaten down by trying so hard and achieving so little?
So this year I have set my goal to publish my more recent work in the top literary journals in the country while exploring new sides of my relationship with my body, while holding onto my professional position, and growing in that role, too. The dancing, I hope, will help me to cultivate a different side of my creativity (we’ll see— I’m really nervous) and, best-case, help me to foster a healthier and more realistic relationship with my body.