Travelling to a New Place

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When it comes to ‘place,’ this can mean an emotional, or spiritual, or mental place, not just a physical place.  And you can bring your same people with you to the new place, if they want to come.  Or maybe you will need new people for your new place.

In the first half of 2016 I got to a new place.  A place where I was done with my university degree and didn’t know where to go next.  I drifted aimlessly for a few months, treading water, not going anywhere.  Then, at the end of October, my niece encouraged me to do NaNoWriMo.  I didn’t officially sign up for it, and I didn’t commit to a 50,000 minimum word count, but I did start writing for just 15 minutes a day on an idea I had for a novel.  The first week was brutal.  Every day I thought about those 15 minutes, and it seemed like they would be the most difficult 15 minutes to endure for the whole day.  I had to push past the discomfort, push past thinking what I was writing wouldn’t be ‘perfect,’ and push past all my self doubt.  When December 1st rolled around, I kept going.  Saturday, the last day of the year, I reached over 20,000 words written.  I can undeniably say I am in a different ‘place’ now than when I started.

And I’ll be in a different place tomorrow too.

I don’t know if I’ve exactly found happiness in this new place I keep going to.  Maybe I’ve found meaning.  Maybe it’s purpose.  But I know for sure that I am moving forward, which is a heck of a lot better than standing still.  Because, like the picture says, I won’t find happiness in the same place I lost it.  It absolutely must be found in a new place.  And I intend to keep travelling to a new place each and every day this year.  And I look forward to where I will be at the end.

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15 years since 9/11

In 2007, just 6 years after 9/11, my step-son decided to join the Canadian Armed Forces.  He was just 18, and had been living with us the last 6 months before deciding to leave, early in November, for basic training.  The ‘war’ on terrorism was in full swing.

Watching documentaries today on the anniversary of 9/11 brings it all back to me, like it was yesterday.  Not just that day in 2001, but the day, 6 years later, when we said goodbye to our 18 year old kid for an undermined period of time.  We were ‘loaning’ him out to the Canadian Military, and all we could hope for was to get him back at some point.

 

On Loan

 

There’s already dust on your computer screen.

Your room is so silent, I guess

because for the first time in months the computer is turned off.

I keep coming into your room, I guess

because now I can.

For so long the door was always closed.  It was

your space, on loan to you while you lived here.

 

When I walk down the hall, I see your open door.  I still

think of it as your door, your room.

It’s clean and it stays clean.  All your stuff,

the stuff you left behind, is put away,

and no one touches it.

Your laundry is done. I did it all.

I am surprised at how many clothes you left

here.  All those t-shirts you wore

so often, I thought you loved them.

 

I don’t know when you’ll be back, if ever, so I guess

this means you’ve really moved out.

I have had to learn all these new acronyms.  CFB stands for

Canadian Forces Base.  BMQ stands for Basic Military Qualifications.

I haven’t learned how to spell “Afghanistan” by heart, instead

I look it up on the poster

on the wall in your room every time.

 

Before you left, I wanted control of your room, to clean it, I guess

because it is part of my house. It drove me nuts

to see your clothes all over the floor,

dirty laundry, dishes, crumpled bedding,

because I couldn’t do anything about it. Now,

I have complete dominion over your space, and I guess

that’s why I keep coming in here.

Because now I can.

And it’s so quiet,

I can hear the dust gathering.

 

—Kiera Polzin

 

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Now What?

I did it. I finished my thesis. It took 17 of the last 27 years. It wasn’t always easy being a part-time student and a full time adult. I have a letter that states that on graduation day I “will have satisfied all requirements for the BACHELOR OF ARTS Honours in English and Minor in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia. The degree is expected to be awarded in May 2016.”

Now what?

‘Not done yet’ has been my universal excuse to put off a great many things, the biggest of which has been having to answer the question: ‘now what?’ Unfortunately, I may have to finally figure out the answer to that question. Or not.

Honestly, for the better part of the last 25 years, I have not been able to answer that question, so why would now be any different?

For a few weeks I have been struggling, because ‘not done yet’ was my shield from the question: ‘now what?’ Without that shield, I feel exposed.

I suppose the question of ‘now what’ is just what most graduates and post-graduates face. Applying for a graduate degree, Masters of Fine Arts, where my thesis project is a novel of publishable length, is of interest, but grad school applications are a competitive process. Just because I want to do it, does not mean I will be accepted. The program I want to apply to has only a 25% acceptance rate.

So, for now, I take a step back. Try not to think about it too much. Applications for an MFA are open between August 1 and October 15.

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Had to Borrow this from Bill Watterson

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February 7, 2016 · 9:15 pm

Back to the Drawing Board

Today, my thesis supervisor said this, “Let’s nail down a thesis and organize the paper around it…”  After about two hours (and a whole month of thinking I’ve lost what my original argument is), I think I’ve decided this is my argument:

Adaptation becomes a map through which we can navigate Austen’s original novel.

It is fitting that I am back to the drawing board seeings how my whole argument is based on drawing a map.

 

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UP and then DOWN again

Okay, deciding ten years ago to go back to school part time and finish my BA was hard enough.  I still cannot believe I was crazy enough to apply to do an honours degree.

I applied for the honours programme back in 2008.  I hadn’t written my first novel yet, and I didn’t know that I would fall in love with creative writing.  A few years later, I realized I wanted to follow a creative path, but I had already come so far with the English degree, that switching to a Fine Arts degree would have meant adding a number of extra years to the whole process.

So, here I am, stuck with this one last hurdle to clear in order to get my degree this spring.

Things are an up and down roller coaster for me.  I did get the French done [UP] and my thesis draft done [UP], but I’m in the middle of the revision process on my thesis, [DOWN].  My supervisor, after reading my 40 pages, actually said, “So what?”  There were some tears on my part.  But now that I’ve calmed down a bit, I realize I did all this research and I basically forgot to say what I think, why I think it, and why it matters.  So I need to really work at crafting a constructive argument through all the stuff I pulled together for the draft.  The thesis final version is due March 15.

I just have to keep working and hope for the best.

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Do It Anyway

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January 8, 2016 · 3:52 pm