Friday, July 31, 2009

There Will Be...Ice Cream

After the hard work of residency, I opted for a little down time before jumping right into my first packet. Hopefully, if any of my advisors are reading this - Tim, Ellen - they won't be upset with me for skipping school those first few days.

I had to get some psychic distance, honest!

And fulfill a twenty-two year yearning. I'm not exaggerating.

It all started with the Sound of Music. Like every other person my age, I watched that movie every single Thanksgiving throughout my childhood, and fell in love with Rold even if he was a trgic hero turned bad, and wanted to be Christine, and wondered what ever happend to the family. When my roommate at Notre Dame told me her family vacationed every summer at the Lodge the Trapps built in Vermont, I just had to see it. Somehow.

Somehow turned into a twenty-two year wait. And fortuitous luck.

When I found out the first residency for Vermont College was in July, I emailed Julie, trying to keep my excitement to a low but pretty sure I totally failed, to ask if her family was, you know, just maybe, on the off chance, um...going to be at the Lodge say, July 21-24. They were!

Sometimes fact really is stranger and more coincidental that fiction.

So, on Tuesday morning, after a night of celebrating the fact I'd survived my first residency, I met my old roommate in my new dorm. It was pretty surreal. Pretty cool. The perfect ending to my first stint back in college life.

When I walked out of the dorm, I felt drained. It had been an amazing residency, but my head was mush, full of stuff to sort. Stowe, Julie, the Trapps, the mountains, running, sleeping, chilling out, shopping...just being, rather than thinking, put me back on the road to writing. I filled up again, especially on Ben & Jerry's ice cream. The plant is about fifteen minutes from Stowe and Jules and I took a tour. They give you ice cream at the end! Perfect temperature, not too mushy, not too hard. And it was a new flavor. So delicious.

Hiking up to the Trapp family chapel was pretty amazing too. It's not often I get that far out into nature. Jules had me petrified of bears, but anyone who's read my post on the bear encounter in the Shenandoah's hopefully understands my paranoia about bears in nature. The only thing we ran into were gnats. Huge relief.

Then there was the shopping in Burlington. And eating at the Trapp Family Lodge. Tasty. Very very tasty.

But most of all, there was spending time with a person I'd lived together with in the closest of quarters for a year during college. Someone who knows as much about me as probably only one other person because of that intense dorm living, and who, after all that, still likes me.

It. Was. Awesome.

I can't wait to do it again.

Whaddya say, Jules? I promise, you won't have to pose with me in the Ben and Jerry's ice cream lid again...probably. I think.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wayward No More

Bless me father, for I have sinned. It has been way too long since my last post. I have a couple of good excuses...I think. First, without my husband, I spent the latter half of June in Germany picking up my kids. They were going to school there with the children of friends of ours. They got a real taste of German elementary school, and loved it! When school was over, we toured Germany. We went to Bremen to see the Stadtmusikanten (pictured left), then to Kiel for the huge regatta held there every year, and finally to Berlin where a friend of mine lives. We even made it to Frederick the Great's Sans Souci. Awesome awesome trip.

Only to be followed by a 10-day residency in Montpelier at Vermont College. I decided to take the plunge and applied to their MFA in Writing for Children. Even more amazing, I was accepted. It is a two year program. Each semester begins with an on-campus residency during the summer months.

How can I describe that experience? Eye-opening. Elevating. Chocolate-craving stressful. Enriching. Writer's mecca. Those days were packed with more kernels of ideas and thought on craft than the last six months of my life. I'll need another six months to process it all.

If you are thinking about honing your writing skills, man, Vermont College is the place to go. I learned so much, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'll be spending the next two years writing critical papers, reading way more than I already do, and rolling up my sleeves and learning how to use a few more tools of the trade. POV, metaphor, prologues here I come!

Seriously, Vermont College is a writer's dream. I got to talk shop with people as interested in writing as me. A writer can really let her hair down and wax on about the finer points of writing in this program (or the stuff you just hate, can't understand, want to change!). It's awesome.

If that wasn't enough, I got to revisit dorm living. Not that I was missing it. Still, it turned out to be pretty fun. I lucked out and got an amazingly wonderful dorm roommate. We bemoaned and celebrated together. And hey, this time, I was old enough to buy my own beer. What's more, I could afford the good kind.

I'm psyched to get going on my first packet. Can't wait to dive in and try my hand at critical papers on craft.

Of course, after I get that first packet back, I may be groaning a little more than usual because I'll probably have loads of revisions to do, but growth is painful, any kind of growth, right?