Sunday, August 10, 2008

I FEEL Better At School

So another FDU commencement come and gone. My ADHD was kicking in during the ceremony (15 graduates! Lord have mercy! It was hard to sit still) but it's always so moving to hear everyone praise the program and the writing community to which we all belong.

Like many of the people who got up to speak at that podium last night, I, too, feel honored and privileged and YES, even BLESSED, to have been a part of it all- the writing residencies, the workshops, the student and faculty readings, dinners with authors, trips to the bar and the end of the day and the beautiful friendships that have blossomed.

(Never mind the fact that my thesis edits are not finished. You think I don't know that shit? STOP bringing it up!! Damn Voices...)

Every time I'm on that campus, at a reading or any other event, I get this bolt of inspiration. Right away I find myself with notebook out, pen in hand, ideas flowing like water. It feels so good there.

It's like when you go away on vacation, and you're IN LOVE with this vacation spot, having the best time ever, but then you come home and sleep in your own bed for the first time in a long time. The mattress still has the groove in it that hugs you just right; your duvet keeps that perfect balance of warmth and comfort; and all the night sounds outside your window lull you to sleep.

It's a beautiful feeling.

I came across this program because C moved our family to New Jersey and I could no longer attend classes at CUNY. I almost didn't get my application in on time, but my downstairs neighbor pushed me to do it: "Send it overnight mail... you know you want this MFA..." and she was right. In October of 2004 I was accepted, offered a $500 grant, and was told to show up at their Wroxton, England campus in January.

England was never on my "Places To Visit" list; I just had no interest in it at all. But then I got there and the Abbey was beautiful, my room was so perfect, and the people I met inspired me.

Excerpts from my Wroxton Diary include:

"...Module 2 with Jeff (Allen): I can't really read him yet. He had us read Borges and I- the discussion was good but as usual you have a bunch of pretentious literary snobs. But I expected that. I can be a snob sometimes, too."

"...Afterwards I discover the computer lab [cue angelic music here] and IMMEDIATELY log on to let family and friends know I am okay. And of course to see how Days of our Lives is progressing. Shawn stopped the wedding by crashing his bike through the church window, hurting Belle in the process. DRAMA!!"

"...Some young PUNK ASS BITCH BOY was all pissy because I was on the phone. What the fuck! He's lucky I didn't kick his fucking ass all up and down the street. Punk ass bitch boy. He'd better watch his step with me... Whatever, I'm talking a lot of shit. I'm not going to do a damned thing. Except do my homework like a dork."

"...I began the story Terese (Svoboda) gave as homework... it was really hard for me because I wanted it to be profound and important and prolific, but it read more like a play or one of those easy read books like 'Shopoholic' and such... And right as I was putting it down as crap, I had an epiphany-- not everything I write has to be profound! Or life changing. Or earth shattering.... Besides, good writing is good writing. And I know I'm a good writer"

So late thesis aside, I've had a great literary experience during my time at FDU, and it seems that I will continue to have that the more I come back to reconnect with the faculty and students as an alumnus. I didn't have this attachment with AU at all. I *do* so love the friends I made there, and they are still my bestest friends to this day, but I have no desire to really be attached to that school.

With FDU, however, I've experienced this sense of belonging, this sense of having a place in the world, of not being alone because there are so many others just like me.

Writers. Working writers. Brilliantly talented and knowledgeable working writers with unique voices and experiences.

I have Deborah and Elisheba and Carmen and Michael and Cindy, and awesome faculty members like Jeff and Walt and Renee and Tom and YES, even Martin (who can be nice when he wants to be), and all the new and awesome people I meet every time I go back (this time it was new faculty member Harvey and fellow students Nina and Juan{I hope that's how you spell your name!}).

But more importantly is the great vibe with which these people and this place surround me. I feel it just from being in Lenfell Hall, Hartman Lounge and at Vanderbilt's.

Even after that Claire heifer proved to be the suckiest waitress in waitressing history. Two nights in a row.

*smooches...realizing that my student loan debt is so very worth it*
and congratulations to Elisheba, a wonderfully talented writer and just a really fun and outgoing person to hang with; she graduated yesterday and looked OH SO CUTE doing it! And don't worry, girl- I won't put the video of your speech on this blog ;)