All the Feelings

Lately, there have been a lot of feelings. A lot of ups and downs, of all kinds. I’m beginning to get used to this whole MFA thing (which I am simultaneously loving, and being inspired by, and also feeling as though I completely do not deserve to be here).

I hear that if you’re in a group meditation, sometimes you can kind of coast the meditative, collective high, that it and those around you elevate you. This MFA thing Continue reading


Thoughts on Grad School…

 I’ve been fairly contemplative, a bit meta, over this whole crazy thing that IS grad school – specifically, English graduate school. Everyone says graduate school is terrible, but you love it, but you hate it, and you have no free time because classes and research suck your life. But – and maybe this is just me – it really doesn’t seem that bad. So here are my thoughts, on what this is like. For me, at least.  Continue reading

The story of you is now a part of me – draft 3

We saw the Italian graffiti from the back
of his motorcycle: tu storia sempre
sara parte de la mia. He pushed
the visor of his helmet up to point it out
and translate: “The story of you is now a part of me.”

And now that story is a part of me – a small piece,
a shared identity. It was my first time
on two wheels like that, swerving around cars and up
onto the sidewalk, my shaking arms a vise
around him, my hands clenched tight
in the pockets of his jacket.

It’s not the thought of dying I was scared of,
but the wet smear on the pavement, the sound of breaking
bones, the bits of torn-off skin– the idea that shifting
my weight could change our course, lay us
down on concrete. That night we sped back
to his apartment after a three-course meal
and good red wine. The wind we made battered us
more than before, but I loosened my grip
and for the second time looked somewhere other
than his shoulder. The headlights of cars
made short funnels through the darkness. If I wanted
I could have struck the mirrors off their sides.
It wasn’t until he swung me off the seat and walked
the bike into its garage that we realized
one of the saddlebags was open, that I lost
my purse and all my things off the back.

I’m not quite satisfied with the end, I think, but it’s better than before. Marginally.

On a place that feels like home…

It’s one of those nights in which I miss things – big things, little things, tangible and intangible things. Most specifically, tonight I’m missing Galway.

I just finished reading an acquaintance’s book of poetry [Mark Brewin’s collection Scrap Iron, which is in fact phenomenal and you should all run out and buy it], and some of them draw pretty heavily on this Irish town I love. And it made me miss, in a visceral sort of way, the feel of the air coming off the river, the smell of fish at the morning market, the gaudy storefronts with Gaelic lettering, and the people – oh, people.

If I were to wax poetic for a moment, I’d tell you about the merry, ruddy-faced man my friends and I met in a pub. He spun us all around and taught us to dance something snappy. Or I’d tell you about the barmen – Sean, Ronan, Aongus, the bouncer Johnny – and how they made us feel at home by throwing cardboard coasters at our heads. I’d tell you how, the night the pub was so busy you could barely stand, I snagged a stool beside the musician’s corner and didn’t come up for air for hours, face in my hands and staring at fingers moving across strings and buttons and accordion keys. I’d tell you about making friends with Enda and Lorcan, best friends who had a penchant for hitting on the same girl and thus royally cock-blocking each other (there is no polite way to put this, I don’t think). I’d tell you about closing down the pub and having a lock-in, and the boys fussing at us for helping gather the empty glasses from the ledges ’round the walls. I’d tell you how intelligent they were, how interested they were in our opinions, how we talked about literature and politics and religion.

It was all so good-natured and friendly and fun, and tonight I am in love with those memories.

Tonight it feels like I’ll never get back there, like it won’t ever be the same. And while I know the first bit’s all in my head, the latter bit’s spot on. I won’t be a student visiting again. I won’t be studying there. I’ve got this basket of preconceived notions I need to figure out how to throw out the window, because the next time I’m in Galway will be so different than the memories I’m so fond of.

But I’ve got some ideas for it, for those future trips I hope to make. It’s a city that feels like home to me, more so than anywhere other than the Blue Ridge, and I can’t imagine never being there again. Maybe next time I’m there, it’ll be with a certain Englishman I’m fond of. Maybe it won’t be so cold. Maybe it’ll be summertime on the islands and the sky won’t really get dark all night, and we’ll stay up so long that we can watch the grey bits turn pink over the River Corrib. Maybe next time.

So, I haven’t been writing much…

I haven’t it’s true, and I feel in many ways like I am only doing a great disservice to myself in this. Which is definitely, definitely true.

But it’s a new year, with new creative writing classes ahead (hopefully some of them masters’ classes). I am not ready to give up the workshop yet, or the lovely wonderful writers I meet there. Continue reading