The last time I was here, I was in the middle of trying to sort out how to have a Professional Academic life without giving up my Personal Blog-About-Feelings life. I was pretty sure I’d found a way to balance the two… and then I stopped sharing my writing for an entire semester. At the beginning of the semester, my personal blog (the one you’re reading right now!) kept coming up in one of my classes. It was in a harmless way, but made me feel uncomfortable all the same. There were a lot of comments like, “Lydia, you blog a lot, tell us about…” or “When you blog, how do you…”. There’s really nothing wrong with that, but I had just met my grad school cohort and I didn’t want to be known by my blog. I’m not ashamed of the things I share here, but I don’t like the idea of acquaintances reading my stories without really knowing me. That seems like a silly reason to stop writing, now. Good news is: I’m back! For now, I’m going to briefly cover some of the important things that have happened in the last three months.
I am one-quarter of the way through graduate school! The last semester was a total trip. Graduate school is completely unlike undergrad, but it’s really hard to articulate exactly what’s different. It’s more work in less time. I feel like there are more obligations than can actually be fit into the small time-frame we’re given.
A bit of a downer thing I’ve found in grad school… MFA-ers are mean. At my school there’s a really ridiculous sense of elitism. Maybe it’s just the people I’ve met this year- I hope so, because I hate to think that the program somehow breeds this competition- but the folks in the MFA program are downright rude to us lowly MA-ers. I wish I was being hyperbolic, but the poets and fiction writers are high school style rude to the creative non-fiction writers (CNF is an MA not MFA… another weird school quirk), RhetComp-ers, Literature, and Education majors. It’s baffling and troubling. My writing is completely dismissed and devalued because I’m not pursuing an MFA. It’s so absurd that it sounds like I’m making this up, but I have an entire semester’s worth of nasty comments about my/our inferiority.
This is probably another reason I let my blog sit untouched for so long. I’ve always struggled with claiming writer as an identity of mine. I’ve always felt outside of some elite club, and this semester I had members of that club forcibly pushing me out. But as I’m sitting here writing this, I feel totally comfortable being a writer. I took a poetry class this semester. It oscillated between ridiculous and incredible. I challenged myself in a lot of ways, took a lot of risks with my writing, and left feeling like I had stretched and grown as a writer and human. I was lucky to have a very encouraging professor. I know it’s silly to need validation (I sometimes feel like I need constant validation) but I really needed that poetry professor to tell me I was just as good as the MFA-ers who told me I wasn’t.
I have an awesome job. Yesterday, I was really busy at work frantically editing some code on a course website, trying to beat a deadline and I paused for a moment and thought, “I really love this job.” And I do! The job I had as an undergrad paid too much to quit, but was soul-sucking, left me feeling constantly depressed, and was overall an atmosphere of utter negativity and dismay. At my new job, people are friendly, kind, supportive. I feel like I’m part of a team that strives to do good work. I don’t dread going to work; I look forward to it. That’s such an incredible feeling!
I’ve been a vegan (in diet, anyway) since September! One day, I decided I didn’t want to eat animals anymore. I’m really lucky to have awesome vegan-for-years friends who showed me the ropes. They’ve been like my vegan fairy godparents, teaching me how to navigate health food stores, how to be a vegan in public (even if it doesn’t look like it, most restaurants have tons of vegan options!), and how to live a healthy life. I feel like I have a lot to say about this new facet of my life, so you’ll probably see a more detailed post sometime soon.
I’ve become obsessed with New Mexico. My vegan fairy godparents are from Albuquerque. In October, they took me home with them for the International Balloon Fiesta. I have never experienced anything like that. Hundreds and hundreds of hot air balloons inflate on a giant field, take off, and float in the desert sky. I can’t do the experience justice in a paragraph-blurb, so look for a photo-filled post soon! (I’m sure giving myself a lot of writing projects here!) I went back to Albuquerque with my friends for a week at Christmas. It was wonderful. I’ve been to a lot of places, but none quite like New Mexico. It has a lot of problems, and ranks pretty low on a lot of lists (high crime, poor education) but it’s enchanting. It has character and diversity and culture. I really am obsessed.
And then there’s the matter of, uh, my love life?? I’ve refused to talk about my relationships for my entire dating history, because, privacy. But I’d just like to take a moment to acknowledge that dating is difficult and strange and confusing. And nobody ever tells you how to navigate all those difficult, strange, and confusing situations. Like, nobody ever told me that sometimes you kiss a person and that’s That, The End, you’re still friends and nothing is weird. But sometimes you kiss a person and everything is awful and awkward and ruined. And my mom definitely never taught me what to do when someone tells you they love you. I still don’t know quite the right way to tell someone that the way they’re treating me is Not Okay. This is going to seem utterly obvious to all of you, I’m sure, but it’s a novelty to me: I’ve recently learned that it’s not anti-feminist to have your heart broken. You can fall into and out of love, and it’s going to be wonderful and terrible. Having emotions doesn’t make you weak. It makes you human. But my #1 New Year’s Resolution is still to be a Fortress of No Scrubs, because damn, there have been a few too many s-c-r-u-b-s in my life these past few months!
I think that’s a good recap of my life. I’m so happy to have my blog back. I’ve really missed writing, sharing, and connecting with this community of writers. Special hello to my dear friend and faithful commenter Katherine. She came to stay with me for a few days in December, and it was AWESOME. Plus, today is her birthday!
So often I feel like a shore, with tides of happiness, depression, struggle, and joy constantly cascading over me. This year, especially, was trying. But through it all I’ve been blessed to have Good People bring love into my life.