I should buy a Lottery Ticket

luci's

 

This morning I was standing at Luci’s waiting for my tea, chatting with Brian behind the counter, thinking of my somewhat free day, and I got a call from New York. I expected it was NYU – they called earlier this week wondering if I had sent my transcripts from ASU, and I hadn’t yet called them back. Applications for the program were due last Friday, so it never occurred to me that decisions had already been made and they were actually calling to offer me a spot in the program. I did not answer.

On one hand I am sad that I didn’t get to chat with Deborah Landau that minute, but on the other hand I now have a voice mail I can listen to all day. Not that I’m going to do that, I’ve only listened to it three times so far. If she doesn’t call me back soon I may have to listen to it one more time.

I did not expect to get into this program. I had, in fact, talked myself into the fact that even if I did get in I would not go. Paris is far, I would need more time away from work and my family, it is mind-numbingly expensive. And really, can I study in Paris? Won’t I just flit around the city and drink wine? Is that productive? Also I do not adjust to jet lag. At all.

And then Deborah Landau calls and I’m listening to her message and crying in my favorite coffee shop.

It is NYU and it is Paris. Meghan O’Rourke and Matthew Rohrer are on faculty. (So is Nathan Englander for crying out loud, but in fiction obviously.) Allegedly Lydia Davis is a visiting writer as well. You may not know these people, but if you are at all interested in writing you should look them up.

Let’s talk a bit about this, shall we? On one hand, I can go to Pacific University in Oregon, ranked number 4 in low-residency MFA programs by The Atlantic. Great faculty, great community of writers, and the opportunity to study with Dorianne Laux who wrote “The Poet’s Companion”.

On the other hand I can go to Paris twice a year and end up with a Masters Degree from NYU. Everyone I tell seems to think it is an obvious choice. Which I guess on paper it is, but there really is a big impact to my job and family to consider.

This weekend we were at T. Cooks for brunch to celebrate getting in to Pacific and my new job, and I told my parents that I was hoping NYU turned me down so I didn’t have to make this decision. Saying no to this opportunity seems impossible. And saying “I’m going to Paris to study Poetry” just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it?

Yay for me!

This has been an astounding and slightly crazy week. Imagine if you had been hanging around wishing for a few things to happen in the back of your head. All of them somewhat affirming, life-changing, and important. And two of them happened back to back. Go ahead, imagine it. Perhaps you are the kind of person who would throw a party, or go clubbing, or dance on table tops. This has been my week and I’ve mainly stared off into space, slightly stunned.

So I got a new job that I interviewed for a few months ago. The timing is perfect because my current job is going through a huge transition and I was getting mildly panicked about what was going to happen to me next. This new position is a significant promotion and is incredibly validating to me professionally. It’s also a giant secret and I’m not allowed to talk about it at work, so that’s a bit weird.

The following day I received a call that I have been accepted into the MFA program at Pacific University. Wow. I cannot accurately capture how overwhelmed and excited I am that someone out there read my work and wants me to come study with them.

MFA

I spoke to Joe Millar yesterday – he’s a poet on faculty at the school – and he was extremely supportive. He understands how exciting and terrifying this prospect is for me. He gave me some suggestions for reading and writing prior to the program starting, and he validated that my current work as good enough.

Now, I haven’t heard back from NYU. I am trying to make a decision as if I were accepted to both, which is difficult because I don’t know a ton about the NYU program. What I do know is that it is in Paris for crying out loud.Paris

Which as I think of it more might be a bit of a distraction for me. Can I really put my head down and study and write and pay attention when I’m in Paris?

So I’m leaning towards Oregon. It’s a well-established and respected program. The community seems a good fit for me. It will allow me to study writing in a serious way without impacting my career or my family too much. It seems like the right choice, and I almost hope NYU does not send me an offer.

 

Where I’ve Already Been This Week

Isn’t it always difficult to find a sliver of time in your week to just sit and be at peace? I have implemented a Monday afternoon strategy where I take myself to Christopher’s Crush Lounge and indulge in the quiet. I imagine one day this could become some type of Beauviorain escapade, filled with poets and philosophers and life-changing conversations. It’s like a Parisian café in the centre of Phoenix, yes?

Ok maybe not. For now it’s just me and my notebook and wine. Which is decidedly a great deal, given that I have children and school and a job and a partner who all desire my time and energy. It is decadent, this hour long respite from my otherwise frenetic life. If you haven’t been to this gem of a place I cannot recommend it enough. For lunch it is efficient, delicious and likely the best service in town. Happy Hour is ridiculous because your bill will be so low you might have to check the math. And if you like food, you can sit at the kitchen bar and watch the chefs prepare for dinner. Dinner at Christopher’s is always an experience. I am pretty sure this has been my go to restaurant for the past 20 years.

That was last night – while I was sitting and staring off into space after receiving some particularly wonderful professional news I was not up for focusing. I was, however, up for a beautiful Bourgogne. What is that? You might ask, as I did. It is French for Burgundy. Which is an area in France known for wine. What has always been frustrating and confusing to me about French wine is that it is named after its location as opposed to its grape. I find the grape method to be more efficient, and it takes up less space in my head.

Crush

 

That being said this wine is a Pinot Noir grape, which feels important, even though the French do not think it so. I will say with my limited knowledge, I do know that I prefer Pinot Noir grown in the Willamette Valley to that grown in the Russian River Valley. So perhaps they are on to something, but it’s still fussy. I guess talking about wine is always a bit fussy.

 

Today was quite a different experience, as I went to Spring Training. If you are not lucky enough to experience Phoenix in March you are not lucky at all. Quite possibly the most beautiful weather around, especially when contrasted with the piles of snow all across the rest of the world. Phoenix has always been a winter paradise, but in recent years it has turned into some kind of ridiculous baseball Mecca, and even those of us who live here are obliged to take part in this homage to the upcoming season.

baseball

I don’t care about baseball. And it was hot out. I think I would enjoy it more sitting in those seats in the shade, and possibly without all of my co-workers. I have been admonished for complaining about this by several people. It’s outside! Have a drink! Relax!

I guess I just think it’s dumb overall. But so many people like it. I’m going again in a few weeks with the boys. Hopefully then I will be in the shade.

 

 

 

 

 

Insert Vegas-y Title Here

I’m off on a quick trip to Vegas. I was hoping for some glamorous pool time but apparently the rain gods have another idea for me.

vegas

Joe has been here for two days at some boozy convention while I have been taking care of kids and working. When we spoke on the phone last night he was all full of questions like “What do you want to do when you land? What are your plans? What do you want for lunch?”

Silence. I want silence. And maybe a bath in the giant tub at the Cosmopolitan Hotel.

It has been almost six years since I ventured up to sin city. My last visit I was pregnant with Nick, which is a state I do not recommend, well, really ever, but particularly when surrounded by debauchery and champagne. It could not be helped, as I had Elton John tickets that were purchased prior to my bun arriving in his oven and I certainly wasn’t going to miss Elton John.

Now that I think about it, I do believe it was my last “girl’s trip”. That shall be remedied this summer when all the boys head up to the mountains. I know there are girls of mine out there reading this that would be up for an escape. La Jolla? San Francisco? Palm Springs? Any ideas are welcome.

Celebrate the Small Stuff

It’s such a beautiful day here in Phoenix. I look at the weather reports for the Mid West and Back East (should that be capitalized like that? I don’t know) and I am baffled by the fact that people choose to live in such weather. Sure, it gets hot here. I would so rather be hot than buried under six feet of snow and ice. It’s about 80 degrees right now, although we do have a cold front on its way. I believe the high for Friday is 66. Brrr.

I am sitting in my office at home with the door and window open. I am blessed to work remote one day a week and wear my pajamas or a sundress or yoga pants the entire day. I sometimes think I get more done in this single day at home than I do in the other four in the office, but I do enjoy the camaraderie of the people in my office. So many interesting souls in the workplace.

While I have been quite successful in my job, and I like what I have learned there, I still feel this constant tug at my creative brain to go and write. Yesterday I mentioned to a friend that it is really the only thing I have wanted to do with myself since I was five years old. His response was “Then why are you not already a writer? That’s crazy.” Indeed it is. And in that craziness I have just submitted two applications to graduate schools to finally study writing.

I have applied to NYU and to Pacific University so far. They are wildly different programs and my experience so far has been just as expected. NYU sent me a few form emails about how they process 12,000 graduate applications a semester so I ought to be patient. Pacific University (which even though you might not have heard of it is quite respected in the writing community) has corresponded with me personally. I have spoken to them on the phone, and my manuscript is being read as we speak.

I am conflicted. And terrified. And my stomach is full of Mexican Jumping Beans. I do not wait well. Although now that I think of it, who does?

So I will wait. What if I get into both? What if I get into neither?

Uncertainty is not my friend, and so all I can do is fill myself with patience. And maybe knit a beret just in case. I mean, if I’m really going to be a writer, I must have a beret, right?

Instead of fussing over it, I think I’ll celebrate on my own this afternoon. Joe is in Las Vegas at a conference (where I will be joining him come Friday.) The boys are off at tennis lessons. And I have some writing to do.

sophia

Phoenix is Booming, and So Phoenista Returns

So much is going on in Phoenix these days; it is difficult to keep up. Even so, at dinner last night with our friends we were struggling to think of a restaurant that would be new to all of us. We settled on Gadzooks, Soup and Enchiladas, because it is not yet open. I guess we all eat out a lot. Also interesting to note are the places we have been but don’t really go back. St. Francis, Mazie’s, and Fez come to mine. All in the neighborhood, but never on our list of places to go.

Last night we ate at Sochu House. (The food was amazing – something about Japanese tapas just makes me happy. And eating little quails. I feel like I’m in Lord of the Rings or something.) The owner the guy who started Fate, then left that venture to start Sens. Sochu House is very similar to Sens in menu, but larger and more airy. There is a hipster DJ playing music from his laptop, and I understand later in the night there is dancing. The downside is the weird little stripmall – one of the neighbors in the new spot boasts 5 chili dogs for $5, and we also walked by a sad little tax preparation office. You could feel the despair oozing out of the couple hunched over the particle board desk. Taxes really don’t need to be that stressful.

Much has changed in my world, but most importantly I am about to finally graduate from college. (Others might consider my new/old living situation to also be categorized as “most importantly”, but I’ll save that for another day.) When I say I am graduating, people assume I am getting some kind of fancy advanced degree. Nope, just a standard issue BA in Literature. It only took 23 years. That must be a record. Standing between me and that joyous piece of paper, however, are quite a few writing projects and 2 French classes. As it stands right now, my degree will be conferred to me on August 13. Mark your calendars because you may hear my shrieks of joy, even though on that specific day I will be in British Columbia fishing with Joe and the boys. There will also be whale watching, so if I get swallowed up by an Orca, at least I will have my papers.

Today promises to be another glorious bike-ridey kind of day. There is a new restaurant that is advertising itself as some kind of biker destination. (The pedal kind, not the Harley kind.) Maybe we will take the boys there. Or, more likely, we will ride down to Federal Pizza. I don’t even eat pizza and this is one of my favorite places in the ‘hood. The roasted vegetable platter or Campari Tomatoes – grilled tomatoes and mozzarella – to start and one of their salads (I usually get the Chicken Panzanella usually, but without the bread of course. Which sounds weird, since it’s usually a bread salad when served in Italy, but here it works.)

tomato

Also on the agenda, 5 stories by HP Lovecraft and a bit of Beowulf. As much as I love Edgar Allan Poe it is a bit surprising to me that I have never read Lovecraft (also likely surprising to my fellow students, who all seem to be creepily into the horror genre. Glad this class is online.) And working on my graduate school applications. I am applying to 3 schools with low residency MFA programs. One in Oregon, one in Palm Springs and one in Paris. Guess which one is my first choice?