"What we do in this life, echoes in eternity."
Maximus, Gladiator
"Our creator would never have made such lovely days, and given us the deep hearts to enjoy them, above all thought, unless we were meant to be immortal."
Nathaniel Hawthorne

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cold!

I'm exhausted tonight, but I'll just post a picture of the day. It's so cold! I'm grateful I brought an electric blanket. Best purchase ever. 

Rolling up my sleeves

Today I met with my advisor, the amazing Mary Quattlebaum and we went over my study plan for the semester. It feels so surreal to be in the program! Today my workshop critiqued my piece, and I was so encouraged by the wonderful comments and advice. What a wonderful residency this has been so far. We're half way through, and I feel like this is Hogwarts and that I've been given a wonderful gift just by being allowed to be here. 

Today my word is "inspired," especially after listening to Katherine Paterson who received an honorary doctorate from VCFA. She's exactly who I want to be when I grow up as a writer, not because I write the same stuff she writes, not even similar, but because she's always approached writing for children with respect and devotion for children, our target audience. Today I'm INSPIRED!

Advisors

Today Suma and I walked to town in -17 weather to eat some pizza. The food was worth the trek. We also found out who our advisors for this semester are. Best Chritmas Eve-like feeling ever. Here's a picture of the teachers looking down as the students celebrated out assignments. I'm going to be working with Mary Quattlebaum and in beyond excited. 

Villains, the Himalayas and letting go

Today I had the privilege of attending a lecture about the writer's journey by the amazing Uma Krishnaswami. I will keep her words in plain sight to remind myself that this writing business (not the industry but the craft of writing and telling stories) is a journey with many challenges and also rewards. 
We also has a costume party with a Villains theme. I didn't bring a costume but I wore a mask I made a couple of nights ago during the 1st and 2nd semester gathering. 
Today I learned to let go of some things. My children miss me. They miss me more than I miss them to be honest. I'm having fun. I'm constantly busy. I'm meeting new friends. But they have a long weekend and they're home wishing we were doing something fun. Luckily my sister-in-law took them all in for a sleep over. If I were closer to home, tonight I would have (reluctantly) packed my bags and gone back to them. But I can't do that. So I'm working as hard as I can, taking advantage of as many lectures and classes as possible to make this time away from them worth it. If I take this time now, I'll hopefully go home a better mother and wife. I know I'll be a better writer. 
Group picture! We have three girls missing and the men from our group. 

A chilly -29 tonight in Vermont. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Speed dating and the reckoning

Before I left for Vermont, baby Hulk was sick for weeks and weeks. Nothing serious (except a scary bout of bronchitis and two series of antibiotics for ear infections), but it was still wrecking and heartbreaking to see him struggle for so many days. I stayed healthy through it all, thankfully. Of course my time of reckoning came the day I was headed to my first residency. I used my essential oils and all the over-the-counter medicine I could think of to keep the beast at bay, but today laringitis caught up with me. Not being able to talk hasn't stopped me from talking, which hasn't been helping me recover as fast as I've wanted. So tonight, I opted to take a break and stay in my room to rest and give my body the chance to heal. I didn't want to miss the faculty or class readings at night, but I don't want to miss any lectures or workshops tomorrow or the day after either, so I chose to rest. It's been good. Sometimes it's good to disconnect from everyone and rest the body and mind.

Of course once my roommate came in for the night we stayed talking until super late, but that's part of the experience, right?

The two lectures today by An Na and Martine Leavitt were amazing and energizing. I can't wait to implement heir advise! 

Tonight I'm posting a picture of my lovely roommate (with her permission, of course). 

PS: I had just found out Messi didn't win the Ballon D'or so I wasn't the happiest duck in the pond. I'm a little better now. Did you now the last time Messi wasn't a top three finalist he was still in his teens?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

My idol

Today was the second day of the residency and the first day of workshops. The morning started in the best way, with a sacrament meeting that the missionaries and the Montpelier bishopric prepared for the LDS students. I got to partake of the sacrament and share my testimony. The member of the bishopric made a comment as to how we each acquire a testimony in a way we understand. I see this in my life, how my love for books brought me to the Book of Mormon and the gospel. How I attended BYU and now I'm here at VCFA. This is nothing short of a miracle and I'm so thankful for this experience. What a tender mercy to carve out time out of our busy schedule for the peace and comfort of the sacrament.

The workshop was spectacular! But my favorite time of the day was listening to Katherine Paterson (first row!) and feasting in her wonderful words. Among many things, she mentioned that we heal through writing, as writers and readers.  what a privilege! The lectures by Cynthia Leitich-Smith and Kekla Magoon were also firework worthy. 

I'm staring to get tired of cafeteria food. I'm hungry for some hearty Italian. Maybe tomorrow I'll venture to town. 

Here's a picture of me and my idol. When I grow up, I want to he just like her

Saturday, January 10, 2015

First day of school!

Today was the first official day of school. We had orientation after orientation, and after so much orienting I think I know how things work--or better yet, I know who to ask when I don't know the answer, or even the question.

The cafeteria food has been surprisingly good, and I've been carrying my thermos with hot tea all over because it's so bitterly cold I felt my mind shutting down a few times. Luckily the dorms, although Spartan, are very comfortable. Maybe what makes it so comfortable and enjoyable is the companionship of my wonderful roommate, a woman I'm in awe of and whom I hope to introduce soon.

I also attended my first lecture, which was amazing.
Day one down. Tomorrow we start with workshops, and I can't wait to meet my workshop partners!

Note to self for next winter: bring the heaviest, warmest, most comfortable winter boots and leave the fancy ones at home.

Friday, January 09, 2015

First day of first semester at VCFA

Today I flew by myself for the first time in years. In fact, the very last time I was on an airplane without Jeff or the kids was when I was still at BYU. So today on the flight I read and slept.

Vermont was colder than Utah, but I was expecting it to be even colder, so I wasn't surprised. I had already made arrangements for a shuttle to take me to Montpelier, and while I waited, I had a wonderful conversation with the gentleman at the airport's info counter. He told me of his days traveling the world as a delta employee, his love of horses, and pretty Spanish flamenco dancers. He's of Irish-Scottish ascent, so he was way excited when he mentioned Irish dancing and I knew exactly what I was talking about. 

The trip to campus was super pleasant as the Bosnian driver pointed out the price of gasoline at the different stations we passed. 

I made it to campus and received my welcome package, including meal card and room key. My lovely roommate was already in the room. After dinner we had the new student orientation and I found out there are at least three other people from Utah. 

After some time pouring over all the welcome paperwork, going over my assignments, and talking books with my roommate I'm ready to turn in because tomorrow the real deal begins. 

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be here! It's a dream come true. And although the rooms are quite Spartan looking and the shower situation is more than interesting, I'm very excited for tomorrow. 

My desk, featuring my portable kettle for mate water:

My bed: featuring my pony sheets and my black bear to keep me company.