Wednesday, December 05, 2012

(Almost) Free At Last

I know I've said this approximately 87 times but GOOD GOD this semester has been tough. And not just for me - my closest MFA friends would definitely agree. Most of us are half way through the program now, and the middle, it appears, is a hard place to be. While Nathan and I were busy getting married last month, four couples we're close to were busy breaking up. The dissolution of a relationship is never easy, no matter the circumstances, so even though our own relationship is pretty awesome, we've tried to be supportive. Which mostly means getting drunk in the middle of the week and singing karaoke.

Sing it, Joe.

Meanwhile, the semester kept rolling on. The papers remained ungraded. The books remained unread. The projects remained unfinished. And so at the end of last week, I brushed off yet another hangover, drank a few liters of water, went to bed at a decent hour, and woke up read to get shit done. Yesterday was my last official day of classes (teaching and taking) and now, all that stands between me and winter break is some grading and my final project for Bookbuilding. I hope to finish the project today, and I can't grade anything until the kids hand their stuff in/take their final on the 13th. Slowly but surely, freedom will be mine. I'm really looking forward to break this year, and not just because I'll be able to make progress on my writing and spend time with the dogs and actually cook meals again. I'm looking at it as a giant reset button, so that when the spring semester starts up, I'll be more organized, less stressed, more focused, and ready to write and teach and learn with renewed passion and limitless ambition. Which will be a nice change from my current state of collapsing on the couch directly after a frozen dinner and/or singing terrible renditions of pop songs at karaoke. There's a time and a place for those activities, and they are surely not four times a week.

Just in case you think it's been all last minute work and drunken escapades, we have found time for some slower, kinder activities. For example:

Game night at Erica's, where we played Rummikub and Blokus. I didn't think I'd like Rummikub, but it's actually really fun, despite the initial math. It also made me nostalgic for all the dominoes we played in Nacogdoches, especially the trash talking.

We put up a Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving! This is our second year getting a real tree, and while Nathan still thinks it's silly, it warms my bitter heart. We snagged it at the Farm Supply Store where we get our chicken feed, hay, and garden things, and it was grown in North Carolina, just a few hours from us. We don't have a ton of ornaments on it right now, because I would rather slowly build our collection with unique and meaningful pieces, rather than buying them in bulk at Target. For now, a few scattered ornaments and pretty lights are more than enough. Seamus likes to bask in the glow of the tree, as you can see. He's getting so gray in the snout, which makes him look a bit like a very hairy Santa Claus.

We also started work on our new and improved chicken coop. While our first coop is very great - adorable (if I do say so myself) and cleverly designed - it's a little on the small size. This is especially true considering we want to get three more hens in the spring, for a grand total of six ladies. So far, Nathan has sketched out plans and we've started building the frame. I have no idea when we'll actually finish this project, but I'm hoping before the New Year. Obviously, I'll keep you all updated. 

Speaking of updates, I hope to get back to blogging more regularly now that the semester is nearly over. I have plans for improving and redesigning the blog over winter break - nothing major, but some tweaking that will hopefully make the upkeep of this dear space easier for me and thus more enjoyable for you. I've already done some work on the About page, and I'd love to know what you think. I'm trying to carve out a general theme for the blog, because I don't fit in a niche and I'm kind of tired of explaining that my blog is about "you know, like, just, me." Obviously, this is a sign of my growing maturity.

Hope you all have a great Wednesday (is it really Wednesday? Oy.) I'm off to get some work done and put this semester to rest. Wish me luck!


  1. Regarding the empty tree, we're the same way and have very little personal items worth hanging. Instead, we get some red ribbon and tie lots of little bows all over, it's very festive! We aren't going to be home enough this year to justify a tree, I am sad. They warm my bitter heart too.

    1. We're not going anywhere for Christmas this year, so our tree is validated more than ever! And I like the idea of red bows. I might put some in the most naked spots. :)

  2. I love having a real Christmas tree. We didn't have one last year because we were so busy and we knew we would be away from home the week of Christmas, and I really missed it. We bought ours this year the day after Thanksgiving. Your friends are lucky to have you guys.

    I'm curious abou the voice shift in your new About page. Why switch to third person?

    1. Ooh, a question about POV! Right up my alley. ;)

      It's not exactly third person, but it has shifted a collective first person - that is, "we" and "our" instead of "me" and "my." I decided to go that route because, while this is clearly a personal blog, I want to take the focus off me. Which sounds a little weird, now that I think about it, but it feels more natural. Also, Nathan is going to pitch in little with some more how-to posts - his post about our rain barrels is the second most viewed post on my blog, which irritates me just a little - so I wanted it to be more inclusive.

      It might also be a subconscious shift caused by marriage, which is a possibility I haven't really explored. This blog has thus far documented my life, but now that life is "officially" shared with another person. I won't change my name, but I will edit my About page. Now THAT'S love. ;)

  3. Whew, what an update! I'm sorry to hear about your friends; that sucks. Breakups are the worst! Also, I empathize with you about your blog theme. I'm sure I've told you this before, but I adore your blog (and you!) and my own blog reading has shifted gradually yet decidedly toward personal blogs that tend to have a bit of everything. It's hard for me to explain how and why my own blog has shifted away from mostly food to mostly me and my life. I still love food, cook regularly, care about food-related issues, and even do food projects (like my month of veganism). What's a blogger to do when her niche has changed? I haven't even been able to write a post about it because I just don't know how to articulate my thoughts very well. I keep thinking I ought to write a post titled "Blog Like a Magpie."

    Anyway, I'll be curious to hear how you handle the question of blog themes and niches!

    PS We missed you around here :-)

    1. I'm glad to know I was missed!

      I think the question about blog niches is interesting. I might also write a magpie post and explore the idea more! I hope it's clear that I'll still be writing about myself and my life and my thoughts, because that's what I've been doing, and it's been working, and I like it. It's more the context of my blog that I'm thinking about - how to filter my life into my blog, so that it's honest but so that I can also leave some things out and not feel guilty (not everything is blog-worthy or blog-appropriate). On the revised About page (still a work in progress!) I tried to sum up what I've been doing all along, but from another angle. Not sure if it worked, but it's a start.

      This is a poorly organized comment. I feel a post coming on! Stay tuned, and thanks for making me think (as usual). :)

  4. Good call on the ornaments! Ornaments are one of the few things we collect. Every time we go somewhere new, we try to get an ornament. We have a lot of fun looking for ornaments that are (relatively) locally made and unique. So many of the ornaments are made in China. While we have some of those, most are not and we really love getting them out to decorate the tree. They also aren't out all the time, so it gets us really excited to do the Christmas decorations and we love our tree. I'm glad we decided to go with collecting ornaments (I wanted to collect garden gnomes when we first got married, but Chip nixed that idea very quickly. :)

    1. I never looked for ornaments before last year, but now I think it'll be a regular thing. I like the idea of getting them on trips and at meaningful places - decorating your tree must be so much fun!

      And I think garden gnomes would have been just as fun, but I guess that really needs to be a team effort. :)