Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Card

Dear Friends and Family,

I don't think I can complain one bit about 2013. It's been an adventurous year for me--busy, certainly, but mostly busy with wonderful things. Busy with fun, busy with spontaneity, busy hanging out with all of you, busy with thrilling upheaval.

I saw a great deal of the United States this year. In January, Meg and I went to New York City to visit Kevin. We explored Brooklyn and attended an over-the-top David Bowie/Elvis birthday party. We also stopped at a Doctor Who-themed bar:

In March I traveled to Las Vegas to see if I'd actually like living there, as I'd been accepted into UNLV's fiction MFA program. Turned out it wasn't just a single street full of brightly lit casinos in the middle of a cartoonish desert as I'd always imagined it. I sat in on a poetry workshop, I won $15, and I met many delightful people who thoroughly won me over and who would eventually become my friends. But that comes later...

Also in late March I went with Gena to Green Bay for Easter.  We dyed eggs and visited Lambeau Field and bought records and lots of underwear and we watched musicals and had a generally lovely time.

In May I went to Florida to meet up with my family and participate in a 5K for stroke research in memory of my Aunt Tracey. We stayed in a cottage near Jacksonville Beach, and on the way back to Uncle Bill's house in West Palm Beach we stopped in St. Augustine to fulfill my history nerd desires. Here's me with my parents at the old fort there:

In July I went back to Las Vegas with my dad to find an apartment. It was 117 degrees that week. I won $70 this time, and I found an AWESOME roommate in Lulu. But I still wouldn't get to know her until a little later.

In August I finally made the move to Vegas, but I had to get my car out there. This called for a cross-country road trip with the best friends! Meg and I left from Chicago and drove to Omaha. We ate a pound of Goldfish crackers in one day. We pretended that we did not. The next day we drove from Omaha to Denver, where we explored bars with Sacha and Dan (a gay cowboy bar, a Grateful Dead bar, a super divey dive bar), and where we picked up miss Leta for the rest of the ride. From there we drove on pitch black roads to a tiny town in the middle of the Utah, and the next day we finally reached my new home. It was amazing to see so many different landscapes in just a few days. Albert, my dinosaur plant, accompanied us. Here he is heading into some mountains:

And here we are on top of a mesa in Utah:

Did you think the traveling would stop just because I officially became a graduate student? Of course not! Over Labor Day weekend my new friends Michael, Shaun, Olivia, and I took the Extraterrestrial Highway to Area 51.

And in October I drove the rest of the way to the Pacific to visit my friend Katie in Los Angeles, where we attended a Halloween masquerade, among other things.

In November I flew back to Chicago for Thanksgiving, and now I'm in Chicago again, enjoying my Windy City friends before I fly back to Vegas on Wednesday.

Here are some other rad things I did this year:

Death-to-Our-Youth-Themed Birthday Party! (Sharon Tate, Kim Jong-Il, and Madonna's Career)

 C2E2! (Meg and I make a pretty good Buffy & Faith, don't you think?)

Gogo dancing!

Rocky Horror!

Got a Chicago flag tattoo!

Met Neil Gaiman!

Chopped off all my hair!

Pitchfork Festival!

Chicago-themed going away party! (St. Valentine's Day Massacre & Lake Michigan)


Taught my first class ever!

Read my stories in public for the first time ever!

Started playing Dungeons & Dragons!

Not to mention the fact that I started an amazing program and that I've been working hard on my writing and that I've made tons of new friends who I adore and who are becoming just as big a part of my life as my friends in Chicago.

I realize that my 2013 would not have been such a resounding success without all of you. And I mean ALL of you. Your love and support has made this major life transition far easier for me. Thank you.

Enough with the sappy stuff. Let's toast to 2014! I'm certain it will be just as wonderful. 



Friday, December 13, 2013

Why Grade When You Could Blog?

A question for the ages.

It's been too long! I've been kept pretty busy this week by several end-of-the-semester shenanigans, which I will now describe for your enjoyment.

Marianne's Typhoon Haiyan fundraiser went spectacularly well. There were even people there who had nothing to do with UNLV or our MFA program. Crazy, I know. In the end we raised over $1,600.
Sunday I played Dungeons and Dragons for seven hours. Yes, you read that correctly. Seven. Hours.

Wait. I haven't mentioned that I'm playing D&D on this blog yet, have I? Well, I am. My character's name is Penumbra Dreadful, aka Penny. She's a cheerful goth chick who worships the Raven Queen, goddess of death, and it is her sad mission to stay alive as long as possible so she can spread the good news about death throughout the land. (Human cleric, for those of you in the know.) I play with Austin and Shaun and Josh, and Jamison and JD just joined our party. Yeah, that's right. Our bartender plays D&D with us. 

I can hear you groaning. You all should have seen this coming.

Anyway, the only reason we played for seven hours that day is that these assholes came into the Frog without a reservation and demanded that JD lead a whiskey tasting for them. So we took a two hour break, but we stayed in the bar. A bar is generally a good place to take a break.

Monday was my last fiction workshop of the semester. (I guess it wasn't all shenanigans keeping me busy.) We talked about Amy and Brock's pieces, and Richard gave a nice speech. On a serious note, I am so glad that my first fiction workshop ever was filled with such wonderful people. Everyone was respectful and insightful and tremendously helpful. I feel like I'm already a better writer because of it. It's going to be strange having only poetry classes next semester, but hopefully I'll have some time to generate more fiction content for future workshops.

I thought we'd go out after workshop, but nobody seemed in the mood, so I met up with Aurora, Olivia, Derek, and Austin for fancy ramen. Then we went to the Frog, because when don't we?

Tuesday was a fun day as well. After grading at Sunrise Coffee--yes, Chicago, Vegas has local coffee shops, too--Olivia and I felt in the holiday spirit, so we watched White Christmas while drinking wine. Lots of wine. I don't think I need any wine for a while now. We also demolished half of a tin of popcorn because we are simply that classy.

Wednesday evening Colby had a few people over to his place. I met a lot of people who either used to be in the program or are PhDs whom I have not yet met, so that was nice. We were going to watch Anchorman, but we somehow ended up watching The Saddest Music in the World, which is fantastic if you're in the mood for a deep and existential yet zany comedy.

I promise that I was doing lots of work in between all this, by the way. I'm a responsible human being. Kind of.

Thursday we workshopped my gothic story, and people liked it so much more than I thought they would! Or at least, they were reading the things into it that I wanted them to read. I was pleased to creep people out. I'll have to keep working on that one, polish it up, submit it somewhere. One day...

Last night was Olivia and Joe's "Cat and Dog Soiree." Originally we were all supposed to read Chekhov's "The Lady with the Little Dog" and Hemingway's "Cat in the Rain" and discuss them. However, it turned into a raucous holiday party with delicious food and an epic Les Miserables singalong and a contentious game of Celebrity. Impromptu Christmas caroling, too. We didn't discuss the stories for one moment. Poor Joe. His neighbors must hate him.

Today I felt like a badass because I changed the tire on my car. I still have no idea how I got a flat in the first place, but it's okay because I'm a strong, independent woman who can do things like change a tire on a car. I mean, I had to Google it, but still. There are a few others to whom I also owe my success: Lulu, who helped me get the spare out of the trunk, and my adorable elderly next-door neighbor lady, who brought me a flashlight, a hammer, and a far superior lug wrench, simply out of the goodness of her heart. I'll have to bake her some cookies. I have a blister now, but at least I also have a car that I can drive.

Tonight: bingo! You didn't honestly think I'd be spending my Friday night in, did you? Actually, a night in would be nice, one of these days. However, I don't have many evenings left in Vegas before I head back to Chicago for the holidays, so I'm determined to make the most of them.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How is it December already?

Sorry that I haven't written in a while. I had to concentrate on getting everything done during the last week of the semester. How did that happen? It feels like I just got here.

Thanksgiving was great, if a bit hectic. Having so many babies in the house was simultaneously adorable and insane. Astoundingly cute birth control. I'm just kidding; it was wonderful to see all my cousins and aunts and uncles and to eat ridiculous amounts of food and to have a bonfire and to cuddle my dogs, and even to go outside in freezing cold weather, just for a little bit.

I taught my final class this week. I decided to tell them that it was my first time teaching, and to thank them for not stalking/killing/screaming at me, as orientation had implied that they would. I was pleased to discover that most of them were surprised regarding my inexperience. I think I'm going to miss those crazy kids.

We're finally reading our own gothic stories in class. Mine hasn't gone up yet--that will happen Thursday--but the ones I've read so far are mostly phenomenal. I'm a little worried about mine. As it stands, I think I accidentally wrote a horror story with gothic elements, as opposed to an actual gothic story. But it's a fine line. I guess we'll see what people have to say about it.

Last night was way too much fun. A few of us proposed a trip to Atomic Liquors, and tons of people showed up! So it was a big MFA end-of-the-semester party. Olivia proposed a lovely toast, I drank some delicious whiskey, and aside from the part where I cleverly tripped over a stool and fell down because I am just that graceful, I had a fantastic evening.

Tonight there's more fun in store; Marianne organized a fundraiser for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, so several of us will be reading at the open mic, and there will be lots of prizes up for silent auction. Now to see if I can actually get some work done before that happens. There is nothing more difficult that convincing oneself to grade student papers.

You guys: have I mentioned that I'm glad I moved to Las Vegas?