UNC Greensboro this fall. I am so excited and the road to making the decision to go back to school was fraught with fear of failure, expense, and the insecurity of not knowing, not believing, that I could completely change the direction of my life at 38. But, it is all happening in a marvelous way. And, as Tony said to me last night, everything is blossoming around me.
This time last year, my husband of almost ten years had moved out, and I was 100% invested in the rat race as a grant writer at a major art museum in Texas. I'd also completed my M.A. in Creative Writing in 2009 and missed my peers, my classes, my professors, and, well, everything about being a student of poetry. My decision to apply to MFA programs was catalyzed by two extremely different influences; a peer from my M.A. program who this time last year had decided on Syracuse for his MFA experience, and a palm reader.
This student peer of mine (let's call him Seth) lobbied, advocated, supported, influenced, cajoled, and helped me get through the process of applying. Much of this he did remotely via chat and text, assuring me that the pain of applying to 14 schools would be very worth it when, 12 months later I'd have my feet kicked up, reading the latest David Baker volume or plumbing my mind for a way to fix the second stanza on that poem for workshop. I am very grateful that Seth was such a loyal resource for me, commenting on everything from my selection of schools to my Personal Statement. But, I know you are probably wondering about this palm reader thing... Imagine, August in Austin, Texas and three women all looking for new beginnings; one is recently divorced, one is struggling with the decision to get a divorce, and me, working through a divorce. We spent the weekend partying on 6th Street, eating out, going to a spa, jogging at Town Lake, watching the largest urban bat colony come out at dusk for dinner, and, you guessed it, visiting a palm reader. Who, as I remember, pronounced that she saw, "classes or education" in my future. So, here was confirmation from a totally random source, and with the support I had from Seth, tally-ho, I was off and running!
After all the application headaches, I began to get word of acceptances and rejections in late January and, by the time I accepted my offer from Greensboro I had turned down three other offers, one waitlist, and had received nine rejections (ouch!). In addition, I've quit my job, finalized my divorce, and am hoping to sell my house very, very soon and move to N.C. where the program, people, place, and the temperament of the whole writers community there mirrors exactly who I am becoming and want to be, a poet, an artist immersed in my craft and exposed to people who are passionate about what they do. I can't wait to begin and be a part of the community at UNC Greensboro!
So, as I am leaving my old life behind, sloughing it all off, the job, the commute, the stress, the excess, some (now former) co-workers asked if I would like to introduce Tony Hoagland who was coming to the museum to do a reading, I gladly accepted. Last night, I started out the evening as Tony's fan, and by the end of the night he had sipped my Merlot (not a double entendre), we'd crashed a 50th birthday party and danced to Al Green, I gave him a fortune I had in my bag ( in reference to his poem 'Fortune'), and he gave me a kiss on the cheek and his cap. If this is any sign of things to come, I'm a very happy woman right now and am eager for more. So, to anyone wondering if they can change their life in their late 30's to pursue a passion, I say, it's never too late. :-)