Saturday, September 26, 2009

VCFA Workload

This morning a friend called to see how I was doing. "How's the MFA going?" she asked.

I laughed and said, "Well, I'm so punchy from writing and researching that last night it took me three tries to put on my facial lotion--first I picked up the toothpaste, then the sunscreen, and finally on the third try, picked up the jar of nighttime face cream. Then this morning I emptied my cats' water bowl and left it in the drying rack. The cat sitting by the food mat reminded me to refill it, as he was obviously thirsty. Oh, yesterday I was so punchy I walked into a wall. And this morning I realized I ordered the same book twice from Amazon."

"Oh no, are you regretting that you signed up for the program?" my friend asked.

"Heck, no!" I said. "I'm loving every minute of it!"

And that's how it is, really. I don't know if I've ever been this busy in my entire life, or put out so much mental energy. Maybe I did in college, but that was a long time ago, when I had a few thousand or million more brain cells. As soon as one project is done, there's another waiting. It's kind of like the Russian front during WWII. You know how the Russian soldiers just kept going up against the Germans, and if the soldier in front of them dropped, they picked up his weapon and kept moving forward. This has that same never-ending feel to it. But without guns. And nobody fires anything at you. And there's no death or destruction. Maybe that wasn't the best analogy...

There are times when I can't sleep at night because my mind won't shut down. I feel guilty if I take a full day off (oh wait, I haven't done that yet. Never mind). And there is an ever-growing pile of picture books, research materials and three laptops in my living room that seem to have taken up permanent residence.

Yet, I love it. I cannot think of a single thing I'd want to be done differently. I love that my advisor pushes me to try new things and see things in a different light. I love reading and critiquing the work of my four other classmates and receiving their feedback on my own work (they're brilliant) . I love the support the students and faculty give each other. I love the critical aspect of the program (I never dreamed I'd actually enjoy writing critical essays--who knew?). I love trying new forms of writing, like the biography I'm working on right now.

Yes, life is good in the VCFA MFA program.

Even if I do fall asleep on my keyboard sometimes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review: Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli

If you’re looking for a wholesome book for your child or students to chew on, try picking Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli, by Barbara Jean Hicks (illustrated by Sue Hendra). It’s a rollicking rhyming story where, in the voice of “monsters,” we hear all the reasons why they will not eat the healthy green veggie.

We’d rather snack on tractors,
or a rocket ship or two,
or tender trailer tidbits,
or a wheely, steely stew.

The monsters describe what they love to eat, and what they absolutely won’t abide by, but by the end of the story, they realize that those wonderful yummy trees they’re munching on are in fact, broccoli!

The art is bold, colorful and lively yet offers enough detail to give many additional “hunting” opportunities for the reader (such as the monster movie posters in the background on the nighttime rocket scene). Hendra also does a nice job at the end, where she transitions the monsters to a home scene where we see that the monsters eating broccoli are actually children.

Hicks has done a terrific job of making broccoli fun and inviting. This is a healthy pick for any parent or educator who wants to get kids to “go green” with their eating habits, and promote healthy eating.

Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks/ISBN 978-0-375-85686-0/2009 Alfred A. Knopf.

* Click here to view a cool video of Monsters Don't Eat Broccoli.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

GOOD NEWS: Blackberry Banquet

Blackberry Banquet has been named to the 2010 California Collections. The book list is compiled by the California Readers (click here for full list). Listed books must display "excellence in literature" and be written or illustrated by a California author or illustrator.

I'm proud to be a part of the California Collections once again (Tae Kwon Do! made the 2007 list).

Doing the Snoopy Dance now...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Have You Ever Been So Busy That...

You almost left the house without wearing any pants. Yep. Last week was just that crazy-busy for me.

I'd turned in my second packet, received the feedback, and was working hard to get a revision done that was due today (as Kathi Appelt says, I was "writing like my fingers were on fire"). My head was filled with research ideas, dancing animals, an Italian educator, cats and a T-ball game (yes, it was crowded in there).

Amidst all this, I wanted to see my chiropractor. So, when his office called and said they could see me right away, I ran upstairs to change clothes. I got distracted with something while changing (can't recall what it was). Minutes later, I got to the top of the stairs and thought, "What am I forgetting?" I looked down and realized I wasn't wearing any pants. OOPS!!! Yeah. Working on my MFA keeps is keeping me just that busy...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Packet #2: Done!

Wooohooo! I survived turning in my second packet! Yesterday I heard back from my advisor, and as always, received thoughtful, encouraging and challenging advice. I'd love to stop and take a breather, but there's no time for that. Packet #3 is due in less than four weeks, and that one takes the essay up a notch to a longer length. Plus, there are all those revisions...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"Feel Good" Fun

Mary Cronin, a fellow student (and fabulous writer) at VC, shared this video link with a group of us. It's just one of those "feel good" kinds of things that everyone should watch.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Wow, another week has already rolled by? Where IS the time going?

I'm getting my second packet ready to submit on Monday, going over all the final checks. I only had one scare, when ALL of my files were missing from my flashdrive (yikes!!!). Why on earth they would not open on my laptop but would open on my desktop is a mystery to me. I've never had such a love/hate relationship as I do with computers.

On a lighter note, this website came across the Ventura/Santa Barbara listserve this week; kind of fun to look at and play around with, especially if you're concerned with words going the way of the Dodo. It's not for the fottopees of the world (or maybe it is...).

Happy Labor Day!