It has been a while since I wrote anything current on my blog. I apologize to my avid readers. I will try to do better. It has been a bit of a roller-coaster ride since the beginning of November. It feels like it was Fall Break and now it’s the end of the semester with Christmas rolling in on the San Francisco fog, or perhaps with the thunder that’s been riddling the Bay. So I’ll catch you up briefly…ok not so briefly. I’m a writer, you know!
I spent part of my Fall Break in Ohio with my Grammie and family as we contemplated her health situation. I left them to attend CTA’s Anti-Racism team meeting which was being held in the same location as the annual Call to Action conference in Milwaukee. It was my ninth consecutive year of attending the conference, and the third year we had decided to attach our meeting to the annual conference.
The family of conference goers that I have acquired over these years have made it almost impossible to actually attend a conference session. Because we only see each other once a year, we want to try to squeeze every little bit of time out of the weekend. We usually begin with the pub crawl of sorts, then it’s the coffee-house and the fishbowl, then another pub crawl. In between all these are reunions of all sorts: the colored folks, the white folks, the next generation, the gay folk, you name it, we can create a caucus space for you. I have had the job of choreographing dance for the closing liturgy almost every year, with the exception of a couple, this year being one. This year, I had the privilege of introducing Asra Nomani, who was the Saturday morning plenary speaker. It amazed me to have found a kindred spirit in her almost instantaneously. Her talk titled, “Bad Girls of Faith: The Daughters of Sarah and Hajar Standing Together to Reclaim the Feminist Tradition” called us women (and men) to action in banding together to make change. It brought tears to my eyes when I went up to thank her and she took my hand and raised our joined hands together to show the solidarity of Muslims and Christians.
Over the 9 years I have come to literally love and cherish CTA and the folks I have come into contact with. I have grown up there. From the shy twenty-something year old (yes, I used to be shy) who knew there was something wrong with the Catholic Church but didn’t know what to do, to this now thirty-something year old who is outspoken, and able to discuss Church reform. I ask you, how does one let go of one’s family? Biological or chosen? A part of me feels that I have come to that fork in the road where I have outgrown the space. Or perhaps I am currently jaded and just need to step away to regroup.
Prior to leaving Ohio, my final visit with Grammie was pleasant, but upon my arrival in Milwaukee my sister alerted me that Grammie was rushed to the emergency room again. I was torn. Should I have stayed? I tried to go through conference as best as I could knowing that I had probably seen her for the last time. I returned to the Bay and three days later Grammie passed. Some of you have watched (virtually) over the last month while I’ve been dealing with the pain of losing an important woman in my life. What I realize each day I miss her is how much a part of my life she was even though I didn’t see her often. For some unusual reason, I think of her every time I look in the mirror on my medicine cabinet (I know! totally random…or not!). Knowing that we were not blood relation, this is a fascinating correlation. I am glad I did go home to see her and even more so that I was able to write something for her that we read at her memorial. Tonight I sit here writing in her nightshirt which is inscribed with the following: “Chick with Money” depicted by a bright yellow chick with lots of dollar signs and purses. There’s a magic marker addition that makes the “with” “with-out” thanks to her. I have also added my own commentary and turned the “out” into “some” which I’m sure has her cracking up.
I was torn for a really long time about her choice to be cremated. There would be no place to go “visit” her at. Where do people go when they are cremated? I have come to terms with it, thanks to my sister. She goes wherever she pleases now that she isn’t bound by a box. I like this idea of death. I have lost two family members this year, my Aunty Gytha to CA and my Grammie. And both of them were cremated so I know I’ll have both of them around always.
So thus ended November…
I returned from the memorial with tons of homework to do for my MFA and finals week looming ahead. I never thought there’d be such a thing as finals in an MFA program. It’s just writing, right? Well, I had to produce 10-20 pages of material to be workshopped that finals week, plus complete a final map project for my other class. So finals for me became completing the workshop piece and the map project while returning to work to pay back those hours my supervisor let me have to go home.
I know I began the semester with updates about the program and some of my prompts from class assignments. It is only fitting that I wrap up the semester with an update. So, for starters let’s just say that those “speycial” cohort members did not change, at least not in any drastic way as to warrant comment. I ended my semester slightly jaded because I didn’t feel like I had gotten what I had paid for. I was perturbed that not only was the program expensive, it had no substantial financial aid to speak of. It had no money for conferences, nor did it seem to make any particular effort in providing students with recommendations on how to come by money. Shoot, several of my cohort colleagues didn’t even know about all the conferences they could attend. And as enlightening as our Saturday Night Events were, I was often too tired to enjoy them having just completed an 8-hour class session. Would I recommend a low-res MFA? I’m not so sure after all. One of my instructors encouraged me to dream up my perfect MFA program. I think I will withhold final judgments until such time as I produce this document.
So finals are done, Christmas is like 4 days away or something. It’s scary how the year has flown by and how so much has changed in the year. I was part of a writing workshop on Saturday with Jen Cross and a lot of our prompts and writing had to do with the holiday season, and for almost all of us it was not the usual “sleigh-bells-ring-snow-is-glistening” fantasy. So onward with our reality, I say…stay tuned for some of the manifestations of the prompts from Saturday.