I have a million and one things I should be doing, but the only thing (besides writing) that sounds remotely interesting is taking another road trip. My road trip warrior partner is all tripped out, but my heart yearns to see something new even though Tennessee is beautiful this time of year. About this time I would normally be surrounded by numerous suitcases and getting ready to head back to Kentucky for residency, but I’m sitting this one out. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m used to going. I postponed my thesis residency until January because I knew (1) I wouldn’t be able to afford it without financial assistance and (2) I’m not finished with my thesis pieces. This last mentor semester was amazing. I was really able to make a lot of progress, but when it ended I think life stepped in and I haven’t been able to really focus on my writing. I’m in the final week of the summer literature class I mentioned in my last post – the Latin studies one. Surprisingly it hasn’t been bad at all. I still would prefer not to do cultural studies classes, but I was amazed to find some new authors I really liked. We just finished reading Drown and This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. I found both books to be extremely helpful in terms of my own writing – especially my thesis project. It was as if someone handed me a book with answers I didn’t know I had been searching for. When I actually find time to give my thesis project attention again I will at least have more authors to reference in terms of trying to piece everything together in a manner that will stand up to a defense. It seems as if whenever I have a serious project or impending deadline the sky decides to fall about that time as well. Since I’ve been in Tennessee the job situation has been unstable. Besides the fact that the economy is still in the toilet, small towns like the one I’m in don’t really have many options. I never imagined when I decided to get my MFA that there would be times when I would have to pay out of pocket for classes. Financial aid is not what it used to be. Add out-of-state tuition on top of all that and you’ll get the picture. Right now I’m working, but it has been insane trying to jump through hoops to meet the demands of my online class as well. Unlike past online classes I have taken, this particular one requires daily postings and a paper every week. It is only a five week course, but I started it and the job around the same time and I can honestly say there have been times when I have only gotten about two hours of sleep before having to go to work the next day. Basically it is a five-week course with seven books. To me that is insane. This week I’m scrambling to put together a final major project which requires reading, research, writing, and some desktop publishing. If I had more time it would actually be fun, but I also have to make time for the last book we are studying and frankly, I just don’t see how it will all add up without me losing my mind in the process. I don’t know how to successfully balance all this with work, but when the class officially ends I will have about four weeks to pull my thesis works into order so my new advisor can have something good to work with. I might have collapsed from exhaustion by the time thesis rolls around, but as long as it’s ready I’m okay with being a zombie for a while. I’ve been thinking a lot about home as well. I miss Texas, but feel I have so much unfinished business to tie up before I return. I can’t believe it has been a year since I have set foot in the state. I don’t know exactly what I miss about it – maybe familiarity for the most part, but there is a sense of pride that develops for one’s hometown once you leave. You never know how much you miss something until you have the courage to leave it. I strongly recommend everyone leave their comfort zone at least once. It definitely builds a stronger appreciation for what you left when you return. On the movie front, I haven’t found time to see Man of Steel, but I hear the soundtrack is great. One thing I’ve had to sacrifice during this MFA journey is watching movies. There are so many I want to see and they just keep adding up. If only there were more hours in the day. Weekends are reserved for reading and completing assignments and everything else just sort of falls wherever it lands. It’s hard trying to explain that sometimes to people. The other day someone accused me of being self-absorbed because I don’t have time to devote to them like I used to. In all honesty, I didn’t have time then, I just sacrificed some things to make myself available. In graduate school there is no free time. If it doesn’t come first you may as well pack up and go back home, because it is impossible to succeed in this program playing catch up. That is why I love having friends who are doing this too. It is like we are suffering together. We feel each other’s pain and speak the same language. We are there to give encouragement when the rejection letters pile in, to collectively indulge in spirits to nurse our wounds, and to kidnap a highly opinionated muse who doesn’t’ know when to quit. I don’t think I’m going to get to do any traveling this year, but if I do you can rest assured I will fill you in on all the details. For those of you lucky enough to get a summer vacation, safe travels and remember to have lots of fun. Happy reading and happy writing! Oh, and Happy “early” Independence Day as well.