2023: The Retrospective

This has been a year of doing and being done.

I completed my thesis and graduated with my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and a 4.0 GPA. I taught a creative writing workshop for the first time and hopefully not the last. Over the course of teaching, I received a lot of positive feedback from the student evaluations. I finished my time working at my university’s writing center as well, which was probably one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve had.

I also got to visit a few new places, beautiful places. In the spring, we visited Savannah, Georgia for a niece’s wedding. After my graduation, we saw friends and family in Colorado and North Carolina. I acquired a new jealousy: of those who get to experience a real autumn, with the crisp air and the leaves changing color. I imagine it would be my favorite season if Florida actually had seasons (aside from hurricane).


North Carolina

This fall, I started teaching writing at a new university 5x a week, which was overwhelming at first. Teaching takes a lot of time and energy, in case you didn’t know. Some much work happens behind the scenes too, the work that is easy to forget if you’re on the outside looking in. But it’s fulfilling work, which is why I continue to do it. I feel like I’m actually using my abilities now as they should be used. This is a new feeling. I love helping students become more confident as writers.

However, alongside all this work and these accomplishments, we lost Nana, one of my favorite people in the world. It still feels strange and a bit unreal; she was such a bright, constant presence in my life that it feels impossible to no longer have her in it. My brain makes me feel like she is still here, even though she isn’t. I think about her most often in moments of triumph, when I feel like I’ve done something especially meaningful. Something changes for the good and I want to give her a call. I want her to be excited with me. I miss her delight at the news I’d bring her.

I always promised Nana I’d dedicate my first book to her, so here is the dedication from my thesis:

She taught me how to make light, how to be light.

I also published a lyric essay in the latest print issue of Salamander. I was very proud of this, as it served as the heart of my thesis. I was invited to do an online reading with the magazine over the summer.

I tell myself that I haven’t had the chance to read as much as I’ve wanted to because I’ve been reading and grading so much student work. This is true, but I’m still kind of annoyed that I didn’t read more. I didn’t even reach half of my reading goal this year. Most of what I did read was poetry and nonfiction, a continuation of last year. This is no surprise. Some craft, some textbooks. And of course, cats poems and cat-related fiction.

I played a lot of stellar video games. Some were retro, some were remakes, some were sequels, some were really interesting new indies. I didn’t listen to a lot of new music; most of which I did listen to was ambient noise for my long grading sessions.

I didn’t write much following graduation either. I let myself replenish. Sometimes you need just that. I revised a little, started a few new poems. I will start submitting again next year. I wrote a rejection erasure, which was part of this small trend happening on social media among writers.

I met writer and poet Julie Marie Wade at a reading at Books and Books. Her writing served as inspiration for my thesis. I fell in love with lyric essays partially because of her. You should read her new book of essays. It’s called Otherwise.

I filled up a small notebook I’ve been carrying around with me. The first entry is dated 1/8/22. The front is ripped and almost falling off, but it is now filled with all kinds of scribblings–notes from graduate classes and my thesis committee, lines for poems, thoughts on feedback received in workshop, to-do lists, lesson planning, and more. I will have to start a new one next year, of course–fortunately, I am never without a fresh one. It’s a gift I often receive as a writer, and one that I will always need.

Finally, here are the various medias/art that have defined my year. I may consider doing one for podcasts next year, as I’ve started listening to quite a few of those.

Fight, Magic, Items by Aidan Moher
Woman without Shame by Sandra Cisneros
The Balloonists by Eula Biss
A Harp in the Stars, edited by Randon Billings Noble
Voice of the Fish by Lars Horn
The White Card by Claudia Rankine
The Black Unicorn by Audre Lorde
The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes on by Franny Choi
The Study of Human Life by Joshua Bennett
Hand in Hand with Love: An Anthology of Classic Queer Poetry, edited by Simon Avery
Cat Poems, edited by New Direction
The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa
Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman
Periodic Boyfriends by Drew Pisarra
Otherwise by Julie Marie Wade
Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino
The Poet’s Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry by Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux
Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft by Janet Burroway
Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing by Elizabeth Losh and Jonathan Alexander

TV series:
The Other Two
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The Great British Baking Show
Tiny House Hunters
Fellow Travelers

Video games:
Arcade Spirits
The Oregon Trail (2023)
Shining Force
Shining Force II
Pokémon Stadium
Grow: Song of the Evertree
Paper Mario
Loop Hero
Sackboy: A Big Adventure
Octopath Traveler II
Street Fighter 6
Hogwarts Legacy
Sea of Stars
Saint Maker
Little Goody Two Shoes
Super Mario RPG Remake

Imperium by Blouse
Slugs of Love by Little Dragon
If You Leave by Daughter
Strip Me by Natasha Bedingfield
Live Through This by Hole
American Thighs by Veruca Salt
So Long, Scarecrow by Scarling

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