Friday, July 1, 2011

I Benn There!

Yessir! I know it has been some time, but I have finally begun my studies at Bennington!!!!! Woohoo!!!!!!!

First thing I really must say is that it was absolutely fabulous. Next time I go, which will be in January, I will post every day (probably not) I promise. I really want you to have a blow by blow of what happens, how wonderful it is to be there.

This time, I will sum it up.

First word I think of when I think of my Bennington time there is: AWESOME!!!!
Second word: exhausting.
Third: Emotional.

I was so excited by the awesomeness that I became overly emotional which exhausted me. Also, the 45 lectures, 50 readings (not including student readings, but including graduate readings), craft workshops and writing workshops kind of made me a little bit tired too.

Now: I must clarify: you don't have to go to all the lectures, readings (including student readings and also graduate readings), and craft workshops. The only activity every single person is required to do is the writing workshops. However, you want to go to everything. Well, you do at first, then, after a while, you don't want to go to anything (if you're me), then you develop your own filter, but you're already exhausted by the time you do that, plus the things that your filter frees you from, your fast made friends make you go to, plus they make you sit on the steps and drink wine and force you to attend the dance parties, karaoke, talent shows and room parties.

In spite of that, I came home with 22 pages of newly written material to edit, plus amazing feedback and fresh eyes with which to edit both my new and already written materials. I learned that there are stories on the internet. I also came home with great new relationships and a fever to return to the suspended reality of Bennington's Wonderland.

The writers on the campus are amazing. The faculty is genius, the grounds are brilliant, the graduates are inspiring, and your fellow students (term one through four) are the bomb diggidy. If you are a part of the class that will graduate in June, 2013, you feel so lucky and special because there is no doubt that it is the very best class ever ever in all existence.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Can't stop won't stop.

So, it has been a loooong time since I have blogged. I figured I'd add a post and let people know what's going on.

I did not start my MFA program in 2009, or in 2010, and will not be starting until 2011 - January. However, I am still on the road! As I mentioned in previous posts, my problem was with funding, and my funding problem was connected to credits. I decided to stop beating a dead horse, and leave NYU alone. Instead, I went back to school. I am in an Interior Design program at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Online Division. The program is phenomenal, and I've learned a lot. In a year I will have completed my studies and have a certificate, with 36 additional undergraduate credits.

This is a bit more complicated than it seems, as the program I am in is a certificate program, not a bachelors program. I was going to do the bachelors, but decided to do the certificate program because I needed two years to complete the BA, and I was not going to do two years. I was going to drop out. Doing the certificate program allows me to get the credits I need and actually have a credential in the end. It's a very intense program, but I do really love the work. You know me, all things creative.

The new problem: financial aid at Bennington indicated that I would not be able to use those undergraduate credits because they are not considered undergraduate bachelors credits if they are on a transcript for a certificate, even if all the classes are also a part of the bachelors program. That's no problem though. I'm going to finish the certificate program transfer to the bachelors program, take one or two classes, and then withdrawal. I'll still have my credential, I'll learn a little more in the extra class or two, and the transcripts will be bachelors program credits and not certificate program credits. I'm smart!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Loves me... Loves Me Not... Loves Me?

So, since NYU said they'd release my transcripts internally, I decided to petition the school to release the transcripts to Bennington. See, they said they'd release them internally with the understanding that I'd take out loan money to pay off my debt to them while I was there. This would be possible if I got funding at NYU, and they have some awesome funding opportunities.

Of course, I was initially excited about NYU's decision. I finally got a yes from them about anything related to this debt and my transcripts. But as I began to prepare for applying to NYU, I couldn't help but realize the several problems that come with this arrangement:
  1. What if NYU doesn't accept me? Then that means no MFA program at all. It also means I don't pay back NYU.
  2. I have to take the GRE's. Who has time or money for that? Not this single stay at home mom.
  3. NYU does not have a Non-Fiction discipline. Although I also write fiction and poetry, I want to study Non-Fiction. I do write in a style that is similar to fiction, and honestly would love to study fiction, strengthen myself in that area. However, I really don't know if my fiction is strong enough to warrant the acceptance that would give me the opportunity to pursue that growth at the MFA level. Having already been accepted into programs for both poetry and fiction, I have more confidence in my writing in those areas. But I'd want to apply in fiction rather than poetry. I at least have experience (years through 12th house) workshopping my poetry, and I really want to work on my prose writing.
So, I asked NYU to consider sending my transcripts to Bennington. And I'm sure anyone can understand that after all the work of applying to Bennington, after the relationships I built, the work I did to prepare to begin there, the reading of faculty lit, and the difficult process of chosing that program, feeling it best suited for me out of all the programs I did and could have applied to, I still, uh, want to go to Bennington.

NYU said no sending of my transcipts to Bennington.

So I sent them an email detailing all of the above - well, accept that I really plain old want to go to Bennington. I see no need to insult their program in the slightest, particularly since it is awesome, fabulous, one of the very best and I truly would be excited and honored to go there - 'cept I really want to go to Bennington.

I also pointed out the actual fact that if I start Bennington in June, somehow re-securing the spot that I lost, I'd be done, or at least 75% done paying them back by the time I'd be
starting NYU. And of course, that's if I get in.

One downside to going to Bennington - I'd be graduating with a new student loan debt of about $50,000 - much of which would be unsubsidized, as opposed to $10,000 in subsidized loan dept if I went to NYU. But I really don't give a fuck. I want to get started, strengthen my writing, publish, begin my life as a writing professional. I can market my work once I'm confident in it and believe it possesses a strength that deserves my marketing prowess.

So, let's see if NYU loves me even just a little bit... or at least sees the value in my reasoning.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I have been pretty sad since my last post. The first step toward the vision I had for, well, the rest of my life, started with that June residency. As if that wasn't enough, I have been hit with other heartaches relating to my daughter and the love of my life, with whom I am now, no longer in contact.

Marlon. It's because of him that I stay single. I know no-one who moves me as he does. But I gave him up, sent him away, because he's not mine. After some six years of never quite making it, it turns out he belongs to someone else...

So two nights ago, I stayed up all night, after receiving yet some more disappointing news. I have cried recently more than I had in years. That night, two nights ago, was just more of that same unusual flow. My restlessness was compounded by calls of concern throughout the night that ensured that any chance I had to be taken over by sleep was consistently and thus permanently interrupted. My loneliness made me feel as if my head was under a blanket, I kept grasping for air, and fighting the urge to block my number and call him. This was too much to have to deal with by myself, but he couldn't be here for me anyway. I had no one who could satisfy my need for true, connected, immersed support.

I figured I'd have to let something go, and it would not be my baby's future. I wouldn't be compromising the dedication of time and self to her. I'd have to give up everything related to music - which is a big part of my life. Another loss.

To make up for my sleepless night, I slept throughout the day yesterday. First, however, I hung in my mind, sorting out the problems, and beginning the solutionary process. It was time to get it together. I sucks that I have to do this by myself, but that's the reality, so I just have to do it. I began to map out a plan, set a schedule for writing it out and beginning to implement it. The process of finding solutions is comforting to me. It let me sleep.

I love Edwidge Danticat. Maybe, I thought, I could approach her to mentor me as a writer. My circumstances may allow her to consider that. My acceptances may ensure her that my writing has reached a level that would warrent her consideration. As a fellow (amazing) writer and graduate of an MFA program, she'd know the significance of my situation, may be sympathetic. I would be. I have and continue to mentor, why should I not expect that someone would be interested and willing enough to mentor me?

I spoke to the lawyer representing NYU today. He said that NYU will allow me to use my transcripts to apply to NYU's MFA program. Their program is awesome, but doesn't have Non-fiction. I wonder if I should apply anyway. I write in poetry and fiction, but I really did want to go into a non-fiction program. I'd love to strengthen my poetry. I was accepted in poetry as well as non-fiction, so it's possible and applicable. I didn't apply in fiction, because I feel so weak in that area, but I really am very interested in developing my fiction chops...

I intended to study all three: poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

Sigh! Bennington.

With my transcripts, I still don't have a BA, I simply have enough credits to qualify for federal financial aid. Will NYU even consider me without a BA? That is what I thought was the big question when I began the process of applying to Bennington and Lesley. But the challenge lay elsewhere. What are the hidden challenges to these new paths, should I choose to forge one of them?

And really, as far as that goes, do I really have a choice?

Some will say I always have a choice. Those would be people who don't know me as one driven by compulsions, such as the compulsion to fight, and never give up.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I haven't fully processed it yet, with my life being so busy, but it seems I have come to the end of the road. Having secured no funding, I did not send a deposit again to Bennington by the March 1st deadline. My deferment has been withdrawn and I have been invited to reapply in the future.

I really don't have any more to say at this time. I'm on the verge of crying about it, but I haven't really given myself the time.

It's at times like these that I wish not to be single, but to have someone to whom I can pass the letter after reading it, who knows just how significant a blow this is, who will simply lie me down and lie behind me, or on top of me, and hold me, so I can cry.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Roses really smell like...

The first scholarship for which I applied was that offered by the R.O.S.E. Fund...  I completed the online application, which when submitted, didn't work.  I had my transcripts and two rec letters sent to them, forwarded my private (and embarrassing) financial information.  I completed the short essay questions, and made the application a Word document that I sent as an email attachment.

I was told I'd be notified in December, and that they fund in January.  This made them my first priority, for all other funders focused on the fall.  This was the one that, should I receive the scholarship, could get me the funds in enough time for me to start when I was supposed to - also in January.

There were some issues with this.  I'd be pushing it close to the deadline to pay my bill, and would have to negotiate something around when I paid based on when they announced and exactly when they would fund -  I really was pushing it close.  Also, they did not specify how much they would fund, but my impression is that they give you what you need.  So, I was super psyched about this particular grant.  I felt I had a good chance.

In December, I called to find out when they were announcing.  January, they told me.  



Well, that changes everything.  I didn't even bother to belabor the fact that he initially, without a doubt told me they would announce in December.  January would have been entirely too late from the giddy up and I would have deferred.  And now that I have been informed that they will not announce until January, guess what I have to do?


Bennington had awarded me a $2000.00 scholarship for my January semester.  That has been lost.  I have no funding, and lost my $500.00 deposit.

There are actually a lot of reasons that June is a better time for me to start than January.  My daughter will have graduated from 6th grade and won't be in the middle of school while I start school.  There are five residencies, and so if I start in the Summer, my extra, or fifth residency will be in the summer too.  I don't like winter, and Vermont is colder than Philly, so that is also appealing.  It would give me more time to secure greater funding and rearrange my life so that I would be able to focus most of my time on my academics.  

However, I completed my writing packet, researched and created my reading list, had been reading literature of the faculty, and made my list for choices for my faculty mentor.  I was ready, and so I wanted to go.  But I couldn't, and I didn't.  I'm hoping to report something different for June, but right now, it's looking less promising than I'd care to admit.