As the end of the year approaches, I find myself looking back on my first semester at Stony Brook University. What strikes me most is how much I enjoyed it. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t, but I know of several other MFA students who have experienced moments of questioning their decision to pursue the degree. And understandably so, it is a big undertaking. But, for me, it still feels like both the right choice and possibly the most luxurious gift I’ve ever afforded myself.
In undergrad, I was an okay student: not the best, not the worst. I excelled in the classes I loved and just got by in the ones I didn’t. I’m sure I learned something from each experience, but I didn’t always want to be there. I was also half the age I am now and not very focused, working at least two jobs at any given point, on top of a full course load. I also spent a lot more time socializing than I do these days. A lot.
In the interim, I’ve also had a couple of careers, one a very long one that was extremely demanding and, I now realize, taught me to manage multiple projects concurrently which has served me well since I was working for the first six weeks this semester.
I am also struck by the volume of writing I produced. Mid-term, I had the feeling that somehow I wasn’t really doing any writing of my own, because it was mostly for school. But, of course, as I tidy up my little office and put away my work, I see that I produced quite a lot. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll do with all of it, but I have it and that, too, is a great gift and accomplishment.
The grades are just trickling in but another thing that has struck me is that I’m doing very well. Maybe everyone does well as long as they show up and turn in their pages, but I’ve never had such good grades. This makes me happy. It would be very embarrassing to have left a successful career only to return to school and flunk out, but luckily this is not the case. (Whew!)
So, I look back and I thank my lucky stars that I ended up in the program at Stony Brook. I had other options and, perhaps, they each would have been equally rewarding, but this was definitely the right fit for me. I’ve loved getting to know many of the other students and am still pinching myself for the good fortune to have studied with Roger Rosenblatt, Susan Minot and Melissa Bank – wow, just wow!
But, most importantly, I can’t wait for the next semester to start. I’m glad to have the winter break to recharge and read books of my own choosing, but I am also eager to get started again. This is a good sign that I’m in the right place at the right time. How lucky I am!