All posts tagged: UC Riverside

Your MFA is a Team Sport

Photo credit: Eric Wong, Basketball Hoop I’ve always been a highly competitive person. At five years old, I started figure skating. Adorned with pink sequins and doing my best bunny hops and swizzles to the tune of Captain Kangeroo, my mom had to teach me that it was not okay to cheer when my competitors fell down. Actually, that was generally frowned upon. A little older but still bloodthirsty, I played basketball in a youth league at my local YMCA. During the pre-game prayer, I spent more time sizing up the other team than asking Jesus for a safe game and flawless layups. Not gifted with any kind of decent dribbling skills, I relied on my height and strength to play. I gave defense my all… often to the point that I fouled out for throwing too many elbows. After the ref blew the whistle the fifth time, I gave my dad an enthusiastic thumbs up to celebrate my removal from the game while he looked at his brutish daughter with mild horror. I’ve spent …

Abandoning the ROI – From the Corporate World to the MFA Program

Photo credit: Neil Hall, Glass Office Building London I’ve been a graduate student for three weeks, and have cried in my professor’s office once. I haven’t been here long enough to determine if this ratio is a success or not, but am continuing my market research nonetheless. Let me back up – Before I started the MFA program in Creative Nonfiction at UC Riverside, I spent ten years working the corporate world in online marketing. Six of those years were at the same job, a small gaming company in Austin, Texas. That company was a place where I knew how to succeed. I knew my coworker’s various quirks and how to approach the right person to get what I needed. I knew the promotion calendar like the back of my hand, and had code and graphics and all the nitty gritty details down to a science. Life at that company was very comfortable for me and although I was sad for my tenure there to end, I left optimistic in the pursuit of dreams with …

First Years versus Second Years

Image: Daniel Orth In September, phones all over SoCal lit up with the same message, the bios for the new admits were up. By ourselves and in small groups, we plugged the link for our MFA program into our browsers. We held our faces close to our laptop screens to better see every freckle, smile line, and sun spot (or lack thereof) of the new recruit’s faces in the small photos next to their blurbs. We read the words they’d written about their selves in third person and wondered what they would be like IRL. As a Peer Mentor, I have more frequent contact with this year’s incoming cohort than most second years. Second years are busier than first years, because we’re taking classes, teaching classes, and trying to finish up our thesis. We have offices that we spend our spare time on campus in versus the sticky 10-chair conference table in the lobby of our department, so chance conversations are harder to encounter. I remember this same unintentional divide existing last year and not really …

1 Year Down, 1 To Go!

My first year as an MFA graduate student wrapped up the first week of June and I’ve spent the last 3 weeks or so traveling (Portland for the first time! Little sister’s last-minute wedding! Escape-the-Heat trips to LA!). Now that I’m back home with no other plans this summer, I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the writing I need to do, the fact that it’s time for my memoir to take on the shape of a book, and the constant voice in the back of my head that asks nonstop “Who even cares?” I’m fortunate that my first year as an MFA has given me some tools and insights into my writing and a social circle of writer friends to bounce ideas off. I’m also pleased to announce that I will be leading a Memoir Workshop in Riverside, CA in July/August (the fiction workshop will be led by Tatyana, another writer in my cohort). If you’re interested or know anyone in the area who might be, you can find more info here.

MFA Challenges

Whew. Y’all I have survived the first two quarters of my MFA Years. I have to make it through Spring quarter and then from mid-June to October I am on one hella long summer break before I begin my second (and likely, final) year. So, what keeps me up at night? ***WARNING: WHINING AHEAD***: Being on a budget: I had a big girl job and walked away from a comfortable living to pursue my MFA. It breaks my heart every time I have to check the price tag on something before I throw it in my grocery cart. We aren’t talking about designer jeans people, we’re talking about “Do I buy chicken this week or wait and hope there’s a mega sale on thighs next week?” The first 6 months being on a tight budget was cute. I felt a sense of satisfaction each time I came in under budget. But now, I want nothing more than to sidle up to the bar of my favorite restaurant order an appetizer, an entree, an dessert and …

Watch Your Step!

A couple of weeks ago, I did this really cool thing where I stepped off a curb into a storm drain. The drop was further than expected and onto an uneven surface and I double sprained my ankle (I simultaneously sprained the inside and outside of my ankle). I missed class. Which I can’t stand to do—no pun intended. I can count on one hand the number of classes I missed in 4 years of undergrad. The members of my cohort really came to my aid from taking me to the student health center, taking me to class and assisting me with my grocery shopping. My professor whose class I missed reached out several times to check-in on me. I felt well cared for and am ever grateful. Fortunately, I’m a writer and not an athlete, so I’ve still been able to get my reading and writing done. Although, not as much of either as I had planned. There’s something about being marooned on your bed that will drain the motivation from you to do …