All posts tagged: UC Riverside

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 …

A Series of Questions

Is it the end of November already? Without seasons to guide you, it’s ridiculously easy to lose track of time in Southern California. While Whittier lives in a Winter Wonderland, I’m left wondering, “What winter?” On Thanksgiving it was 90 degrees. I wrote with my window open. Everyday I say I’m going to retire my flip-flops for the season and everyday I’m greeted with warm weather and another excuse not to. Is unemployed guilt a thing? Even though I’m sticking to my budget closely and should be fine financially, I sometimes get the urge to get a part-time job, because I feel guilty that I’m not earning an income. I feel guilty that I’m not juggling multiple things and that my only focus is school and writing. I usually silence the voice by reminding myself that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and that there will be plenty of time to spread myself thin next year when I’m TAing. Really, getting a job would just be a way to find an excuse to …

Dear Diary…

Ya’ll are probably too young to remember the intro to the Mary Tyler Moore Show, hell I’m probably too young to be remembering that intro! But when my friends ask me how I’m liking UC Riverside, I imagine I feel the same way MTM felt when she runs into that busy New York intersection, spun around and threw her little hat into the air! I am blissed out. Totally overjoyed. My cohort is the greatest. There’s 19 of us across screenwriting, playwriting, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. There’s none of that competitiveness or cattiness I’ve heard about in other programs. Everyone just seems to be genuinely happy to be here and happy to be surrounded by other happy people. There’s a wide range of ages and experiences in my cohort and I’m very pleased with all of the diversity. The faculty isn’t there to churn us out of a writer factory, they have more of a writer’s colony approach and they are there to guide us along the way.