Rejected 2: The Really Crappy Sequel

I just got my UMass Amherst rejection in the mail, finally. I knew it was coming, but some crazy part of me was hoping I might be on a secret waitlist.

I have to admit that this one hurts a little, maybe a lot---even though I know I'm really lucky to have an acceptance to an incredible program at this point. I've been preparing myself for this (see below), but I'm still kind of on the verge of tears.

Part of me SO wants to be back east, and my uncle went to college in Amherst and has been talking it up ever since I told him I wanted to go to grad school. He thinks I'm going to get in everywhere, as do most of the rest of my family---funny how people just can't seem to understand the way that MFA programs make their decisions.

I keep trying to explain to them that it's not about my grades or GREs or even my SOP. Sample, sample, sample. I'm grateful that my family understands why I want to go to grad school, and that most are even supportive of me pursuing an MFA. (Crazy art school degree...I do get the "What are you going to do with that?" spiel from the extended family I'm not so close with.)

But they think that because I was successful in undergrad, I'm automatically going to get into all these programs and have my pick, with multiple funding offers served to me on a platter. When I told my mom about my first assumed rejection (now a reality), she was way more upset than I was. "I just don't understand why they don't want you!"

Oh, Mama. You don't get it.

Anyway, please forgive me for whining when I don't really have the right. Feel free to mentally slap me. Now I'm waiting for my Michigan rejection---that one won't feel nearly as bad.

I need to get over myself. Down, ego, down!

Good luck to everyone, as always, and continuing congratulations and condolences as this maddening process goes on.


PS---I was a little bit miffed to see that the letter came from the graduate admissions office, not the department itself. Feels like they didn't even want to waste their letterhead on me. Sigh.


Another Michener rejectee here (fiction, today after work, through the application status check website).

It's my first official rejection, but definitely not a surprise. It's like the Queen of England wrote me a note saying "Sorry, but it turns out you're not next in line for the crown."

Oh, okay. It was silly of me to ask.

No Blog

Got job. Dead tired.

PBS World: Worth Procrastinating For

A lot of good stuff on PBS World today! I should be doing my homework for fiction tomorrow, but these shows keep pulling me back in.

I have to leave the house at an ungodly hour tomorrow, ("working interview"), so I need to start trying to sleep around 7 pm. I can't remember the last time I went to bed so early.

Recommended Viewing!

From the PBS Independent Lens website:

In the 1920s, Zulu singer Solomon Linda composed "Mbube," a hit melody in his native South Africa. Decades later, it skyrocketed to the top of the international pop charts as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

A LION'S TRAIL follows this beloved song's rocky history, from South Africa to Brooklyn and back, asking why Linda died penniless---while American artists made millions off of his music.

A Global Voices film. Also features Pete Seeger. More links here.
Solomon Linda, far left, above.


From the WGBH website:

AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange: Being Pavarotti

"Being Pavarotti" tells the story of a South African teen who sets out to become a successful opera singer.

AfroPop celebrates Africa's cultural and historical growth through six films. These programs, each introduced by actor Idris Elba, explore the complex lives of contemporary Africans, both on the continent and abroad. The series includes an examination of the efforts of African AIDS activists, a profile of two young South African hip-hop disc jockeys, the touching story of one Cape Town boy's love for opera music, and a look inside the blossoming Nigerian film industry.

This is Not Going to Work

I will pay you to call me at 4:30 in the morning.

I guess I'm kidding. But I might have to ask my mom to do it.

I Got a Call This Morning!

It was from a job, and I couldn't be happier.

I felt like (warning, this is just hyperbole, the following did not happen) Cornell called me and then I saw Rutgers' number on call waiting.

The funny thing is that I woke up early this morning to get ready to go out and apply to a couple new leads I found yesterday. So now I'm up early, with a whole day to figure out what to do with.

It's a good thing I'm up, though---this shift I'm going to start Monday begins at 7 am. I've been waking up around 1 pm lately. Yikes. It's a working interview at a local market, and the lady sounded really nice. So as long as I can wake up and catch the bus on time, I think I might be golden. No jinxies!*

*Which makes me wonder---where does the word jinx come from?

From Wikipedia:

It may come from Latin iynx, that is, the wryneck bird, which has occasionally been used in magic and divination and is remarkable for its ability to twist its head almost 180 degrees while hissing like a snake. The Jinx bird is found in Africa and Eurasia.

That bird's not kidding around.

From World Wide Words:

It was a famous vaudeville song, written and sung by William Lingard and first published in 1868. Captain Jinks was an unsuccessful soldier, who was eventually drummed out of the Army. The key verse is this:

The first day I went out to drill
The bugle sound made me quite ill,
At the Balance step my hat it fell,
And that wouldn't do for the Army.
The officers they all did shout,
They all cried out, they all did shout,
The officers they all did shout,
“Oh, that's the curse of the Army.”


On a less ecstatic note, I totally gouged my right ankle while shaving last night. It's really deep this time. What a klutz, eesh.



Okay, enough of that. I have to get out of this house!

Who Am I Kidding...

It stings a bit.

I honestly don't feel hurt about not getting into Michigan, and I won't feel hurt when I get the rejection letter that I'm expecting from Cornell. A little bit jealous, yes, in a harmless way. But I never had high hopes about my chances at those programs, so it's not that much of a blow.

---Also, I was feeling kind of ambivalent about 2 year MFAs, given the current state of the economy. Blech, ptooey on this economy! Also also, I think the prestige of those programs would have put a pressure on me that I was dreading. Like I would have been afraid to just follow my gut, when decision time came around. I'm almost positive that that's not just sour grapes talking.---

A strange little part of me almost feels relief each time another door closes. It makes it less likely that I'll have to make a tough decision, in the end.

But Amherst! Part of me was really thinking I'd make it into Amherst, especially after I got the invite from Minnesota. I'm in love with Minnesota, really and truly. I was really hoping to have an option in the northeast, though. Just so I could weigh things. I have family in Boston and New York. (I really miss living in Boston.)

I know it's not over yet, and no matter what happens I'm incredibly grateful, and I feel incredibly lucky. 3 years, full funding, amazing program, cool city. I honestly feel guilty that I haven't just said yes already, that's how grateful I am to Minnesota.

And I feel guilty for whining when I should just be sitting around all day thanking the stars that I somehow managed to get into one of my top programs. I do spend some of my time doing that. When I started this process, I really had no idea if I would get in anywhere. That's why I applied to nine programs, and I would have applied to more if I'd had the money (or the room on my credit cards.)*

Times like right now, I have to admit that rejection does sting, even though I don't have much of a right to say so.

Okay, slapping myself. Shut up already!


*By the way, for future applicants:

I'd like to mention that Michigan, UT Austin/Michener and UMass Amherst will waive their application fees if you send in the proper request form, along with documentation of financial need. This was a big help to me.

If you got a GRE waiver from your school (knocked the price of the GRE in half!) a copy of this waiver will usually serve as proof. That's the easiest way. If you didn't get a waiver, a letter from your financial aid office stating that you're a financial need student (very low EFC, received x percentage of need-based aid, etc.) will do the trick.

Ask the financial aid office at your school about GRE waivers, well ahead of time. As with the application fee waivers, you have to have a significant amount of documented financial need to qualify. And don't forget to always fill out that FAFSA!

A Wave to Mr. President

Obama was in Phoenix today. So close and yet so far away---especially since I don't drive.

Dobson High, I'm jealous.

Arizona, Anyone?

In case anyone out there is applying to the MFA @ Arizona, here's my take on the school and the town. I just finished my undergrad here, and I've lived in Tucson for about 3 1/2 years now. Personally, I'm ready to go---I can't wait to move eastwards again. But you can definitely enjoy yourself here if you put your mind to it. And it's a great school.

Adapted from something I posted to the "Programs in Arizona" thread on
P & W, here:


From my own experience:

As far as nonfiction and poetry go, Alison Hawthorne Deming is amazing. Manuel Muñoz, in fiction, is incredible, too. (He's new here, and he just won the Whiting Writer's Award.) I took an intro to poetry workshop with Tenney Nathanson, and it was such an inspirational and entertaining experience. I'm afraid I've never taken a class with Jason Brown.

Try to take a lit class with Charles Scruggs, Praise Zenenga, Carlos Gallego and/or Susan White...Charles Sherry if you like philosophy and you're brave. There are a lot of great faculty members in both creative writing and literature.

I can't tell you too much about the atmosphere in the MFA program, because there's really very little interaction between grad and undergrad---unless they're teaching a class. I took an introductory fiction workshop with a great student teacher. It seemed like she was having fun at the program.

I do know that there's a lot going on in the department in general. Creative Writing is housed in the English Department. The UA Poetry Center always has something going on, readings etc. I've been to one of the separate grad student readings at Casa Libre and it seems like those are really fun and intimate.

As far as Tucson goes, the biggest downside for me is just the heat. It's oppressive. It's nice here in the winter, great in the spring, but summer is definitely the longest season. Also, unless you live right on campus, (or you really love biking, even in 115 degree weather), you probably want to drive. The bus system is crap. You can make it if you live on a bus route that heads straight to campus without transfers, but it's confusing and it's a pain.

There's some fun stuff to do around town. We have The Loft, a little indie/arthouse cinema, and they always have all kinds of crazy/interesting things going on. There's definitely stuff to do at night, a pretty good selection of restaurants and bars---but nothing like you'd get in a more metropolitan kind of city. Tucson kind of feels more like a really big town. 4th Ave, University Ave and a few places Downtown are the main areas for going out, all really close to the University. There's a drive-in movie theatre here too, De Anza's, which I love.

Honestly speaking, you want to live as close to campus as you can. It's not hard to find a relatively affordable place, especially if you're sharing.

Campus feels homey. There are olive trees and palm trees all over the place. You'll probably spend most of your time in the Modern Languages building, which is close to the Student Union (the food court is there, unfortunately we don't have a traditional dining hall) and the library. I have to say that I don't understand why there are metal benches all over campus---you definitely don't want to get anywhere near those in the summer.

Campus' centerpiece is this long stretch of "grass" (it's usually dead) called the Mall. Again, this is a shadeless alley of burning death when it's hot out. Also, crazy preachers come to visit sometimes.

If you love the desert, you'll love Tucson. (I kind of don't love the desert. I grew up in Arizona and all I want is greenery.) We're surrounded by mountains and you don't have to drive far at all to get to "the desert"---saguaros and all. There's also Mt. Lemmon pretty close by, when you want to get out of the heat. The monsoons are always fun, when they come. Lots and lots of rain. Bisbee is a really fun daytrip. And of course we're not far from Mexico.

We're pretty short on museums for my taste, but we do have the Arizona State Museum, the Tucson Museum of Art, the UA Museum of Art and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The U of A is big in astronomy, and there's an observatory here. The Anthropology Department is also big, and there's a lot of archaeological stuff going on.

Well, that was incredibly long and I don't know how helpful it was. Let me know if there's anything specific you're wondering about.

Speeding Up

Holy macaroni, ask for a flood and you'll get it! Amherst and Michigan (I applied to both for fiction) notified today. Ahh well...

Iowa also notified at least one person (I didn't apply there).

The big excitement for me is that Minnesota notified more people today. I can't wait to bounce my brain off of other people's brains. Congratulations, MN folks!

Congrats to all acceptances, new and old---and hang in there, those of you who haven't heard yet. It's still crazy early in the game.

PS---Nothing in the mailbox today.

PPS---My cat threw up three times today, and not furballs. I'm kind of worried about him, and I have to admit that a part of me is also wondering if this is some kind of bad omen. Ridiculous.

No promising job leads posted on Craigslist today. Man, it's 5 pm and I haven't eaten yet. I'm going to go get in the shower, then I'm going to eat TWO packages of ramen, and some leftover chicken. And I'm going to watch The Office.

Update 11:30 pm: I think Boots is okay. (I didn't name him that, by the way. He's adopted, and I just couldn't bring myself to change his name. He's old.)

Gimme Information / Please Let Me Wait Your Tables, Please

Both UMass Amherst and U Florida notified poetry people today (well, at least one poet each). Cornell notified at least one fiction writer on Friday.

It's pretty exciting. Maybe this means the big rush is coming soon soon soon? Every morning (well, afternoon) I wake up thinking This is going to be the day. Everyone is going to notify everyone today. I'm always wrong. It's so disappointing to find my mailbox full of magazines and tax forms and my inbox full of junk. Maybe there is no big rush. Maybe it's just going to be this grating little trickle, forever and ever. I'm so impatient, ugh.

Meanwhile, I'm still anxiously waiting for my official letter from Minnesota. (Their website says their notification letters will go out in February. So I'm thinking we'll start hearing about more notifications any minute now.) They're having a prospectives weekend in late March, and I really want the info about that.

Meanwhile meanwhile, I'm sooooo BROKE. I'm running out of room on my credit cards---funny how it doesn't sound so bad when I put it that way. Like I'm just storing stuff on them, instead of burying myself in debt. Lucky for me, I really like ramen. Creamy chicken with a few dashes of a chili flavor packet thrown in. Yum.

I still can't find a job. I've actually thought about standing around downtown with a sandwich board announcing my resume, like that guy in New York did. Maybe I should just have a t-shirt made.

I've begun scouring the internet for telecommuting jobs. I always thought of those as kind of fake, but some of them have to be real (?) I found something called Amazon Mechanical Turk, "Artificial Artifical Intelligence." Apparently it's supposed to allow companies to pay people to do weird little online tasks that "people do better than computers." I looked it up on Wikipedia, and apparently some people have likened it to a "digital sweatshop" of sorts.

Kind of bizarre, kind of sad, kind of insulting? Yes. Will I try it? Yes!


Update: It's mostly a bunch of crap. Now I'm sorting through, which a kind fellow applicant over at the MFA Blog pointed out.

Details, Details

I have to give a presentation on "authenticating details" today. It's an assignment for my community college fiction workshop. It's just beginner's stuff, because it's really an introductory level class. But it's keeping me honest, and I have plenty to learn. Plus, this kind of thing is probably good practice, considering I'll be teaching sometime soonish! I can hardly believe it, me---teaching. Exciting and strange.

This is from the handout I made (I have a partner, but I'm only including the parts I prepared):


Authenticating details are details that reveal something particular about who a character is—something about their personality, background, situation, emotional state etc. When these kinds of revealing details are specific and unique, they work to make us believe the character—they authenticate the character for the reader.

Sometimes, authenticating details are called significant details. This is from pages 26-29 of Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, by Janet Burroway and Elizabeth Stuckey-French:

Specific, definite, concrete, particular details—these are the life of fiction. Details (as every good liar knows) are the stuff of persuasiveness. (26)

A detail is “definite” and “concrete” when it appeals to the senses. It should be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, or touched. (26)

The [...] writer must deal in sense detail [and] these details must be details “that matter. [You must] mean more than you say. (27)

A detail is concrete if it appeals to one of the five senses; it is significant if it also conveys an idea or a judgment or both. The windowsill was green is concrete, because we can see it. The windowsill was shedding flakes of fungus-green paint is concrete and also significant because it conveys an idea that the paint is old and suggests the judgment that the color is ugly. The second version can also be seen more vividly. (27)

[...] if you are to realize your characters through detail, you must be careful to select the details that convey the characteristics essential to our understanding. You must select the significant. (29)

No amount of concrete detail will move us [...] unless it also implicitly suggests meaning and value. (29)

Writing Fiction also points out that “active verbs [...] tend to call forth significant details” (34). Here is a comparison from the book:

A general verb creates a general impression, but a precise, active verb conveys the exact picture in the reader’s mind. For example:

General Specific

walk------ Does the waiter scurry or amble?
yell------- Does the coach demand or bellow?
swim----- Does the child splash or glide?
climb----- Does the hiker stumble up the hill or stride?

Exercises, from page 203 of John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers:

Describe a landscape as seen by an old woman whose disgusting and detestable old husband has just died. Do not mention the husband or death.

Describe a lake as seen by a young man who has just committed murder. Do not mention the murder.

Describe a building as seen by a man whose son has just been killed in a war. Do not mention the son, war, death, or the old man doing the seeing; then describe the same building, in the same weather and at the same time of day, as seen by a happy lover. Do not mention love or the loved one.


We also have a few examples, and our own little exercise, involving
this picture from Found Magazine.

On Potlucks and Scientists

I went to a potluck run by scientists, a couple of weeks ago. It was a Chinese New Year celebration, and I had a good time. I tried this incredibly strong rice wine or liquor---I took one shot and spent the rest of the evening making strange little wheezing noises. I tried some warm pinkish-purple rice wine, and that had a much less violent effect on my esophagus. But it was still pretty damned strong.

I went with H. (a friend of mine) and her boyfriend. They're both scientists-in-training, as were most of the rest of the guests. The thing is, I felt strangely embarrassed when people introduced themselves to me. (I'm a biochem grad student, I'm a doctoral student in in evolutionary biology.) Not only did I have to admit that I just finished my BA, but I had to explain that I'm planning to start a creative writing MFA program in the fall.

Now, in most situations I'm not even a little bit embarrassed by my decision to pursue an MFA. I'm proud of it, really---I know it's what I want. But in this party full of scientists, I found myself feeling small and somehow silly.

Probably it was just me---my own inner demons having a laugh at my expense. Nobody said anything to make me feel that way. These were perfectly nice, interesting people. But I kept convincing myself that, given the context, MFA was a rather embarrassing word.

I guess I'm more used to mingling with humanities/arts/language types like myself. I did study cultural anthropology, too---but that's a much softer, social kind of science. I admire the hard sciences, and I admire hard scientists. I mean, I took a couple of human evolution classes. Maybe it's just that I'd never felt so conspicuously impractical before.

I wanted to stand on the coffee table and yell out: You don't understand! These are serious programs! Some of them have freaking two percent acceptance rates. Two percent, you fools! Writing is serious----Mwahahahaha!

Luckily, one shot and a half glass of rice wine isn't enough to cause paranoid ranting in strangers' living rooms.

Oh, and I made rosemary roasted red potatoes. I was short on time.

LEAVING ATLANTA, by Tayari Jones

* Watch out for spoilers! *

I definitely don't want to ruin this book for anyone---I'm only about halfway through it myself. I'll try not to give away any major plot points, but if you're like me and you like to come to a book with a clean slate when you can, you might want to skip this post.

Tayari Jones (I encourage you to check out her blog) is on the fiction faculty at the Rutgers-Newark MFA program. Here's a description of Leaving Atlanta, her first novel, from the Rutgers website:

Her first novel, Leaving Atlanta, is a coming of age story set during the city’s infamous child murders of 1979-81. Jones herself was in the fifth grade when thirty African American children were murdered from the neighborhoods near her home and school. When asked why she chose this subject matter for her first novel, she says, “This novel is my way of documenting a particular moment in history. It is a love letter to my generation and also an effort to remember my own childhood. To remind myself and my readers what it was like to been eleven and at the mercy of the world. And despite the obvious darkness of the time period, I also wanted to remember all that is sweet about girlhood, to recall all the moments that make a person smile and feel optimistic.”

Leaving Atlanta received many awards and accolades including the Hurston/Wright Award for Debut Fiction. It was named “Novel of the Year” by Atlanta Magazine, “Best Southern Novel of the Year,” by Creative Loafing Atlanta. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Washington Post both listed it as one of the best of 2002.

I'm on page 131 right now, and so far it's a moving and engaging read. The book has a couple of interesting little quirks that I've been thinking about.

The first is that she places herself (or at least a little girl with her name) in the story, as a peripheral character. It makes sense, because the book is set in a time and place that she experienced. At the same time, it's quirky, because it seems like the more common thing is for the author to just write the POV character as a version of themselves without saying anything about it. Little Tayari pops up here and there, never having much serious interaction with the main characters, but kind of present throughout.

The POV character in the first section is LaTasha (Tasha) Baxter. At one point, Tasha is thinking about a party she didn't get invited to:

"Oh," Tasha said. She was glad that she hadn't been invited; her mother probably would have done the very same thing and Tasha would have ended up like Tayari, looking at her math book, trying not to cry. (69)

It has a certain effect, at least for me---every time Tayari-the-fifth-grader is mentioned, I find myself drawn out of the story for just a tiny moment. I think about Tayari Jones, the author. Thinking about her reminds me that even though this novel is fiction, it's about a situation that really did happen. I wonder if that's what she was trying to do?

* Warning, interesting craft choice "spoiled" here---I liked the surprise of it *

The second thing I wanted to mention has to do with point of view. The first section of the book is told from Tasha's POV, using a very close third person. Nothing unusual there, but we really get to know Tasha, and we get to feel invested in her character and her situation. That's why it was such a surprise to turn the page to the second section---all of a sudden, we're thrown into a second person POV.

The most interesting thing about the use of the second person here, I think, is the way that we already know this "you" character. We were introduced to him, Rodney Green, through Tasha's POV in the first section of the book. He's another fifth-grader in the same class.

I think we're all taught that the second person is difficult to maintain. I think it works here because Jones has already set this character up for us. He has a context in relation to the other children and in relation to the setting. He's not just some vague, unknown "you"---he's Rodney from before. It's less jolting to "be" him, because we already know something about who and where he is. For me, it didn't take long for the second person POV to become (for the most part) comfortably invisible.

Again, though---the second person draws attention to itself, and there are more of those tiny moments when I'm pulled out of the story by it. It makes me think, again, about how this is a kind of historical fiction. Intentional? I guess I think so.


Just one last note about the use of Little Tayari Jones---I love that she often seems to be doing particularly goofy kid things:

Why doesn't she just ask you how old you are and move on? Tayari Jones, two aisles over, is sniffing rubber cement and could use a little adult supervision. But Miss Russell squats beside you and leans forward as if your vocational leanings are of some consequence. (122)

It makes me laugh every time, and it makes me like the author for using "her" character that way.


Update 1/17---I finished the book. The third and final section is in the first person, from another child's POV.

It ended too soon (at the right time,

Short Story Contest (Rejections)

I'm taking a short story workshop at my local community college. Since I made the mistake of graduating from Local University in December (why, why, why?!) I have months and months to kill before starting an MFA this fall. I want to bring some new stories with me, and I want to make sure I stay in practice. Also, I'm switching my focus from creative nonfiction (undergrad) to fiction (grad), so a little part of me feels like I need to "catch up" somehow.

Our instructor handed out a flier about a local short story contest, which is apparently open only to students enrolled in least 3 credits at the college. So I'm thinking that the applicant pool can't be too very big. But get this---the prize is $1000. Can you say holy what-what?

I could really use that money. (See my mini-rant on unemployment, below). I have a story I'm thinking I might submit---it doesn't hurt to try, I guess. I already submitted it (rather foolishly) to a Glimmer Train "Family Matters" contest, One Story, and Alligator Juniper's national contest. I think I paid a total of $25 for the contest entries.

I was rejected, rejected, rejected. And no surprise, I understand why. It can definitely use more work, and quadrillions of "real" writers submit to those journals.

On the other hand, it was part of my MFA sample, and so far I know that it (and another story) got me into at least one wonderful program. And this contest has no entry fee.

So maybe I'll have a chance at this thing?

I Need a JOB

Every time I check the boards, and there are no new posts to read, part of me feels like screaming. I'll lose all respect for myself if I don't find a job soon. This just isn't healthy! I'm trying to quit smoking again, too. (Umm, gradually, but I'm down to no more than 2 or 3 a day). I have a BA and Wendy's won't hire me. None of this is helping. Must...stop hitting...refresh.

MFA Call Preparedness 101

So I made a crazy list of all the area codes from the programs I've applied to. When my first acceptance call came in, 10:30 am, I was sleeping. At first I just let it ring, but instead of leaving a message, whoever it was just called right back. So I'm thinking, Ugh, fine! I'll pick it up.

I didn't recognize the area code. Usually that means it's a telemarketer, telling me it's time to "renew" my car's factory warranty. I don't have a car---I don't even drive. So I probably sounded angry when I picked up and said hello.

When the voice on the phone said "This is #(%&^% from the University of Minnesota,"* I thought she was just going to tell me that they were missing some of my transcripts or something. When she went on to say something like "We'd be glad to have you," I almost hung up on her, I was so freaked out.

I sat up straight in bed. I was terrified. I was so worried that I was going to come across like a neanderthal on crack---I was sure that my sleepy voice couldn't be mixing well with the vast amounts of adrenaline now pumping my brain into a frenzy. I think I said "I can't believe it, I can't believe it" and "Thank you so much, thank you so much," and not much else. After saying some things I could hardly comprehend---my brain just kept replaying the part where she told me I got in---she asked if I had questions, and all I could think to say was "Um, I have to take this all in."

Thankfully, she emailed me a few days later to let me know that they'd be mailing me the official stuff. I emailed her back, asking for current student email addresses, and I think I managed to come across as a normal person.

The point being, if I'd had my list of area codes then, I might not have sputtered quite so much.

Actually, I'm sure it would have gone much the same way, but this little project kept my mind off of things for about ten minutes-ish.

Here are my area codes:

Rutgers-Newark (973)
U Florida (352)
U Minnesota (612)
U Michigan (734)
UMass Boston (617)
UMass Amherst (413)
Syracuse U (315)
UT/Michener (512)
Cornell (607)

PS---* I now know it was Julie Schumacher, and at the time I thought I heard her say Julie, but I wasn't sure. I was out of it. I'm almost finished with her story collection, An Explanation for Chaos, and I'm really loving it, especially "Dummies."

PPS---It turns out that she called right back because she couldn't understand the message on my voicemail. Stupid me, I didn't think to change it to a more professional (intelligible) message after I submitted my applications. Embarrassing! I've changed it now.

PPPS---I'm trying not to talk too much about Minnesota until all of the notifications have gone out. I posted about it early on, and I felt like a complete ass when I realized that all I had succeeded in doing was worrying my fellow applicants. I probably should have kept my mouth shut. Other people were posting, and I was so worked up and happy...But adding to people's stress was the absolute last thing I wanted to do. After all, I know exactly how it feels! The waiting, the anxiety, the hysteria.

When I realized what I'd caused, I basically tried to go incognito. I felt bad for upsetting people, and I felt like maybe the school would be mad at me for posting (some admits to other programs, like Alabama, apparently got mild talkings-to about posting.) I erased my "I'm in!" posts and decided to just quiet down and wait it out. I guess I've decided that that was a little bit silly, a little bit overboard. This process is driving me crazy.

So no more secret identities, but I'm trying not to talk about it too much until the school finishes notifying. Obviously, I'm not doing too very well at the keeping quiet thing, but I hope you'll forgive me. I figure I can celebrate about it on my own blog, at least. I'm excited. And I'm dying to talk about it with other acceptees---hurry up U of M!

My Dear S.

She got into the S. Mississippi PhD program in fiction. She found out the other day. I'm so proud of her! I know she'll have even more good news coming in soon.

Fiction Faculty Books/My Current Reading List

So I made this list a while back, of books from all the faculty authors at the programs I've applied to. It's definitely not exhaustive, and for the most part I tried to focus on short stories---it's a long list! Basically I just wanted to have something with me to take to the library, to make sure I could find at least one book by each author. I'm embarrassed to say this, but I just recently realized that the Michener Center does in fact have a permanent faculty (I think?). So there aren't any books from them yet.

Authors and programs are listed in pretty much random order here. I apologize for any mistakes.
s= short stories, ya= young adult, e= essays, c= craft


J. Robert Lennon
Pieces for the Left Hand (s)

Maureen McCoy
Walking After Midnight

Ernesto Quiñonez
Bodega Dreams
Chango’s Fire

Stephanie Vaughn
Sweet Talk (s)

Helena Maria Viramontes
The Moths (s)
Their Dogs Came with Them
Under the Feet of Jesus

Robert Morgan
Gap Creek: The Story of a Marriage
The Balm of Gilead Tree (s)


Tayari Jones
Leaving Atlanta
The Untelling

Alice Elliott Dark
In the Gloaming (s)
Naked to the Waist (s)

Jayne Anne Phillips (Director)
Black Tickets (s)
Fast Lanes (s)

Rigoberto Gonzalez (poetry)
Men without Bliss (s)


Charles Baxter
The Believers (s)
Burning Down the House (e)
The Feast of Love

M.J. Fitzgerald
The Placing of Kings

Julie Schumacher (Director)
An Explanation for Chaos (s)
The Body is Water
Black Box (ya)

David Treuer
The Translation of Dr. Apelles: A Love Story
The Hiawatha


Michael Byers
The Coast of Good Intentions (s)
Long for This World

Peter Ho Davies
The Ugliest House in the World (s)
Equal Love (s)
The Welsh Girl

Nicholas Delbanco
What Remains
The Writer’s Trade (s)
About My Table (s)
The Sincerest Form: Writing Fiction by Imitation (c)

Eileen Pollack (Director)
Paradise, New York


George Saunders
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (s)
In Persuasion Nation (s)
Pastoralia (s)
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

Arthur Flowers
De Mojo Blues: de quest of Highjohn de Conquer
Another Good Loving Blues
Cleveland Lee’s Beale Street Band
Mojo Rising: Confessions of a 21st Century Conjureman

Christopher Kennedy (Director, poetry)


Chris Bachelder
Bear v. Shark

Noy Holland
The Spectacle of the Body (s)

Sabina Murray
The Caprices (s)
A Carnivore’s Inquiry
Slow Burn


John Fulton
Retribution (s)
The Animal Girl (s)

Askold Melnyczuk
What is Told
Ambassador of the Dead
The House of Widows


Mary Robison
An Amateur’s Guide to the Night (s)
Why Did I Ever (s)
Believe Them (s)

Padgett Powell
Aliens of Affection (s)
Typical (s)

David Leavitt

Family Dancing (s)
A Place I’ve Never Been (s)
Arkansas (s)
The Marble Quilt (s)

Jill Ciment
Small Claims (s)
The Law of Falling Bodies

(Visiting Faculty?)

MFA Applications

I'm starting this blog pretty late in the season here, but I figure it's a time worth recording. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started all of this---it's an utterly life-consuming process!
My sleeping schedule is completely disjointed, and my MFA-related distraction is probably getting in the way of my (increasingly urgent) job hunting. I wake up thinking about faculties, and fall asleep comparing cities. In a way, it's kind of wonderful. In other ways, I probably need to snap out of it. Maybe writing this blog will help keep me a little bit more centered?

The MFA Blog (and Handbook), the P & W boards and TSE have been invaluable resources.

In no particular order, these are the nine schools I've applied to, for fiction:

U Minnesota
UMass Boston
UMass Amherst
U Michigan
U Florida
UT Austin/Michener Center

It seems like notification season is just about to begin in earnest.
If anyone else going through the same thing happens to stop by my humble little blog, I wish you good luck.