Happy Poetry Friday! Today's poem is about making a decision and so is your poetry writing prompt, below.
So we've been discussing going for an MFA. Mary Ann posted that it was the best two years of her life. Carmela posted that one of the biggest pros was that it definitely made her a better writer and forced her to make writing a priority.
So...should I go for an MFA or shouldn't I?
When I was seriously looking into applying to one of the low-residency MFA programs, our only child was a sophomore in college.
I was worried, mostly because I'm a sloooow reader and didn't know if I could keep up with the evil and overwhelming reading assignments I'd heard about. And worried because I finally had the quiet time I'd craved for years. Was I crazy? Was I rushing to fill up the space before I'd even wallowed in it for a bit?
Was I was just raising my hand, signing up, because I had no other plan? Did I need to sit in the hallway surrounded by closed doors a little longer and wait to see which one opened on its own?
I decided to go for it. (Well, 89% of me did.) Now it was just a matter of deciding where I would apply. I asked lots of MFA grads. I got lots of advice.
Meanwhile, it was a gentle, blossoming time in our lives. My son, who had been nearly absent from the family, hanging out with a girlfriend since he was 14, was suddenly single and actually calling and texting us.
We were making up for lost time. It was delicious. It was thirst-quenching. My mother roots were taking in all the rain they could soak up for as long as it lasted.
Even when my husband could not come with me because of work demands, I would use our frequent flyer miles to fly up to Berkeley now and then, if only to sit in on one of my son's cognitive science classes, share a pizza with him and his friends at the Cheeseboard Collective, and fly home.
I knew that if I added an MFA program, this extra layer, to my life, it would be, well, an extra layer. How would I balance my aging mother who lives alone, my aging uncle in a senior residence who needs my attention more and more, my writing career, my political activism, and, oh yes, family and marriage?
My stomach hurt thinking about it.
Here's what turned me around. My friend Julie. She knows me. This is what she said:
Oh, April. Don't do it now. Not now when you finally have such a warm connection with your boy. You'll have time later, Dear. Do it when he's in medical school, when he's in residency, when he's married. Do it then. Enjoy him now.
Hmmm. MFA. Family. MFA. Family.
For some, it's not this simple. It's not either-or. But for me, it suddenly it was that simple.
Two years later, I have my golden boy, my best friend husband, my teaching gig, several new manuscripts and no regrets.
Okay, look—it's not all tied up in a bow. I've had lots of rejections. I have self-doubt. but I have the morning glories in my garden and space to breathe.
Writing Workout: Decisions, Decisions.
There are thirty inspiring ideas about how to make a decision on this blog post. Choose one as a jumping off point for your poem.
(Of course, you'll have to decide which of the thirty to use, won't you?)
I chose this one:
Imagine having made the decision. If you get a feeling of relief, that’s the way to go, even if it’s coupled with sadness. -Emma Gilding
MAKING A DECISION
MAKING THE BED
by April Halprin Wayland
Pull off the sheets
slip pillows out
pile in machine
then shut the door
hear it click shut
pour in the soap
hit button hard
watch the sheets whirl
sheets swirl in soap
just like my thoughts
round they go round
now they are warm
now they are dry
now they are clean
spread them out wide
pull them on tight
now I lie down
how do I feel?
Fresh. Clean. Relieved.
poem © 2012 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved
Thank you, Diane, for hosting Poetry Friday
at Random Noodling today!
at Random Noodling today!