Erin's Everyday Thoughts

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Progress, Part II

This week has also been productive on the graduate school front. Last week, I received a required and a recommended reading list for the program. The required list includes 120 books, and the recommended 100+. Along with the list of books came my first assignment. By the time I go to my first residency in January, I need to read 40 required books and write an annotated bibliography. This basically means I write the author, title, etc., and then a paragraph discussing elements of style or story that I find interesting in each book.

I made a trip to the library on Monday and picked up nearly 20 books from the required list. These were mostly picture books, with a few middle grade novels.

Thus far, I’ve read the following:

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Miss Nelson is Missing! By Harry Allard
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith

Several of these are classics that I had never read. It was a joy to read them now. I hadn’t realized that Babe was a book before it was a movie, so it was interesting to see the differences between the two!

It’s a challenge to read these books with a writer’s eye and take the time to really consider the style and story, what works and why it works. Some months ago, when I was thinking about school but not sure about it, I started to read some children’s books, but my method of selection was more haphazard. I just picked up things that looked interesting or by authors that I already admired. Having a comprehensive list of 120 must reads for an aspiring children’s novelist is a fabulous thing. I look forward to reading each and every one!

Progress, Part I

During a highly productive trip to my hometown last weekend, Mike & I made a number of wedding decisions. (The plan is to have the wedding in my hometown, where my parents still live.) We now have a date (October 11, 2008), a church, a reception hall, and a caterer. I did not expect to have all of these things already, but it is a pleasant surprise to have so many big details ironed out!

I was especially happy with the reception hall. Mike & I looked at 4 halls on Sunday. The first was okay, the second was not great, and then the third … well, as soon as we walked into it, we both knew that’s where we wanted to spend our wedding day! We almost didn’t bother to go to the fourth. (We did go there, but it only helped confirm that we liked the third place the best!) I was so happy not only to find a hall, but also to find one that we both liked so much.

We’re on our way, and I couldn’t be happier!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Best Donuts … Ever

My fella, Mike, and I love to eat donuts. Mike isn’t a big breakfast guy—doesn’t like eggs, could take or leave pancakes—but he does like a well-made donut. (And I love ALL breakfast food, except grits.) About three years ago, we discovered Bonnie Lynn Bakery, a small shop that sells pastries, cakes, and the best donuts we’ve found in the Cincinnati area. We were hooked! Since that first bite of glazed goodness, we’ve made it to Bonnie Lynn Sunday morning after Sunday morning.

We have songs about Bonnie Lynn and donuts that we sometimes sing before we go. When we’re there, we have a routine. Grab two milks—a small for me, a large for him. Go to the counter. Choose two donuts each. Sit at one of the little Bonnie Lynn tables. Eat. Drink. Talk. Relax.

It’s always a delightful time, but this past Sunday, we had the BEST DONUTS EVER!

It was a normal morning. We went to the bakery, chose our milk and donuts, sat at the table. But then Mike started acting a little strange. He seemed vaguely uncomfortable. He didn’t open his milk or set out napkins for us to set our donuts on like he usually does. And then he started speaking in a very serious tone, talking about us. Before I knew what was happening, there was a ring! And then a proposal!

I was so surprised! I cried. I accepted!

Some of the details are a little blurry for both of us. I think I blubbered. He thinks he bumbled. I know that I couldn’t eat my donuts for like 15 minutes. This is the first time in my life that there has been a full tray of donuts and I have been so excited that I was unable to partake. That must mean something good. :)

Friday, October 05, 2007

A New Chapter (Pun Intended)

A number of things have been happening in my life. These are good things, things about which I’m excited. I’m always amazed, however, by how much stress can come with change—-either good change or bad. I think most people (myself included) think about stress as something that comes up in a negative situation—-when you have too much to do, when you’re worried about something, etc. Stress also comes with excitement, or at least it does for me!

I am thrilled to say that I have been accepted into graduate school (a master of fine arts program in writing for kids), and I’m set to start the program in January. This is something I’ve thought about doing for a long time, and finally decided to bite the bullet and apply this summer, not knowing if I’d be able to get in. Now that I have, I am excited and nervous. There is much to do to prepare, and I’m having trouble sitting still long enough to do any of it!

My goal over the next few weeks is to take the time to organize all of the stuff around me—-at home, at work. The act of cleaning and organizing helps to calm me. (Organizing the outside somehow gets through to the inside.) Hopefully then I’ll feel a bit more calm and settled. But I don’t want to feel too calm and settled. This is, after all, a time for good change.

On the day I received my letter of acceptance to grad school, I woke up feeling oddly distant from the world and yet focused. As I drove to work in the morning, I thought, Now is the time to take a chance. Now is the time to do something different. I’m 28, and there is more to me than what I’m doing right now. I’m 28, and that is a great time to be bold. Things happen in order because when I checked my mailbox that evening, the large envelope was waiting for me. And I knew it was time to take a chance.