Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Updates from the Katie Sphere!

Oh man oh man oh man...
It's been awhile since my last update. Of course, semester busy-ness happened. Teaching. Conferences. Grading.
And uhhh... I turned 30.
And I ran a marathon.
And I applied to five different PhD programs.
And yet another health scare.
And Christmas.

And now here I am, on the other side of the madness, surviving and thriving and finally getting back into a writing routine. Fall was a good semester, I must admit. Here's a little run-down on what happened since I last left off:

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and eyeglassesSo, toward the end of August, just as the semester was firing up again, I got some wonderful news: I was awarded a writing residency! I was named the Langdon Review Writer in Residence, and I'll be completing my residency next August in SCOTLAND. That's right. SCOTLAND. I was so excited to get the news and I'm very excited to embark on this new adventure. It's right around the corner!

Then, in September, I had to head up to Granbury for their annual Langdon Review Weekend. I had such a marvelous time yet again, as per always. The organizers officially announced my residency, so that made the event all the more special. Of course, I read some poems there, too! Pictured left, Sandi Horton, the 2018 resident, and I enjoying the snazzy reception.

Later that month, I attended the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers (TACWT) conference in San Antonio. It was, indeed, another lovely event where I was able to connect and reconnect with poets and writers from around the state. I presented two panels -- one of my original poetry, and one on the importance of community in creative writing pedagogy. I was probably most honored by the fact that none other than 2012 Texas Poet Laureate Jan Seale was on my panel, and if you follow this blog, you know she's my hero :)
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Then, for the next few months, I settled into (some sort of) a routine of mad crazy teaching, grading, and craziness. I was teaching four classes with three different preps, so it got a bit hectic but in a good way. I was so fortunate this semester to have numerous poets visit my class from the community, including Edward Vidaurre, Celina Suarez, and Brenda Nettles Riojas, as pictured here!

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sunglasses, hat and closeupCome November, things were getting a little prickly. The semester was in full swing, my marathon training was in full swing, and I was losing my mind trying to navigate the labyrinth that is PhD application season. Ugh. Oh, and then I turned 30. I spent my birthday in full marathon training mode, knocking out an epic twenty miler with my dad. I think it was a fitting way to celebrate the life I've been living! I want to live with no regrets, I remember thinking to myself, and there is indeed no time like the present than to relentlessly pursue your goals. So relentlessly pursue I did! That particular training run taught me that, with preparation and determination, I am capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to. What a great lesson for a birthday, huh? Anywho, that evening, I went out for Mexican food with the family and devoured a tiramisu. Also, B bought me a cappucino machine and it's pretty much the best thing ever. So far, I like being thirty very much. I can't wait to see what this decade has in store for me!
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Anywho, the next big event, after my birthday, was an epic poetry reading. I called it Words and Brews, and it was organized by me and my Creative Writing I course. And no, "epic" is not an exaggeration of what happened. It was amazing. We had a full house. My students absolutely knocked it out of the park. I was so proud of them! It felt great to create this opportunity for my students and to usher them into the creative writing community here. I hope it was a night they'll always remember. I know it was for me!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standingJust a few short days after the big event, it was marathon time. The event was on a Wednesday and the run was on a Sunday, in San Antonio. So, talk about a busy week! B and I headed up on Saturday to get settled into the hotel. I'm not going to bore you with a mile by mile description of my run, but it did change my outlook on life and it showed me the immense power of the human spirit, of MY human spirit. It was rainy, cold, and such a challenge. But never, not even once, did I contemplate giving up. It just wasn't an option. And this relentless attitude is something I hope to apply to other facets of my life, like my education, my pursuit of professional success, and my writing. Heck, if I can do this, I can do anything, no? With the right people by my side, of course. This feat wouldn't have been possible without B's support and my dad's encouragement. Which, speaking of, here's me and my pops relishing some post-marathon good vibes together. And yes, my dad ran the marathon too! I know where I get my attitude from -- him. This was his third marathon. It was my first. We've vowed to run another when he turns 60.


Image may contain: 1 person, standingAfter the run, all I really had left to do was give some final exams and then, of course, begin the professorly marathon of grading papers. Which I did. Sore. And exhausted. I posted my grades with a triumphant sigh of relief, ready to put this legendary semester in the books! Afterwards, I invited to a sort of MFA alumni reunion and end-of-semester celebration at a local bar where we read poems with some current MFA students. It was nice to reconnect with the poets who helped me cut my teeth, so to speak! I read some new-ish work, stuff I'd written over the summer.

And then, my vacation began! Which is where I'm at now. Christmas came and went with cheer and baking. I had a bit of a health-thing happen, which I also will spare you the details of, but it's put a bit of a damper on the holiday. I had my follow-up check-up yesterday and doc says I'm doing good, so I'm doing good. I'll be meeting with another specialist next month just to make double sure all is well.

Since being on vacation, I've been refocusing on writing, which is something I've terribly neglected during the semester. I wasn't able to find a way to work it into my busy schedule, which is probably just another way of saying it wasn't my priority, sadly. PhD applications and work here. And running. But now, I'm running like a normal person again and I've submitted all of my apps so with this new found spare time, I'm writing. And submitting. And playing video games. And... learning how to run a press! Yes, that's right! I've found a wonderful mentor to help me learn the ropes, so to speak, and so I've been volunteering with his press to get a handle for this sort of thing. I'm not sure where this will lead me in the future, but it's something I've always been curious about and a little intimidated by, so why not spend a few months apprenticing (or, something like it).

Which brings me here! It was a great semester, though one I'm glad, too, is over. Now I'm looking to the new year, and soon, I'll be setting new goals and thinking about how I want to spend this precious time. I know, for sure, my priorities never change -- growth, health, and love.




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