Since we've been living in Iowa City, which puts us at 3 1/2 years as of February 1st, I've been working from noon until 9pm, Sunday through Thursday, most of the time. The exceptions are school breaks and the occasional Friday to make up time.
With a Friday/Saturday weekend, my social life has been strange to say the least: people are rarely free on the workday of Friday, but I am never free for any of the fun things people want to do on a lazy Sunday. I've missed Easter dinners and Super Bowls, afternoons in the park and all sorts of other activities. Working until late has it's disadvantages too: never being able to make it to readings without taking vacation time (in 3.5 years in Iowa City, I've made it to Matt Hart, Forrest Gander, Johannes and Joyelle, Lyn Hejinian and Dean Young- that's all- It's Iowa City- we get amazing readings!)
One thing I have had though, is an advantage: considering everyone, including Jennifer, has been busy most Fridays, I have spent this time as wisely as possible. Yeah, sometimes I end up playing video games or watching TV. Sometimes I end up going to the mall and sometimes I can't tell where my Friday went!
Mostly though, Friday has been my Poetry Day: the day I sit down to read thoroughly, take notes, and catch up on my own writing ideas that I've been scribbling down all week. I read blogs all week, certainly, but it is on Friday that I try to really get into what has been going on in the online poetry community we seem to be a part of (as Johannes say, "glorified thing "The Blog Writer""). I take Friday as my day that I am not an employee, but someone whose primary interest in life is an art form and everything that goes on around it.
This has taken great dedication, especially considering that I took part in the International Writing Program's Translation Workshop on Friday afternoons for the last two Fall semesters. And by the end of those semesters, I felt like I was dragging and behind and unable to comprehend what had been going on while I had been in class. I wrote during odd hours, especially at work or late at night. I read poetry only when I needed to (like reading poets at schools I applied to). I kept up with blogs and blogging, but if you look back over my posts from the last 8 months or so, the frequency is inconsistent, to say the least.
To know now, that in some small way, this has paid off, I am happy:
Last Friday, I was called by one of the MFA programs I had applied to an offered admission for next Fall. After four years of applying, most of which was to the University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop, since they're in my back yard and all, it has been a truly gratifying experience to know that giving one solid day to my "hobby" was a good idea.
But it's not a hobby as much as it used to be. The idea that everyday can be this way to some extent (minus teaching or other work related to surviving through an MFA) is such a wonderful feeling, and maybe a bit scary too. That I have at least one place saying that my faith in myself as a poet and as a person whose intellectual curiousity has led to considering language and all its trappings as the basic underpinning of our relationships and culture as a whole has been such a fantastic feeling this last week.
I'm not done though: of the 13 schools I applied to, this has been the only one I have heard from so far. I am going to do my best to keep my head straight through this process and hopefully I'll be able to pick the right school for me at this point. This is assuming I have an option, but if I don't, I have nothing but positive feelings about my one acceptance and would be honored to matriculate there this Fall.
Poetry Day for me has been an escape to some extent, a double-life as someone who hasn't been doing what he's been wanting to do. Fridays are a way of pretending that I'm someone I am not, but hope to be. Fridays have been a way for me to distance myself from my forty hour week and keep myself from giving in to the feeling that I'd never get out of it. I had been desperate, certainly, to move on "career"-wise (assuming anything like that still exists for today's MFA graduate). But even getting into school is a wonderful step in the direction I want to go and it's a lovely feeling.
It occurred to me last night that what had been a "hobby" for the last decade of my life, minus a few stints in creative writing classes while at Georgia, is now a "job" of sorts. This is great news! While in Johannes and Brian Henry's classes, one in Spring of 04 and the other in Spring of 05, I thrived under the pressure of needing to have something to present on certain weeks. I recall especially while in Johannes' class that my output was quite high, though obviously not all of it was stellar. I'm really looking forward to having to write, as right now, it's something I do because I want to, so, Poetry Day or not, I have to make myself do it. External pressure will make this great.
For those keeping score, that's 1 acceptance, and 12 undecideds. I hope to hear something soon from the others.