Classes aside, I have to say that there were several things that surprised me this residency. Several of my fellow MFA-ers were absent at the residency and it doesn't look like they are going to be coming back. This is understandable because Solstice is a huge commitment and sometimes it's a matter of money, or timing, but in the case of one of the students it was apparently a falling out with the director. And that is surprising. I wish him the best, though, and I have faith that he will make a difference wherever he goes. Something else that was surprising was that I had a very good time in workshop with Sandra Scofield. And it was surprising that we didn't have to talk about that article that I hadn't wanted to read or talk about in the first place (less surprising and more of a relief to be honest). Another surprise was second person. That takes some explaining - but just know that it can be much more exciting than people give it credit for.
Graduation went off without a hitch, too! For all the stressing and worrying over it that I did, it really came together and looked elegant and simple and didn't detract from the graduates or the overall relaxed feel of the after party. In fact it was kind of perfect and that was a great surprise because I had nightmares over that shit! Another surprise was getting to spend some time with J (an amazing writer who helped me embrace second person!), someone whom I didn't get to spend much time with before. I had such a fun time talking to her about shared Catholic upbringing and all the brainwashing and guilt that went along with it. Then we got to talking about Buddhism and at the end of our conversation (this was a completely sober conversation by the way) I realized, much to my surprise, that I needed Sandra as my mentor. And I'm working on Death Man as my Creative Thesis instead of Summer of August Hunt. Hence the 'WTF' in the title of this blog. I never thought I would have put Sandra as my first choice (I did put her as second choice my first semester) but after less than a week of being her mentee, I'm so incredibly glad that I did. Surprise, surprise.
Another surprise that wasn't exactly unexpected, was that Yoda finally passed away. He was Hannah's soulmate and familiar for fifteen years. He was my good friend and companion for the last six. She took him in to be put to sleep while I was in Boston. It was the night of the final graduate readings and I was sitting with J.C. and Mar when I got the text. Yoda's gone. And I broke down in a way I honestly hadn't expected I would. I'd already had a good sobfest over him before I left, when he was still alive and I could hold him and cry on him and tell him I loved him. But when I got that text I just lost it.
I feel a bit spoiled in a way because poor Hannah was in Idaho and while she did have my family and a few good friends around her, I had the entire Solstice family around me and I was very touched by how caring these writers could be and how sensitive they were, never giving off the 'oh, it's just an animal' vibe. They understood and took me under their wings and I wish Hannah could have felt the hands on healing of such a community. As it was she kept in most of her grief until I got home. And I'm glad I'm here now to help.
And last surprise: we got a new kitten. Not to replace Yoda by any means because you can't replace the great Jedi Master no matter how hard you try, but the kitten has helped to distract us from our emotional pain by causing physical pain with her delightfully razor sharp claws. She is a pure delight and fits in perfectly. She farts quite often, yet another sign of her belonging with Hannah and myself. And right now, even as I type, she's curled up next to Hannah on the bed, passed out after a crazy run through the house including attacking of my feet, chewing of pencils, stealing my coffee, and knocking over everything I needed to work on homework for the night. She's precious. Her name is Narcissa. Hannah spells it with only one 's' but I can't help myself. I need the double 's' in there. Also my parents have taken to calling her frog - or at least using frog as a verb for her every movement (she's frogging over there, she's frogging on your shoes, etc.). Again, she's pretty much perfect for us right now, kitty farts and all. Which is a pleasant surprise indeed.