In Between the Seasons

Hello, WordPress. It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? But I’m here now! And I’ve got some news.

First, in the last blog, I mentioned school was about to start back up – specifically teaching. And start up it did. I wasn’t nervous going into the first day, despite the anxiety dreams. But I wasn’t sure what to expect, either. I only had so much time to prepare myself for being a teacher. But prepared or not, Jan. 25 arrived and I had to do it. The result? Let’s just say it could’ve gone worse. I’d give myself a solid B on Day 1. The kids were mostly attentive and present, and I was mostly on top of things. But I definitely learned some things, things that I would do much differently given a round 2.

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This was me on my first day…

Next semester, I’m teaching the prerequisite course to the one I’m teaching now, so it’s an entirely new curriculum and lesson plan. I’m hoping it’ll be a refreshing start, and hopefully I’ll put to use what I’ve learned from this class into that one.

As for my other courses, just like last semester, I’m loving them. It’s more reading and writing and then talking about what we’re reading and writing. We get to go to events where authors I love and admire read and answer questions. We’re given the opportunity to interact with these authors, write up reviews or interviews, and then pitch them to actual publishers with the hopes of getting them published. My teachers are smart and creative and invested in our success. My cohort are amazing, amazing, amazing (yeah, amazing x3, that’s right). When I say I’ve “found my people,” imagine one of those cute little animal movies where the main character is an outcast and spends a long time trying to find their home/herd, and then finally at the end they find where they belong and the swelling music plays and everyone cries happy tears. No, I’m not being dramatic, my life is like a Disney movie, ok??? The end, happily ever after!

Ok, speaking of these interactions with authors, I’m about to brag. Because I can’t keep a lid on things, I’m sure many of you already know about my chance to interview author Kelly Link last month when she was visiting Columbia. It started with my Arts Criticism class, where I was given an assignment to conduct a Q&A with an artist of some kind – any kind, really. And the instructions were just that I had to do it by a certain deadline. Via email, phone, face-to-face, whatever I preferred. I knew Kelly Link was coming to an event at Columbia, and I asked if I could get some time with her to do my interview. A few hours after I asked, it was granted. It was a surprisingly easy process to get it locked down, one that reminded me how lucky I am to be in a position where such opportunities are given if only you ask for them. (Lesson: ask! The worst that can happen is someone will tell you ‘no.’)

Anyways, I had a lovely, lovely first-ever interview with the wonderfully quirky Kelly Link. And I knocked out two birds with one stone; the interview met the requirements for the assignment, but I also – and here’s the exciting part – got to publish it. That’s right, The Chicago Review of Books picked up the interview and have agreed to publish it on their site in the coming weeks of April. It’s incredibly exciting for me, as I’ve never been published before, and a byline is like: woah, I made it. I know there’s the saying that goes “If you write, you’re a writer,” but legit print is always welcome validation. I’ll post a link to the interview when it goes live. In the meantime, check out the site. (Not to be confused with Chicago Book Review, another great site, but not the one my interview is being published by.)

Not only is CHIRB publishing the interview, they’re also going to let me work with them for future projects. This means possible features, book reviews, event recaps, etc. AKA, more bylines: the stepping stones to success. I get paid in free books (and bylines of course), so it’s like volunteer work, but hey, a job is a job in this world.

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Chicago, as seen from Spiro’s balcony on an average day

In the outside world, Chicago has been moody lately. We had a string of days in early March where it was sunny and 70 … and then three days later it was back in the 40s, with wind chills and gray skies. Gather that up and repeat it now: yesterday it was in the high 60s, sunny, a bit of a chill, but overall really beautiful. It all makes sense now, though: yesterday was April Fools Day, and today it is 30 degrees and there’s a raging snow storm outside my window. Chicago played the biggest trick on all of us: the weather. I guess this is what we get for having a mild winter: a longer winter. All my southern friends and family, please don’t rub it in. I miss the sun enough as it is.

12495142_3365582418377_2465682461172691202_nAs for the future: I’m planning on staying in Chicago for the summer, but not before a (possible, hopeful) road trip with some friends down to Texas once the semester ends. I have also applied to multiple jobs/internships/freelance gigs in the city, because teachers don’t teach in the summer. Pro: vacation. Con: no money. We will see how things pan out. IMG_6594

In the meantime, I’m just writing, and reading, and eating my way through Chicago. Currently I’m working on an essay about the differences between Texas and Chicago, both from my own experience, and from a cultural aspect. Again for a class, but also for posterity and the possibility of publication (boom, alliteration achieved).