This past year, my day-to-day schedule went from a strict 8:30-5 to a ???? kind of world. I worked “all the time” on my graduate school applications, which was more like some TV, hours of guilt/shame, snack time, and then an hour of actual writing. While my productivity eventually improved, by December I was in a temp job cycle with no end in sight.

I spent this whole summer dreaming about what the MFA program would be like. I told myself, “You can do this ! You’re ready!” I thought about all of the people I’d met in my temp jobs and the CMU community who encouraged and believed in my dreams. How could I let them down?

With the first week of my teaching orientation done, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with all the things I need to balance. I know that like most new things, the first time through it the worst. From there it (should) get easier.

Here is a short list of things I’ve done in the past few days that I’ve never done before:
-Read the names of 25 students I’m in charge of teaching writing skills they will need for the rest of their life. (no pressure!)
-Wrote out paper assignments that have secondary agendas.
-Had the thought, “50 minutes is not enough time”
-Felt excitement about a class activity that would “show not tell” my students what they needed to learn
-Felt genuine joy over the number of google hits I got for “paragraph without punctuation”

Though sometimes it works against me, I am often so in my own head that I get lost in my own thought bubbles. Meeting my other MFA (and MA) cohort and hearing their worries echo my own has been such a relief. I recognize that my fears of failing, or at least being embarrassed, are very similar to where I was three years ago starting at CMU admissions. Give a lecture to 300 people without blushing the whole time? Making a phone call and not letting my voice slip into that high, nervous tone? If I could push through those barriers after fearing them for twenty years, surely I can teach English 101 while writing the best stories I’ve ever written. Right??

I have one more week of my teacher workshop, then August 26th classes begin–both the three I’m taking and the one I’m teaching. I’m still coming to terms with the idea of not actually “clocking out” each day. No more done at 5pm (or, in San Francisco Museum of Modern Art terms, 12:30am)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat some cookie dough and get back to work!

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