The MFA: I’m running like our cat

We have a sweet and wonderful cat, a stray who lived near my old writing studio. I gathered her up one chilly November day several years ago  — she was sweet and affectionate even when she was skinny and shivering — and brought her home to join the chaos. She has a loud purr and will nip your calves when her dish has been too empty for too long. And she loves to sit in and on suitcases. Packing for a trip? Plan an extra ten minutes to vacuum the fur off the bag. Returning from a trip? If you don’t close the suitcase after emptying it, she will sleep in it all day long.

And this cat loves to snuggle up next to my husband when we do our daily meditation sit. Ok, it’s not every day, but we try. The 17 y.o. sits in the big yellow chair, the 14 y.o. & I settle on the couch and hubby sits on a zabuton cushion and the cat, no matter where she is in the house, curls up next to him. She purrs and purrs and purrs and purrs.

Meditating kitty.

Meditating kitty. And hubby.

But last night there was an open suitcase in the foyer. She had leapt into it, settled and purred and fallen asleep. Well, we said, no cat on the zabuton tonight. We all sat down and we set the timer and … there was a gentle kerthump as the cat jumped from the suitcase and then ran — sprinted — to sit with my husband. Seriously.

Please indulge me as I now sally forth into extended-metaphor-land.  In this metaphor, I am the cat, my life is the suitcase and the snuggling-while-meditating is my writing. I like my life. It has comfy places to sit and I like to sit and write. And when the Warren Wilson low-residency MFA program offered me a place in their program I of course happily accepted.

And here’s what surprised me: I had no idea I would want to sprint to an MFA program. I love writing and my application obviously was an indicator that I’d want to enter the program. But when I began listening to some of Warren Wilson’s downloadable craft lectures, I shifted from “this will be good,” to “this is what I have wanted to do and didn’t even know it holy cow I can’t wait!” An entire hour of lecture about the semicolon! An hour and a half on internal versus external turning points in fiction and poetry! When I described the bliss I experienced while listening to these lectures, the 14 y.o. said, “You’re kidding, right?” and I squealed, “No! No! I am not kidding. I get to study this stuff for TWO WHOLE YEARS!” He was aghast. I was giddy.

It’s a bit weird that our cat runs to sit with us during meditation. Loving to think about and talk about semicolons is a bit weird. (OK, maybe a lot weird.) But I am looking forward, with an almost animalistic delight, to immersion in this new-to-me writing community. Long live the weird!

May you find and run to your (little bit weird) delight today, too.

8 responses to “The MFA: I’m running like our cat

  1. Love this!! Love this!!

    I’m just overcome with celebratory emotions!!!

    R

    Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse brevity and typos.

    >

  2. What good news! Keep running and many happy suitcase landings.
    p.s. Cats are experts at meditation. Virginia’s teaching you as only a cat can. She’s pleased you’re an attuned student. 😽

  3. Delightful. And a great analogy. Sitting for practice. And that’s what we do each day, practice and practice and practice. I encourage students to remove “try” from their vocabulary and replace it with “practice.” Sometimes we are successful in what we practice and sometimes less, but practice eventually pays off in one way or another.

    So happy about your new MFA program! It sounds fabulous!

    • Thanks for this, Janet. Have you read “A Short History of Myth” by Karen Armstrong? I just finished it and thought of you …

  4. Whatever makes you purr! If you show up at the writers’ club meeting with a semicolon tattoo, that’s a little hinkey. I heard somewhere that the semicolon is now being appropriated as a symbol of mental disorders–seriously, google it!
    Luv ya, JohnO

    • If I were a tattoo-type person, I would definitely go with some obscure typographical image. Not to say a typo tattoo …

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