Call me cynical, suspicious or accuse me of low self-esteem and you’d be correct—however, when things in my life start to go “too” right, I start to worry. Which is hilarious considering the fact that I am already in a constant state of tangible anxiety. It beads on my skin like sweat in this dreadful summer heat.
As of right now, at the end of my Spring Semester, I am very suspicious indeed. I am not a person who gives credit to a higher power or fate, no deity or force, benevolent or otherwise. I trust in that saying: “Sometimes bad shit happens to you because you were stupid, not because you deserved it.” I’ve done my fair share of stupid and am still paying for it. (Did I mention low self-esteem? I know it is an unattractive trait, like my disdain for most human beings.)
Where do I begin with the intense good fortune that has thrown itself at my feet? Last Tuesday was the Trestle Creek Review launch and you can read my blog about that here. That Thursday I received a phone call trying to schedule a Scholarship Interview for Monday and we turned in our final paper for our Death and Dying class. My classmate made some truly wonderful chocolate truffles out of Oreos and Heaven. Right after I started counting calories. I waited a few days before I ate them and they tasted wonderful. I also received news that I had gotten a Work Study Scholarship: meaning they’ll put money directly towards my school loans if I work for it. That helps cover about ¼ of my tuition for a semester, and any bit helps. Now I just need to find a job on campus that would qualify.
The following Friday was the Annual Award Ceremony presented by the English and Humanities Division and the English Club of North Idaho College. An Annual Award Ceremony in which I was invited to—as one of five nominees for the Lori Wallin Award for Outstanding Creative Writing. None of the participants knew who won, it was to be announced at the ceremony itself. Well, you know I never need an excuse to dress up, and so Mason and I did. He wore his black shirt and slacks, with a sharp white bow-tie (because bow-ties are cool) and his black and white Star Wars Vans. I wore a black and white skeleton dress (a gift I bought myself with birthday money from my mom a few years back). There was no award for “Best Dressed” but if there had been, we’d have won it, damn it.
We arrived at the Spirit Art Gallery who graciously hosted us, hauling in bottles for a delicious punch (1 bottle Ginger Ale, 1 bottle Newman’s Own Limeade, 1 carton Dole Orange Peach Mango) and it wasn’t until the parking lot that I started to get nervous. I wore my medal from the SpoCon Writing Contest just in case I didn’t win—it was an inside joke with my fellow English Club members, but I ended up wearing it most of the event anyways.
I knew every one of the nominees in my category: I’d been a classmate with them either through Non-Fiction or Trestle Creek Review. I agreed that we were all worth nominating. I started to have my doubts. What author wants to believe they’ve won an award? If I believed I had won, didn’t that make me egotistic? No, I couldn’t assume anything, I could be allowed to remain hopeful, however. I am not a person in which great things happen to often. There is that low self-esteem again. Hush.
I flittered around, chattering nervously with my English teacher and soon-to-be-English-teacher, various members of the English Club and nominees. There were six categories (the Kay and Jo Ann Nelson Award for Outstanding First-Year Writer, the Fran Bahr Award for Outstanding First-Year Writer, the George Ives Award for Outstanding Second-Year Writer, the Lori Wallin Award for Outstanding Creative Writer, the Virginia Johnson Award for Outstanding Critical Writer and the North Idaho College Award for Overall Outstanding English Student). I’m proud to say I knew the runner ups and winners for two of the those titles.
Being nominated for any of these awards is an honor. I can’t run the math, but I believe the English teacher in charge of the event said last year they had around 3,000 students go through eligible English classes and nominated about 30; something like the top 1.5% of students. So even getting nominated by a faculty member, out of all those students, is an amazing feeling. I am thankful to my friends Holly Elliot, Nathan Hansen, Amber Hasz, Rich Jones and Elli Goldman Hilbert for sharing this experience to me (and the three dozen other names of students I had never met!).
To Holly: your truth about relationships cuts to the bone and I look forward to reading your work in whatever field you pursue. You’ll be the only Chemist-or-is-it-Astrophysics?-Poet that I’ll ever know, and I feel like a better person for being able to wave to you on the street. You’re weird and lovely and brave and it shows itself in your work.
To Nathan: we grew up in the same small town, and that connects us on that depressing level that only kids who “get out” know. The “K-through-12-in-one-building” girl will remember that, and it makes me appreciate the depth of your nature writing more. I may not fully understand it, and I don’t “do” the outdoors enough to verify your descriptions, but I recognize fine-tuned craft when I see it. I look forward to reading your future work.
To Amber: you are so incredibly brave and I’ve had the pleasure to call you classmate and friend. You handle your work with grace and honesty and that stirs something deep in whoever reads your work with an appreciative eye. I will never know the true depths of your battles, but you seem to me a fine mother, friend and writer. Let’s work on that revision sometime.
To Rich: I am sorry for the notes I wrote about your work, they were not meant for you to see, and as you can clearly see, I write for myself and myself is kind of an asshole. That being said—don’t give up just because some asshole says something caustic. You’ve got a vivid imagination, and some seriously hard circumstances in your life, and in my experience—those are the key components to awesome stories. Keep it up, man, and feel free to send me anything you ever want to talk about.
To Elli: Oh, Elli. You bitch, you won the North Idaho College Award for Overall Outstanding English Student, while managing to juggle your entire life, children, crazed Spanish teacher and who knows what—and you did it grace. Not the Flannery O’Connor kind, we don’t believe in that, but that kind of beautiful, sun-tossed hair, addictive laughter and a smile kind. The kind that gets shit done when everything else around you is exploding. Thank you for sharing a glimpse at your beautiful life—and now that you won Overall Outstanding English Student, maybe I (or any of these other fine students) have a chance at it next year!
It occurs to me even as I write this that most of these people may never see my accolades, and that’s really OK. I may babble it to them incoherently and shyly in the far future, but if it remains only to collect dust on my rarely-visited-blog, so be it.
So there was the Annual Award Ceremony; we had punch, exchanged smiles, awkward high-fives, a very excited chocolate Labrador puppy piddled on the floor of which I cleaned up while wearing 6” sparkling heels (don’t anyone ever tell you I don’t recall my Montana roots), I couldn’t stop shaking for hours afterwards. I forgot to eat. My attempt at being humble shattered the moment I knew I had won. Mason recorded a video of my future-English-teacher’s wonderful speech (and my not-so-wonderful-“I am obviously terrified to be up here” walk).
So that was Friday. Over the weekend my parents came for a visit and we drove around to Cheney, Washington and up the Palouse Highway into land that we could ever possibly afford. But it is always nice to look and imagine where we will eventually move together. I had Finals to study for—but I make a clear distinction between family time and school time, and promised myself that I would not shirk family time for the sake of school—so the whole of Saturday was consumed with family stuff, and that’s OK.
I worked on flash cards for my Biology final for a goodly portion of Sunday. Then Mason and I attended a meeting for a local Non Profit called SpoCon: Spokane’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention. I have an old and somewhat rocky history with them; I was secretary back in the 2010 years, but when I broke up with my boyfriend at the time (who was also a member of the convention committee), obviously I didn’t feel like I could do my work around him, and so they … uh, fired me? From a volunteer position? Or I resigned, I don’t remember. Long story short: I had avoided being included in the organization for years afterwards. Well, recently a few people left the organization that I didn’t like—and there were vacancies.
So we went to the meeting without any real expectations, and walked away as friends again—myself as Secretary and Mason as Volunteer Coordinator. There’s a lot of problems to be fixed, and the convention is in mid-August so we have our work cut out for us. But if there is one thing I can say accurately about Mason and I: we work together well. Meaning I can scream and yell, and he can take a hit, and keep on going. I have a bad temper, and I often yell when I am frustrated, which things like this organization make me yell a lot. I know that together we can help out a convention that I truly love and help it rise above the troubles of the past. It’s almost like a metaphor for my current life.
Monday brought with it my dreaded scholarship interview. Naturally, I felt as though I did awful. There’s that low self-esteem thing again. It was a small room with four alumni members, one of which reminded me a lot of my Grandpa Bob. I mumbled, attempted to sell my pursuit of Creative Writing as something worth their money, and hung my head as I left. I went back to working on SpoCon stuff with ferocity.
Tuesday brought about my Math Final and that one I really think I failed. Worst case scenario means I’d get a C in Math, and I can really, really live with that.
Then we’re faced front-and-center with Wednesday. It’s Mason’s birthday, and a day of my Biology Final. Sorry babe, but class has stolen my attention. I had a meeting with my English teacher and signed my paperwork for my “Advanced Fiction Workshop” Independent Study course for the Fall Semester (yay!), then went over to study my Biology flash cards. There I met up with a friend and as we were talking—I found out that there was a potential Work Study position in the office I happen to visit on campus nearly 5 days a week already. So I scrambled, got a cover letter and resume updated, threw in my transcript and a letter of recommendation, and presented it to the person in charge of hiring.
After my Biology Final. Which I think went—well. If I did as good as I hope, I might even be able to recover my grade to a B. A B in Biology. A science class. Holy hell. I did not believe that would be possible. (Or should I say “B possible”?)
I went back and turned in the paperwork for the Work Study and talked to another woman in the office for a few minutes—we discussed classes, my writing award, and eventually it dissolved into a conversation about Doctor Who and that really describes my relationship with the people in that specific office. I am comfortable, and that ain’t easy.
I got home from class and received a phone call; as usual, it went to voice mail because I don’t trust anyone. I returned the call was informed that I had been awarded a scholarship! I had worried a lot over the interview, I felt that my love of Creative Writing wasn’t appreciated, and I still can’t prove it based on the qualifications of the scholarship. It was a memorial scholarship created by the family of Hugh ‘Olin’ Smith, who became a student at North Idaho College in his 70s! He valued the concept of education staying within the community, and so my commitment to staying in the local area was what won me this wonderful scholarship. Between Hugh’s kindness and my Work Study Scholarship, I’ll have a portion of my education paid off while still in school. That’s some kind of beautiful right there.
It may have been Mason’s birthday today—but I, too, have plenty of reason to celebrate. My mother text me a picture of some chicken windchimes they bought for “the new house” because “we love you.” It is safe to say that I am one very happy, thankful college girl.
My Spring Semester is officially done! I received a phone call this morning that I was hired for the Work Study position so I have a job on campus in the Fall!