Monday, September 21, 2015


"Society needs both parents and nonparents, both the work party and the home party. While raising children is the most important work most people will do, not everyone is cut out for parenthood. And, as many a childless teacher has proved, raising kids is not the only important contribution a person can make to their future."
View of NOLA from Hotel
-Virginia Postrel

Lupe and I recently spent a rather fabulous and relaxing weekend in New Orleans attending the American Literature Association Symposium.  We went because Lupe was on a panel sharing the research and poetry he's done on the Huelga Schools of the 1960s-70s in Houston. We spent time mixing and mingling with other academics talking about the state of literature and the arts in our schools and in our cities. 

We were all in agreement that there was still not enough minority representation in our schools or in our arts communities (especially in Houston). We brainstormed ideas for what could be done while we drank wine and spirits and listened to jazz. It was all very Harlem Renaissance(y). I left NOLA feeling renewed, refreshed and re-inspired. It didn't hurt that NOLA is a very beautiful city, rich with culture, great architecture and AMAZING food. (Lupe and I even said it was one of the few places we could see ourselves moving to sometime in the distant fantastical future) 

It struck me how passionate all these individuals were about their chosen topics of study. I remembered being that way once and I suddenly longed for it. 

The Awesome Peeps of the conference
I have been toying with the idea of pursuing an MFA in creative writing or a PhD. in something for awhile. (A couple of years actually) But the thought of returning to school, paying out of pocket or going into debt always seemed to hold me back. Truth be told, I just couldn't figure out what I could spend 2-4 years studying without getting bored or going crazy. 

Afro-Latin Studies?
Women's Issues?
Creative Non Fiction and Memoir?

I wanted to do it ALL! And yet, I kept coming back to my failing health. How could I possibly commit to something when my body and my health were so unpredictable? I couldn't possibly start a degree program and then miss class all the time, or have to decide do I pay tuition or do I pay for my pills this month? It all seemed so overwhelming that every time the thought entered my mind I quickly pushed it out. 

But something changed that weekend in New Orleans. It finally felt possible. I saw individuals who were married, with kids, without kids, young, old, from here and from all over the world pursuing degrees and teaching subjects at the university level that they loved and were excited about. I realized that that could be ME. Truthfully, it's what I've always wanted since I started on this path known as "what I want to be when I grow up." Perhaps all these trials and tribulations were the kick in the pants I needed to get me back on track. 

So, as soon as we got back from our trip I did what I do best and I started to research low-residency MFA programs. Mind you, I considered several times over what I wanted to go back to school for and decided on a creative writing program because I didn't want to spend all my time reading and analyzing other people's work, I wanted to create my own. I knew I wouldn't be happy just writing research papers for 4 years. I wanted and needed the incentive and motivation to work on my own writing projects and an MFA was the only place I could do that. Plus, an MFA is a terminal degree and takes half as much time as a PhD in anything else. (Practicality always wins)

I found 5 schools that I really liked and that seemed to fit my philosophy as a writer. They have diverse teaching staffs and offer classes and mentorships that sound like a good fit for me. I have one that is at the top of my list and I'm speaking with the director of the program to learn more tomorrow- wish me luck! (Once I get accepted into a school, I'll share more details) While the thought of paying for this THIRD degree is still a bit scary and uncertain for me, every time the doubt and fear creeps in I simply say "I'll figure it out." I shrug it off and decide to keep pushing forward with my applications, recommendation letters, writing samples etc. If there is one life lesson my dad taught me that I always carry with me it's that "no one can take your education away from you, once you have it, it's yours forever." 

But of course, because I can never seem to get out of my own head, the other day while staring at cute baby pics of my wonderful niece, I thought to myself: why is it so easy for me to shrug off having to pay $30k for another degree but when asked to consider to pay just as much for IVF as an option for conceiving a child I simply "cannot"? 

Isn't having a child just as much a dream of mine as this MFA or publishing another book?
Won't the joy of having a child surpass any joy I get from earning this degree or finishing my second manuscript?
Aren't children most people's "greatest" accomplishment in life?
Can you really put a price tag on the miracle of life?

Truth is, I don't know that I have a really good answer to any of the questions that ran through my mind. What I do know is the following: (this may upset some of you parent folk...this is just MY opinion)

1. I cannot (and will not) fail at my MFA degree. With IVF there is NO gaurantee. It might work, it might not. - Talk about money not well spent.
2. An MFA is an investment. It could lead to a book contract, a teaching gig, a non-profit job etc. My child will be an expenditure (even AFTER IVF, do you know how much it costs to raise a child for 18 years, not to mention paying for THEIR college?!) 
3. Children can and will disappoint you. As long as I continue producing work and writing, I will not be disappointed. 
4. My life should not be measured by what my ovaries and uterus are or are not capable of doing. 

Those of you who know me and keep up with my blog know how desperately I have tried and longed for a child. The longing is there. My desire to be a mother is just as strong as ever, but my willingness to PAY for it to happen is not.  I have a clearly defined budget for how much I am willing to pay for fertility treatments and I promise you it does not even come close to the 30,000 range. 

I want a family just as bad as the next girl, but if the universe has other plans for my body, then so be it. It's either going to happen naturally with as little intervention as possible or it's not. I have too much to offer this world to agonize over parts of me that I cannot control. Do I want to give Lupe a child- more than anything on this Earth. But he and I both understand that my body may not be able to make that happen for us and so, we will cross that barren bridge when we get there. 

School is the one thing I have always been good at. I used to joke that if I could be a professional student for life, I would. (I am truly my father's daughter- he's currently in his first year of med school at the age of 63- GO DAD!) Of course, everyone has to earn a living, so full time professional student isn't exactly an option for me, but perhaps going back to school will provide me with the inner peace and joy that I have so desperately been searching for and missing these last few years. 

There is still hope, I am only 30 and I'm getting healthier every day. We will still try for a family and we will still hope for the best. But until then (and maybe we'll get our "oops" one of these days), I will read books, write poems, teach other people's kids, inspire young minds, and continue baking real buns in real ovens. 

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