Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

My Kansas Bucket List

As my regular peeps will know, my husband, Daniel, and I are moving to New Haven, Connecticut, where he will pursue a Masters degree at Yale. I’ve been thinking about our move a lot, both logistically and emotionally. One thought that slipped across my mind is that I may never live in Kansas again.

Full disclosure: Daniel and I have every intention of setting up a home in the Midwest one day. However, first and foremost, we have to go where he can get a tenure-tracked professorship. We’ll be in New Haven for two years, an unknown location (definitely not anywhere near home) for five years for his PhD, and then we’ll be chasing that professorship. Luckily for us, if all goes according to plan, I can be a full time writer from anywhere.

Anyway, point is: I do not know when I’ll be back to Kansas to live. Therefore, I’ve decided to make a Kansas Bucket List to hit my old haunts one last time and maybe see some things I’ve been postponing my entire life. I’ve got four months to do it. Let’s see how many I can cross off!

Places to Go (Ran out of time for all of these. A good excuse to come back home!)

  • Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
  • Stull Cemetery
  • Lebanon, Kansas (geographical center of the U.S.)
  • World’s largest ball of twine (Cawker City, KS)

Things to Do

  • Host a going away party
  • Graffiti session at Java Break (Closed for construction on the day I went. Boo.) 
  • Make a Kansas shirt at ACME
  • Have an amaretto sour at the Record Bar
  • Have a drink at the Hillsdale Tavern
  • Star Wars marathon with our friends, Devin and Caleb
  • Miami County Wine Trolley Tour (Ran out of time for this, too!)
  • Ride Verruckt (world’s tallest water slide) (And this…at least I made time for my novel!)
  • Buy/make something “Kansas” for our apartment

Photos to Take

  • Childhood home/property
  • Our walking route
  • Baker University
  • A few favorite spots in Lawrence
  • Sunflower fields (The ones near me haven’t bloomed in time.)
  • Sunset (ours are the best in the country)
  • Midwest imagery (grain silos, barns, hay bales, etc.)
  • Make copies of old family photos

If you were moving away from your hometown, what would you make sure to see and do? If any of my Kansas people are reading this, what did I miss from my list?

Fiction Blog, Musings & Bookish Things

New Adventures in New Haven

Lighthouse Point, New Haven, CT
Lighthouse Point, New Haven, CT

The graduate school search is over.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you will probably know that my husband has been applying for his second Master’s program. Well, after months of deciding which schools to pick, stressing over applications, and waiting for responses, the results are in: Daniel will be attending Yale Divinity School this fall.

For more on his academic journey and why he chose Yale (beyond the obvious reasons), you can read his blog here.

But this post isn’t about him. This one is about me — how this decision affects me and how I feel about it.

First and foremost, let me say, I am incredibly proud of Daniel. Getting accepted into any graduate school (let alone an Ivy League) is a huge accomplishment. Seeing his hard work and dedication pay off is so heartwarming and gratifying.

Bar_in_New_Haven,_CT,_March_3,_2008Mostly, I’m excited. We will be moving to New Haven, Connecticut at the beginning of August and reside there for the two years he is in the program. From my introductory research on New Haven, it seems to have a vibrant arts scene, eclectic food options, and an active nightlife. All the sources say it is the perfect blend of New England colonial preppy-ness and the cultural, lively “college town” vibe. So, yeah, overall I think it will be a pretty and fun place to live.

However, there are some things I am nervous about. Mainly, this will be my first time living more than 30 miles from my childhood home. Leaving my parents and pets behind makes me sad, but I know that they will always be a phone call or plane ride away. Likewise, living in a new town (no matter where) and taking on complete responsibility for my and Daniel’s lives (especially as the primary breadwinner) is intimidating. Of course, I know I can handle all of these things, but still, it’s nerve-wracking.

The one thing that really breaks my heart is that we cannot take Thomas, our feline son with us. We have chosen to live in the graduate apartments on Yale’s campus (which will save us literally thousands of dollars a year), and they do not allow pets that do not live in cages. I spent a long time crying about this, and I’m just hoping that for Daniel’s doctorate degree we can live somewhere that will let us have him. For those of you who are worried, don’t be. He’s going to live with his Nana and Papa (my parents) until he can move in with us again.

UPDATE: Daniel and I ended up finding an off-campus apartment in the heart of New Haven, and we CAN take Thomas with us! Happy pet parents we are!

ThomasOn a more introspective note, I must say that I am a bit jealous of Daniel and a bit worried about how others will perceive me. You see, I have based my self-worth almost wholly on academics my entire life. School has always been my thing. Now, I’ve chosen not to go to graduate school in favor of pursuing independent publishing (which I know is a better option for me), and my husband is going to Yale.

And what am I doing? Working at whatever job will have me and writing at night. I know it is silly, but I am just so worried that: on one hand, the people we meet will see me as nothing more than Daniel’s wife or a secretary or the breadwinner; and, on the other hand, I’m worried that I will get permanently trapped in those roles. After all, his dream is a straight railroad track through academia to scholarly success. And my dream to be a full-time writer is not laid out on a set path. It can take many twists and turns, and being self-employed means that my income will be uncertain. I guess I’m just worried that I will spend so long supporting him that my dreams will be put off for the next seven years he is in school…and then maybe longer, indefinitely, after that.

As I’m thinking through my self-definitions and trying to rationalize all of this, I keep thinking about setting. I love Kansas. It gets a bad rap from the rest of the U.S., but it’s actually a gorgeous place to live with plenty of culture and entertainment when you know where to look. I’ve always been a “Midwest” girl. Who will I be in Connecticut? Will I be the token “Dorothy?” Will I stick out like a hick with my “Southern” (totally not Southern) accent and my non-designer clothes? Will changing locations change me in any way — good or bad? I don’t know. I have traveled a lot, and every place I travel teaches me something new about myself and broadens the way I see the world — but traveling somewhere and living somewhere are two different experiences, and I have no idea what to expect from this one.

So — how do I feel about our upcoming adventures in New Haven? Proud of Daniel. Excited to live in a new, seemingly idyllic location. Nervous to be away from family and on “our own.” Worried about how I perceive myself in all this. But, mostly, good. I think this is going to be a positive experience for both of us, and I’m just going to try to relax and enjoy the ride.