How to Pass a Year

In no particular order…

Write 26 academic essays.

Complete 12 courses.


Jump from sophomore standing to senior standing, on track to graduate in Spring 2014.

Attend an absurdly motivating writing workshop (hello, Ventana Sierra).

Become your college’s Student Curator (what does that even mean?). Edit sections of the college website, do some copywriting, blog as the college representative. Feel sick when someone posts a link to a tad-too-personal post on your school’s Facebook confession page. Quit internship at the end of the semester, not because you didn’t adore the gig, but to move onto other things.

Travel to Park City, UT; Carson City, NV; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; Victoria and Vancouver, BC; Oxford, MI; Lake Nacimiento, CA; and Crestone, CO.

Win your first award for writing. Don’t cry when you walk up to the stage to receive medallion and prize money at Honors Convocation.


Complete 5 months of training to become a writing tutor. Give up your beloved Copy Editor position. You can only do so much.

Get sick more times than you can count. Cancel important appointments and then regret it. Never quite figure out what the hell is going on with your immune disorder. Keep walking. Work on this next year, on treating your body well, on making health a priority.

Read a slam poem in front of strangers. Kind of cry, because it’s about personal shit, but mostly smile.

Move out of a campus-owned nineteenth-century house into a darling, ivy-choked, early twentieth-century mansion with an apartment complete with a hidden spiral staircase that leads up to an attic you never ventured to, but you wrote stories about. For a few months, live with female nurse who background checked you via the Deli Manager at your old beloved place of employment, Mountain Mama, and an artist/forestry-dude/genuinely good human being.

Hike hike hike hike hike.


Move out of said darling mansion when the ceiling collapses after a heavy August rainstorm. Move into a too-empty-too-spacious-too-white house that’s a mere trot away from the condo that was your first Colorado home when you moved at the ripe age of eighteen in 2010. Love this circle. Honor this circle. Move into the house just in time for Colorado’s horrific September flooding. Wonder what became of the mold-infested, collapsed-ceiling apartment.

Complete 9 short stories. Learn to love short stories, or at least to stop hating short stories.

Get rejected for a fellowship you really wanted, but then get a never mind! email a month later, offering you said fellowship. Accept the fellowship and become an Admission Fellow. Feel a bit too prideful about the position.

Witness your beloved state of Colorado burn. Witness it flood. Cherish it all the more.


Meet a boy on Tinder. Kiss boy from Tinder. Write a short story about boy from Tinder. Continue texting boy from Tinder, but make it clear to the boy from Tinder that it’s not ever gonna happen. Thanks, though, for the writing material.

When a block is in session, practice ballet for two hours three times a week. When a block is not in session, go for more walk and dance around your living room with the lights on or off. Don’t feel horrified when your neighbors later claim they can hear your sissonnes.

In three months, interview over 100 prospective students for admission into CC.

Start blogging again. Feel silly and vain. Feel mortified when IRL friends stumble upon it. Get over it. Keep blogging. It’s not a big deal.

Embrace moments with your family. Embrace tortilla chips and chocolate, sad days, fabulous days, bad plies and grand jetés.


Enjoy -15 degrees fahrenheit. Enjoy 115 degrees fahrenheit.

Watch an old friend from 2006 get married. Watch your cousin get married. Look at the pregnancy photos of your first kiss’s pregnant girlfriend. Look at the photos of your first serious boyfriend’s newborn. Attend your childhood best friend’s baby shower. Feel strange. Feel old. Don’t feel alone.

Learn how to say No. It’s kind of a wonderful thing.

Shoot a pistol. Hit the water bottle on the first time.

Get back into writing abundantly. Make it a significant thread in your life. Give up parties and gatherings and a normal college social life so you can collapse on your living room floor instead, stare at the high white ceiling, hear your neighbor’s TV boomboomboom through the shared wall. Write. Be forgiving when you don’t write. Scribble and plot and journal from your characters’ perspectives. Stare at the wall. You’re fine.

Read 101 books.


Learn to let go of being a grade perfectionist. Recognize that no letter can adequately represent how you’ve grown, what you’ve learned. Love school. Love class. Go.

Speak on a student panel about how fabulous CC is, remember why you’ve gathered all of that debt.

Take the GRE. Feel painfully inadequate. It’s all good.

Rewrite your first book through the summer, despite being in school full time and managing two jobs and travel. Some 50,000 words. Better understand. Develop. Cry. Write. Set it aside in September, vowing to move onto your Mormon book, to not touch the bloody draft for at least a year. Have a sudden realization in early December. Start another rewrite. From word 0. This will be your thesis. Write, write, write.


Don’t tell people that the summer rewrite was motivated by the fact that your dream agent requested the full manuscript, and that you agreed to send it in on September 1. You know how this game goes–it’s your third full request and, while an honor, yes, you know not to get too attached. So, you just write for the joy of it, for the story, for you. Make it the best you can and then click send at 11:56 PM on the first day of September. In early November, when you’re lying on a roof in Crestone on an Astronomy trip, the agent will ultimately say no along with some really lovely things, but really simply, she’ll say no. You’ll cry, because you should cry and you want to cry and it’s good to cry, but truly, you’re fine, more thankful than anything, far more pumped and confidant and eager than before. Her no was a good thing: it fed today, the dramatic changes you’re making to the story, it showed you that you can find time to write even when you think there’s absolutely no time, it brought you back. You’re back writing as you are because of her request, and her no is only stronger wind on this totally silly cheesy fun ship.

Blog not so subtly about receiving the no. Keep writing.


In August, turn 22. Accept that some days you’ll still feel 13, or 14, or 15, or 16, or 17, or 18. That’s more than fine. In fact, it’s kind of fucking awesome if you let it be.

Be cheesy. Never stop being cheesy. Life is so much sweeter with an absurd sense of humor, with a bit of dramatic flair. Seriously.

Learn to be comfortable to smile with your teeth. Smile. Smile with your teeth. Or, you know, don’t smile with your teeth if that’s your current genuine smile. Laugh like a tool. Laugh like you’re still six. Remember, it’s all about perspective.

Feel incredibly (sometimes painfully) uncertain about 2014. Try to be okay with this uncertainty. Sometimes do great. Sometimes not so great. Both are fine. It’s going to happen either way, might as well pick up your stride.


Like I said, stay cheesy.