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Hey wonderful blog followers! I know I've been away a good little while, but I've started back up in a new space, and I'd love for you to check it out and follow me there!

Come see how my garden grows!

Happy Wednesday!

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Hello Friends...

Lots has been happening around here these days, and I haven't had time to post anything in a while, but we're having a lazy day in the Gross house today, so I thought I'd take a few minutes and share what's been going on.

There are lots of new changes in the works for my blog. My wonderfully talented friend Jessi is helping her much less techno-savy friend built a better and much more visually appealing site. We've been collaborating long distance for a bit now, and I can't wait until we get everything ready. My hopes are that once we get the new page set up I can set up a much more frequent posting schedule with more focused topics that interrelate between the many things going on in my life these days. I'm really excited about it.

I'm taking three classes this semester and...NOT WORKING AT ALL!! It is absolutely wonderful to have the time and energy to devote the best of myself to my schoolwork all the time. Plus, my schedule is wonderful in that I get to spend three whole days a week at home with my little one, and Michael is now off on Wednesdays, so we get a midweek day to ourselves once a week. It is so nice to have a little mini-weekend devoted just to the three of us plugged right into the middle of the week. These days our Saturdays and Sundays have become so full and busy that we hardly ever have the time to just relax and enjoy one another. I hope this type of thing is something we can continue to have in life.

I may have already mentioned this, but my new years resolution for this year was to read 60 books. That may sound like a lofty goal to some, but with my reading lists for most of my grad classes, I hardly even have to add that many this semester to keep up with my minimum quota of five per month.

This one's a biggie for me. It's already almost midterm, and I've only made one full blown to do list all semester. I've made a couple of little lists (what to do to get ready for a trip, what homework needs done by when, etc), but only one real one, and I ended up throwing it away before I got around to marking things off of it. My name is Jordan, and I'm a micromanager..but slowly and surely, I am weeding this addiction out of my life.

It's almost garden time. We've been spending lots of time out in the garden getting ready for the season to come. We're going bigger this year. Way bigger...I can't wait!

That's not all that's going on around here lately, but the rest will come in another post soon. Happy Wednesday, y'all. Hope it's as relaxing as mine has been so far!

About Me

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So...this semester I'm taking two graduate level creative writing classes. This is something that is equally exciting and terrifying to me. The first assignment for each class was to post (on our online class forums) a short "about me."
I wrote a different one for each class, because it kind of felt like cheating to use the same one twice, and because I already felt limited by writing these about me's to start with...there is something strange and unnatural about trying to peg yourself down, I think. Anyhoo...a few people requested that I post them on my blog. So, here you go.

A Cross Section

I always find these things a little difficult. First, because finding a way to straddle the line between boring and pompous is always difficult when you’re talking about yourself. Second, because I never know where to start…
So, for simplicity’s sake, let’s start in the middle and work our way out. At my core is a strange and indivisible concoction of fire, sunshine, wine, un-checked-off to-do lists, unbridled anxiety, and disconnected dreams. Outside of that are just your average skin and bones, clothes that I’m never sure are quite fashionable, and a usually unkempt head of hair.
Outside of me proper are the little bits of myself that float around in other people. I generally like to keep them close to me so as to feel as ultimately whole as possible (if such a thing is, in fact, possible). These people include my husband, my almost one-year old son, my parents, my sister, my grandparents, a handful of friends, and sometimes even random acquaintances.
I’m a lifetime Arkansan – a graduate of Cabot High School, the University of Central Arkansas (with a major in English and a minor in Cultural Anthropology), and, hopefully soon, Henderson’s MLA program. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do after that. I used to want to be a teacher, but after teaching two sections of Basic English last semester, I not only lost that desire but also my faith in humanity (or at least the direction in which humanity is undeniably heading). I probably shouldn’t say things like that. I probably also shouldn’t change my mind on a lifelong dream after only having such a small (and crappy) taste of it. But if I learned anything last semester, it was that you can’t make people want to learn. You can only just hope that, by some miraculous accident, they do. With that realization, my intellectual idealism withered and died.
On a much lighter and more frivolous note, I like cooking, gardening, sad music, reading blogs, watching football, reading books that are totally beneath the standards of cool English majors (and the worthy books as well), traveling, Indians (of the Native American variety), crappy reality TV, hammocks, and almost any type of food that you can think of. Oh, and words. I am madly in love with words – with their ability to capture reality and unreality alike, with my ability to study them and feel them and string them together in an order that can pull people into my reality and connect me to theirs. I love to write, but I find it to be one of the most terrifying and soul-shaking human experiences. I guess that’s just the kind of package that every truly fulfilling thing is wrapped up in. I dislike insincerity, intolerance, and incoherence.
Overall, my goals are simple: to be content, to spread joy, to learn as much as I possibly can, and to hopefully create something of value.

And...number two:

About Jordan

For some reason, I feel that I should begin this post by saying that I am a girl Jordan, not a boy Jordan. I have made the mistake one too many times of accidentally creating a gender-neutral online persona, and the results are always confusing. I am lots of things: a mama, a student, a chef, a micromanager, a wife, a wanderer, a hypochondriac, a bibliophile... I am a lifetime writer of creative nonfiction. I write to experience life...I write in journals, send letters, draft personal essays, and capture words for my feelings on post-it notes (and sometimes on the backs of receipts or dirty napkins if I'm particularly desperate and left to the contents of my purse). I haven't had lots of experience in a creative writing classroom, so I'm particularly excited to work on my writing under the helpful eyes of some fellow writers!

I used to be the kind of person that would dance around the negative aspects of other people's writing in workshop scenarios, prefering to be constructive and polite, but after spending a few semesters working as a tutor in the Writing Center, I've seen first-hand how truly honest criticism can transform a paper (academic, creative, or otherwise) and help writers push their work to much higher levels. Although I am nervous, I am also hopeful that this class will offer stringent and honest criticism of my work. I want to do something real with my writing, and I'm excited to work on it with all of you and hopefully come out of this semester as a better writer.

I feel as passionately about reading as I do about writing. Books have always been a huge part of my life. They've been my friends, my tickets to other times and places, my teachers, and my constant companions. Somehow I'll make a career out of books, whether through writing them, teaching them, or editing them. My goal this year is to read sixty books. Right now I'm sitting at four, but I'm at least halfway through three others, so I'm about on schedule. Although I love most all genres, I think I'm most partial to young adult and children's literature. After all, that stuff is what got me hooked in the first place. As a student, my interests are primarily American Literature, especially African American and Native American Lit.

So...that's how I box myself up.

Happy Birthday, Chase Gross!

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One year ago tonight, my mind whirled as a lay on a cold hospital bed waiting for a new life to greet me in the morning. My induction would begin at 5:00am the next day. The next day I would be a mama. And I would have a new person. A totally brand new person who would be a part of my world forever. I wondered how my world would change and who my son would be. I wondered who I would become in my new world. I wondered and I waited and I tried to sleep. I tried to remember all that my life had been up until that day because I knew even the most solid and immovable things would be shifted in the twenty-four hours that would follow. I wondered where my head would be tonight, one year later.

At 6:34 tomorrow night, my baby boy will be a year old. A big, grand, magical, spectacular year old. I can't find big enough words to tell my son all that he has done in these short twelve much magic he carries around, how much joy he has already spread without even trying. He came into a world that needed him so much. I think we even missed him before he was here. I think that there were big empty places in our hearts that hurt for him until he finally made his way into our world. He saved me. He's still saving me.

Before Chase was born, I could only imagine how much I would love him, and of course I didn't imagine big enough. But I imagined in the right way. I knew it would be a powerful and terrifying love, one that would turn everything I knew of this world upside down and rearrange it around him. I knew that I would spend every single one of the rest of the days of my life trying to show him how to survive in this world. How to love himself and trust himself. What I didn't and couldn't have imagined was the way he would love me and the way he would teach me things about survival and how to love myself from the minute he got here. The last three hundred and sixty five days have been, literally, everything - profound joy, unmanageable stress, utter exhaustion, mounting excitement, unstoppable love...a deep and resounding peace beyond anything I ever believed was possible. My world, my love, and my life have grown exponentially.

Chase Gross - Thank you for being born...thank you for being mine. Thank you for showing me that the best way to be your mama is to spend all my days seeking and loving and playing and smiling and chasing down my own self, so that I can show you how to do these things too. Thank you for bringing me such love. And, above all, thank you for being your sweet, precious, funny, curious, unbelievably strong and fast and skilled, brilliant, and beautiful self. You are too much for words. You are so much more than I ever could have imagined one year ago tonight, and I love you an endless amount...


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These days are tricking me. They fall down on me like heavy boulders, threatening to break my back. But just when I brace myself and duck my head, they make contact and pop like bubbles. Where has the time gone, friends? Throughout my pregnancy and the months following Chase's birth, days seemed suspended and stretched and soft-edged. I floated from one day, one hour, one minute to the next for what seems like an entire year just waiting and watching. I waited for the birth of my boy...dreaming a new world every single day. I wasn't just pregnant, but the whole world was pregnant with the possiblity of this new life. And then he came, and time stopped meaning anything. The universe began floating around a new center of pulsed with Chase's moods and needs, and it changed with Chase's growth.

But sometime, in the midst of Summer School and my Gran's illness, time chased me back down, and ever since it's been taking those stretched moments back from me, shortening days and minutes. And the faster I run from it, the more of these precious moments I seem to chase away.

This semester has been Hell. HELL. I have never given more of myself to something that feels so useless. Teaching Basic English, under the standards and circumstances that I am now working with, is the most disillusioning thing I have ever experienced. Amongst a whirlwind of trying to teach these people essential(ish) grammar rules and the process/method of composition, I have come to stop seeing a piece of writing for its potential, instead seeing it as a living thing to be gutted and torn apart, limb by awkward limb. Perhaps that's what has made posting any little bit of my own writing seem almost impossible for the last three months. Perhaps, on the other hand, it is just my literal lack of time that has stopped me. These days I am a mad woman, juggling like I've never juggled before (but when wasn't I??? And who isn't??? It's time to stop making excuses and string up a few lines of words, even if they do appear raggedly stitched together). Aside from teaching two sections of Basic, I'm taking two classes, one of which is Truth, Order, and Beauty, which, for those of you who don't know, is the equivalent of running an English major marathon. Plus, I'm the mommy to the most curious, stealthy, and all-around wonderfully exhausting baby this side of the Mississippi. Oh, and did I mention that I get paid Jack. Diddly. Squat? I've never worked so hard in my life to be so broke and worn out.

But, like I said...these days that seem like rocks practically bounce off me, for the most part. I honestly love my (work) days - not quite as much as I did last semester, but I understand that it's all just a big fat learning process...and Oh, how I've learned.

I've learned what I'm capable of...and, as it turns out, it's pretty astronomical. I've learned how to navigate many truly ridiculous professional situations. I've learned about teaching, and English, and tutoring...And, of course, I've learned about my son - his emerging, brilliant personality. I've learned about how much one person can love another much that it's terrifying.

And now here I am again at a crossroads...wondering where this little engine that could is planning on going...wondering what I want to do with my life...wondering how to get there. I find myself needing to reevaluate and redefine my priorities and my projected path. It is an exciting and somewhat scary task. There aren't many certainties.

But there are a few: 1. I love these shoes I'm walking in. 2. I have been given many most spectacular gifts - the best being, of course, my Chase. I can't believe I get to be HIS mom. 3. I've got lots of love to give away. 4. This blog is in for some major changes 5. Life is good.

Time isn't stopping for me, so it's time for me to hang on and embrace scary and welcome change. Here's to today...


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Hello, friends! Long time, no...well, blog. To put it lightly, I've been busy. And while I promise a much longer and more informative blog to come on just what I mean by busy, I just wanted to take a moment to say just how thankful I am for this relaxing Saturday. It's only 10:00, and I've had a fabulous day so far. Chase slept in, so I had time to take a bubble bath (long enough to read some Hamlet and shave my legs!), get ready for the day, watch some Food Network, and do a quick straighten-up of the house before I was greeted by a sweet, giggly boy. And, I got a phone call a few minutes ago that included an invitation to Saturday morning breakfast at my Mom and Dad's house....Life is good. And there will be more blogging on this Saturday. I could not ask for more.

Baby Feet

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My baby boy, Chase, turned six months old this week. I love watching him grow and do new things, and I more than love the increasing level of emotional interaction he can have with me, but the swift passing of his baby-ness has suddenly hit me in the stomach.

I have always been the kind of person who runs through life...I go as fast as I can and hit as many bases as I can as I chase whatever is just beyond the horizon of possibility, but over the past few years I have been trying to train myself to slow down, to stop and enjoy the good parts of time before it passes. Train as I might, I'm just not wired that way. I'm built for challenges. I put one foot on the ground in front of the other and I run toward them and face them head on. Sometimes I don't win, but usually I surprise myself. Even when I'm exhausted and sore and running on blistered feet, I find that, if I keep running hard enough, the blisters will callous over and it won't hurt skin thickens as I beat back against the world that challenges me.

The past six months have been full of challenges...graduate school, life-changing decisions, difficult relationships, the death of a loved one...and of course learning how to be a mom to a newborn. They were a beautiful six months, but probably the hardest ones I've ever faced, and I have to admit that I haven't taken much time to stop and allow myself to juice the good feelings. I have at times let stress and fear overshadow my happiness and overwhelming gratitude to the universe for blessing me with this amazing little creature. I have focused on chasing the challenges away, on thickening my skin to protect myself from the threat of pain.

Chase can't walk yet, but he tries. The earth has not yet pushed itself against his sweet, soft, innocent feet. He doens't know about challenges...he doesn't know about pain...he doesn't have anything to be afraid of. And the thing that is so heartbreakingly beautiful about it all is that he doesn't even know to appreciate it...he just wants to go, go, go. I want so badly to speak his language, to beg him to just slow down and enjoy this short time of being a sweet and innocent baby in a mean world...I want those feet to stay soft just as long as they possibly can.

But when I snuggle up to those soft, sweet feet, that innocence that I just can't preserve, I realize that my heart isn't calling out to is screaming at my own mind - slow down, enjoy this short time; the challenges are going to come anyway...there is no need to chase them; You will be strong enough to face them when they need to harden yourself up right now.

So tonight I pause...tonight I revel in joy and gratitude at the gift of this little boy and his power to reach me in unbelievable ways and teach me unlearnable lessons. I love you Chase Jackson Gross.
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