Day 170, Bennington’s Biggest Loser
I’m back home after my first residency at Bennington’s MFA in Writing program. The cats are happy. I’m still recovering.
I expected to have my ass handed to me but it’s still right where it’s always been. Even more surprisingly it’s the same size, possibly a bit smaller. I felt sure that sitting on it constantly for 10 straight days, eating like a lumberjack, and avoiding the grim space that passes for the campus gym would have had the opposite effect. Note: “eating like a lumberjack” is a direct quote by a gorgeous and talented California fiction writer. She knows who she is. I’m planning to use that quote often. I’m only providing attribution this one time so please do take note.
Perhaps the first residency should be renamed The Bennington Diet. It looks something like this:
- Arrive on campus. Worry incessantly that Admissions made a mistake. Assume that every new person you meet is going to explain this to you. The first pound disappears in about 20 minutes.
- Attend every graduate lecture and reading. Devour cookies by the handful while marveling at levels of erudition you can never hope to match.
- Take a break for lunch. Sample every dessert.
- Consider the very real possibility that the graduating class has explored every decent topic in literature. There’s nothing left for you to write. Eat another cookie.
- Pig out at dinner while listening to the scintillating literary conversations that surround you. Realize that you have wasted your life reading nothing of value. Serve yourself seconds from the ice cream bar.
- Toss and turn on your thin mattress wondering whether any of the clothes you packed are going to fit tomorrow or any other day.
- Repeat for the next nine days.
I’m amazed that after 10 days of eating like a lumberjack and zero gym time I came home a few pounds lighter. And today’s yoga class was a breeze. Maybe in this strange alternate universe my first assignment (a 25-page essay that’s due in about seven seconds) will be easy. I’m going to have to adjust my eating habits accordingly. Thanks to The Bennington Diet all I need to do is maintain.