Vermont Arts Council

The People’s Choice Award: Megan Applegate

4: Megan Applegate

Create a humorous memoir that examines midlife

Megan was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont and raised in Texas. Through a few twists of fate, she’s now raising her feral family back in Bellows Falls because who doesn’t love a challenge? She balances a writing career, ill-mannered parakeets, a neurotic, geriatric dog, and the harsh reality that is having middle-school aged children. With an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Texas at El Paso, her nonfiction work and poetry has appeared in The Anchorage Daily News, the El Paso Times, Ploughshares, Tin House and Vermont’s own The Commons.

Project description

“A Low-Budget, Green Mountain Midlife Crisis” will be a humorous memoir that explores the chaotic intersection of not only aging (ungracefully, at best) and raising a family, but also exploring life experiences while dancing above (but mostly below) the poverty line in Southern Vermont. Besides myself and my colorful family, Vermont (in general) and the town of Bellows Falls (in particular) will also be featured characters in the work.

The seed for this project began during the summer of 2019 as I faced the prospect of turning 40 with, what I felt at the time, was relatively little to show for myself. Sure, I had a family I loved and job that provided well enough, but I had never had the opportunity to own a home, always had a car with a check engine light on and no current inspection, and constantly felt like I was running out of time to give my children the experience of “The American Dream,” which, honestly, still remains undefined in my own mind. At the time, I just knew that having to beg Green Mountain Power to float me another week without cutting the lights meant I wasn’t exactly winning at parenthood (or at life) in terms of stability and strong foundations and, in my mind, my peers were all stable and well off and I was failing and flailing.

Over the following years, I allowed myself grace and patience while working through my mid-life panic and while I still struggle with the occasional anxiety and imposter syndrome, the journey has left me with plenty to say on the subject of midlife, poverty, and raising a quirky cast of characters in a town as unique and chippy as Bellows Falls, where plenty of 10-year-olds will tell you to “go fu#k yourself” in passing and where more bars than eateries exist in our 1-mile border.

Media Sample 1

“Stories I Won’t Tell at Your Funeral”

Media Sample 2

“My Mother’s Croning Was Beautiful”

Media Sample 3

“We Didn’t Start the Fire: For My 18-Year-Old Son, Advice I Never Got”

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Desmond Peeples June 29, 2023