The good news is, I’ve only been slacking because I’ve been writing more and doing some amazing things. Here are some of them:
|Like a boss|
- I turned in my paperwork to become an approved visitor to see my father. In all my years of saying I was going to visit him, I’ve never gotten so far as actually mailing in the paperwork to do so. My hands started shaking when I dropped that letter in the mailbox. I am well on my way to completing #9.
- I went ice-skating and had a blast! I didn’t fall down once. It was an inside rink because it never got cold enough to skate outside (what the hell, Indiana?). As I suspected, I was the only black person out on the ice, but hey, I’m used to this by now. When a friend asked the other day why black men never ask me out I said, “Because I’m a black woman with natural hair who lives in the Midwest and likes to camp.” It was a joke. But, seriously.
- From my reading list, I’ve finished “Other Heartbreaks” and “Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self” and gotten them both autographed! Patricia Henley came to Ball State and I saw her talk and asked her to sign my copy. Danielle Evans I met at the Beauty Bar at AWP (more on this later in the post). And I just happened to have her book in my bag. I wasn’t planning on tracking her down or anything. I wasn’t. Also, I’ll do a Short & Sweet Review of “Before You Suffocate…” here, and another one for “Other Heartbreaks” over at VouchedBooks.Com. Look out for those.
- I’m still mailing out notes and postcards, and I still love doing it! If you’d like me to send you a note or postcard, just email me your address and I’ll get to it. I’d love to communicate with you.
- Working on the novel. Always. In many different ways, but still, always. I got some great advice on it from the one panel I attended at AWP. Also, working on an essay that I hope to send out before the end of this month to keep up with my one submission per month goal.
The coolest thing that’s happened to me since my last post was, of course, AWP. The AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) conference was everything I’d hoped for and more. It was in Chicago this year which made travel a cinch, and I’m so glad I didn’t pass it up.
Anyway, I’m just going to jump into it.
Here are my Top 15 Best Moments of My AWP Mega Vacation:
- The WolfPack. After watching The Voice with Tyler Gobble’s parents (they’re so awesome), he showed me and Layne a “HELLYEAH WOLVES” stencil he’d created in honor of our group of friends. We refer to ourselves as the “The Wolf Pack” because we are as silly and ferocious as that sounds. We then used said stencil to create a set of matching T-shirts, and one pair of customized boxer-briefs for Tyler. He looked at us and said, “If this is what we’re doing sober…” Layne and I nodded. We already knew.
- Long car rides with the Wolf Pack (Me, Tyler Gobble, Layne Ransom, and Christopher Newgent) are always a ball. This one was especially awesome because A) I didn’t fall asleep. I usually fall asleep after being in a car for 30 minutes. Especially if I’m driving. B) There was a moment when we were jamming super hard coming into the city, surrounded by highway, billboards, and trains, but we were all bobbing our heads in sync and smiling big and goofy. I could feel how happy we all were just to be with one another no matter where we were headed. It’s cheesy, but that’s why I love these guys. They make me feel cheesy and happy and enormously okay with that.
- Laura Straub. I got to see her. I got to hug her. She’s amazing. I miss her already.
- Running into the Akronites. Yes, all the homies from our trip to Akron were at AWP and we ran into them within minutes of being at the conference. We were all hugs and hellyeahs and prettysureSamTheGhostiswearingthatsamehat. Between Nick, Mike, Abby, Sam The Ghost, and sometimes Kleinburg, we’ve got a whole lotta love for Akron.
- Tackling Mensah Demary and Libby Walkup. Because I warned them I would and I usually follow-through on those kinds of promises. Also, being introduced to xTx and staying fairly calm even though inside my heart was like, “WAHHHHHH THAT’S XTX STEAL HER FOR YOURSELF!”
- Sneaking into the bookfair. I did not have the funds to register before the conference sold-out, so I did not have the “credentials” (as the security guard kept calling them) to get into the fair in a legit way. But I couldn’t let that stop me from meeting all of my literary internet pals and seeing all of those gorgeous books. Still, I could not get over the fact that I was so nervous about sneaking into a book fair. I often dream about being on the run from the law or some other oppressive force and this felt like step one. Later I realized I had snuck into a bookfair, and unfortunately, probably no one cared enough to try and find me and prosecute me for it. I’ll probably never get to be on the lam.
- Hanging at the PANK booth. I got to see Roxane Gay whom I love and am always so happy to see because she’s freaking amazing. I got to meet Abby Koski who I’ve heard so much about, and yes, she really is THAT pretty, and I got to make a complete ass of myself in front of M. Bartley Siegel. In my defense, he is tall and handsome and I did not recognize him, but he recognized me which made it so weird because he is so tall and handsome. Also, he’s M. Bartley Siegel and I don’t know why I did not expect to see him there, but I didn’t, and he was so nice and not even giving me the side-eye when I asked him 1,000 questions about being tall even though I have way more questions about him living in the UP because that place has only been described to me before as “the drunkest place ever”. I don’t think he hates me or anything, but he will probably avoid me forever by just like, I don’t know, staying in the UP or something.
- Meeting Stephen Elliott. I love getting The Daily Rumpus. I read it on my blackberry when I’m waiting in the pick-up line to get Charley from pre-school. I also sometimes, just wait until I can really sit down and just take it in. I don’t always love the content, but I always love the potential when it hits my inbox. So when I was standing around with pals and I look up and see Stephen Elliot walking in our direction all I could do initially was mouth his name. He saw me do that. And he shook his head like, “Nope, you got the wrong guy.” Then he smiled like, “JK”. So, I awkwardly walked over with Layne and shook his hand and said something completely weird and irrelevant and totally satisfying. Then I skipped away. I’m the worst.
- I had an impromptu reading at the bookfair I snuck into and I wasn’t even reading anything I’d written. I stopped by The Lit Pub table to meet Molly Gaudry—BONUS—I got to meet Sarah Rose Etter. In the middle of our conversation, I mention that someone should read from one of the books in the style of a Baptist preacher. Molly says I should. I say I shouldn’t. Molly insists. I concede. This is usually how things work. I’m pretty easy to talk into trying or doing anything that doesn’t compromise a life value or something. Public-speaking doesn’t make me respect myself any less. So, I did it. On a foldout chair that threatened to collapse under all 180 of my (well-proportioned, thank you very much) pounds. I was too drunk to even be nervous. JK. I just loved reading Etter’s “Tongue Party” so I was cool.
- Fiercely bonding with Justin Sirois. The Wolf Pack was technically staying in three different places. The Palmer (Tyler and Newg), The Swiss (Layne), and a Bucktown apartment (Me). We met up with one of Tyler and Newg’s roommates, Justin Sirois, and he got in our over-stuffed vehicle to drop everyone off. After we dropped Layne off, and the boys were checking-in to the Palmer, Justin and I circled the block until they were all done. In that time, we talked about our lives, our writing, and all kinds of stuff. We were pretty much besties after that. I can't wait to start "Falcons on the Floor". Now, the Wolf Pack has to visit Baltimore. Also, Justin is rich. He bought me a burrito and a drink. Cash money, baby.
- The AWP Chicago Convocation at the Beauty Bar (hosted by PANK). Even though I took a break in the middle to have dinner and sweet milk (or I guess some people call it thai iced tea) with my good friend, Jordan Holtane, I had an amazing time at my first off-site AWP event. The readings. MY GOD. Those words melted me. I was a pool of literary love and admiration. Then there was music and dancing, and you know how I do. I was meeting people (got to see my Abby Grindle again!) and sipping their drinks because I hate waiting at bars and having too much fun. This is also where I asked Danielle Evans to sign my book, met Casey Hannan and Devan Goldstein, and answered a million questions about my rhino necklace which is my favorite thing.
- A quiet lunch with Layne. My friend Layne and I have known one another for some time, even been pretty good friends for awhile, but we’ve only recently been able to spend some genuine time alone together and it’s been rocking our socks. So, when she and I found some time to eat at some random place called “Elephant & Castle” we seized the moment and chatted and chatted and emoted. It was good and just what I needed. Girl time with her is always worth it.
- Seeing Mark Neely read. Like any semi-involved student, I have a few favorite professors in my department. Mark is a strange one because I’ve never actually had him as a professor (though his wife, Jill Christman, kind of changed my life) but he’s always been really supportive and present in our little literary community at BSU. Not to mention, I just love his poetry. He always surprises me. Always. His new book, “Beasts of the Hill” is so good and I can’t wait to have him sign it.
- The Literature Party. I sold five books at the Vouched table. A personal best. I danced with Lindsay Hunter and talked her head off about my book and she didn't mind. A personal hero. I hugged and chatted with Mary Miller. Another hero. I had sweet potato fries. My favorite fry. I danced with Tyler Gobble. My favorite dancing partner. The DJ played Robyn. I loved it. I got to see Mike Krutel dance. That man is a machine in a tall dude’s body. The DJ played Beyonce. I kissed him on the mouth. I got to just sit with Roxane Gay for a moment. A dream came true.
- We had security called on us. After the Lit Party, rather than try and disperse to our individual temporary homes, we all just went back to the Tyler and Newg’s room at the Palmer. When we got there, their roommates and Sarah Rose Etter were already sitting around and chatting. So we joined in the chat and ended up laughing and laughing. Then we migrated to the bed and laughed and talked and laughed until there was a knock at the door. Tyler went to answer it, stopped, took off his shirt, then answered the door. They said we had to quiet down. So we quieted down. Justin Sirois muttered, “Don’t they know who we are?” which started another round of subdued giggle-fits from me. The, Sarah said, “Why did Tyler take off his shirt?” which required I muffle my laugh with a pillow. Then Tyler explained that he took off his shirt so things looked more “natural” and I was dead. Then Sarah and one of the roommates went to other places, and the res t of us cuddled one another to sleep.
I’m still in Chicago on vacation, but this post is about AWP and the people there, so I’ll update you on this vacay and other (exciting) things later. I hope you enjoyed the post. Also, if you want to get some mail, don’t forget to email me your address.
To my AWP crew, I miss you all. I'll see you in Boston.
Loves and hugs, People.
Loves and hugs, People.