Friday, March 15, 2013

March Madness

Hello Y'all,

Don't take my absence personally (although you in the corner, in the yellow shirt, I do blame you. Jerk.).  March Madness is upon me, only it's not the kind that involves an orange ball and brackets and lanky young men.  Strange, because I live in the heart of basketball country.  No, my madness centers around several annual events that I help organize/attend/completely make a mess of/worry endlessly over/volunteer for, or by which my life and the lives of my family are consumed.  It's actually a short list of activities, but they all converge in a manner of weeks every March.  Hence, the crazy leaking out of my brains.

(When I met my husband, I told him that March was my favorite month because you never know what's going to happen.  One minute it's freezing and snowing - as it was last Saturday in Boston, where I attended the Association of Writing Professionals (AWP) conference - or it might be warm and breezy, like it was also last Saturday in Kentucky, where I returned from the Association of Writing Professionals conference.  Little did I know that March would be a predictable mess of volunteerism, rehearsals, and preparation.  Convergence.)

Let's just say I've been busy and leave it at that.  My poor dogs are a-sufferin'.  Today, I left and came back and left and came back and left and came back.  Charles the Terror was cooped up so long this happened:

Yes, that's Charlie's Positively Puppies graduation diploma that she angrily chewed up with a droplet of poo next to her pissed off face for extra emphasis.
The writing conference was eye-opening and rewarding, but not in the way that you might expect.  Yes, I went to many interesting panels, met one of my current favorite essayists (who signed a book while inconspicuously eyeing my name tag), and learned some great ideas about endings, structure, and publishing a collection of stories or essays.  But, just as in college, most of my learning happened extracurricularly or via social observations and interactions.

Allow me to illustrate:

  • I learned that just because you sit on a panel at a national conference featuring keynotes by two Nobel Prize Winners, you don't necessarily have something to say.  Case in point: the panel I attended about writing the "stealth memoir," or the memoir that appears to be about a person, place or thing (like cod or baseball, for example), but is also a personal journey for the writer.  This panel featured five writers.  The first two had beautifully written presentations that used their own work as examples.  The third reader made me want to hurl spitballs at his glasses as he chronicled his entire work history and began his unprepared monologue by telling us that a.) he used to be an alcoholic and b.) he decided not to tell us the prostitute joke.
  •  12,000 people in one building, granted a very big convention center, is not my bag.  I felt claustrophobic pretty much all weekend and hid in the hotel lounge every night with friends.  At one point, the rooms were so crowded that the Fire Marshall was called in and all exits were manned by police officers.  Crazy!
  • Escalators are excellent people-watching vehicles.  On one ride down, I saw writer Roxanne Gay heading up on the opposite elevator looking all non-challant while I wanted to shout out "Hey Roxanne!  You don't know me, but I think you're awesome!"  I restrained myself.  Another day I saw a man dressed up as a gladiator heading down the escalator, also looking all non-challant.  In case you are not aware that writers like to look artsy, here's what else I saw, although not always on the escalator: a curiously distracting couple (two women, one old enough to be the other's grandmother, but also very masculine-looking in a suit; young woman had long blonde hair and caressed the other woman's back during a panel; older woman had granny earrings and rings.  Fascinating.  No judgments on my part.  I found them intriguing and was sorry when they left early.); hats, capes, funky tights, big hair, big beards, scarves, nerd glasses, spiked hair, and of course tattoo sleeves.
  • I like my writing friends.  Not that I just learned that, but that I'm always inspired after seeing my MFA friends who live in Boston, Seattle, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Houston, Miami, Knoxville, L.A., and Phoenix.  I'm sure I missed a few.  Big love to you all!  
  • Paying for airfare, three meals/day, and hotel rooms may not be worth the expense, the expense being my jangly nerves.  Turns out that travel + 12,000 people kicks my anxiety level up to an 11.   My husband has called me a hothouse flower because I'm so sensitive.
  • You can get a good deal on paperbacks over at the W. W. Norton's table in the book fair!  40% off titles and free shipping.  My books arrived yesterday and I squealed:   
Available at
  •  That burning feeling in my chest and arm actually is hypertension.  See I'm falling apart!  New meds have made me a happy lady who feels incredibly old.

In other news . . . I met my goal and now have 50 FOLLOWERS!!!  Thank you old friends and new!

To keep my promise, here is the drawing I said I would post when I reached 50 followers.  Please note that I drew this in 1984 and ADD, while not diagnosed definitely had settled into my brain.  I was a fool for Duran Duran, but not fool enough to finish the damn drawing.

Happy Weekend, Everyone!