Yes. The three of us just saw one another at AWP in Chicago.
To amend: We didn’t attend the actual conference. Speaking for myself, I got paneled out last year. The Diaspora and Diaroma Aspect in the Multi-Genre Lyrical Essay did me in. The event was more of an excuse to see Chicago (Blues at Rosa’s! Myopic Books! Bratwurst!) and remingle with Montana MFAers.
I DID crash the book fair on Saturday. It’s a bit awkward, trying to cruise all the tables. The protective stance I adopted was pretty much the same I use to deflect 1-10 underpass panhandlers in New Orleans. Sorry bud. I turned and walked away from many outstretched palms. But you always cave to a couple. It’s something in the eyes.
So I bought the Oxford American New Orleans issue and a mag from Ann Arbor called Hobart because it looked cool. My friend Anna bought the latest issue of PMS and Black Warrior Review. (Member of our nonfiction class Naomi Kimball is in the current issue.) Plus all the freebies. Had to give a little grunt to load my suitcase overhead on the plane.
As I walked around that Hilton lobby, I kept swearing I saw people I knew, but then I just realized we all look alike. As in refugees from the Writers’ Gulag. I don’t know how many scarves, messenger bags, adorable haircuts and square black glasses a person can take. If I ever go again I’m wearing a track suit and white athletic shoes.
I’m not sure it’s wise, getting writers together to schmooze. Most of us spend hours and hours alone muttering to ourselves. Some days my only social interaction is scooping the cat off my keyboard.
If you get me on a good minute, I’ll smile and regale you with wit. If it’s a bad one, I might start crying and blow my nose on your hipster skinny jeans. Or I might just look off and walk away, not even realizing you said anything.
So if you looked at me, grimaced and turned away, I remembered not to take it personally. I hope you did the same.