There! I’m here at the page. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think “I need to blog” but it has come to be so intimidating that I’ve been paralyzed for a while. I don’t have anything to say. Who wants to read what I have to say anyway? The list of excuses goes on. And I stay away from the page. I think the fear of not having anything to say paralyzes me at least once a week, but the fear of not posting something “substantial” (however that’s defined) paralyzes me daily. So the page remains blank night after night as I find other things to occupy my time.
So once again, a lot of time has passed since I blogged.
Life has been great for the most part. I didn’t expect AWP to have had such an impact on my life but it did!
First of all, I hadn’t been to Washington DC in almost 10 years, so I was excited to be back. It surprised me to have the Capitol steps all to myself as I strolled various parts of The Mall that Sunday and Monday after AWP was over. I used to live here! I kept thinking. It’s kind of like when the reality of the gifts you have, finally sink in. I think people there take it for granted to be in the Nation’s capital every day, much as I take it for granted that I have a 360 degree view from my workplace that encompasses three major bridges, especially the world’s famous Golden Gate.
Secondly, I stayed with my friends Anice and Reece out in Maryland instead of staying at the conference hotel. Definitely made the trip doable, but also I choose family and friends over hotels any day, on a budget or not. That way, I didn’t just meet them for “lunch” or “coffee” but I actually got to talk to someone when I got back from the conference, although, I was gone for a good 12-14 hours the first two days. Reece and Anice took me out to Mama Ayesha’s for my birthday. It was great! Nice ambiance, and the food was superb! Our Rice Pudding came with a few candles on top. I blew them out and then Anice asked me “The Birthday Questions” which were four questions that were helpful in causing me to reflect on year 33 and name my hopes for year 34. I think year 33 was tough and I had a lot of heartache so I hope year 34 will be one of relative ease.
I had a mini VONA reunion with my dear friend Willona Sloan. We were a pair of laughing, silly, girls who came alive with laughter at the slightest provocation. I was also lucky to have my MFA cohort friend Wendy Sterndale. When Wendy joined the two of us, we were truly “ac’in a fool” and had a great time together. I didn’t know I could laugh so hard! We enjoyed the company of VONA elders Elmaz, Faith, Ruth, Suheir, Evelina, and Junot (from afar), and fellow VONAites, Crystal, Chelsea, and Daisy. We were lucky to get “stage” seats to the reading by Ruth Foreman, Carolyn Forche, and Suheir Hammad, hosted by Hedgebrook’s Amy Wheeler, and held at Busboys and Poets. For me, side events like the off-site University of Miami MFA reception and the on-site Macondo Foundation reception were more engaging than the sessions. Of course, I loved Junot Diaz’ plenary in which he challenged all of us writers to be real. I enjoyed listening to Jhumpa Lahiri’s plenary, although I wished she would have interacted with the audience. I have to say, it was amazing to have the lead keynotes be writers of color, but more importantly the first keynote be a woman! That made for a great inspiration right there!
I volunteered my time on Friday afternoon as a registration desk clerk and I had quite a ball. I was stationed at the booth marked “E-H” between two white guys who were hilarious! One of whom, Steve Cleaver, wrote Saving Erasmus. I bantered with them for most of my four-hour shift so the hours went by really quickly. I found out how common it was for writers to have a degree in Theology as well as an MFA. I think altogether, I have now met about 10 folks with that combination. I don’t feel so odd anymore. (Yeah right! I wish that was all it took!)
Overall, AWP reminded me that I wanted to be a writer, was a writer and author already, but that I needed to keep writing. A part of me was depressed after the third session on publishers and agents because it felt like they were saying a lot of it depended on luck and I wasn’t encouraged by this idea. Of course, it is my perception, you know?
I returned from AWP and DC and plunged right back into work and my MFA demands. It feels like I haven’t stopped moving since the Earl Lectures ended three weeks ago. A part of me knows that this is only the beginning; the other part is in denial. I am excited for the many things that are happening in my life this semester.