13 February 2009

I have no good title for this

Has it really been three weeks since I wrote anything here? How is that possible? I write all the freakin' time-granted most of it is in my head, but still-so you'd think I'd get over here more often.

We were cruelly teased with a high temperature of 66 last Tuesday, and despite the rest of my body pleading with it not to do so, my brain immediately moved into "winter is over, here comes spring" mode. Fool me thirty-six times, shame on me. It snowed last night, not much, but it did, mostly because I told Beth that it was going to be balmy here for the weekend. If by "balmy" I meant "still cold enough to rue not having your gloves if you have to walk more than two blocks" then I nailed it.

And this is what we call a segue: I spent some time downtown Friday and Saturday at the AWP Conference at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. If you've seen The Fugitive then you've seen the hotel-it's where the movie ends. This reminds me that no one does a better impersonation of the evil doctor who is startled to see Richard Kimble in at the banquet in the ball room: "Richard, I'm in the middle of this speech..." Part Ren from Ren and Stimpy (duh), part Steve Martin and Dan Ackroyd's "Two wild and crazy guys," and a little recall of what it sounds like when I have a massive headcold.

But I digress. AWP stands for the "Association of Writers and Writing Programs" (I have no idea why it is not known as AWWP, but I would like to know what the unused W did to deserve non-inclusion) and while I am technically not a member, I was able to attend the conference through Roosevelt University (where I FINALLY graduated from in December, though I have yet to receive my dilpoma, and I envision myself in graduate purgatory. It's not as bad here as I thought. Could use a little color though).

I keep noticing that the autosave has been failing over and over. If I lose this entry when I try to publish it, I'm going to angry, really, really angry (I'll be mad-I've been watching too much Sesame Street). Of course, if I do lose this entry, no one is going to know about it except me. I think I just proved that purgatory is also highly existential.

AWP is two things: first, it is a festival of writing programs. The exhibition area in the basement of the hotel was chock full o' people from writing programs all over the nation. The scope of this was a little depressing because until someone out there decides to publish something I've written, these are all entities that have fostered my regret. I did my fair share of getting to know some of the folks behind the scenes of a few literary publications, and I am hoping that 2009 is the year I get to see myself in print. Maybe if I wrote poems instead...

The other thing AWP is is a bevy of seminars and panels, everything from how to write your memoir of growing up poor and not having indoor plumbing to getting people to pay you to write. I am being vague; there were hundreds of things to choose from in three days. I went to three. One was a reading by Stuart Dybek, who is a brilliant writer, the best at capturing Chicago as I have ever read. I had looked forward to this for a while but found myself incredibly annoyed at whoever decided to have someone on stage with him translating his reading to sign language. I should say that the presence of this person was not annoying but rather their positioning right next to Dybek. I swear they bumped shoulders a few times. It was hard to concentrate on what he was saying and I found myself either closing my eyes or looking away, which worked all right, but I have to say it made for an awkward experience. I'm happy that I got to see one of my favorite authors in person, but I'll always remember that while he read there was someone next to him on stage that looked like they were trying to hail every cab in the city.

I also attended a seminar discussing the rise of nonfiction on the radio. If you've ever listened to "This American Life" on NPR you'll know what this was about; there's a greater demand for stuff like this, and it intrigues me, because I write nonfiction more often than not. I believe I have a tremendous drawback to this though: I do not have a voice for radio. I hate to hear a recording of my own voice. When I talk I think my voice sounds OK, but when I hear it played back I'd swear it wasn't me. It's far too nasally and high-pitched. I've heard other people mention that their recorded voice sounds a lot different from what they here when they speak. There's got to be a name for that.

At the end of today I caught up with a few friends that I hadn't seen for a while, and then I walked a little over a mile to the train. I remember when I started grad school in the fall of 2005 that I though I would find it a lonely experience. I was very wrong, and I made some great friends, but I always knew that this time would go quickly and that most likely when it was over I wouldn't see much of them. I felt the same way about being in downtown Chicago three times a week. Yesterday was the first time I walked in the loop in a few months, and it has been well over a year since I was down there more than once in a week.

Today as I walked to the train I thought about when the next time would be that I might be downtown. I have no idea. I only live fifteen miles away, but it might as well be fifteen hundred. And I thought about how I was right, about how quickly the time that I would spend there would go. I'm happy that I had the ability to recognize that as it was happening.

I don't know where I am going with this. I guess it is the idea that change is always coming, and it is better to know it than to be surprised by it. I sit here now and I can hear Desmond breathing as he sleeps upstairs (I do not have extra-sensory hearing, just a really good baby monitor) and it makes me wonder how much longer he is going to sound like that, because he already sounds so much different than he did just a few months ago.

Why do my endings always seem like something that belongs at the end of an episode of "Doogie Hoswer." I'm going to try to post this now. If it fails and you happen to be struck by my computer as I throw it through the window, well, perhaps you shouldn't be out this late.


Anonymous said...

I never saw Doogie, so the endings are new to me.
I thought it stood for Another Writer in Purgatory. The professional writers I know always look so pained.
And I read autosave at first as autoslave, so you know where my mind is.
I doubt they'd let me talk on the radio no matter how my voice sounded. Too much of me trying to enforce my eldercare views upon others :-). ~Mary

Beth said...

You did indeed nail the Chicago weather! We weren't out long--walked a couple of blocks from the Cubby Bear to the Metro--and I was okay in a windbreaker. I was smart and brought gloves with me, and that was good enough to keep me comfortable.

It's been some time since we were in Chicago, and it made me want to go up again this summer. I LOVE the architecture, and I know I'd enjoy an architecture tour. It's a great city!

The conference sounds like it was interesting. I bet if you asked, most people would find your voice just fine. We all sound very different to ourselves...I'm appalled by my flat Midwestern accent and my extremely hard R's...but we probably don't sound as bad as we think we do.