Monday, April 19, 2010
What Happened After That (AWP Wrap-up)
Wrapped up, indeed. An hour after my last post, I called a cab and headed out the door. Noticed another woman standing around waiting, presumably, for a cab, so asked if we might double up when one showed up (cabs, we soon learned, were in short supply). This other woman turned out to be Elizabeth Treadwell. We waited a half an hour, happily getting better acquainted (I'd *known* her for years, but never met her in person) and wondering if we'd make it to the WILLA reading on time. Thankfully, the cab arrived and, after a few tries of explaining where the Denver Press Club was, we were soon seated at a small bar in what must've been a men's only establishment up until the 1970s (at least?).
Elizabeth wanted a Cosmo, but the bartender didn't know what a Cosmo was, so she ordered a rum and Coke, while I sipped a glass of Pinot Grigio. The room was soon packed, and soon the procession of two dozen or more readers (with tasteful burlesque-dancing interludes between each of three sets) began. Except for a few ridiculous guy-folk who took it upon themselves to be sexist assholes, the reading and performances were a delight. I had never seen a burlesque performance, and I am here to report that I appreciated the way it celebrated female form without devolving into smuttiness. There was a certain innocence in the grand-finale star-shaped, glittery-green pasties, is what I am trying to say. [Were these burlesquers sex workers? Are they being exploited? Should the jeering men have been asked to leave? Did their jeering spoil the relative innocence and unadulterated beauty of her performance? Would the burlesquers be disappointed if I told them I found their performances innocent? Did they, in fact, enjoy the jeering? I am not sure, but it is questions like these that remind me that I am educated in a way and move through a literary circle that demands these sorts of questions, like it or not. [When women started to share with me that they were uncomfortable at this event, I immediately felt like I might be a female sheep or lemming, the equivalent of one of those student turned Nazis, who, when the authorities told them to, began torturing their subjects.]
Then back to the motel, then sleep, then missing the 9 am panel I really wanted to attend (Hot/Not) because I needed to teach (I brought my classes to Denver, virtually, that is), then blowing off the entire rest of the conference so I could (1) have brunch with a bunch of really cool ladies and (2) visit the Denver Art Museum.
Then the Starting Today reading, which was completely and utterly wonderful, and then raced off back to the Convention Center to hear the tail end of Barbara Ras's reading, and all of Robert Hass's (rock and ROLL!).
Then taxi, then pack, then bed, then Super Shuttle leaving me in the dust 5 minutes earlier than they said, then $60 Swanky Car Service, then scrambled eggs with tomatoes, then having to fork over my bottle of Beautiful in the Mouth Chardonnay (Keetje Kuiper's new book and a special wine label to match--sigh) then sitting next to the mother of a synchronized skater (Canadian), then $2.25 to take the light rail back to my beautiful Seattle home.
My kids knocked me over with hugs and kisses.
I threw my suitcase down and didn't touch it for two days. In the meantime I hugged them and hugged them, cooked them lentil stew, baked them their favorite oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
But one glance at the floor beside my overflowing bookshelves reveals just how many magazines and books I bought in Denver (more than I can read in 6 months), and I filled an entire notebook with thoughts, quotes, ideas, reactions, and other random scribblings.
Oh, and I really liked downtown Denver, and the DAM rocked.
I am so glad I went.