AWP 2013: Writers, friends, and snow

Last week I was at AWP and had a blast.

I actually had more fun than last year, which was overwhelming and lonely since I was there as an individual writer. This year I went to work the book fair for my company, which I really enjoyed.

Tuesday, March 5

Set-up for the fair was on Wednesday, but I didn’t like the idea of getting in late and feeling rushed so I flew in on Tuesday.

That night I crashed with my friend ES. Getting to her house via public transportation was pretty easy, except for the fucking weird guy on the Silver Line (which is a fancy way of saying “bus”) who kept staring at me. At one point, I stared right back him, which was probably not a good idea, but, as I often do nowadays, I had assessed that I could take him in a fistfight so stare back I did.

I ended up getting off a couple of stops too early, and didn’t have to deal with in for much longer anyway.

ES had yummy food waiting for me when I got to her place: pasta with turkey sausage and broccoli rabe. I pigged out and we chatted and watched TV until two AM, ES because she’s a night owl, me because I was on darned Pacific time.

Wednesday, March 6

ES and I spent the day working together, and eating more of that tasty pasta. Then I was off to the hotel. “Set-up” for the book fair comprised of checking to make sure our giveaways had arrived (they had), and then I was free as a bird.

I was also starving. I dropped in a Wagamama and had their chili ramen. Delish!


View from my hotel window

By this time the weather had turned crummy. When I arrived on Tuesday, it was dry and in the 40s. Now it was raining and snowing. Blech. Luckily I didn’t have to go outside to get to the train station so getting back out to ES’s wasn’t too bad. We grabbed some southern food for a late dinner, and then I was back at the hotel.

Thursday, March 7

My first full working day.

My hotel was a 15 minute walk to the convention center. However, since I walk fast, it was more like 10 minutes for me, and it was all inside. It’s connected to a mall, which connects to another mall, which connects to two other hotels and finally the convention center.

What with the snowstorm, I didn’t leave the complex for three days.

The first thing I noticed at the book fair was how fancy some people’s booths were. They had furniture! art! beautifully displayed books! Our booth was, shall we say, streamlined in comparison. All we had were our giveaways, these adorable little notebooks with hearts on them. Then I got the brain storm to place them like this:


I didn’t think it was a big deal, but a couple of people said they loved how the notebooks looked, and that our schwag was “the best at the conference.” Wow!

I had a lot of fun talking to people. I told them about our site and our contest: give us your favorite word and you’re in the running to win a random drawing of some pocket-sized dictionaries. As for the little notebooks, I think people assumed they were for sale, so I had to yell, “Free notebooks!” often. Several people made 180 degree turns when they heard “free.” It was funny.

My neighbors at Red14Films were also super-nice. They were fun to talk to and shared their chocolate.

That night ES and I had plans to see a play, but the weather was so bad, our plans got canceled. I actually didn’t mind. I was spent. I went to the gym and ran three miles, showered back in my room, then wandered the mall for food. It was after seven, but a lot of stores were still open, which for some reason delighted me. I didn’t want to shop but I liked knowing that I could if I wanted.

I felt like having bad Chinese of all things, and got myself a plate of Panda Express. It was pretty good! The vegetables were fresh and only lightly cooked with no sauce, the way I like them, and I enjoyed orange chicken. Then it was back to my room for some herbal tea and television.

I watched a terrible movie with Robert Pattinson. From the movie, I realized that a) Robert Pattinson is a kind of weird-looking dude, and b) he can’t act for shit. Christina Ricci was quite good though. In their scenes, she seemed to force Pattinson to tone down his overacting.

Friday, March 8

Another day at the book fairĀ  and lots more talking. I had plans with my friend PL in the afternoon. I hadn’t seen PL in years, since before I moved to San Francisco, and was glad to learn that she’d be at AWP with her magazine – and her nine month old.

I was yakking with someone when all of a sudden a woman with an adorable baby walked up to our booth. It was PL! Her son is soooo cute. He’s very chubby and smiles at everyone. I wanted to kidnap him and bring him back to SF.

After I finished working, I went up to PL’s room and hung out. It was so great catching up with her. It had started to snow a lot earlier in the day, which was a good thing because PL and her sister (who had come along to help with the baby and for fun) ended up staying that night instead of leaving during the day, which gave PL and me a chance to have dinner with ES too, who would be staying with me in my room, as well as a couple of PL’s friends/colleagues.

None of us really wanted to go outside so we ate at PF Chang’s. It was pretty tasty, though quite salty. I found out one of PL’s colleagues, who’s a writer/editor now, used to be an actress and had a small but pivotal role in one of my most favorite shows ever. I forced myself not to act like a stupid fan girl and limited my questions to half a dozen. She was super-nice about it.

Saturday, March 9

I was really tired on this day since I didn’t sleep well the night before. I slept well all the other nights, at ES’s and at the hotel. But the night ES stayed over, we stayed up very late, past two AM, and I got stressed about getting up in time to work the fair and to pack my stuff and check out. I got maybe two hours of sleep. Ugh!

But working the book fair was fine. With lots of coffee and adrenaline, I was able to power through it. I was, however, worried about having a lot of leftover notebooks to ship back.

PL and her sister (and the baby!) came by, and I complained to them about my plight. They told me to go ahead and use the bathroom if I needed to, and they could watch my stuff. When I came back I saw that they had totally taken over the booth and were giving away notebooks like crazy: “Free notebooks! You know you want a free notebook! Yeah, you do!” They were so awesome. They had heard my spiel several times so they could repeat most of it. I got to show lots of people the site and we had a ton more entries in our favorite word contest (the results are here). That day the fair was open to the public so ES was there too. It was loads of fun.

After we were done, we grabbed a late lunch at the food court, and then PL and her posse was off.

ES and I schlepped back to her ‘hood to head out to a cooking party one of her friends was hosting. Luckily the weather had improved tremendously so getting around wasn’t too bad.

Since I was dead tired and am not a confident cook, I sat around like a bum while everyone worked to make delicious crepes. (Crap, I should have taken some pictures.) The crepes were delicious. ES made a layered dish with spinach, lots of cheese, and, well, crepes. It was so damned good.

Sunday, March 10

My last day in Boston! ES and I had every intention of seeing a movie, but ended up yakking the day away and missed the start time. I was just as happy to walk around and enjoy the nice weather.

In the late afternoon, we went to a town that’s on the way to the airport and had an early dinner of yummy Korean food. The restaurant was very modest, but I knew it had to be good because there were Korean people eating. And good it was. I had duk mandu gook, which is a clear beef soup with beef dumplings, rice cakes, glass noodles, and egg. I want it now!

Then we were off to the airport, and I was catching my flight to Newark. Since it’s only an hour in the air, the plane was quite small. One row of seats were singles, which felt totally luxurious, especially since the flight was half empty. I had to a wait a while for the train from the airport to my parents’, but the ride felt fast, even full of drunk college kids on their way home to Rutgers. Then I was at my ‘rents’.

~ ~ ~

The time with my parents was nice. I got to catch up on sleep and work, and eat my mom’s good cooking. I also got to see another college friend for lunch. Inevitably my parents started to get on my nerves, and I was very happy to head back to SF. I’m currently still on east coast time, which means early to bed and early to rise, but I like that anyway.

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