After AWP, which was faboola-fantastic in terms of seeing beloved friends but totz ass in terms of being so tired that I bordered on psychosis, I took an hour and a half long airport shuttle ride out to Dulles airport, way out in the way-far in Virginia. Back in the back-when, when I lived with DC native Dyna, she made sure to let me know that the section of Virginia where she grew up was not Flavor Country. But here I was in the blue van, winding around the streets of her hometown, and the driver was blasting the local Christian rock station, and before I pulled my headphones out of my purse to blot that shit out, I noted that by and large, the male vocalists, who were, let’s be real here, singing love songs to another man (Jesus), all sounded like Eddie Vedder dipped in testosterone foam. The gruff, growly voice was a little too manly for my taste (I like manliness dialed down. I also like men who wear scarves) as if to say “I’m singing a love song to Jesus but, like, no homo, riiiiiight?”
When Sufjan sings “You came to take us/all things go, all things go,” I know “you” is God, and that Sufjan is firmly singing in the first person, humbling himself before some force larger than himself. But these bros on the radio were not doing that. They were telling the listener to get right with Jesus. Masculinity performed by being bossy and telling you what you have to do to make your shitty life better.
Later, as I was ordering my breakfast burrito special at the airport Chipotle (don’t judge, it was amazeballs), “Chicago” came on the stereo and I may or may not have lost it adjacent to the Coke machine.
Running, in my advanced age (41 in two weeks, holyfuckballs), on minimal sleep adrenaline insanity, WITH OTHER WRITERS, HOW WAS THERE NOT AN EMERGENCY??? I was bound for some assorted, generic sobbing here and there. Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian History Museum was a source of unfettered reflection. All I could think about was how Paul raised the countertops three inches because Julia was six-foot-three and he was much shorter than her and did things like build out her kitchen to tall-girl specs. And how no one does things like that for me. Wanted: someone to build me a tall-girl kitchen.
Everything is hard and there is so much snow, but in DC I saw many beloveds and had two Ethiopian food meals, and some seriously bangin’ tacos and lots of hugs and what I think was a date, maybe, with a far-away kindred who just happened to be there, but maybe it wasn’t a date, maybe it was just a friend lunch that ended with a lower back caress.
Kenzie took my new author photos and they are gorgeous.
And the zombie wander across the AWP book fair floor. What are we looking for? Who are we looking for? Sleep-deprived, I staggered into the Grub Street space, which they furnished with inflatable sofas, and told them I applied for a thing in their city and maybe I’d come by for a game of Bananagrams and can we be friends, but that thing is so competitive, so maybe not? And I filched fifty or so free pens from various organizations that didn’t want to carry their swag home. I bought Siel’s book and Liz P’s book (LIZ! I miss you, Liz!) and saw a Gutterite for a hot minute and my ass got a photo taken with Lidia Y. A good mix of Portland beloveds and Michigan pals to raise my spirits, plus a convergence of the 413 Bitch Mafia’s DC office for good measure (they are my investment, after all).
(Above we have the lovely and talented QUEEN OF THE MAIN STREET WRITERS MOVEMENT Laura Stanfill and a veggie combo at Lalibela, and on the right is some dude from Kansas who just happened to buy a dumb book about a dumb bartender that was in some pretend band.)
But we’re not just looking for books or publication credits or validation or friends or love, are we? Is that all we seek at the AWP?
I failed to offer a proper goodbye to various people I care about, so here: goodbye! I love you! Thank you for being in my life!
It felt good to be in a real city. Gosh, I miss cities. All the cities, right in the mouth, suck on cities like a cherry cough drop.
Next year in Portland, a tall-girl kitchen.
I’ll promise myself.
What I really wanted to hear on the Christian rock station was a song about how Mary was a stone cold fox, and how what these men really want is a woman who possesses the same qualities as Mary, for she is who God chose because she had character and integrity and hips that made her the ideal holy vessel. Evangelicals don’t much go in for Mary, but indie rock legends sure do.