AWP16: I went, I saw, I Conquered a Few Things

Part I- The wins

AWP happened.

I did a little fundraiser to help get me there and it was fairly successful. I did not raise the full amount, but my travel to and from was mostly covered.

Last year AWP was taken to task by a lot of folks, myself included, for having Vanessa Place in a position of power. You can read some of what I wrote about the whole mess here and here.

To begin with I had very grand plans. I wanted to go and rage and rail and make it known that the racist fuckery wasn’t going to stop me doing the whole writer at AWP thing. I really wanted to be another brown face, another voice blablabla.

Grand plans.

To avoid the mega social anxiety and panic attacks I had when I went to AWP here in Seattle in 2014 I had a team. My squad included my disabled partner (referred to on the internet as Uniballer), my Bestie of almost 20 years Cookie and determination.

Before we get to the conference itself, I want to talk about the other things I got out of going. As in, my journey (a phrase I hate, but any port in a storm right now) to AWP and the moment I realized- this is not for me.

My partner and I travelled Greyhound to Los Angeles because I’d never done a long bus trip like that. Never again.

That said, I at the ripe old age of 39 have finally conquered a lifelong major aversion to using strange bathrooms. As you might imagine, this has resulted in a few UTI’s, long, uncomfortable outings and me peeing on benches and in planters. Somehow, in my brain stranger bathrooms mean stranger danger. I’ve had a checklist of things that make a bathroom no longer a stranger and then I have my other preferences.

Can’t be too cold, the lighting can’t be too reminiscent of SAW, it can’t be weirdly proportioned. I need to have been going to a place for some ever changing amount of time before it is familiar enough for me to pee there. My whole peeing in public thing is so ridiculous I worked at my job for something like 3 months before I felt comfortable using the bathroom.

That said, somewhere around Medford, Oregon, I pooped at a truck stop with weird lighting, a cold steel bowl and strange people yammering around me.

It was a personal victory.

Other personal victories. I walked up to somebody I’ve met before (Roxane Gay in this case) and said hello. I generally don’t think people remember meeting me so that was pretty great.

I also got to meet some very loud and wonderful women I’ve known on the intertubes for a long while. I probably stared at Saeed Jones in a very creepy way because I wasn’t sure if I should say hello or not. I may or may not have also fangirled about Danez Smith to myself whilst staring because I’m a very anxious sweaty little weirdo. I did not go introduce myself to either of them or some other people I admire a lot.

However, I did manage to hand out the beautiful business cards my best made me, I talked to publishers and presses about my work at the bookfair. I traded cards with some folks, I introduced myself and was able to actually flip some of my credits out because that is a thing I struggle with.

I did a lot of things I was too scared to do in 2014.

I only had a couple of fairly low key panic attacks. I had one case of the anxiety fueled poops.

I saw a lot of folks I thought I recognized but felt too anxious to say anything.

As my partner pointed out to me, even though I left feeling unfulfilled and with some hurt feelings I did a lot of positive stuff for myself.

I also had a reading which, just like last time was the easiest, most amazing part of the whole shebang.

Below you can find the entire video of my performance.

To wrap up part one of my AWP experience thing, I’m only kind of mad. I missed seeing a lot of friends, but I had a lovely time.

I came home with a fuckton of stuff to read, a couple of signed chapbooks, some new friends, having had the serious privilege of hearing my Bestie read something literary for the first time, I got to read some brand new poetry. So I managed some wins.

However, I did fail at one huge thing. I did not get my chapbook/zines done so I had to leave them at home. I cried and cursed my printer and myself. Apparently, zine making of the sort I wanted to make is just not in my wheelhouse. That means that the Motherfuckess Manifesta And Other Poems will have to wait for me to be a bit calmer so I can let my partner help me do them.

Below find video of me reading, it is NSFW or children or those with delicate sensibilities.

Part II will be next week about the downside to me going to AWP.