Waitress: Have you seen the movie Forrest Gump?
Waitress: Would you like to play Forrest Gump trivia?
Us: Will there be prizes?
Waitress: Yes. They may not be prizes that you value . . .
Us: [shrug. Collectively.]
Now is as good a time as any to point out that there were two other esteemed persons in our party at Bubba Gump Shrimp--friend P and elder statesman poet, whom I'll identify with the initials A.G.:
Waitress: What was the name of the girl Forrest Gump was in love with?
Me: (too, too quickly) Jenny. (luckily, I did not say Jennay, but I almost did.)
A couple more trivia questions ensued. Our prize?
Waitress: Everyone raise your hands. Now, give each other a high five!
However, when the same cruel trick was played on a table nearby, we watched with interest:
A.G.: I want to see how they react when they find out what the prize is.
Ha. I made A.G. laugh. He will never remember my name, but he said, on the way out, that he would never forget that he had heard the word "Schadenfreude" uttered in Bubba Gump Shrimp. So I'll always have that.
HOWEVER: though yesterday may have involved picking up AWP materials, today was in fact the first day of the conference proper, and the people, I did it up proud. I attended and took copious notes at:
- a session on prose poems
- a session on putting together a book of poems
- Dr. Write's session on the new domestic fiction
- a tribute reading to Craig Arnold
- Nikwalk's panel on coming of age in the personal essay
And then, we ate dinner at H Burger, which was swell, because they had (a) amazing fries, and (b) a good veggie burger, and (c) I was unbelievably hungry. I was the kind of hungry that, when they brought my drink, in my case a lemonade/iced tea combo, I could feel it trickling into the empty space where my hunger was raging. That's because breakfast happened when the sun was not quite up yet, and lunch was some crazy seed bar--seriously: a bar made out of seeds and some slightly sweet hold-the-seeds-together stuff--and an apple. Which, the people, tided me over, but I think we can all agree: a seed bar and an apple are not lunch. NOT lunch.
After the entirely satisfactory dining experience, we met up with some people down in the teeming hotel bar which had the immediate effect on me of sending me, with kisses to the friends I wanted to see, fleeing back to my room.
Which leads me to this point: many many sessions in a day at a conference can be good. Each one of those sessions today was rewarding in its own way, and I am pleased to have attended. However, I have learned the following life lessons:
- I am exhausted.
- Eat lunch.
- Time to go to the book fair.
- Sleep better. (I am looking for an implementation expert for this bullet point.)
After fleeing, reflecting, and resting, I went down to the keynote address by Michael Chabon. As exhausted as I was and am, that was excellent. He is hilarious. I loved it. And now, Day One is concluded, I am several poems behind on the National Poetry Month extravaganza, my eyes hurt, and it is time for bed.