Ok... I'm back, recovered from the conference and whatever random ailment had me down yesterday (felt like I'd been hit by a truck, all aching muscles and exhaustion and sick in all the ways that make one feel really miserable).
So the conference. Everyone keeps asking me how it went. One word: excellent. Can I go back? Please?
Day One was last Saturday. At a little after 4, I went to pick up my writer, Paisley, from the airport to take her to the resort, and then out to dinner at the program coordinator's house. First impression: wow, she's really young. Second impression: Very cool. I like her.
Day Two was Sunday. The day started a little late (around 11:30), but from then on, it was like running a marathon. We got the conference room set up and spent the afternoon signing in participants. Then we had a fancy catered dinner with the whole group (pork roast, scalloped potatoes, salad, strawberry shortcake... nummy) and had the first of our many readings. It was Father's Day, so David Jauss read a short story about a boy and his father.
Day Three, the workshops started. Paisley was teaching the poetry workshop, and I was able to participate somewhere in between making photocopies and generally running errands. We started out with a few excercises and by the end we got an assignment. The rest of the day was spent again running errands, eating lunch, going to TWO readings (Tina in the afternoon and Paisley at night), and then at the end, driving out to the resort for drinks (well... drinks for most people, Coke for me) and conversation with writers and interns. I've gotta say, the end of the day was really a highlight for me. Just being able to hang out with everyone in a non-work setting was so fun. Tina and Judy were really cool to talk with--they've got all sorts of stories. Also, they share a similar sense of humor (wicked, a little dirty, a little silly).
Day Four was probably the quietest day of the conference (if you can call any day quiet). We had workshops again, followed by lunch, a conversation with members of the Writer's Union, time set up for private conferences with the writers (and during that time, an opportunity for me to squeeze in a nap one one of the comfy couches in the Student Union), and a drive back to the resort--this time for a nummy steak dinner with all the conference staff and faculty. We were back at the school at 7 for a reading from Robin, and then back to the resort for a little downtime with the writers before going home.
Day Five was big, because Sharon Olds was in town. The day started with workshops, of course. Then there was a private conversation with Sharon for conference participants only. It was really interesting--I'd read her poetry before, and she was nothing like what I'd imagined. Her poems usually seem a little dark, or maybe not dark but somehow serious and energetic at the same time, but her personality is so sweet and disarming. I could imagine her being a stern-but-kind schoolmarm or stay-at-home-mom. She's passionate and just... incredible. So, after the conversation, I had a quick meeting with Paisley to go over my manuscript, time for another short nap, and then a drive to the resort and home for dinner. At 7, Sharon Olds held a public reading (AMAZING) and afterwards came back to the resort with us to talk and relax.
Day Six was the final day of workshops, followed by presentations from each group. Those were really fun--Robin's group wrote their very own skit for the show, involving a "gypsy" with a towel-turban and a box of dog biscuits. The rest of the day involved another mid-afternoon nap (those glider-rockers in the union are so comfortable!), a picnic dinner with the participants, and the final reading from Judy. I was so amazed that I just HAD to buy her book (it's called Breaking Clean--look for it, it's good) and have it signed. Afterwards, instead of going to the resort for the evening, we all headed to Bridget's Cross, where some of the writers and staff sampled Scotch Eggs and we all ended up playing Skittle, this strange game involving a top-heavy gyroscope-type top thing and small bowling pins. Really weird. But really fun.
Day Seven was the end. We started with a nice catered breakfast at the university, and then a little bit of downtime while we wrapped everything up, said goodbye to everyone, and got the writers back to the airport for their flights home. I went back to the union right afterward to say goodbye to Susan, Sean, and Rose, and to get my final assignment: pick up whatever signposts I could find and put them in my car to return later. I was home by noon, at which point I promptly fell asleep and didn't get up again until almost 4 in the afternoon.
So that was my week. Amazing, busy, insane, and oh so wonderful I wish I could do it all over again. And now I'm back at my regular job, with work to do and writing to edit. I can't believe it's all over already... Wow. Anyway. Back to work, I guess. Have a good day, everyone!