Ay Double You Pee On 84 Hours with 12 Hours of Sleep OMG my brain is melting how is this so much fun?

AWP panels

I say AWP: “awp.” Like the barbaric yawp, without a “y.” And other people say AWP: “Ay Double You Pee.”

Like to-may-toe, to-mah-toe. Except Ay Double You Pee is two seconds of my life I’ll never get back, everytime I say it (versus the monosyllabic awp). Also, it’s so much more fun to say it as “awp,” because you can have fun with words: AWPalachian, AWPful, AWPerator, AWPsidian, AWPbvious, AWPosition…I can’t stop. This does not work if you say it “ay double you pee.” Pee. Also, I don’t like to talk about urination. Just kidding: I like to talk about urination.

Speaking of urination: the bathrooms at AWP were dangerous. I told a man that he was entering the woman’s bathroom (in a tone that says “Don’t you dare!”). He turned around. He was a woman. I had to stand behind her for ten minutes waiting for a stall (Oh! I’m sorry! Your hair is short! From the back–” ugh). Awkward. I obscured my conference name tag from view.

In a separate bathroom line, I saw a woman slip in her boots on the wet marble floor of the restroom. She flew through the air in a dramatic face plant. Some of us asked her if she was okay. She sat splayed on the floor silent and stunned, surrounded by a circle of open jazz hands, like a musical dance number. Some of us continued to ask if she was okay. Others urged her to stand up. Some of us helped her stand up. I chose to tell her that we would not tell anyone about this incident. I just broke my promise.

I think I broke my brain. It screamed every morning. I had a hangover even when I didn’t drink. Even after 1.25 cocktails (or is it 1.25 cocktail?).

I had cocktails with…R and R. (Haha R and R–funnier if their names were actually Rest and Relaxation). I also had cocktails with…The Fourth Kingdom. The Fourth Kingdom sounds like a sci-fi/fantasy novel setting, but I’m telling you: it’s a group of Korean American writers. (Get it? Because Korea has Three Kingdoms?)

4th Kingdom group shot!

I knew hanging with Koreans would lead to drink. We hopped from bar to bar, closing one after the other: first car, second car, third car. And I met more Korean American writers. I met K somewhere in the third car. (Later, I learned she and I had a mutual friend in Jamey). It was like finding a lone Korean American writer wolf and adopting her into our pack. I always thought being a Korean American was like being a unicorn, so this gathering of unicorns? Amazing.

Chicago taxis that take credit cards? They’re total unicorns.

I can’t think of any segue for unicorns.

I went to panels. There were 10,000 conference attendees, and at times, it felt like waiting in line for a Disneyland ride. Some of the panels were advertised as readings and turned into amazing craft talks. And vice versa. I’ll be quoting from some of these panels for years to come.

I mistakenly told my friends I’d be taking meticulous notes at the AWP panels. I became the “designated panel attendee” while my friends went off to socialize (“Send me your notes!”).

crowds awaiting "selling out your relationships" CNF panel at AWP

I had so much fun. I haven’t had this kind of fun (the exhausting, no sleep, socializing to the max, letting go of my social inhibitions and opening myself up to new people kind of fun) in ages. I met new people. And made new friends. And I met good friends I’ve known online for the first time irl. Good times, good times.

And then I came home and had a bloody mary. To fend off post-AWP-hangover. I’d never had a bloody mary to treat a hangover before. It really works!



Filed under Writing

8 responses to “Ay Double You Pee On 84 Hours with 12 Hours of Sleep OMG my brain is melting how is this so much fun?

  1. It totally cracks me up that you say “awp.” I’ll have to remember that for my next AWP. This time around (my first AWP trip) I had a fabulous, overwhelming, terrifying, exhausting, staying-up-too-late-drinking kind of time. Did you go Margaret Atwood’s keynote? Wasn’t she fabulous? I wonder if we attended any of the same sessions. I’m also a relentless note taker, and I hope to post brief recaps of my favorite sessions soon…when I emerge from my post-AWP cold. (So I guess I should have ENDED the week with a Bloody Mary, not STARTED it that way. Hmm….)

  2. Amdrew W

    So you’re not subject to the AWPenal Code? You don’t want to meet up with your/eat some AWPeeps? Or AWPeel ‘n eat shrimp? Or hold a treaty signing ceremony between modernist poets and romance novelist to declare AWPeace, though it’s broken the next day when they run through the hotel halls pointing their finger-guns at each other and yelling “AWPyew, pyew!”

  3. NOT unicorns! The lore states that a unicorn will reveal itself by resting it’s head in a virgin’s lap, a Chicago cab driver would never, under any circumstances, reveal that they all take credit cards so long as fares with (oh, so untaxable) cash are possible. Welcome to Chicago: City by the Lake; City on the Make.

    Glad that you had a good time. For future reference, the 4th Kingdom might enjoy Cafe Bong, the divey-est Korean karoke bar in the world. Actually just remembering how divey it is makes me feel like I’m in a Nami Mun story–I need to go take a scalding hot shower.

    • @Laura: I know. I got mocked for pronouncing it “awp” while at AWP. I might share a little of what I learned at AWP in future blog posts. It was pretty fantastic, don’t you think? will you be going again? And yes, I attended Margaret Atwood’s keynote–in the nosebleed seats!

      @Andrew: harhar. 😉

      @Nate: If/when AWP returns to Chicago, Cafe Bong is on my list! In fact, it was Nami who organized our gathering in the first place. 🙂

  4. I’ve never been to a writer’s conference. I’ve been to two Blogher conferences which are much smaller and yet still completely overwhelming. Now I want to go to AWP next year.

  5. Although I see it’s a member only event. Something to consider at any rate.

    • @Angelina: No no no! AWP is an organization, but you do not need to be a member of AWP to attend! Just someone interested in creative writing and the craft thereof.

  6. I notice it’s in Boston next year. I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford to go but I’m going to keep it in mind in case I can work it out. I can’t think of a more energizing place to be than in a building with thousands of other writers. (Also exhausting – but in the best possible way!)

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