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?)
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!”).
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!