Post-Trip Post Trip


I've been trying to get this post out into the world for the past week, but the jet lag I've been experiencing has been real.

Even when I have been able to sleep at night, by midday my body keeps shutting down. There are two main philosophies of how you should handle jet lag: one says that you should fight the tiredness/wakfulness, the other says to go with the flow. I've been going with the flow, which frequently means having some extreme naptimes.

That tiredness feels entirely earned coming home from the trip that I had this year at AWP in Washington DC, and then in NYC the week after that.

Alternative title for this post: I went to AWP and Listened to Too Much Poetry and Now I Am Overcome with Beauty

There are too many people to thank to really make it clear who made this trip as meaningful as it was. Plus, I may have done that already on Twitter/Facebook. I think I owe more people apologies than thanks. I'm sorry I didn't buy more books than I did. My book-buying budget turned out to be much smaller than I expected once I flew in from Tel Aviv (at some expense). Add in the myriad, extremely high costs of attending the conference, and finding room and board and you can see why some folks (like the people pictured below and the makers of this pamphlet) are wondering if it's even worth it at all.

These folks (UDP?) were non-plussed with the economics of the conference and I don't blame them.

There were a lot of books I planned on getting at AWP that I just couldn't afford. And I wanted to afford them. And I still want the books. I'll find a way.

I did manage to buy some books, and to salvage a few more once I arrived in New York. I took an attractive Instagram photo of what I call my book haul in the literal sense because I had to haul in my luggage across a total of three airports and one trans-Atlantic flight.

Books that I bought, and books that were given to me, and books that I took from home. New stuff pictured here from 12:00: Jay Besemer's Chelate, Mary Boo Anderson's Tinder Buttons, Morgan Parker's There are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, the short story anthology, Articulated, Kelcey Parker Ervick's The Bitter Life of Božena Němcová, several iterations of Gigantic Sequins., and Flapperhouse: Year Three.

I'm having a hard time pinpointing the poignancy of this trip.

In DC and New York, there are too many people who I should apologize to for not being able to meet up with. Like my friend Kurtis Darby (author of Dead in the Rear: A Neo-Noir Mystery) says: Trying to meet up when I'm in New York is like Mission: Impossible. That's because I usually give no heads up when I am around until you hear from me out of nowhere saying I'm in your neighborhood and have fifteen minutes to see you if you are around in the next half an hour but then I have to explode. Then the message will explode. Kurtis is someone I didn't get to see this time around, and he's in good company. I missed so many of you on this trip and I'm really sorry about that.

Buuut, the people I did meet, both in DC and in New York, and the things that I did during that time, and getting there, have probably made this the most spiritually transformative two weeks that I have ever had in my life.

I read, I sold books, I gave a panel, I walked past the White House, took a Lyft past the Capitol, spent four days in close proximity to still-open-for-submissions Gigantic Sequins staff I love in gorgeous, gentrifying (with my Airbnb's help) Columbia Heights.

I somehow mastered the Metro machines, I broke down listening to poetry at the YesYes Books reading at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, which was full of DC's homeless on a night of sub-zero temperatures (Celsius). I found old friends Imogen Binnie of famous novel Nevada (Topside Press) & Brian Mazzara (pictured here with the photographer).

I was lucky enough that Brian, a talented teacher and writer, was able to give me a lift back to New York. Aside from the rain making driving conditions miserable, and the conversation, the highlight of the ride was spotting from the road a Wilson's Auto Body Shop just off of Harbor Tunnel Thruway in Baltimore. Of course the real Wilson's garage was located a lot closer to home.

Which is where I went next. For the next week I was in NY. At my mom's I spent Valentine's Day wandering a cemetary and rooting through the attic throwing away the past. I gave another reading, this one impromptu, at the Flapperhouse Year Three Flight Party. I got to see my bother Joseph Morena, aka Pizza Pentagram, paint portraits.

I think somewhere along the Hudson River line to Poughkeepsie, I reached the sublime. It really put a bow on the the whole trip, let me tell you.

This wasn't where it happened, but it looked a lot like this. Very unassuming.

That took place while I was on the way to see Hannah K. Messler, artist of the extraordinary The Opposite of Easy, who let me play with her and Joe Garden's dergs in the woods. It was fun. Later, I missed the train back when some railway grifter tried to con me. It didn't work.

Not the least of which, I need to thank my favorite writer (see here and here and here), the lovely, talented, understanding and sexy, Karen Marron, for tussling with this pair of gremlons all on her own for the two weeks I was gone.

My biggest takeaway from this whole trip has been a kind of zealous re-dedication of myself to Karen and our life together. Does that sound scary? It feels scary.

And now I'm back. Things are as beautiful and weird as they should be.

Also, check out these creepy tiny hands:

[All photos in this post by me and shared via Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) license.]

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