Post-AWP Vibes

Went to virtual AWP last weekend. Decided to give myself a break and just enjoy the ride. No promoting, no marketing, no networking, no nothing. Just sitting there and listening. I know, I know. Me listening? What? Haha, well, contrary to popular belief, I do listen to people. Those people are usually pretty interesting. If you think I’m not listening to you, there must be a reason. Maybe the problem is… you.

Anyway, onto to the interesting people. Yes. So much room for diverse stories in the world these days. Fabulous. I found myself both inspired and enlightened by the things I heard. Took some valuable notes on craft and saved more of those panels to check out later. I listened to readings from writers of every single obscure background you could imagine. I heard discussions on mental health, disability, and trauma. I attended every panel I could on Native & Indigenous works.

So much to say, no way to say it. I cannot possibly express everything I heard in words. All I can say is… I’m not alone. I belong here in this world. My stories will find a home someday. We all have a place.

Great. Now I’m crying in public. So embarrassing for my life and my soul. Whatever. I suffer for my art. It is what it is.

Long story short, I walked away feeling inspired and renewed. I really was genuinely surprised by how many other writers were working in similar ways in similar genres. I felt my process was completely validated. I realized that everyone around me who gets down on me all the time basically just sucks. As stated at the beginning, I don’t have to listen to everyone. I don’t want to.

It was a good time. I’m glad I took the pressure off myself to participate and, like, be, you know, BETSEY HORTON. Ugh. What a weight to carry. It doesn’t even feel like my name anymore. It’s bigger than me. It’s beyond my control. It doesn’t really feel like me. I feel more like the new character I created while at AWP, which is a white lab rat who escaped from a Big Pharma testing lab and now runs around free in the countryside. Yep. That’s me. No name. Just a serial number and a lot of scars from cruel and unusual medical treatment.

I was pleasantly surprised when it came out. I wasn’t expecting it all, but there I was, sitting at the basketball games later, wasted AF, sitting on the patio at Cleo’s checking my brackets, and BAM! There it was! The white lab rat. Next thing you know, I’m crying in public again. Luckily, no one ever goes out there so no one really saw. Or maybe they did. Who knows at this point anymore?

I let the rat run around for a couple of days before asked it what it wanted to do. It says it wants to learn Portuguese. Why? Just because it can. It wants to distract itself from its tragic past by exploring another world. So I switched the language course on Duolingo to Portuguese, started a Brazilian film and TV binge, and started reading Wikipedia articles about Portuguese history. Why not, right? Wtf else am I going to do with all of my free time? Why NOT learn a new language? It’s not like it’s hard. I already took both French and Spanish. Portuguese is essentially smooth sailing from there.

So that’s been my week so far. Now I’m sitting here. Did some website updates. Just letting the creative juices marinate. I call it my personal gumbo pot. I’ve collected a lot of interesting ingredients from my travels, courses, media consumption, language learning, and academic pursuits. I’ve got them all cooking together in the pot. I’m just waiting for that key ingredient to bring it all together. I feel like Portuguese may be o cheve (the key).

Speaking of courses, I took some time to sit down and go over everything I’ve been doing for the last two years. Amazing what you can find on the internet these days. My binder of business notes is bigger than some of my semester notes from college. It’s like I did an actual program without doing an actual program. Anyway, it’s useful. I don’t regret any of the money I spent to gain this information. Everything I’ve invested in so far education-wise has been 100% worth it. And what do I call this particular gumbo pot? Paris in South Dakota, of course. You just have to let those giant crab legs marinate a bit longer.

What else? Oh yes, the front page updates. God dammit. I tried to look at Bloody Mary’s again and I’m just so sick of it. I don’t even want to look at it anymore. I hate it. It’s like watching the season’s harvest rot on the vine. Ugh.

It’s clear I just need a very long break from South Dakota before I can even broach the topic again. I just can’t even with it anymore. I have just taken a full step back and removed myself from it altogether. I’m not keeping track of gossip. I don’t care who is who or what they’re doing. I’m not interested in what’s going on. I’m just sitting here having my Bloody Mary and spicy chicken sandwich with a side of curly fries, watching Attorney General Deerslayer get away with murder live on television while the Governor does whatever she does. Something, something racism. Something, something marijuana. Something, something whatever. Blah blah blah.

It’s just like… wow. I’ve got nothing to say at this point. Nothing. It is what it is. I’m not really sure I want to get involved with it. It’s… yeah. Just gonna take that residency card and GTFO. Come back to check my mail box every once in awhile. Disappear to a remote island somewhere off the coast of East Africa, where I will finally find the inspiration to write again. You know the drill.

Any other updates? Not really. Just here to say that de-centering men from my life was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself. Thank you, FDS & FLUS. You saved my life. I am grateful for the presence of these ruthless women in my life every single day. Thank you for helping me Level Up!

That’s all I’ve got for now. Tchau!

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