Good grief!! Eight more days. Only eight more days...I wonder where all that time is going to go? Again, I am just blown away by the awesomeness of this place. That's not necessarily good writing, but it's sure as heck the truth.
I met up with the girls I met last night and they and one of my roomies, Jackie, went to this little coffee shop called 'Maggie's Buns' for breakfast. On our way in, someone gave us a shout out, so we were cheering back at her. Turns out, it was Maggie herself. She told us to come back on Sunday and there would be free coffee and muffins as a 'pay it forward' kind of thing. And also if we came by before 5:30 a.m. just to knock and someone would open up just for us.
I tell you what, that place has some amazing cinnamon rolls. I chose the organic drip coffee to have with it, and together it was pretty incredible. The coffee itself was brewed a little strongly, and it seemed to go a bit sour pretty quickly. Though, I'm sure carrying the dregs around and sipping it until lunch didn't help matters any.
Peter Sears came out and joined us for breakfast. He signed my American West book :D I'm so excited. He also complimented the layout and talked about it a little bit with me. It was fun to sit there and listen to him gossip. He said that most people his age only talked about grandchildren, dead friends, and illnesses, so that gave him license to gossip as it was more interesting conversation. Or at least something like that. It was fun to listen to.
We headed back for the Welcome, and the first Craft Talk by Marvin Bell. That was pretty amazing as well. He had some good techniques for overcoming writer's block, a couple of which I plan to try out. After him we had the New Student Orientation which just got those of us who are in our first semester to stand up and tell a little about ourselves, find out about the residency and the requirements set out for us so far, and learn a little more about advisor pairings and such. I also found out I can still revise my study plan as long as I have it in by Tuesday. I've already had a couple of suggestions on books to read in lieu of the random ones I chose, so I'll have something a bit more coherent to add. I'm excited for that.
Lunches are free, and, minus the confusion in the lunch line (apparently one must go down the salad bar in the middle, then return to the end and go down one of the sides to get the food one desires, then basically go back to the entrance again and stand in line to have one's card scanned.) It seemed a bit like mass chaos, but hopefully tomorrow will go more smoothly.
Debra Gwartney did a craft talk after lunch on how to write detached dialogue during an intense situation, thereby actually allowing the reader to draw more emotion out of the words you are writing. She gave us some examples and they were pretty powerful.
After her came a guest speaker who talked about the life of a book reviewer. My time would probably have been better spent actually exploring the bookstore or writing reviews on the other two craft talks, but hey! It is what it is. That one was a good lesson on how not to make a speech, I think. He didn't really seem to have a point. Actually, he had one, but it was a long time in coming, short in delivery, and suddenly, randomly appeared. Well, oh well.
There was a mandatory blackboard session then, so I hurried back to retrieve the trusty 'top and followed the masses downstairs in the main hall. I pretty much could have figured out everything they showed us and wound up checking my e-mail, surfing Facebook a little, adding my picture to the roster so people would know who I am, the whole nine yards. Very exciting.
I tried to check out the bookstore but they close at four in the summer and it was after five by that point, so I took my stuff to my room and went grocery shopping. Came up with a sack of bagels, a loaf of bread, cream cheese, BBQ sauce, turkey lunch meat and swiss cheese. Woohoo! Breakfast and dinners baby! I figure since lunch is free I'll just make that my big meal of the day, lol.
Some of the faculty also held a reading tonight. I'll tell you something. (I actually touched on this with a graduating student afterward). There is nothing in this world, not a movie premier, an art gallery opening, even a celebrity standing in front of you whom you have always admired, which can trump the awe and utter magnetism of a reading. Most of you will think I'm crazy. But when you sit, especially in this case in an auditorium, your eyes focused on their face, your ears full of their voice, their pauses, their emphasis, the particular cadence of that reader's voice, there is nothing that comes close to that experience. It just blows me away every time. I remember one of the readings for New Poets of the American West. Greg Pape was reading in Missoula, and by the time he finished I realized I had been staring at him the whole time. Not just watching, but staring, watching the effect of the words on him, the way his face changed when he was reading, the emotion he felt and communicated with every heavy syllable. It's amazing. There is nothing like it.
Afterward, I asked David St. John, one of the faculty who read, to sign my book and he did so. I'm so incredibly excited about that. I'm trying to collect the signatures of all the faculty who are included in that book. I'd like to get all the poets, but I have a funny feeling that Sherman Alexie and Simon Ortiz might be difficult to track down...
I also talked to a couple of other students. There's one girl, Jan, who I keep running into. She's graduating, I think in fiction. I keep forgetting. I keep seeing her name and not her major. (Everyone has a nametag with their first and last name, major, and semester in the program.) I also ran into my student correspondent, Dot. Don't worry, I didn't hurt her much ;) Just kidding. I saw her and we talked for a little while. I guess someone told her I was really chatty...I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but she gave me the 'And here you said you were shy'. Well, I am shy. I've just never really had a place like this where I could talk to anyone about anything and they would listen and know what I'm talking about. I just don't know what to do with myself! I hope I'm not annoying anybody...
At any rate, I went off to the student reading because I'd talked to Dot and told her I was conflicted over whether to go to that or to come back and write up my reviews. She said hang the reviews, there's plenty of time to do them when we leave here (which is funny, because the directors keep saying to write them up the same night) and to go and meet people. So, I took her advice. Well, the only people in there were the Assistant Director, four students, and a smattering of others who straggled in and wondered why it was so empty. Apparently not a single person signed up to read. Oops. None of us had anything with us to read either, so, oh well. We'll be doing that tomorrow I guess.
Walking back to the hall I was talking to two women and showing them American West. One of them was so excited she decided she was going to get it off Amazon as soon as she got back to her room. Which makes me incredibly happy because I'm half in charge of publicity, so I guess I'm doing my job pretty well :)
I'm going to try and write up these reviews before I smack the sack. Have a good night all :) Tomorrow: Workshops! Stay tuned...