I’ve been in Portland for just over 24 hours now, and have slept soundly in no fewer than three unfamiliar chairs. Yesterday I met with the Gertrude team for the first time, and rode all over the city on buses and trains. My airbnb is a hostel situation with a private room, warm and cozy, in the Jade District. The neighborhood looks a lot like my own in Austin – a mix of remodeled tract houses, ancient, crumbling relics, and newly built pastel-colored eco-conscious houses with tiny yards. In my room there’s a little bag of ear plugs with a note warning me about the guy who lives next door and yells all night. I feel right at home.
Today I’m grading and planning for school, and I’ll probably drop by the conference center to register so I can make tomorrow’s 9 AM panel on my dang SCHEDULE.
My first AWP was 2013, and I was part of a reading for a cappella zoo. I had a fever the whole time – some kind of respiratory infection or cold that I probably gave everyone on the plane. I was also nervous about making contacts and networking and all that stuff, and I ended up sitting in the hotel bar with friends from grad school each evening after the panels, drunk and worried. I had very little fun. I just remember being sweaty a lot.
This time, I’ve made a plan. A PD plan, if you will. I’m not contagious. I’ve got a schedule, a warm place to sleep, and only a few obligations. I’ve got some groceries so I don’t blow my slim-ass budget. I’m not as sweaty, I’m not as worried about whether or not I belong at the conference or whether anyone can tell. I like being 42. It’s better than 40 and way better than any of the 30s.
I like where this work has brought me, and I’m lucky to be here.