It is 5:47 a.m., Central Standard Time, and I'm in the lobby of the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio, Texas. There's a woman working at the check in desk, and everyone else is male, all of whom are older. There's a man in a baseball cap slumped in front of a huge TV. There's another man in a baseball cap watching the TV from a distance. There's a man in a coonskin cap, complete with furry tail, hunched over his phone. There's another man with no headcovering shuffling back and forth between the doors of the place that serves Starbucks but isn't open yet. There's a member of the cleaning team, polishing the handles on the door.
At least the lobby is quieter this morning, in terms of the piped in music. The staff turned it down for me yesterday, and I guess that no one ever turned it back up. Thank goodness.
Yesterday at the AWP was frustrating. On Wednesday night, I mapped out plan for which panels to attend. I assumed that all the cancellations were in, and while I was expecting cancellations, I was surprised by how many of them I saw. Still, I saw plenty that I wanted to attend.
After finding out that one of the sessions that hadn't been canceled when I left the hotel room was canceled, I went to the first session on teaching writing courses online. While I didn't learn a lot that I didn't already know, I was O.K. with that--glad to know that most of us are experiencing similar outcomes. I was surprised to realize how many students live more than an hour away from schools that offer a bachelors degree. I am familiar with all the other reasons why people might choose, might even prefer, online classes: work schedules, family duties, and the ability to "go to school" at strange hours. I understood the desire to avoid commuting and traffic, but I hadn't really thought about how far some people are from a campus.
The panel didn't address what to do about those people who are so far away from campus who don't have reliable internet access.
Then I went to a session on university presses and why they might be a good fit for our manuscripts. Again, I didn't learn a lot that was new to me, but I'm hopeful that the resources (like lists of presses) might be helpful.
Then I went to the session that most excited me, a session about writing nonfiction about apocalypse in an age of apocalypse. Surprise--it was canceled. It hadn't been canceled when I left the hotel. Sigh.
I went back to the hotel and ate a praline. I made a Facebook and Twitter post about it: "This is not your grandma's praline: it's as big as my hand and has the amount of pecans my grandmother would have put in the whole batch of pralines, if ever she had made pecan pralines."
My grad school friend had much better luck with her panels--she came back ablaze with inspiration from going to a screenplay writing session. I was happy that one of us had that kind of luck. I was feeling a bit of sadness not just because of cancellations but also because of Elizabeth Warren's announcement that she's dropping out of the race. I was expecting her to do so, because of the Super Tuesday results, but I still felt this heavy despair.
Once again, old white guys remain, white guys who are richer than I will ever be. Sigh.
Back to our AWP coverage. It was getting on towards 2 p.m. CST, so my friend and I headed to the River Walk. We wanted to eat at the place that would make guacomole at our table, but they were very full, so we ate at the Mexican restaurant next door. We were able to get happy hour prices on drinks, but the margarita was blah. Happily, the food was yummy.
We relaxed a bit in the room, and then as the sun began to set, we headed out again to walk the less commercial part of the River Walk. And thus, we discovered a part of historic San Antonio that we hadn't seen yet. While there, we talked to some poets who wanted to know if we were looking for the place that they would hold their off-site reading. We said no and chatted a bit. The poet with cerebral palsy showed us her sketchbook--WOW. One sketch she made with a ballpoint pen--again, wow. I may go to their Neurodiversity and Verse session today.
We hiked towards the copper dome that we can see from our hotel room, the one that made me say, "Wait, isn't Austin the capital of Texas?" Yes, Austin is--I don't know what types of groups are in the tall building with a capital dome on top of it that's here in San Antonio.
From there, we were only a block from the Cathedral, which I wanted to see lit up at night. So we went over, and I took some pictures. On our way back, we stopped for hot fudge sundaes at the River Walk. We ended the day as we began, by strategizing the AWP and which sessions we'll attend and looking at the website to make sure they hadn't been canceled.
So, although the day had its disappointments, some of them severe, overall it was a good day. I expect today to be similar.
Or maybe it will be slightly different. I may make my way to the Alamo today--it's the anniversary of the day that the Mexican army defeated the Texas rebels.