Monday, March 6, 2023

On Not Going to AWP and Other Moves

Many people I know are in some state of travel this week.  Lots of writers are headed to the big writing conference, the AWP conference.  I went to a few of them; Tampa was an easy drive from my South Florida house, and we had such a good time that I decided to go the following year.  Unfortunately by the time of the  Portland  conference in 2019, I had almost no travel money, and by the following year, I funded the whole thing myself, to San Antonio in early March 2020, where we watched conferences for later March being cancelled and wondered what precautions we might should have been taking.

I am not on my way to Seattle this year for the AWP.  It's too expensive, and I'm no longer earning the kind of money that lets me fund the whole thing, which is easily $1,000 for the hotel by itself, not to mention airfare, which could also approach the $1,000 per ticket price, or not, if one is good at getting deals or traveling light, which I am not.  The conference fare looks cheap by comparison.

Plus, given all the air travel woes of the past year, I just do not have the patience for that kind of trip.  I need to be back on the east coast to go to my seminary classes.

I had planned to be in England this week, a trip with one grad school friend to visit another grad school friend who lives there.  But when we got the announcement that the building where I have my seminary apartment will be bulldozed, I decided to cancel the trip so that I could get ready for an unexpected move.  I did some packing and took a car load of boxes back to my North Carolina house, where I will be moved by May 15.

If there had been no announcement about seminary housing, I wouldn't have revisited that decision to move to seminary housing.  A lot has happened since I made the original application for housing a year ago.  A year ago, we didn't have this Lutheridge house.  A year ago, moving to seminary made sense--it was cheaper than our South Florida housing.  But now it makes sense not to have two places to live.

I'll still be going to seminary.  Wesley is offering more and more classes in a hybrid model: there are 2 week-ends on campus, and online modules between the week-ends. I've taken one class this way, and I like the way it builds community, but it offers a lot of flexibility too. I've also enjoyed the classes I've continued to take by way of Zoom sessions. In many ways, for a class that's a lecture (and most of my remaining classes are lecture, not hands-on art, not experiential field trips), attending by way of Zoom is not that different than attending in the classroom.

I'm trying to stay flexible as we face the future.  These past few years have made me better at pivoting, but the need to pivot still takes me by surprise.  I can't decide whether or not it makes sense to make long term plans.  In the past few years, so many of my long term plans have been upended.  Usually it works out for the better, but it does make me question whether or not to plan at all.

So, for those of you headed to AWP, good luck with the travel plans.  May you face no unexpected pivots.  For those of us with unexpected  moves, may they work out to be better plans than the original.  And of course, I'm me, so I wish for us all good discernment as we plan--or don't plan--for the future.

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