07 December 2009

Wyld Stallyons

Listening to: The Swell Season, "Falling Slowly." A couple of years ago, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova starred together in "Once," a semi-musical and a great movie. I didn't realize this but they partnered up and perform as The Swell Season. Maybe you knew this already? Sadly, their romantic partnership is no more but their new album is out. Which proves you don't need to be in love to make beautiful music. Or in love with each other anyway.

I'm in San Francisco for about a week and a half, to do some book events as part of Holidaze for the Debs. I'm not exactly sure where I live at the moment since it seems to change every few weeks, but the Bay definitely has lots of things going on, which is a major plus. Just today I jauntied over to the SF Public Library for a panel about community and academic writing programs, hosted by Barbara Jane Reyes. I totally forgot about the parking situation in San Francisco so arrived late and missed Claire Light's intro bit, which was half the reason I got up at the crack of one-ish to attend. Life lesson: Show up to time sensitive events on time. I'm one of those people who are perpetually twenty minutes late and that's just not going to cut it in the real world is it?

The panelists were evenly split between writers and poets who had MFAs and those who didn't. I know a lot of writers struggle with the question of whether or not getting a MFA is necessary or something to work towards, and I'm definitely not knowledgeable about the topic so go read Claire and Barbara's opinions on the matter, which were sparked by, I believe, an article in the New Yorker that asked if creative writing should be taught.

I hope someone recaps some of the wonderful things the panel covered but basically they shared personal experiences about how they've built their writing careers, the positive and negative things they've encountered in both grad school and community writing programs, and what avenues they've explored for mentoring and growth.

One audience member asked "What's a MFA?" Which seems like a silly/stupid question until you realize, wait, yeah, what is a MFA?" Master of Fine Arts is the short direct answer. Oscar Bermeo gave a much better and more eloquent response actually, and I wish I could summarize it here but I'd be doing him a disservice if I tried to paraphrase it. Oh it looks like he has a recap of his talk here on his blog (and PAWA has a links page from the panel).

The West Coast Holidaze kick-off event was my first bookstore signing and it was definitely interesting. I'll write about all the book events later but let me just say that I have much respect for all authors who are sitting at a table piled with their books. If you ever see some nice authors sitting behind a table at your bookstore, go over and talk to them. Don't run away! Especially if there's candy for the taking.

We were slated to be there for only about an hour but stayed for two and I met some excellent people and had a really good time so it was definitely a nice start to the week. Plus my support staff of friends and George came with me so that was kind of awesome. I also bought (ahem, pink and glittery) Gelly Roll pens to sign with. Which caused people to come out of the woodwork declaring their love and allegiance for Gelly Roll pens. Since I didn't know what they were beforehand I guess I didn't even have the cool pens in middle school, which helps explain so much. Grown up me would go back in time and give less grown up me a collection of Gelly Roll pens. My social status would have been top of the charts then, obviously.

The rest of my first weekend here was spent upgrading George to a new television. Her old one was ridiculous and well, old. Her new one allows us to make comments like, "This picture is so clear! We can see his pimples!" Between this and the cold weather, we were highly unmotivated to leave the house.

We did drag ourselves out to SOM Bar on Saturday, and decided to take impromptu awkward prom pictures. Well, we decided to take prom pictures, the awkward part just happened. It's amazing how you get into the prom picture position and weird smiles, terrible facial expressions, and ridiculous body positioning just happens.

For the record, I have a horrific prom picture. I never went to any dances until a blind date prom my senior year. I thought I had pulled off the picture fine until the pictures arrived and my friend pointed out that I was hunched over and my butt and hips were positioned like three feet away from my date. Real winner. Maybe grown up me needs to go back and fix quite a few things.