This festival is turning out to be– well, pretty darn good. Was quite down-in-the-dumps yesterday over absence of Mayor of the Roses, but am now fully recovered. Other than a few minor mishaps this morning (such as spilling coffee over myself while foolishly trying to manipulate room coffee maker), I am feeling happy. Even managed to glance over the copy of the local paper, The Virginian-Pilot, that they leave outside my door every morning. Very helpful, that.

On the front page today are photos of Thelma Drake, Republican, and Phil Kellam, Democrat, who are running against each other for a seat in the U.S. Congress. On p. A3 there’s an article on the five soldiers who are awaiting trial for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Mahmoudiay, Iraq. On p. A5 is an article de-bunking claims that DHEA steroid supplements and testosterone patches slow the aging process. I read this article with more than passing interest. Conclusion seems to be that, no matter how much we try, we will all grow old. Helpful thought.

Last night’s main reading featured Dagoberto Gilb. This author has a kind of shambling charm. He walks on to the stage and starts simulating an absent-minded professor. Shuffles papers, takes his wristwatch off and makes a great show of positioning it on the lectern, asks Tim Seibles how much time he has, etc. etc. Then he launches into the oh-my-God funniest rendition of a true tale about his pal Riley whose predilection for getting high did not prevent him from acquiring a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from UTEP.

In the intros, Dagoberto was revealed to have been a carpenter. He says he told no one about his writing. I first heard about this man in the pages of The Threepenny Review. In the 1990s, he and I appeared in several issues of said literary mag. Now he has gone on to acquire an agent and publish many other books. Let me tell you that the auditorium last night (which looked like it could seat a good 300-400 people) was packed.

Started to worry about my own reading, later today (at 1:30 PM). I do not have the shambly charm of Dagoberto. In fact, my voice is rather thin and wispy. Also, I am very short, barely five feet, and I worry that no one will be able to see/ hear me from behind the podium. Failed to anticipate this problem and brought only flats. Oh, well!

Yesterday, met a grad student named Berry and his Filipina daughter, Angel. Turns out Angel’s mother left and is now in Japan with her new boyfriend. She left Angel with Berry.

Berry seems like a well-meaning dad, but when he tells me, right out of the blue, that two years ago he and Angel were evicted from their apartment, that the bank froze his assets and the two had nothing to eat, I throw an alarmed glance at Angel, sitting in the back seat. She is poker-faced but seems to be breathing rather quickly. “Are you all right?” I ask her. She nods silently. She says she’ll skip class and try to make it to my reading today.

Neck aches, but what can you do. Only one message from English 1A students (bad). Amy Hoffman finally replies: she likes my review of Dao Strom’s latest and will publish it in the Women’s Review of Books (success!)

Hmm, what else? Oh, yes, last night a few of the writers, including myself (and I shamefully admit to taking advantage of every opportunity for a free meal), were treated by Tim Seibles to dinner at Magnolia Steak. Wonder if I can try that again tonight, which will mean the third night in a row that I get the freebie dinner. Last night, could have sworn Tim cast a skeptical look my way when I walked in. Maybe will find alternative dining spot tonight. I hear Freemason Abbey, walking distance from the hotel, is quite good. Interestingly, the restaurant is located inside a 127-year-old church, which sounds enticing.

(To be continued…)


2 responses to “Enjoyment”

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