Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Chickie Chickiecago

Today I purchased my airline ticket to Chicago for the AWP Conference in March and made reservations at the Hilton. Of course, I procrastinated too long and didn't get the $125 conference rate. Instead I'll be paying $144 for a studio room which means it's probably the size of a closet. No biggie, I don't spend that much time in my room. As long as I can fit 10 of my closest friends and a bong, I'm good. Oh, I kid, I kid. Everybody knows I don't have that many friends.

This will be the fourth in a row that I've attended. I've had fun at all of them and usually manage to meet lots of interesting writers and a handful of asses. The panels are always a mixed bag, some are suprisingly awesome and others, well, others are surprising in less complimentary terms. Attending is an energizing experience reminding me why I chose the weirdo field of poetry or "answered the calling," however you want to look at it. Since I finished my MFA three years ago, the life of letters has often been a lonely one. I'm not complaining, but it's still nice to gather with thousands of other folks who care about the same thing I do.

Some people complain about the conference registration fee, $175 for non-AWP members (students get the best deal, $40!). Sure, that's not cheap, but the real cost is the hotel room, especially if you plan on staying for the full four nights. Last year at Baltimore, with taxes, parking and the room rate it was was over $800 for four nights and I was staying in the craparrific Days Inn overflow hotel. The parking is what really peeved me. I drove because, Baltimore is only 90 minutes from D.C., dumbly thinking how lucky I was because I could do that. I paid more in parking than I did for my airline ticket to New Orleans the year before. So if cost is an issue for you, my advice is to get some friends and chip in on the room together.

Baltimore wasn't a very good choice. First of all, it has some of the highest STD rates in the country which means I couldn't sit on any of the toilet seats. Not taking any chances there! Secondly, the place that the conference was held at was way too small, lots of the panels and readings were in rooms unable to accommodate the audience size. I'm sorry, I'm not going to stand outside the room with 80 other people attempting to overhear a discussion. The worst part was it was near impossible to crash the VIP parties since they couldn't handle the *invited* guests. Some young poet was trying to wow me, saying he could get me into the party because he was very good friends with Virgil Suarez. Woo-hoo. Duh, I don't want to be there if I'm allowed to be there. That takes all the fun out of crashing.


Post a Comment

<< Home