Wednesday, March 07, 2007


I returned from Atlanta with a cold and am just now noticing it loosening. For years, I have slept only 4 or 5 hours per night, but when I returned from the conference, I slept 10 hours in a row. I like having colds -- I get one per year -- because it loosens my lungs, which very probably get too tight due to smoking. I like coughing once a year during a cold and blowing my nose.

I am the personal care attendant to an alcoholic who refuses to pay a regular salary and who instead throws perks my way, perks I accept, like a trip to a convention. My job is to answer the ringing phone all day, all hours, and to give succor.

I know of no way out. That there are employed women has me dumbfounded: how did they achieve it? Was I friends with women? Yes. Were they sex objects? Yes. Are they mothers? Yes. Am I? Mother of men.

Women at the convention I overheard saying the word "blog," said it with disdain, but they were women who keep blogs.

Each morning of the conference I rose at 5 a.m. and took a long time waking up, until I was ready to act at 8 a.m. By 4 p.m., I was too tired to find a stranger to eat dinner with -- the thought of it overwhelmed me, so I ate appetizers or alone in a hotel restaurant. I wanted to discern which women knew women there. The evidence suggested that many of them did. I wondered how they had met, found employment, agreed to be friends, to eat together as friends and to attend the conference as friends. In most heterosexual arenas, female friendship seems secondary, and sex performance the particular emphasis, something I secretly reject in favor of "meaningful relationships," what men still protest not to like. I wish we could understand this better: what about "meaningful relationships" dissatisfies men and what about sex-as-performance without solid friendships dissatisfies me.

Reports from the conference have mostly all been positive -- people are connected to each other in different ways. I studied short fiction most. Poets dominate at the AWP. I always managed to get along fine with poets.

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