The Writer’s Hotel Conference

 

Tuesday. June 6th.

I left for The Writers Hotel Conference at 2:57 p.m. from Salt Lake City, Utah. Cat and I stopped by the ATM to pull some cash, then we drove the short, fifteen minutes or so it took us to reach the SLC airport. The air was hot and dry, nearly 90 degrees, and the sky was blue, almost too much so, and I found myself looking forward to the humidity and greyer skies of the Northeast.

I arrived to the airport early, way too early, and so had almost two hours to kill, as leaving at 3:00 p.m. from the Salt Lake City airport on a Tuesday only takes about 15 minutes to get through security and walk to your gate.

I bought a Jamba Juice and then walked through the airport trying to find the last remaining smoking room of the airport. For some reason, though you cannot drink beer higher than 3.2% on draft in ALL of Utah, you can still smoke at the SLC airport. I tried Terminal D, where my flight was leaving, first, then made the longer walk to Terminal C. No luck there either. So, I walked even further to Terminal B where I knew for sure there was a smoking lounge. To my surprise, after nearly twenty minutes of walking, the smoking room was now gone. In it’s place was a brand new power outlet charging station with the three rows of blue vinyl seats. I took a deep breath. That’s fine I thought. I’ll survive, it’s only, what 5 hours to NYC? I actually wasn’t worried as I had cut down to 3-5 smokes a day and so going five hours wasn’t a big deal. Still, I was disappointed I had just wasted 45 minutes walking through the airport in search of a tobacco fix.

I fell asleep after take off, waking up shortly after somewhere above Wyoming. I tried to read and write some, but I was distracted so after one chapter of The Sympathizer by Viet Than Nguyen, I turned on the movie Silence by Martin Scorcese, about three priests/missionaries who undergo a crisis of faith while witnessing in 17th century Japan. It was a film I’d wanted to see, though watching it in flight for my exciting conference put me in an altogether dourer mood than I wanted to be in. This, coupled with my lack of nicotine, taxi-ing for thirty minutes on the JFK runways, a twenty-minute wait to get off the plane, another ten minutes to walk through the airport, and another twenty minutes to wait for my bags while my friend Justine waited to pick me up, was a bit of a killjoy.

No matter though, I was in Brooklyn, NY! To counter the coffee I drank on the flight I drank some bedtime tea at my friend’s Cole and Justine’s Bed-Stuy apartment. I fell asleep somewhere between 2:30-3 in the morning Eastern Time, which meant it was only around 12:30 for my Mountain-Time-zoned tuned body. Outside, there was no noise as the dull glow of an orange streetlamp cast shadows through the one bedroom apartment.

Wednesday June 7th.
I slept in Wednesday and too the train to Dumbo, Brooklyn where I had a bagel and a macchiato from Brooklyn Roasting Company. I tried to go bouldering at a place under the Manhattan Bridge, but some film was being shot and the boulders were closed. I then rented a Citi bike, biked over the Manhattan Bridge, and had a Cubano with my friend Luis on the rooftop of his Lower East Side apartment.
The first reading was at a bookstore called the Kinokuniya bookstore across from Bryant Park. We heard readings from Said , Roxanna Robinson, Shanna McNair, and Scott Wolven. All terrific.

We then went out for informal meet and greet at the Algonquin Hotel. I chatted with people from Texas, Norway, London, and Delaware (honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone from Delaware). I had expected the price of the drinks to be insane but I was struggling to find a word more intense for the price of the cocktails, of which I had two and clocked in at $16 and $18 a piece. The minimum price. Holy money. Two of the T.A.’s for the conference, Erica and Adeeba, offered to give me a ride home as they too were staying in Brooklyn. So, after paying my exorbitant tab (at least the drinks were strong) I rode with them to Greepoint. They asked me about my book and life and I had a hard time explaining it to them (of which I knew I needed to do a better job of as I was pitching the book to agents Sunday). When I tried to explain how marriage was hard and life was difficult and how my religious upbringing influenced everything including my depression, I think they got the feeling I was headed for divorce or suicide, though they themselves had asked the overtly personal questions. Ask and you shall receive. Next time, I will do the more socially acceptable human thing and speak in platitudes like “Yes, marriage is great! It’s hard but good.” I learned that night that any other answer begs to be misinterpreted by the questioner.

I should have gone home and gone to bed as I needed to leave my house at 7 to get to the conference by 7:30, but I was in New York and my friend Nick invited me out and I couldn’t say no. So, I met him and his partner Pearl at Irene’s in Greenpoint and we watched the rest of the Cav’s/Warriors game. Here the drinks were cheap and I got a PBR and a well whiskey on the rocks for $9. Now, that’s more like it. After two rounds I headed home and was met with the news that G was cancelled for the remainder of the night and the bus was the only option. I was a touch drunk and so decided to Lyft, which also turned out to be more expensive than I thought because of the price surge. The ride took longer than I thought and because of all the drinks I had to use the bathroom. Once home, I fumbled around for my keys desperately needing to pee, like immediately. The keys or my hands holding the keys wouldn’t work and as I was standing there on the Bed-Stuy stoop, I felt a warm sprinkle emerge below my waist, slowly turning into a constant, warm stream spreading out in two divergent trails making their way down the steps. As Taylor Swift says, “Welcome to New York.”

 

 

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