I believe my last entry left off right before Justin Torres was about to give a craft talk. I did indeed attend that craft talk, and I quickly came to the conclusion that Justin Torres is great and I want to be his best friend. During his talk he was engaging and honest, not to mention hilarious. Some gems:
- When writing realistic fiction, your artistic integrity must be important enough to you to be willing to potentially hurt the people you love.
- Genre entrenchment is unfortunate. Feel free to explore both fiction and poetry, and to mix them.
- How to get the most of an MFA program: buckle down and be a writer. Connect with the writing community. Grow thick skin.
Afterwards we all took Mr. Torres out to The Peppermill. I was excited to go, since I had heard of the establishment many times. I was not disappointed. This diner/bar is in the kitschy old part of Vegas, which so far has consistently been my favorite part. We sat in large round booths beneath ugly fake plants, our gaze drawn by the flames that danced on a pool of water, drinking happy hour mojitos and discussing literature. Tackiness is next to godliness.
Wednesday was a "work hard" day. Taught class, went to zumba, finished writing an essay. Not so much fun to write about.
Let's skip right to Thursday, because it was, of course, HALLOWEEN! My favorite holiday. There was candy in the writing center. Our gothic fiction class fit right in with the mood. (You should read Sylvia Plath's story "Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams." Delightfully creepy.) Later that evening we celebrated by going to a strip club. Yes, a strip club. One of our friends (whose name I will not use here) is, in fact, a stripper. So we all went (in costume, of course) to a dingy little joint in the Vegas suburbs to see her dance. I had never been to a strip club before--it was about what I expected. I think I probably analyzed the whole thing a little too much. Found myself tipping ladies mostly based on the difficulty level of their acrobatic feats. There was a costume contest. Joe was robbed. That's all I'll say about that.
Here's a picture of me in fine sugar skull form:
We did not get home until 2 a.m. While we were having a good time, this was ultimately rather unfortunate, as I had to give a presentation in my pedagogy class the next day. Don't worry, dear readers--the presentation was just fine. If there's anything I can do well, it's act bright and cheerful and alert on only a few hours of sleep. Friday evening Olivia and I finally found the time for a girls' night again. Indian food, as usual. Delicious. Because I'm a perfectly normal person, I then went straight to bed and fell asleep watching Carrie.
Saturday was the Vegas Valley Book Festival. I went early to hear Maile, one of my professors, moderate a panel with a few authors, including Alissa Nutting, whose novel Tampa I would highly recommend if you want to feel 100% uncomfortable. Seriously. It's a remarkable read. The weather was beautiful, and I had a wonderful time hawking The Salted Lash with Michael--rather, attempting to hawk The Salted Lash with Michael, because nobody was buying. Nevertheless, I enjoyed spending the day outside, talking with Michael and Joe and Olivia and Aurora and Derek.
Then we come to last night--oh, last night. Last night was fun. It was Joleen's birthday, so we all went dancing at Free Zone, our favorite gay bar. I met Olivia there a little early, so we managed to catch the entirety of the 10 p.m. drag show. After that it was just a ridiculous dance party, a dance party to the extreme, a dance party turned up to 11. Let me tell you: us MFA kids have got the moves.
On a final note, I want to thank my parents for finally sending the rest of my belongings from Chicago. (Hi Mom & Dad!) It was a somewhat harrowing experience getting the giant boxes home from the FedEx store, but with Lulu's help I managed. (My roommate is a saint.) I am so happy to have a bedside table again. You have no idea how nice it is to have my tea at arm-level. It's the simple things.