Friday night was our first Neon Lit in The Writer's Block, which is perhaps my favorite new spot in Vegas. Between our regular crowd and all the buzz the bookstore has been receiving, we pulled in quite an audience--all fifty seats were filled, and many other people were standing in back. (We're working on a way to squeeze in more seating next time.) Aside from my usual role in running social media for the event, I was also one of the evening's readers. I don't always get nervous in front of crowds--teaching's no trouble at all, and I can slay karaoke--but I do get nervous when I have to read something I have written in advance aloud to an audience. I have no idea why. When I introduced Manuel Gonzales the other week, my knees were literally shaking.
I felt a little better than that on Friday, partially because I was reading with so many of my close friends--Joe and Olivia and Brett read as well, and Shaun was the MC. The general cheer of our new surroundings helped, too; The Writer's Block is a charming space. But I was worried because I was reading two flash pieces, one of which was "funny." Which is to say that I was fairly certain it was funny, but I hadn't tried it out on people yet. Sometimes it's difficult to gauge whether my sense of humor will translate to others. Fortunately, everybody laughed! Success.
Here is a picture of the readers. We are adorable.
On Saturday Katie drove in from L.A. to visit, since our friend from high school Monica was also flying into town for a trade show. We went to Makers & Finders Coffee for brunch, which I've been meaning to try for several months. The chai was fine enough, but the turkey club was quite tasty, I must say. Later, after I'd rattled off a list of weird things to do in Vegas, Katie selected The Pinball Hall of Fame. We scraped the bottoms of our purses for quarters and tested our reflexes for a few hours. I've decided that the Waterworld themed game is the best one, mostly because a Waterworld-themed pinball machine exists? That evening we met Monica for late-late dinner and drinks at The Cosmopolitan.
Sunday morning Katie and I had brunch at Park on Fremont, picked up coffee/tea at The Beat, and walked down to The Writer's Block so she could see it. I bought Neil Gaiman's new collection Trigger Warning, which I am looking forward to devouring as soon as my schedule will allow.
Speaking of The Writer's Block, I sent them an email yesterday volunteering to teach a flash fiction workshop to kids. Their dynamic event space (where we held Neon Lit) actually folds into little classrooms, and this month they're kicking off the nonprofit portion of their business, where they offer writing workshops for Las Vegas students. So that is something I might be doing! We will have to see.
I am rooting for The Writer's Block. While many of the critiques of The Downtown Project are completely valid--its businesses are typically only appealing to and affordable for upper middle class white millennials, it's trying to force culture rather than allowing it to grow organically, etcetera--sometimes it does great stuff. Scott and Drew--the owners of The Writer's Block--are fantastic, and they deeply care about not just selling books, but also creating community. I mean, they moved all the way from Brooklyn just to do this. I hope they succeed, but I can't help but worry. Vegas is not a particularly artistic city; most people interested in the arts high-tail it out of here the second they can. I like Las Vegas, but will I stay here after I graduate? Probably not, because I can't imagine finding employment that interests me or for which my skills would be appropriate here. There is a burgeoning arts scene, but will it grow into something sustainable that can support people? I don't know.
I won't get into the whole "will Las Vegas ever be a real place?" debate here, as that would take forever. Here's a good article about the pros and cons of The Downtown Project from The Atlantic, though, if you're interested.
While I'm recommending articles, here's a piece from The New Yorker's anniversary issue called "Holy Writ." It's written by one of their senior proofreaders, and I love it because someone else thinks about comma usage as much as I do! More than I do, probably. Soulmates.
I should probably type up what I wrote today and watch one more House of Cards episode before bed. (I haven't finished the season yet, so no spoilers! All I'll say is that Claire Underwood is a badass. #ClaireUnderwood2016.) But before I go--if you didn't read my last blog entry, I need your help with my homework. Please volunteer to write a sentence for me.