However, right now I am in the other Washington, where I am trying to figure out how many pairs of boots and long johns to take with me.
I have lived in the land of moss and ferns for too long. I've become what my East coast friends refer to as "a cold wimp." Jack Frost has not nipped my nose since I visited Santa Fe in 1986 and came down with a terrible flu after jogging when it was 2 degrees outside.
I've been emailing back and forth with Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, just out from White Pine Press, because she arrived in DC two days ago after a similar dilemma regarding which boots to bring with her: the very waterproof/warm but less stylish, or the less waterproof/warm but quite hip. She is telling me in today’s missives that she went with the hip pair and definitely made the right choice, that in fact as of 4 pm today it was 49 degrees in our nation's capitol, and then added that I needed to bring my sunglasses.
Sunglasses. What a novel concept.
Meanwhile, Weatherbug.com shows, next to Tuesday, Feb 1, the day I fly to DC, a white cloud with a bunch of snowflakes falling from it. Oh, and also mention of freezing rain. (Perhaps I should also be packing a plant mister filled with de-icer?)
Okay, so I am a cold wimp, but I also like glittery tank tops and very much not waterproof sleek black boots, though admittedly I also adore my Joan of Arctic Sorel boot with “vulcanized rubber shell” and “felt frost plug,” rated at -25 degree F.
But will I need them?
I also have a bunch of books and magazines I want to read on the plane, but I dimly recall my final hours in Denver at last year’s conference being spent alternately jumping on my suitcase to get it to close, and woefully removing several coveted literary magazines purchased at the Book Fair and flinging them into the trash.
I should not pack a single piece of reading material for the East bound flight, and I should only fill my suitcase half way, but everyone who knows me knows that this is not going to happen, for I must be reading or writing from take off till landing in order to prevent myself from contemplating the fact that at any moment the plane I am on could suddenly fall off the radar and God knows which city we’d all come showering down on. Or that we might actually have to figure out how to don our life vests and blow into those hideous tubes before we hit the emergency slides a la Steven Slater (yes, you can be sure I will take time to grab an icy cold one from a beverage cart in anticipation of my swan dive into the gelid waters of Lake Erie.)
But getting back to my destination: the AWP conference! Several weeks ago I printed out my own personal schedule, the must-sees during my 3-day panelizing and reading marathon. Here’s what I am hoping to attend on the first official day of the Literary Big Top, Thursday, February 3:
10:30-11:45 am If You Can’t Dance You Can Keep Your Revolution (Sean Thomas Dougherty(below L), Crystal Williams (below R), and four other Writers of Political Engagement)
3-4:15 pm: This Human Longing, with Bob Hicok(below L), Marie Howe, Gregory Orr (below R), Kevin Young, and Alison Granucci.
4:30-5:45 pm: 40th Anniverary Ploughshares Reading with Terrance Hayes and others, but from this I cut out early for the Saturnalia/Painted Bride Quarterly reading at Bardeo, which I hear is very close by and has a wonderful array of finger foods.
Note that I am not even attempting to attend anything during the 9-10:15 am panel slot. This is because (1) jet lag and (2) not having to be up at 7 am PST to make buttermilk pancakes in the shapes of hearts or soccer balls or dinosaurs or butterflies for my two school-aged kids. Either that or I will be doing the other thing I never have time to do in Seattle: exercising at a gym.
Wish me a safe journey in which I do not hear “this is your captain. I have just received word from Air Traffic Control that Reagan National Airport has closed due to [insert one of the following: heavy snow, freezing rain, hail, graupel, earth quake, avalanche, meteor strike, space alien invasion].”