Boola Boola

I’m at the airport, getting ready to board my flight home from New Heaven Haven, and for the first time in 10 days I’m back on-line and emerging from a news blackout.

I see there’s much goings-on with this Snowden fellow.  Headlines abound.  I can’t say I care.  Maybe I need to read more broadly, but for now I can’t hopscotch past the notion that the American public believes this is news, much less big news.  We’ve gladly voted away our privacy, and every keystroke we make on a phone or a computer can be tracked by a teenage techie, and yet we remain under the illusion that big brother’s not listening?  Between this and the Kardashian/Kanye birth, I say Ho Hum.  I may have to go back to the blackout.

This year’s Yale Writers Conference started with an awkward and averted catastrophe.  On day one, I dragged my overpacked, 80 pounds of bags six city blocks to the dorm, only to find out I’d (accidentally) not booked a bed.  And there wasn’t a bed to be had.  After some panicked and scrambling calls to walking-distance hotels — all of which were sold out — I finally nabbed a room at the Marriott Courtyard and dragged my 80 pounds another six city blocks.  Crisis averted for $159 a night.  Though I found out later from the local police that my New Heaven is on the top 10 list of America’s most dangerous cities, and said Marriott was a block (just one little block) into the “bad part of town” and not to walk there alone after dark.

Oy.

Safety aside, the conference could not have been better if I’d been in the dorms or the Ritz Carlton.  My small group was all women, and those women were hardworking, talented, serious writers.  We were led by the brilliant Eileen Pollack, whose most recent essay brought us to tears and will be included in this year’s Best American Essays, edited by Cheryl Strayed.  Magic happened in that room.  I miss them already.

Our dining hall --- very Hogwarts.

Our dining hall — very Hogwarts.

As if that weren’t enough, I learned from Susan Orlean and Tom Perrotta and Kevin Wilson; I caught up with one of my favorite teachers, ZZ Packer; I had mashed potato and bacon pizza, and I finally had dinner at the famous Pepe’s where we piled into 2 booths and clinked tiny, wine-filled glasses to our last night together; I met with an agent I’ve always respected and now adore; I figured out the right order for the chapters in my book (after 5 years …); I had lunch with an anonymous blogger-friend, and if she hadn’t had to get on the road home we clearly would have talked for hours; and lastly, because of that awkward but diverted catastrophe on day one, I came to appreciate the air-conditioning, the quiet, and the adult-sized bed at the Marriott, not to mention the private, non-dorm, toilet and shower.

Catch me up, friends.  What have you been up to?

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19 thoughts on “Boola Boola

  1. sherrystanfastanley

    Let’s just say I’ve been a bit… busy. But what a terrific experience you had!! Figuring out the order of your chapters will bring it all together now, my friend! And meeting Betsy, well, she surpassed every expectation, yes? Finally, this “anonymous blogger” you met with? If it was MSB, I’m going to be very, very jealous…

    1. Teri Post author

      Alas, not MSB. But it was a hoot. I just read your post about eating the worm —you’re my hero. My crazy hero, but still …,

  2. Jody

    Boola boola, backatcha!

    I’m off to Boola Land myself, in two days. My Yalie son is marrying his Yalie sweetheart at the Lighthouse Carousel on Sunday, in New Haven. They’re having food trucks at their wedding.

    New Haven is like that.

    1. Teri Post author

      I can’t wait to catch up on your blog, Anna — your blog is my brain candy. I dream of writing sentences like yours.

  3. Averil Dean

    How I adore the Hogwarts dining room and all those lovely faces. Sounds like you had a fine time and made a leap forward with your book. Boola!

    So, I spent my first morning at my new desk in front of the window. It was magical. So quiet, and there were bunnies hopping around on the lawn, and a light rain pattering on the roof. I feel renewed and more than ready to get back to work.

    FTF, round two.

  4. Josey

    Have a safe trip home; I can’t wait to see the results of your latest trip to Yale.

    (I don’t understand all the hoopla over the NSA spying on our digital lives…I thought it was a given privacy was an illusion. freedom is like love, it’s got too many meanings to really have any meaning at all. i am, however, curious what kim and kanye will name their child. wouldn’t their best bet to shock the masses be choose something not so grandiose or unique? like kimberly? or Sue? maybe Jennifer or Lisa? Of course, if Kate has a girl it’s gotta be Diana, right???)

    1. Teri Post author

      But now I see James Gandolfini has died at 51. My god. I’m back in the news vortex … and how very sad.

  5. Downith

    Could your grin be any wider in that Hogwarts dining hall? You look happy!

    I’ve been weeding and writing – too much of the first and not enough of the second.

  6. Jennine G.

    I’m with you on the lack of attention to “news.” Sounds like you had a great experience! Let’s see…around here we’ve pretty much finished putting up our pool, finished softball season for one kid, and started soccer season for all three. It would be nice if Ohio’s weather would stay decently warm so it feels like summer.

  7. JustAnotherEmpress

    Tom Perrotta!!!! Mashed potato and bacon pizza?????? Heaven is right!

    Welcome back to the it’s still light out time zone, Teri. Everything about your conference sounds amazing (even the accidental Marriott part).

    1. Teri Post author

      Our table was naturally skeptical and ordered 2 giant pizzas — one mashed potato and bacon, one veggie. In the end, there was a lot of leftover veggie.

      Everything is better with bacon, no?

  8. Paul Lamb

    Sounds like you found the magic. (Sorry about the bedroom fiasco, but it appears you did just fine.) So what house would your group be in at Hogwarts? I’m pretty sure I would be a Hufflepuff.

    I’m up to my usual, which is to say still plugging at my Fathers and Sons stories and not making nearly the progress with them that I suspect I could if I just cracked the whip.

    As for a writing retreat, I’m scheming now to spend the weekend alone at my Ozark cabin (next weekend) with just me and my words (and my swimming suit — or not! — and my little lake). It’s a sort of one-person writers conference. Knowing my luck, the good-old-boy neighbors (they ARE good guys) will show up and want to visit.

    Nice to have you back in the virtual world.

    1. Teri Post author

      We were most definitely Hufflepuffs. There’s even a video to prove it….

      Your self-imposed writing retreat sounds divine, including (and especially) the swimming-in-the-lake part, which all sounds very Henry David Thoreau. Keep on with those Fathers and Sons stories, Paul…

  9. LauraMaylene

    I love this recap and I’m glad the conference was such a success for you. Figuring out the order of your chapters is no small feat! Also, you are making me even more keyed up and excited for Tin House in several weeks. God how I love writing conferences.

    After returning from Iceland, I had kind of a rough week of long work hours, desperate, late-night work on a freelance article (which finally pulled together by draft #8, phew), and the kicker: finding a huge rat in my house. A rat. In my KITCHEN. It must have been somehow driven inside when we power washed the house. My cats, I have since learned, are useless lazy coddled babies who didn’t even realize the rat was in the house. Thanks, guys. (But at least they’re cute.)

    So then I left for a business trip and I got back at 1am last night but I still have more travels ahead of me before my last day of work. Things have been stressful and busy and I am just now, finally, catching up on everyone’s blogs — and I’m so glad to see that your writing lives are continuing on so well while I’ve been gone.

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