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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