This last weekend was one of the craziest I have had in a while but in so many good ways.
On Friday (after forgetting my wallet 5 miles down the road and having to go back) I finally got out of the greater Charlotte area by about noon for my drive up to Chapel Hill. Now, I knew Chapel Hill should be my first destination but since I could already tell I wasn’t going to make it to the art museum tour at 2:30 which was the first event of the weekend, I decided I’d make a detour and stop in Greensboro to trade in a huge stack of used books I’d been holding onto. I had $40 worth of trade-in credit! And I was trying not to buy random books so I went for one that was on my goodreads to read list and the rest were anthologies to investigate for possible future teaching usage. Ah Ed McKay’s you are one of the best things I miss about Greensboro (where I lived for 5 years while getting my undergrad degree)
I made it to Chapel Hill from Greensboro in good time but decided since I was still a bit early for check in but to late for the tour that I’d stop by a new bookstore I’d been hearing a lot about called Flyleaf Books. Terrific store with a HUGE reading room. Hoping to read there someday. I actually had a chance in April but it conflicted with my trip to Elizabeth City to read. Next door is this really great little restaurant called Foster’s Market that I had actually been to years ago when my friend Tara was going to school in Chapel Hill. I picked up a snack of unsweet tea and lemon square edges. Ok these were AWESOME! The lemon squares were huge so glad I just went for the edges.
Then, I finally went over to the hotel right in the heart of UNC-Chapel Hill (and yes I don’t call the school Carolina because I went to UNC-Greensboro and all of those NC schools are part of the same system. Used to drive me nuts when people would ask me, after I had told them where I got into for school – So, you couldn’t get into Carolina/Chapel Hill? I don’t know I DIDN”T APPLY CAUSE I DIDN”T WANT TO GO THERE! – ok that is a vent) which is a beautiful campus. Got checked into my room and got signed into the conference. I quickly started running into people I knew from the NC writing community. I was a guest so I was trying to meet as many people as I could which is WAY difficult for my extreme extroverted nature. I was even whisked away for dinner at this restaurant called “Top of the Hill” which is a big attraction in Chapel Hill but I lamed out and didn’t go over to chat with a friend of mine who was in the bar area because I didn’t want to impose myself on their little party. I have learned I am supposed to. Ok, learning social etiquette at 35 is hard
The rest of the conference was Saturday and I had a great time hanging out with a lot of writers and only over ate a bit at the terrific banquet that night. I was underdressed for the banquet but, like I said, this type of affair is new to me but as one person put it, “You’d better get used to it.” Really? I guess there is that part of me that still feels like I have no right being around these kind of events. I’m even working on an essay about it to work out my feelings of inadequacy.
I had to get up relatively early to drive over to Asheville which is back to the west in NC. I walked around downtown for a bit and had a terrific salad at a vegetarian restaurant called “The Laughing Seed” before getting in some quality shopping time at Malaprop’s bookstore where I read with two other poets. No signing afterwards as it wasn’t a buying audience but I chatted with a few of the listeners and left a few of my books for sale. The Malaprop’s staff really treated us well and I’d be happy to go back and read there again. I first heard about Malaprop’s when I was in a high school creative writing class on the other side of the state from it. So happy I had a chance to finally read there.
Sorry this is a longer post than I normally put up and there are more pictures on Facebook but just wanted to get it all down. I won’t be doing any traveling like that again for a while but it was wonderful and is getting me thinking, again, about my place as a writer in the community outside of my mind. Oh, and I made a video for you guys as I was unpacking on Sunday. Not a good quality video but it kind of makes me smile