I'm sitting in a hotel room (tv burbling in the background) in Pittsburgh, PA, typing this.
We're here to attend the annual Sigma Tau Delta National English Honor Society convention. This year, there are over 700 English majors in attendance, and 12 of them are ours. Wow.
Tonight, some of us went out to dinner. We walked down to the strip district, through thinning rush hour traffic, making only a few mistakes in navigation (my fault) that led us into one dead end at the Amtrak station. "Is this the shitty part of town?" Stewart asked, as we threaded our way under the rotting overpasses, past deserted carpet warehouses, kicking through blowing paper cups and cigarette butts.
We found a restaurant in the middle of the district, a two story bar with an iron grill railing along both street and balcony. We took up two four tops on the balcony and ordered hopefully. Zach and I went hog wild and chose the Lobster roll. We were disappointed. Was it even lobster in the roll? It was all ground up, a ruddy mess shoved into greasy slabs of buttered toast.
We must be English majors; though I'm sure most of us are pretty good with math, we babbled and bobbled over the bill for far too long, until finally we figured out a decent tip and left.
Tonight, the Rectangle readings--one great story about zombies and some well-written but strangely distant pieces of creative non fiction. I sat in the audience, closing my eyes at times to blot out the sudden blare and thump of music from the next ballroom, the words bouncing off the grotesque fleur-de-lis pattern of the yellow (yes, yellow!) wallpaper, reverberating. I tried to swim my way through the words to their hearts, to find the center of each matter, to see into the speaker, the writer, the light that defined him or her. It was difficult, if not impossible. I yearned for a more solid sense of story, of connectedness, instead of the swirling sensation of glancing acquaintance.
Ah, well--as we filed out of the ballroom at the end of the reading, into the Hilton hallway where the air was fresh and cool on our fevered faces as two moist mother's hands, I felt the building connection between those of us from Wisconsin, drawing together easily as we walked down the hallways, planning the next three days, teasing each other about outfits and parties and this blog (I'm not going out to drink, I said, because I gave up alcohol for Lent and because I need this time to write about them on the blog).
This entry has no thesis. It swirls around a warm center. That center is filled with nothing that I can put into words.