15 August 2006

The not-so-easy Big Easy

New Orleans is not the kind of place to spend twelve hours. In that twelve hours, I ate two amazing meals -- Catfish Pecan for lunch and seafood-stuffed ahi tuna for dinner. After dinner, I forced myself not to drink too much Abita, because I knew the 5am airport shuttle pick-up, even sober, would suck the mad bizzalls. I could've used another couple days to become one with my environment.

Emily was there attending the APA conference. I went the first day as her guest, and actually had fun just wandering around, playing the role of crazy rogue psychologist. With inappropriate gin camouflaged in a plastic soda bottle, I sported equally inappropriate conference attire, complete with blaze orange hunting cap. Who wants to blend in with the sea of slacks and polos?

Having never gone to a professional conference before, one aspect I did not expect was poster presentations. Instead of having a scheduled time and room for the organized presentation of a project, some psychologists chose to have a scheduled time and posterboard where they stood and answered questions about their poster-form presentation. Most posters were a little lacking in visual stimulus, making them hard to understand in the few minutes I spent absorbing. The posters that did have pictures, graphs, etc. usually got the point across much faster and more thoroughly. I'll keep that in mind for next year when APA meets in San Francisco. Until then, I will brainstorm my very own un-APA-accredited, unofficial, possibly inappropriate poster to present at one of the empty boards. I'll load it with graphics on the topic of "Toddler Drug Use: Are the Teletubbies to Blame?" The hardest part is going to be keeping a straight face while answering questions -- and there will be questions. I'll be surrounded by real psychologists.

Even though I spent less time in New Orleans than I did traveling to and from, I still had fun there. Conferences are fun. New Orleans cuisine was fun. The quieter bars were fun. The streets smelled like detritus, but cities aren't often noted for fragrance. Had I known about Emily's surprise to bring me for a day, I probably would have refused to go. Long trips for short amounts of enjoyment aren't really my thing. But since I did get on that plane, I went, I saw, and I rung the crude juice out of my time there.

01 August 2006

"Becoming" a "writer"

I know the title sounds pretentious, even more so because of the quotation marks. Can you picture my fingers hooking into the air? The most difficult part of becoming a writer seems to be learning how not to sound pretentious. My tendency for vulgarity helps me some, but I still find myself in those moments where I'm searching for the word path that brings me back down to the real level of the plebeian.

Probably my least favorite thing about becoming a writer is figuring out how to work around reading aloud with that stereotypical softened tone. Another stereotype of becoming a writer is the "I write for myself" phase, which I think every "becoming" writer goes through at some point. Writing brings a certain vulnerability with it. At first, I hid in the vulnerability, but as I learned to confront the fake-assedness of writing for myself, I felt (and continue to feel) a lot more positive about where mywriting might go from here.

My favorite thing about becoming a writer is the actual act of writing, which I should engage in much more often than I do. I should be reading and writing for an hour each each day.* Instead, I don't. I read a few days a week, and write a few days a month. I'm scheduled for three workshops this fall. I'm hoping that will help me gain the discipline I need to work full-time at becoming a writer.

* I know this sentence could've been worded differently, but I don't care. When I read, I love coming across sentences with identical word couplets. Even though the author has planned them, they still seem such rarities to me. I'm probably seeing the positive in something often considered a drawback in writing. Sometimes, I just find confusing wording interesting. Perhaps it is that that which is just is.