September 27th, 2008

Everyone Should Go to Winnipeg

Hello, blog–I’ve missed you!

Wednesday morning, I went off to Winnipeg to the Thin Air International Writers Festival. It was my first away-game as a writer, my first flight this year, and only the third time I’ve stayed in hotel since I stopped vacationing with my parents in high school. It was *amazing!*

In one awe-striking 20-hour day, I flew out to Winnipeg; checked into the hotel; met the amazing staff and volunteers of the festival (they work *hard* in the west); ate Korean food, saw the Red River; lay on a bench in the sunshine; gave a Book Chat with Pasha Malla, moderated by the amazing Charlene Diehl; hopped up and down in a parking lot; saw a dear friend I hadn’t seen in a decade (hi, Stephanie!); gave Mainstage reading with an incredible cast of characters and *without* collapsing from nerves; stayed up late talking about books; and ate a *lot* of Manitoba cheese. It’s very good.

There’s a video from the afternoon bookchat on the Thin Air blog, of me reading from my story, Route 99 if you are curious. I had actually never seen myself on video before, and as it turns out that I can’t really stand it. I saw about 10 seconds, enough to tell that it’s really me and Charlene in the frame. I think it’s fine. You can’t see Pasha in the frame, but trust me he was there, being charming and low-key and insightful. Have you read The Withdrawal Method? Maybe you should read it, if you are into wise and generous (and often very funny) short stories about men, women and children searching for human conncections.Though if you are female and prone to reading in public, maybe you should take the bright blue dust jacket off, as I got an awful lot of looks.

There’s good stuff about the fest and it’s many personalities throughout their Hot Air blog, and it’s still on-going, as the fest doesn’t end until tomorrow. The festival is huge, and lovely. The talent contained in 10 days is immense.

Then on Thursday, after an interview with a local arts mag, I gave up on being a serious professional writer (as if) and just went off with Stephanie to enjoy Winnipeg. The weather was stunning, and S. is a force of sunshine herself, so of course it was fab, but I am actually impressed to no end about that lovely friendly city. The University of Manitoba, the Legislative Buildings, a pipe band, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police change-of-command ceremony, the biggest cockroach I’ve ever seen, a petting zoo, a store that sells exclusively handmade items with cats on them imported from Japan, and of course, an extremely muddy and hilarious corn maze, for which we were so inappropriately dressed that it was simply safer to take off shoes and stockings and go barefoot. See below:

I was overjoyed to be in Winnipeg, participating in a real literary event with so many amazing folks, and overjoyed not to have screwed anything up. I really liked the town, the people I met, and the squish of mud between my toes. I think I may have been slightly over-stimulated by the whole 3-day whirlwind–when at long last I got to mighty Manitoba mainstay, a Perkins Restaurant (it lived up to expectations–great omelette), the waiter commented that he loved coming to our table because we were always so thrilled to see him.

I’m just thrilled about everything in the universe right now, really. Except of course that I owe just about everyone in the universe an email/phone call (sorry, guys, I’m gonna get it together shortly). Oh, and that Blogger seems to have dug in its heels about uploading pictures from my Mac. I have tonnes, but you’ll have to make do with the one for now–maybe someone will lend me a PC so I can work this out at some point!

I just want you to come figure me out

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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