Well, it has only been eight months since my last blog post...what? I've no idea how that happened, but here I am again. Enjoy. (Warning: many links ahead because you should really check these things out. Some great things going on in Winston-Salem.)
Last weekend started with dropping my car keys into a trash can. At a gas station. Yes, I was all packed up and ready to head out on my three-hour-drive to Winston-Salem for the 9th annual Bookmarks' Festival of Authors and Books. I had the dog in the passenger seat ready to go to grandma's for the weekend, the kids were safely tucked away at school, and I was even on schedule. I stopped for gas. I dropped an old McDonald's cup into the trash can next to the pump. And I realized...my keys were no longer in my hand.
So there I was, fishing through the leftover Subway lunch, emptied ash tray, hair (yes, hair), and various drink containers while I filled up the old Highlander with 89. A woman pulled up opposite me and politely did not stare, so I felt compelled to explain myself.
"I dropped my keys in the trash, and I can't find them!"
She laughed, a bit relieved, I think, and when I finally found my keys in a partly crumpled Wendy's bag, she offered wet-wipes, for which I will be eternally grateful.
I arrived at the hotel with no further incident and drove to the reception at SECCA, an interesting museum and historic site. I met the super-fantastic Julie Kolischak, a volunteer for Winston-Salem Writers and the driving force behind the Poetry in Plain Sight program, which was the reason I was there. I got to tour the art galleries and the original building, which is the Hanes mansion. Apparently, there are several instances of hauntings. Mr. Hanes has appeared, sitting in his favorite chair, and mysterious footsteps have been heard going up to the former maid's quarters turned artist's room, a love-story-gone-wrong type of haunting. The two stories are unrelated.
Afterward, I went downtown to the first-Friday art walk and met up with some very interesting writers, including someone who grew up in the restaurant in which I was eating a delicious Fiona's Special Reuben, Finnigan's Wake. A fitting name, no? It was his father's department store, and, according to some, his father still "visits" from time to time.
The next morning, I was honored to share the stage with some wonderful poets for the Poetry in Plain Sight program, including Kathryn Stripling Byer, John Thomas York, Sam Barbee, and several others, and I met Kevin Morgan Watson of Press 53 who offered some really good advice about publishing. Did I mention that our reading was in a parking garage? Oh...our reading was in a parking garage! It was, I think, a fitting location for putting poetry "in plain sight," and the background traffic noises made for unique ambience.
I had lunch at Sweet Potatoes...get the meatloaf. Seriously. Then I got to hear Bill Harley sing and recite some of his stories for children. If you have any kids in your life, check him out. I bought two of his books and two of his CD's. My kids have listened to "Alicia and the Monster" about fifteen times since yesterday, and I'm not tired of it yet. To round out my weekend, I had a glass of sauvignon blanc at a wine bar, and I promptly broke the glass...in my hand. My entire front was soaked in wine, and I was just sure that I was going to be stopped on the drive back to Greenville. "Really officer, I know I smell like I've been dipped in a barrel, but I only had a sip. Really."
I did not get stopped. I got home safely, made sure A's sugar was good, watched Snow White and the Huntsman, and went to bed.
What a wonderful, revitalizing weekend with some generous, talented, very fun people. Can't wait to do it again soon.