My trip back from Asheville was as hellish as my trip to: A major flight delay, rude gate agents, bad food, airport “routine” checks, and an overnight stay in an airport hotel. But not even that dreadful flight experience could take away from what was a very invigorating and thought-provoking residency at Warren Wilson. I co-taught three workshops: one with Stacey D’Erasmo, one with Charlie Baxter, and one with Mac McIlvoy. I gave a reading from my new book (this was only the second time that I read material from this new novel, so it was very helpful for me to hear it out loud.) And I gave a craft class, focusing on language use in situations where there are discrepancies between the language of the characters and the language of the text. I enjoyed the lectures given by the other instructors and learned a lot from them. And the students were a joy–talented, hard-working, motivated. So it was a great experience, though I’m happy to be back.
Here are some photos from Warren Wilson. This is the bridge I take every day to go to the workshop or library:
The campus is pretty green:
There’s a somewhat threatening wood sculpture near the dorms:
And plenty of insects everywhere:
Between the lectures on craft, the discussion classes, the individual conferences with students, the afternoon workshops, and the evening readings, I’ve had no time to write anything at all in this space, but I’m taking a lot of notes–suggestions for new reading or ideas for revising. More soon, I hope.
My trip to Asheville took longer than I expected. After boarding the plane in Los Angeles, after all the passengers had their seat belts on, after babies had been quieted and put to sleep, the pilot told us that the plane had been loaded with the wrong cargo, which had to be unloaded before we could push back from the gate.
The overhead lights on the aircraft didn’t work, and after a while I gave up trying to read the novel I had brought with me.
I missed my connection in Atlanta, and had to spend the night in a Holiday Inn near the airport. The airline refused to pay for the hotel, under the pretext that the flight delay was the fault of the FAA, not theirs. Annoyingly, they held my luggage overnight, giving me instead a ridiculous zipper bag that contained a white T-shirt in a too-large size, and a few basic toiletries.
I rode the shuttle van to the hotel with a man who was on his way to Moscow (for a vacation, he said, but something about his demeanor screamed ‘sex tourist’); three flight attendants; two pilots; one couple from Arizona; and five soldiers on leave from Iraq, one of whom stood up to give me his seat.
While waiting to register at the hotel, I had to fend off the attentions of the tourist headed to Moscow (making me think that, perhaps, I had been right in my estimation.)
The next day, my flight to Asheville was one hour late, and when I arrived in North Carolina, it took 40 minutes for the luggage to be brought out. But at last, at last, I am here.