"050607" | sunday | may 6, 2007 | 11:01 am
APPY BIRTHDAY, WELL, TO ME. Damnit, I feel old.
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"EDstravaganza" | tuesday | may 8, 2007 | 12:13 pm
Y BIRTHDAY HAS COME AND GONE. Though, technically,
EDstravaganza 2007 does not officially end till this Thursday at
grad pub. But, for the most part,
the celebration, the hoopla, the shenanigans are over. And I'm so tired. It's been a full
past week or so and not just with birthday stuff. The quarter is on its downhill stretch and
school stuff is ramping up. And general life stuff has been pretty all over the place and
distracting, too. But, I suppose the most important thing to recount right now would be my
EDstravaganza 2007 was supposed to start last Thursday, May 3, with the pre-celebration party
at the College Inn. However, I somehow started celebrating a day early on Wednesday. My friend
Lindsay and I went to the
Graduate & Professional Student Senate
spring social. It's basically a big shindig and hobnob for all of the graduate students on campus.
I was not at UW for last year's, but I heard that it was really poorly put together. This year the
GPSS vowed to make it better, stronger, faster, with more food and beer. So, I meet up with Lindsay
and we get there way too early before the doors open. Second in line, in fact. But it was worth it
because when the doors did open there was a huge mass of people in line behind us. I would guess that
about three hundred people showed up for free food and drink. In order to keep everthing from being
scarfed instantly -- because grad students are really vultures in disguise -- they meted out the
food and gave everyone four drink tickets. Only four. Lindsay and I were aghast, drunkards that
we are, and decided that we would become ticket bullies and get more for ourselves. Some other
English people showed up. I ran into a lot of the grad pub regulars. And a bunch of the
BOHGOF guys came, too,
including my new gay friend, Noah. It turned out to be a fun night. We collected a lot of tickets,
more than we actually could use since the beer and wine ran out before our tickets did. There
was a lot of schmoozing. I met more people than I can remember. There was a salsa band and
a little dancing. I somehow ended up dancing with the GPSS madam president. Then our little
band of merry men and women decided to head up to a local brew pub, the
Big Time Brewery. By then I had
had too much to drink. I was also a little irritated by some of the company we met up with,
mostly really mainstream gay men and their friends, whom pretty much could care less that I
was there. So, I got grumpy drunk and headed home before things got unpretty.
Thursday, the scheduled start of EDstravaganza, was a full day at school -- office hours, I had
a screening of
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for
my class, and then headed
to grad pub. Pub was all right. There was much pre-birthday drinking. It was nice to see
people out. Nicole, the bartender, made me do a flaming Sambuca. And then I somehow ended up
going out dancing with a guy from the department, Matthew. We took our drunk selves down to
Neighbours. It was fun to go
back after a long absence. But things had changed. My usual bartender was not there that
night. There was a new stage built at the end of the dancefloor. And there were the cheesiest
of go-go dancers, who performed a choreographed routine in the middle of the night. The
music was the same. Most of the crowd was the same. But it just seemed off, different,
maybe sadder. I did dance with a cute guy for a bit. I ran into some club friends, like
Brandon. Eventually, after being fed several drinks by Matthew, we decided it was too late
and we were too drunk and needed to go home. A short cab ride and I was safely snug in my
Friday was a slow day. I was feeling my age for sure. I spent most of the day trying to
get a little work done, a little grading done, a little resting done. I was supposed to
go out that evening to see Tom Stoppard's
on by UW's theatre department, but the show was sold out. So, I went to see
Spiderman 3 with Jason
instead. It was a fun movie. I haven't yet see the second movie, though I did like the first
one. I think this one had the tightest story. Though the strange musical numbers in the
film were a little out-of-place for me. And Toby McGuire didn't really seem "into" it like
the first film. I still had a good time, and though it was no Arcadia, it was still
a nice diversion. Plus, Jason and I could geek out about comic books and superheroes and
Saturday, Cinco de Mayo, ED de Mayo, was the official "party day" of EDstravaganza. I spent
the day just getting psyched up for a big night and doing a little work. The theme of the
night was a "bachelorED" party. So a bunch of my friends, organized by the lovely Brooken,
came up with bachelor/bachelorette-type things to do, have, and wear for the party. Brooken
put together a digital scavenger hunt of thirty-seven things that people in small teams had
to try to find and take a picture of during the night. I also got a big jello-shots penis
complete with whipped cream and toasted coconut. You can do the math as to what was what.
There were bachelorED party favors as well. A handful of people showed up at the house for
some pre-party drinks. Then we all took the bus down to
The Bus Stop for the first leg
of our bar crawl. We nearly took over the whole bar, which isn't very big to begin with.
It was fun. Many thanks to everyone that came out and bought me drinks and hung out. I
actually didn't start drinking drinking till 10 PM. I really wanted to make sure that I
wasn't totally wasted and out of the game too early in the night. After The Bus Stop, we
popped next door to the
Manray, where I got snubbed by
some snobby, "I'm-too-pretty-and-cool-for-you" gay men. There were many scavenger hunt
pictures taken. Then everyone wanted to go dancing. Those that were left in the party
pushed to go across the street to
R Place. It was past midnight
by then and there were already casualties of the night. But those that trooped on
went dancing. I really don't normally like R Place, but I went with the flow. It was
super crowded, super sweaty, and super loud. I actually didn't have much fun there.
But last call came before long and everyone wended their ways home. My usual goal of
trying to at least hook up out at the bars on my birthday was not successful. It was
overall still a good night.
Sunday was really slow. Fortunately, my delay in drinking the night before did pay off.
I was more tired from lack of sleep than from being hungover. Jane took me to gay brunch
for their all-you-can-eat brunch buffet. It was nice and yummy. I ran into a former
student that works there as a host. And we got to ogle some cute gay men, most of
whom again would not share their eggs benedict with me. The rest of Sunday was spent
catching up on work. Then in the early evening, I bussed up to the University District
to go to dinner with Lindsay. We had tasty pho, which for some reason I was craving
even after gorging myself at breakfast. Then Lindsay and I went to the University Bookstore
to get in line to see the one and only
who was in town promoting his new book
A Guide to Quality, Taste, & Style.
We got there an hour and half early and there were already people lined up outside the
store. We were probably about 20th in line. It was fun to see who showed up, which
turned out to be mainly women and gay men. Big surprise. There were some fancy, fancy
dressed men out and about. There was a reception before everything started with
catered nibbles and "mocktails." Then there was a peculiar fashion show for some Seattle
magazine's "best dressed man" contest. Of course, all of the men were gay. Big surprise.
Then finally it was Tim Gunn's turn to talk about his book. He pretty much just chatted
and answered questions. It was lovely, actually. He is personable, articulate, smart,
and probably the most poised person I have ever met. Then he spent the rest of the
night signing his book. The bookstore grouped people with "signing tickets" -- groups A
through D -- and alas I was in the very last group. So, Lindsay and I hung out. We
watched people go through the line. There were hugs and chats and smiles and "I love yous"
and "Make it works" and children and families and friends. Tim Gunn was very warm and
sweet and genuine. When I got to the head of the line, I asked him to personalize my
book with a happy birthday. He wrote, "Make your birthday work!" It was absolutely
awesome. I just wanted to sit and talk to him and be his friend.
One day, perhaps.
It was really cool that Lindsay came out with me, stood in line for hours, and helped me
get my picture taken with Tim Gunn. It was a really nice night and a friendly gesture. It's
these weird adventures, these quirky sidebars, these random events that I really enjoy.
And I'm always grateful and touched when people choose to do them with me, to see that it's
important to me or fun for me (even when it may not be vital to them), and to share the
experience with me.
That was the long weekend. A good job. And now I have to get back to the usual grind. I have a lot to
get done in the next few weeks. And I have to solidify my plans for the summer. I also have
another academic conference to go to next week.
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• • •
"motor city" | thursday | may 17, 2007 | 8:09 pm
HAT DO I KNOW ABOUT
Very little, actually. I know it's in Michigan. I know it's an industrial city. I
know it is called "Motor City." And I know it is the home of
Motown. I might be able to dig
up a few more fun facts, but I really don't know a whole lot about the place. But
in a couple of hours, I'll be getting on a jet plane to head there with three friends
to attend a conference at
Wayne State University. It's called
"Computers and Writing 2007: Virtual Urbanism."
We have a panel on the virtual university, and I co-wrote a paper with my friend
Jentery on virtual office
hours using instant messaging. (We include a bit about
"IDK, my BFF, Jill?"
commercial. It's going to be four days, three nights of fun and interesting talks and more
fun. We're hoping to get a little exploring done while we're there. Wish me luck.
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• • •
"motor city recap" | thursday | may 31, 2007 | 11:01 am
Detroit was amazing. And
exhausting. From May 17 through May 20, three friends of mine from the department and I went to
"Computers and Writing 2007" at
Wayne State University, which is a pretty nice
city campus. (I hazard to use the word "urban" since we learned at the conference that "urban" is
often a euphemism for "black" in Detroit and not always in a good way.) This year's conference
theme was "Virtual Urbanism." C&W is first and foremost a composition conference, meaning it caters
to scholars, teachers, and folks interested in the teaching of writing, rhetoric, and such at
the college level. It's not really my academic "scene" as it were. People are nice. The theory
is a little soft. But overall it was an awesome experience (and one worth repeating next year I
Going to a conference with friends, with a group is one of the best ways to tackle the whole
academic dog and pony show thing. You're with people you already know. You're familiar with
each other's work. The buddy system works out really well. And you have a pre-made party ready
to go. Megan, Curtis, Jentery, and I left on
Thursday morning (not too early). Our friend Jason drove us to SEATAC. We all had seats on the
aisle in a square, so we could jibber-jabber and bug one another. The flight to Detroit was fine.
Planes are definitely more doable when you're with friends. We got into Detroit around 8 PM, took
a shuttle to campus, and checked into our four-person suite in the dorms at WSU. Since I never
did the dorm thing, it was kind of fun. We each had our own tiny little cell of a room, which was
awesome. We decided to go out our first night.
Jentery had gathered intel about Detroit, and we decided to head to
Corktown, which is
supposed to be a cool, happening part of town. According to the front desk guy at the dorm, Corktown
wasn't too far to walk. Since none of us had actually been prepared with a map or anything (so
unlike me), we totally got turned around. We asked a guy on the street (he was roller-blading
and totally looked like a professor with long, grey ponytail) and he said that Corktown was in fact
really far away. He suggested a different area that was closer. Of course, we couldn't find
what he suggested (he seemed iffy on the directions himself). So we asked a guy at a gas station,
who told us that Corktown was really easy to get to and gave us very clear directions. Ten minutes
away, he said. Little did we know that ten minutes meant by car. We should've know. It is called
Motor City for a reason. Little did we know that this ten minute jaunt would take us from campus
all the way downtown, past
(I refuse to call it Comerica Park), then kind of back the way we came. We must've walked for a
couple of hours. The accidental tour was neat, though.
Finally, after much grumbling, we decided
to hail a cab to take us directly to Corktown. The cabbie that picked us up was a total hippie
burnout (imagine that in the middle of the Midwest), who was very chatty. He liked my mohawk and
proceeded to tell us a story about how he and a friend in the 70s used to fuck up their hair,
get dressed up like aliens in outrageous outfits with capes, and go to Detroit airport to greet people
getting off planes: "Welcome to the planet!" he drawled. "We're now in control. Do what we
tell you or we'll kill you." True story. Imagine that happening now? I don't think security
would like that very much. Anyway, the cab literally drops us off five blocks from where we
decided to grab one; we were so close to our destination.
We stopped off at a bar and restaurant called
Slows. It was kind of bourgie. And we
missed the kitchen closing by like five minutes. So we decided to just drink through our hunger.
After our mighty adventure wandering aimlessly around Detroit, we needed to relax, hang out,
and get off our feet. Of course, knowing us, we ended up drunk. When the bar closed, we
walked from Slows down to
Whitecastle. I had never been to
a Whitecastle. It was exactly what we needed to close the night. We had our own
"Harold and Kumar" adventure.
We got like sixteen sliders, fries, mozzarella sticks, and sodas and just chowed down out
in front of the building. I'm not really sure if Whitecastle is actually food. Maybe food
product. But it was tasty. And then the Detroit S.W.A.T. team pulled up and six huge, beefy
black men jumped out of a black van. Luckily, they just wanted burgers, too. We caught a
cab back to the university district. We had wanted to go to a late night place, but the
cab driver had no idea where it was. He actually dropped us off right near where our whole
night of misdirection began. We decided to cut our losses and just go back to the dorms and
go to sleep. Somewhere around four in the morning.
Friday morning was rough. But we all got up at 8 AM. Jentery had to get up to moderate a
panel, which he didn't know he had to do till recently. We told him to skip, but he wanted to
make a good impression. The conference was all right. We went to a few panels. All of our
meals were provided, which was awesome. But it was a slow, sluggish day. I managed to go to
four panels that day (compared to Jentery and Curtis, who went to 2 and then went to nap for
the rest of the afternoon, and Megan, who tricked us by going back to sleep after we had left
the room but she went to 3 panels). Dinner's plenary talk was by
who was an excellent speaker and who is a bigwig in composition circles. Megan and Jentery
were really keen on hearing Sirc speak.
Friday night, we joined a number of the other conferencees at a local bar (which was literally
a block from campus) called the
Circa 1890 Saloon,
which is sort of wild west bar slash cafeteria diner. It was a cool place. People were
worried that it was going to be too "grungy" or "divey" for us. Hello, we're from Seattle!
Actually, people were totally surprised by our previous night's travels and travails through
Detroit. They were scared for us, mainly, because of all of the "urban" areas we walked
through. It wasn't too bad. Some areas were shady. I probably wouldn't have walked all
over by myself. But it wasn't that bad. (Again, a driving city opposed to a walking city.
The attitudes about navigating city spaces and peoples and issues is really different.)
We only stayed at Circa for a little while.
Joyce Walker, our mentor and
bright star of the composition cosmos, bought us a pitcher. Then, feeling tired from the night before,
we retired to the dorms to work on final touches to our papers. We still didn't get to bed
till well after one o'clock (after I made people go to sleep because they were keeping me
Saturday was more of the same. I went to two more sessions, which were okay. We went to
lunch to hear another plenary speaker,
who specializes in theories of urban spaces and visual culture, who Curtis really, really
wanted to see. I felt bad for her, actually, because she was speaking at the tail end of
lunch, in the dorm's dining hall cafeteria, without a sound system. It was a really interesting
talk, nonetheless. We joked around how it would be awesome to get all of these really
smart and famous people to come to our panel. We had asked Joyce earlier to put in a good
word for us. But, feeling brazen, I said I would go talk to them. Curtis, too.
We knew that Joyce was coming to our panel as our mentor and all. I went up when Geoffrey
Sirc was talking to Helen Liggett. I thanked Liggett for her talk and then thanked Sirc, too.
Then I suggested to both that they should come to our panel since we invoked their work
Our panel, entitled "V.U.: Spaces, Articulations, and Interfaces of the Virtual University,"
was at the 3:30 PM time slot. Last slot of the day. Not too bad. We actually had a few
people show up to our panel. In fact, by whatever graces, all of the people we asked to
come actually came. It was awesome. There was good panel-audience rapport. Jentery and
Curtis went first with their paper about
using moblogging in the writing classroom.
It went really well. They quote Sirc and his "encounter possibilities." Then Megan
gave her paper about libraries, student researching methods, and technology. She quoted
a study called
by Joyce Walker and Jim Purdy (who was also in the audience). Then Jentery and I gave our
paper about virtual office hours. Jentery made a joke about expecting people we quoted in
our paper to be in the audience as well. Overall, our panel was a rousing success.
Even the major technological glitch in the middle of Jentery's and my presentation. We
needed the Internet in order to show some websites and the now famous
"IDK, my BFF, Jill?"
Cingular commercial. Of course, we couldn't connect to the Internet. All of the computers
in the room crashed simultaneously. But like troopers we kept going. And, chagrin aside,
proceeded to do a dramatic reenactment of the commercial. It was really funny, actually.
"Theatrical and theoretical" is what I said to much approval. We had a great time.
And everyone asked some good questions and gave us great feedback.
Saturday night was destined for more debauchery. We went to dinner and the last plenary
speaker, the headliner for the conference,
Richard Doyle, who was
lively, funny, but completely all over the place. There were people who totally "grooved"
with him; and then there were people who had no idea why he was speaking at the conference.
After dinner, a bunch of people headed to the
Garden Bowl, which is part
of the Majestic Theatre building, which includes the music venue the Magic Stick. It's a
famous Detroit nightspot. And the Garden Bowl is kind of a punk rock bowling alley and
bar. It was really fun, though I wasn't in the mood to bowl. We stayed there for a while
bowling with Joyce and Jim and other conference folk.
Then I decided to leave and head someplace else. I wanted to go to at least one gay bar
while in Detroit (which is a usual goal for whenever I go someplace new). So I walked
(quite a ways) to the
Woodward Cocktail Bar,
which is supposedly the oldest gay bar in the city. I was a little antsy that night
because I was meeting up with Josh, a friend and ex-boyfriend from San Francisco who I
haven't seen in five years. We originally were supposed to meet up Friday night but I
decided to postpone it. Then he was running late on Saturday night. The Woodward was
interesting. The entrance is tucked behind the building, down an alley, off a parking lot.
You have to be buzzed in by the door person. And you get swiped with a metal detector.
Why? Because it's an "urban" bar. Definitely gay, but pretty much an all-black clientele.
I thought I would feel uncomfortable, but strangely, it was okay. People were friendly.
I definitely felt out of place but not unwelcomed. Josh eventually met me at the Woodward.
It was really good to see him again. He looked the same, quiet as ever, but I could tell
that there were differences. We had a drink there and then met up with the rest of my
friends all the way across town in a neighborhood called
otherwise called "Ham Sandwich" by our cab driver, at a bar called
Small's, which is also
a music venue. Many drinks were had there. Then we had to find our way home.
Jentery called for a cab, but because Hamtramck isn't actually in Detroit, we had to walk
some blocks to get within city limits. Eventually, we stopped at a convenience store,
whose owner had a friend who would pick us up. A friend. But the van came, got us,
the Arab-American driver blaring
Kenny Chesney, and dropped
us back at campus. Then we all just sat around and talked till five in the morning.
Josh and I actually hung out for a little while on our own, which was nice. More
about that later. And he went home, and I went to bed right around 6 AM.
Sunday was a blurry blur. We got up late. Packed. Shuffled. Called a cab. Went
directly to the airport. Ate. Snoozed on the plane. Had a three hour layover in
Minneapolis. Made it back to Seattle. Got picked up. Dropped off at home. And I was
ready for a vacation from my vacation.
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