kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Beatnik BFFs)
[personal profile] kleenexwoman
God, I had the best day. No, week.

On Monday, Writer messaged me to come to a workshop at Hannan House downtown, which is an old folks' center where Ann Holdreith started holding her open mics 'cause she is an old person. I actually had no real plans that day, so I moseyed down. It was held by Heather Bourbeau, who is a sweet person who bears an uncanny resemblance to Rachel Dratch, and it was an interesting mix of old people who wanted to learn to express themselves creatively and Writer's writing friends. He and Donna (awesome blind poet who is so wildly chatty I swear she's echolocating) and a couple of other people he had dragged there were at one table, and I was at a table with an old black lady whose face was set in a permanent smile. We did some group writing exercises and talked about word choices and consonance, and Writer and his friends got REALLY COMPETITIVE about it. I was trying to get the old lady who was sitting at my table to play around with the exercise and she kept being like, "Whatever you want is fine, sweetie."
Then I went to hang out with Writer at the Whole Foods downtown because I needed groceries, and we chatted for a bit, and I found out that a girl who works in the bakery at my WF and who knows my brother had transferred to the Midtown one. I think she had had a nervous breakdown a week or two back, though.
Then Writer had stuff to do, so I went and drove around Detroit. I've been attending a writing group made up mostly of my friends, and my friend Magan has invited me and Colleen to contribute some stories about Detroit in a positive light to an anthology she is editing, so I decided to drive around a bit and sightsee. I drove around the Brewster-Douglass projects, which are being torn down, and then I drove around Brush Park, where my Aunt Margaret lives. I did not know which one was her house so I did not drop in.
Then I went to an open mic in Plymouth. Plymouth is a godawful suburb with a cute chewy small town center, like many suburbs. The coffeeshop was in an old converted house, and I met Joe and Alethea (the friends from college who I found live in Farmington, so we've started hanging out again) there. They had invited me to it once but I had had no idea that they went there often enough to know the regulars, which they do! I did my poem and plugged Spirit Spit, and people were very receptive. There was a guy who did a terrible acapella noir thing about dames and gold-diggers, and an awesome old dude who played harmonica, and some really talented singers, including a small Chinese dude with a voice like Johnny Cash. They had a no-covers policy, which I was pleased about.

Tuesday after work, I went to an open mic at the Detroit Opera House. It was put on by a gent I worked with at the Maple; he was always a really classy and intelligent guy, and I liked talking with him. He was putting it on to promote an opera based on "A View From the Bridge" by Arthur Miller. Sal was there, and some people I knew from Spirit Spit, and a random dude who Michael met at an open mic I told him about who did raps based on history, and some random opera patrons. I really enjoyed having a new crowd to banter with, and it was a very classy experience.

Wednesday after work, I took a nice walk on the West Bloomfield Trail and experienced deafening frogs.

Thursday I went to the last workshop in the Hannah House series I could get to. It was on travel writing, and a lady named Mary described her experience taking a trip to Whole Foods. Writer was amazingly nitpicky about it and Heather kept telling him to "Just roll with it, Writer," which I appreciated immensely. We all wrote about some travel we had done, and some of the people had AMAZING stories--one lady talked about having an out of body experience, one lady talked about going to the Great Wall of China at 93, one lady talked about going up the mountains in Mexico.
After, Writer wanted to hang out with me for lunch, because there was a reading a few hours after. We walked around downtown Detroit. He kept dithering between the Bronx Bar and the Avalon Bakery ("Where can we get into the most interesting conversation? Where can we meet people?") while he showed me how to jaywalk across Woodward ("Jaywalking, huh?" "Sure. It's my city."), and pointed out the trendy new shops ("That's not my Detroit. THAT'S not my Detroit. Look! Frat boys! That's not my Detroit! Oh, an old man with a fat hound dog sitting on the steps with a cigarette...OK, that's my Detroit.").
The Avalon Bakery was very attractive. I got a sandwich and cake, and the girl behind the counter slid two pieces into my bag. I gave one to Writer. He explained that he had chosen the bakery because he felt that it had the highest chance of the most interesting conversation, but there weren't a lot of people there. He took some pictures of my hair and fretted over his camera and a small smear of something that had gotten onto his wrist. We hung out, and a few people came in, one of whom I knew from Whole Foods. Then I asked for a box for the cake, and the girl gave me a box and slid a piece of chocolate cake into it. Not knowing quite what to do, I packed up the cake and left. We ran into Audra Kubat, and Writer suggested that I go back in and give the girl my number, since she was obviously flirting with me. ("But maybe she just gives people free cake?" "Well, I didn't get no damn sugar cookie." "You want my cake, Writer?" "I'm giving you props!!!") I ran back in and gave her the Spirit Spit card and invited her to an open mic, and she said that she wanted to be pen pals so I gave her my address. ALSO THE CAKE WAS INCREDIBLE.
We walked around and looked at the buildings. Writer went into a "Detroit store" and asked the shopgirl if they sold his books. They did not. Then he showed me the Cass Green Alley and a building which was very exclusive that a friend of his lived in, and then a building which had burnt down that they had rebuilt. He took pictures. We went to the Bronx Bar, and he explained how he wrote--"You've got your main character, but you can't just have one character in the book, you've got to have other characters. So what are they going to say? Well, what they actually said!" I asked him if he ever just made up stuff, and he said, "Well, I think that if you don't think your life is interesting enough to write about, you should go out to have interesting things happen to you."
He is so bad at peoplewatching, though--we were in a bar with a ton of college students, and he spent the entire time reading his own book and going on about gentrification and how they would appreciate him in San Francisco. Then he pointed out that he was the only person of color in the entire bar, which was true--everyone was a white college kid. We had seen several older black people who were clearly homeless looking in dumpsters on the way over, and I saw a black homeless man wander by in the distance while white college students laughed and talked. It was like a scene from a movie, jesus fuck :/ I was listening to a pudgy retro girl talk with a guy with a military haircut and khakis. She said that she didn't feel he was there for her emotionally, he sputtered and disagreed, then she laughed in disbelief and left. A dudebro came over and complimented me on my t-shirt. Then Writer asked some kids if they wanted to take a picture together with their phone and I took a few pictures of them.
We left for the reading, and we ran into a tiny college girl with a giant guitar on her back and we gave her a Spirit Spit card. We passed a big church where some people were sleeping on the covered porch, and a homeless black dude passed some other black non-hipster people at a bus stop and they greeted each other with familiarity. Writer said that that was his Detroit.
The reading was fun and there was pie. I greeted some people I hadn't seen for a while, and I had a nice chat with Juan Zo, who had seen me in the drum circle at Convocation, and with Mary Stebbins Tait and her Amish-looking husband about my hair.

Friday was a good day at work. A dude came in who wanted to replicate our tuna recipe for his personal use, so we gave him some pointers and I spent a while in the grocery aisle trying to help him find the closest thing to the brand of mayo we use (for some dumb reason it is not on the shelves). A weird old Jewish lady came in to haggle over an order of barbecued chicken for Passover. I got to close with some fairly cool people and we had a nice time talking for once, and they totally slaughtered closing--but I'm still not very used to the closing shift and its rhythms. I'm afraid that I'm going to get out of the habit of midshift before I really get used to closing.

Then today was an early day. Got up to go to a meet-up in Detroit that Writer invited me to, which he said would be a chance to flog my work. It was in the Barnes and Noble at Wayne State. Everyone was quite nice. One Single Rose discussed how to promote your work, which I appreciated because I am terrible at self-promotion. She has quite the self-brand. I had to leave, so I dropped off some flyers and we ran out.
Next was a workshop at the library, which Joe had organized. We did some free-writing about sounds and memory, and then had a break, and then another workshop with a lady named Joy. Magan joined us for this one. Joy had a bunch of small objects which she encouraged us to write about, including a small rubber penguin in an eyeglass case. We discussed objects, memory, and creating metaphor by writing concretely and then assigning metaphor to the concrete. I wrote about a memory with playgrounds and a JW friend I had, and we briefly discussed the fact that I didn't think not having birthday parties was a big deal when I was younger.
We were on a raised platform, and Magan is in a wheelchair. Her husband had helped her get up the couple of steps, but he was gone, and we had to run around looking for him so he could get her down. There was a long break before the next workshop because the presenter, Cindy, had let it go on a really long time. I chatted with Joy and it turned out that we both knew Writer, and me and Colleen spent a few minutes discussing him and his behavior and wife with Joy. I find that it's really refreshing to be able to meet people and be able to confirm or reinterpret the way that other people you know behave with them--like it's really nice to be able to go, "So this person does this weird thing," and have someone else go, "Yes, I see the same thing."
Joe gave a lecture about sending in poems to magazines, and Joy and Cindy discussed their extensive experience publishing. Then we didn't have a WHOLE lot of time left, so we went to Cindy's workshop. She asked everyone their name and a bit about themselves and we discussed that--it was me, Joe, Magan, and a 13-year-old named Lauren. Cindy talked about her history as a writer, then she asked Colleen about what she liked to write, and they engaged in a kind of creative Socratic dialogue. That was interesting, and I wish we'd gotten time to do it for everyone. Then she shared a poem she'd written with us and discussed her writing process behind it and what small touches she had done to finish it, and then we wrote a bit about profound moments. I said I couldn't think of any, and she said that I'd mentioned three, and I couldn't hear her so I was just like "OK!" I ended up writing a short thing about "counting black hats" (Chasidic Jews), and she went ape over it and wanted me to send it to her. Then she had to leave quickly because she was having a couch delivered.
Joe's parents were there from Port Huron. They asked me about good restaurants in the area, and eventually I settled on suggesting a Middle Eastern restaurant, which they invited me out to. It's a place called Pineland, which I've been to a few times and absolutely adored--but it's expensive, for a Lebanese place. Not super pricey, just the things I really like there are more than I can usually afford casually. We all squeezed into the seat and Joe's mom and Alethea discussed their food issues, which were unfortunately many. The owner was a cute dude with a New York accent. He asked about food allergies and promised us that he'd make us food which we could eat, AND HE DID AND EVERYONE WAS HAPPY. He was very friendly and wanted to please, and he explained that his father had owned the place but he had been an asshole who had come out and yelled at customers, and the customers had ripped up the booths in retribution, so he had told his dad to stop coming to the restaurant and had redone everything with his own recipe. My god but the food was AMAZING. Amazing fucking hummus. I got to chat with Joe's parents and we all had a great time.
Then we went to OTBP to talk to Sal, but she wasn't there, so we kind of hung out and talked about books and politics until Joe and Alethea had to leave for a movie they were seeing.

tl;dr April is National Poetry Month, I went to a lot of workshops and am feeling artistically refreshed, and people are so wonderful and great.


kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Default)

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