Notes About Running a Writers Conference

Remember to wear deodorant.

Remember things will go wrong. Things inevitably go wrong despite planning, site plans, staffing plans, evacuation plans, lunch plans, cocktail plans. It’s not that things go wrong. It’s how many people turn when they hear the blast. If no one looks, nothing’s wrong.

Remember your body needs food. Denying it of food can lead to other, more serious problems.

Remember to always smile. Bring a toothbrush, especially if the hors d’oeuvres contain cilantro or coarsely-ground pepper.

Pack an extra stick of deodorant you can bring with you and stash in your desk. People appreciate this.

Remember to be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there.

Make arrangements in your life to avoid going home to angry, neglected lovers and dead pets.

Say “Thank you.”

Say “Please.”

Say “Of course we can do that.”

Wear sensible shoes. Remind yourself that the brown Kenneth Coles fare better over fourteen hours than the black ones. But, sometimes your outfit is black, not brown. Style prevails.

Realize that when you just typed “fourteen years” instead of “fourteen hours” in the previous note, it was both hyperbole and true.

Let your guard down. Things will inevitably go wrong even when your guard’s up.

Remember that things will also go right.

Notice those things when they happen.

Don’t consider a “light reception” a meal. It is a snack.

Don’t feel bad about missing your gym days because you do more running in those Kenneth Coles than you do in your Nikes.

Never let them see you sweat.

Remember to smile, even if you’re sweating.

Remember you brought extra deodorant for this.


I’m going to have to take a brief powder from blogging for a bit. I’m attending class 9 – 5 all weekend and, in the evenings, finishing off the plans and prep for the 2008 ASU Writers Conference. It starts on Wednesday…and it’s going to be a whirlwind of good times!

If I can get all the handouts made, the volunteers trained, the equipment coordinated, the catering set, yadda yadda yadda….

The Gay Agenda: Wednesday, February 6

5:45 am
Wake up and tend to Arden; get ready for work.

6:30 am
Leave Phoenix for campus; stop to put gas in car on way to work.

7:00 am
Arrive at campus in Tempe to pick up MFA students.

7:10 am
Drive 30 miles to North Phoenix for MFA student event.

7:55 am
Nearly cause accident when finally spot Starbucks fly by to right of car; swerve across three lanes of traffic for coffee pit stop.

8:05 am
Arrive at event with coffee.

9:30 am
Drive 30 miles back to campus, to office for staff meeting. Park and walk 15 minutes to office from parking lot.

11:30 am
Walk back to car and drive 15 miles back to Phoenix for lunch time meeting. Need food…maybe Taco Bell?

12:05 pm
Arrive at meeting, pleasantly surprised to find free light lunch waiting.

1:30 pm
Drive 15 miles back to Tempe for meeting with boss. 15 minute walk back to office.

3:30 pm
Become hungry again; coerce coworkers to walk to Coldstone for ice cream delight.

3:35 pm
Briefly enjoy ice cream concoction; return to work

5:30 pm
Leave office and walk to car for third time.

5:45 pm
Drive back to Phoenix to go home and tend to Arden.

Going Nuts

This is your brain; this is your brain on too much work!

Things have been nutty around the office lately: on top of Tony Kushner’s fabulous visit, I had a brief day off and then was asked to attend a required conference about ASU’s vision as the model for the New American University.

It’s an exciting proposition, redesigning the way higher education is conceptualized, delivered, and evaluated. I’m a strong proponent of interdisciplinary education (or what they call “transdisciplinary” here).

Although I love ASU, I will never love it more than the U of M!

The Office

From: Meghan B
Sent: Wednesday, September 19, 2007 6:17 PM
To: Information , Smithsonian
Subject: Workplace debate

At the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing, a question came up
that we’ve had a hard time answering. I hope your natural history
department might be able to help us or give us the contact information
of someone who will.

Who would win a fight, a grizzly bear or a gorilla?

Most people seem to think grizzly because they’re stronger and faster.
But a couple of us think that the gorilla is equally strong and much
more intelligent.

Thanks so much for your time in answering our query.


Meghan B

From: Information , Smithsonian
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2007 3:30 PM
To: ‘Meghan B’
Subject: RE: Workplace debate

Meghan B,

Your inquiry of September 19, 2007, regarding a grizzly bear and a
gorilla has been received in the Smithsonian’s Public Inquiry Mail
Service for response.

We have forwarded your correspondence to the Department of Vertebrate
Zoology in the National Museum of Natural History from which a response
will be sent if helpful information is available.

We appreciate your interest in the Smithsonian Institution.

From: Gold, Joy
Sent: Mon 10/1/2007 7:18 AM
To: Meghan B
Subject: RE: Workplace debate

Dear Meghan,

I am not sure what kind of fight you are envisioning. Do you mean a
fight where a gorilla and a grizzly bear confront one another? Do you
mean a gorilla that is fighting another gorilla for dominance? Do you
mean a grizzly with cubs encountering a predator such as man? There must
be some kind of bet associated with this question! In the spirit of the
hypothetical since gorillas and grizzly bears would never meet in the
wild as they are distributed in two different continents, I asked two of
our curators for their opinion. After thinking about it a bit, one
replied he didn’t know which would win but because the gorilla had hands
that could grip and long arms, he might give it the edge. He thought it
could win if it attacked the grizzly from behind; however the likelihood
of that is unknown. On the other hand (so to speak) another curator
thought it all depended on the fighting tactics. He felt the grizzly
would win with its claws and aggressive attitude. If it bit the gorilla
on the front of the neck, it could win. Then again, he said that if the
gorilla opened its mouth and attacked with its arms spread wide it might
scare off the Grizzly. Both animals are big, strong with large jaw
muscles and large teeth. Give them a break and have a good dinner!


Joy Gold
Technical Information Specialist
Department of Vertebrate Zoology