Friday, March 29, 2013

PORTLAND: the story of STD convention.

i've been thinking for a week about how i want to start this post off, because it's going to be long and epic, and long and epic blogs need to have epic beginnings.

so i guess i just started this post about how i couldn't figure out how to start it.

typical me.

this post is about how i went to portland, oregon for five days for STD convention.

"hi, my name is emily and i have chlamydia." "hi, emily."

i hope that made you laugh.

i don't have any STDs, and i think they're called STIs now anyway, but that's like saying that pluto isn't a planet anymore, BECAUSE IT TOTALLY IS. STD convention is not actually about sexually transmitted diseases. STD is sigma tau delta, the international english honor society that i happen to be a member of.

every year they have a convention somewhere cool. and in november you submit your scholarly or creative work to it. and if they pick it, you get to go to a swanky hotel with 800 other english majors that like shakespeare just as much as you do.

i submitted my poetry portfolio, hunting whales (lack of capitalization purposeful as a tribute to e. e. cummings, my main man) and it got in. they also capitalized it and i was very frustrated. nobody understands my undying love for e. e. cummings. except maybe my ex-boyfriend.

that was a thing that happened, by the way. we won't get into it.


on wednesday march 20th, i packed my bags for the mystical land of portland, oregon, home of the hipsters, where i would fit right in, being a hipster. there were six of us going to present our work, and dr. aspinall, our fearless advisor, was along for the ride and to make sure that we didn't die. 

the trip there was nineteen hours of fun that involved a one hour van ride, a short wait in the tiniest amtrak station i'd ever been in, a four hour train ride to chicago, a six block walk to the chicago l, an hour ride on the l, a five hour wait in o'hare, a four hour flight to portland, and an hour max light rail ride to the hotel.

i did this on crutches. like a badass. (i kind of did this thing where i tore my meniscus five days before departure. fun.)

i would be sharing my hotel room with erika and christina. i knew erika somewhat, i knew christina possibly a little bit less even though we sat near each other in critical theory, but boy would i get to know them over the next three days. still feeling like we were moving and adjusting to the three hour time difference, we slept.

thursday we were up bright and early and ready to discover PORTLAND as my phone put it. see, i'm really excited about portland because it's a hipster city, it's in a state i'd never been to, and i was there for a really cool convention. so whenever i type portland into my iphone, it corrects it to PORTLAND so i'm just always excited about portland. i also signed up for the twitter contest.

i know. perfect for me.

if you follow me, i'm sorry that that had to happen to you. i lost about five followers. i had two hundred tweets tagged @EnglishCon at one point. and i took a lot of dumb pictures.

so day one of portland consisted of us registering for the actual convention, where we got our STD swag.

then we begged the hilton for a wheelchair. i was not about to wander around portland on my crutches because i couldn't put weight on my left leg. which i still can't. i'll probably blog about that later.

erika and christina decided to name me DAVE, disabled and vegetarian emily, because when we discussed the prospect of venturing out into portland and grabbing some lunch, i said nervously, "remember that i'm disabled AND a vegetarian."

they are still calling me dave. it's been over a week.

we venture out into the city and erika's pushing me in the wheelchair and portland is breathtaking. we're smack downtown on sixth avenue and it's basically like new york city but smaller, greener, and nicer. everything is eco-friendly, there are hipsters everywhere, and i'm seriously taking pictures of every building that i can see. 

we come across a sandwich place called great harvest bread. we go inside. there's a cute hipster boy taking my order. cute hipster boy flirts with me but i don't notice because i haven't been flirted with in two and a half years and i don't understand this thing called "newly single" so erika and christina start making fun of me. while i'm waiting for my order, he reaches around me seductively and says, "did you drop this pen?"

don't try to cop a feel, bro. i have crutches that will take you DOWN.

so my veggie sandwich comes. it's slathered in hummus. i take a bite.


seriously, i didn't know that hummus could be orgasmic. christina had to tell me to stop moaning.

when we leave the hipster sandwich shop, we decide that we need to go to powell's books, which is the biggest bookstore in the world. on the way there my wheelchair somehow ends up in the street and a car is coming and it's all very scary, but we make it to powell's in one piece, and when i say it's the biggest bookstore in the world, it is the biggest damn bookstore in the world.

i check my wheelchair in at the front desk. we say we'll meet up in two hours. we split ways.

i think the pictures speak for themselves. that was one section of the store.

i ended up buying looking for alaska (what up, john green?!) and the UK version of the goblet of fire. i now own the fourth harry potter book (my personal favorite) in american english, UK english, and spanish. 

after getting lost at powell's, we get starbucks and it's figuring out which one to go to that's the problem because there's seriously one on every single corner. after starbucks, we head back to the hilton to the convention because the first keynote speaker is ursula k. le guin, a poet and sci-fi writer that my friend santino would probably kill a man to meet.

she's eighty-three. and she was the sassiest lady i had ever met in my life. 

after some dinner, we went to a little midwest networking circle thing that looked like AA. i sat down next to this cool guy in a wheelchair who introduced himself as tim and said that he went to IPFW in fort wayne.

me: no way. i'm from fort wayne.
me: no kidding. my best friend goes to IPFW. her name is hannah easter.

later, i get a text from hannah: YOU MET TIM?!

small world. out of eight HUNDRED english majors, i run into tim.

after the really boring networking session, we want to explore portland at night. we get the wheelchair and head out into the humid night and take pictures of literally everything. then we get hungry. so we go to tartberry, the land of yogurt. 

tartberry was underground, which was cool, and they had a wheelchair ramp, which was even cooler, and i've never had frozen yogurt quite like it. the walls were neon and covered in pictures and we were next to a pillar that had notes from all over the world that people had left.

we left our own.

afterwards, we run into a really legit old church from the eighteen hundreds and lying on a bench in the portico is...


after finding the fun vegetables, we kept wandering and taking pictures and we eventually found ourselves on the edge of portland state university's campus. feeling that we had wandered too far, we headed back.

portland day one = success.

portland day two = PRESENTATIONS.

erika presented her poetry at eight in the morning. we were up by seven, showering, putting on our make up and our presentation clothes, rereading through our papers and poetry, and generally feeling anxious. 

erika presented her fabulous poetry and as soon as she was done being grilled at her panel, we crutched off to mine, where i thought i was going to pee my tights. i was going first. i sat right by the podium so i wouldn't need my crutches, but when i was introduced, i tripped over them. smoooooth, emily.

i read my poetry. i only fumbled on one word. i sat down. four people read after me.

my panel was oddly... formalist. they were like, "YEAH STRUCTURE!" and i was like "YEAH ORGANIC FREE FORM!" and this girl was like, "WOW I'M GOING TO ASK YOU A RUDE QUESTION" and in my head i was like "WOW YOU'RE A RUDE BITCH" but i actually said "to me, poetry is incredibly personal and i believe that we have preferences in nearly everything that we encounter. how i write my poetry is based on personality and preference."

then she looked at me like, but you can't just forgo structure.

uh, yeah i can.

after my panel was done grilling me for not being a stuck up formalist from penn state altoona, we went to voodoo doughnuts. 

i cannot even describe voodoo doughnuts.

the doughnuts were so... beautiful. the entire place was pink and yellow. it was run by awesome hipsters with strange body piercings and tattoos. there was a giant doughnut on the wall. they had ropes outside of the shop for people to line up when they couldn't fit into the shop. i was so overwhelmed by doughnut that i wanted to die.

we got a voodoo dozen.

basically, i was the best. and we took the rest of them back to the hotel.

after nomming on the best doughnuts in existence, it was time for christina to present her paper on brutus from shakespeare's julius caesar, which reminded me of this one project that i did in sophomore high school lit about brutus's servant who i couldn't remember the name of. it was a shakespeare panel and christina went first. after her was a nice girl on hamlet that i named rosencrantz, and after her was a girl that talked about astrology in king lear, and after her was a kid named evan that had a deep voice and had two theses working at the same time but didn't really have a critical dialogue going so he sounded smarter than he was.

then we went to kelsey's presentation on women in the picture of dorian gray, and it was after her panel that we met chris.

chris was tall. chris was handsome. chris was going to grad school at harvard or something crazy like that. chris wore oxford shoes. chris had a deep voice and wavy hair. chris was nice. chris wrote poetry and played guitar. chris went to college two hours away from us.

chris was also carrying a book that said "spicy" on it.

his friend kait was presenting in kelsey's panel and we all hit it off real fast. we invited them to go out to dinner with the six of us and dr. aspinall.

it was an hour wait, so the eight of us decided to leave aspinall to his beer and we went back to voodoo doughnuts because chris and kait hadn't been there yet, and on the way there, we were passed by a hipster bike posse.

it was a bunch of hippies all riding bikes and passing out pamphlets on tourist induced pollution. there were two guys on a huge cart that they had rigged up like a bike and they were leaning back and pedaling pretty nonchalantly. there were two large speakers on the cart and they were pumping the bass. you could hear them three blocks up the street.

fuggin' portland, man.

on saturday, day three, we spent our time going to different panels. we went to a really depressing panel of original fiction called coping mechanisms where one girl's entire short story happened in the span of a girl jumping off of a building and falling to her death. (eight in the morning. it was rough.) then erika and i went to a poetry workshop where i wrote a poem called the grapefruit war. we got some lunch at the sandwich shop from thursday (sandwich boy was not there to lean over me seductively) and then we went to chris's poetry panel to support him. after that christina and i went to the last keynote speaker, a creative nonfiction writer named anne who talked about the difference between carnal book lovers and courtly book lovers.

i am somewhere in the middle. but she talked about how one time a harvard librarian found a used condom inside of a book. carnal indeed.

after a nice nap, we got ready for the red and black gala dinner, where we all dressed up and had a fancy dinner in the ballroom. let me tell you, eight hundred english majors know how to get dressed up. and we know how to eat good food. the food was superb. we sat with a small chapter from south carolina and i wanted to take their advisor home with us. he was a cute little asian professor that had been a vegetarian longer than me, and he was wearing a bowtie.

after the gala dinner and all of the convention awards, we got a picture with the executive director of sigma tau delta, which should've gotten me like, a million points for the twitter contest. dr. aspinall couldn't figure out how to work the camera on my phone, and while he was working it out, the executive director, who was like, sixty-five, was like, "i'm surrounded by six lovely women, this is so nice" and i was like, "dude don't be a perv, we're all like, twenty-two."

alpha alpha pi. with creepy dude.

convention was over, and it felt like we had literally just gotten to the hotel.

we slept in our clothes for three hours and then made the nineteen hour journey home.

on the plane, they played silver linings playbook and i fangirled. i took my vicodin on the l in chicago heading to union station, where i then crutched up five flights of steps like a badass. once i reached union station, my vicodin kicked in and i got wonderfully high. i thought that my ears had left my head, i said that my french fries tasted like the seashore, i yelled loudly about the hand dryers being magical but how we actually lived in the muggle world, and when erika told me she was a slytherin, i burst into tears like a five year old.

i'm really fun on narcotics, guys.

i slept on the train. after leaving portland at three thirty in the morning, we got back to campus at ten fifteen that night. once i got out of kelsey's van in front of my dorm, i almost threw up in the parking lot.

it was truly an adventure.



nighttime portland!

that's me. presenting my poetry. WOO.

erika, me, and christina at the gala dinner!

my main man, e.e. cummings in the street.

portland. was. AWESOME.


1 comment:

  1. Hey! Just found your blog! :)

    I live in Portland!

    Fellow girl with trichotillomania,