Polter-Cow (spectralbovine) wrote,

  • Mood:
  • Music:

Deep in the Heart of AMWA, Part II: Creative Nonfiction as an Outlet for Medical Writers

If you're just joining us, you may want to read Part I first.


I did not oversleep on Friday. I was to meet my fellow creative nonfiction panelists for breakfast in the hotel restaurant at 7:30. I waited for a while, seeing no sign of them, although I had forgotten what they looked like. There was a long line of people waiting to be seated, and the buffet was very popular. But I didn't see my breakfastmates. Finally, I just walked in and started looking at booths, and, what the hell, they were just a yard away from the entrance. I gave you my cell phone number for a reason! They were already receiving their food.

Here is a summary of my breakfast experience: it took forever—FOREVER—for someone to notice that I was new and needed to order food, it took forever for the waitress to bring me my omelette—without the salsa I had requested, and then she never brought my salsa. The moderator of our panel stayed to keep me company, and she also talked TV with me for a bit since my klatch had been a disaster.

The room for our panel was quite large with lots of chairs. I went up to the table at the front and took a seat as the other panelists arrived. Then I decided that since we had ordered a flipchart, I should make use of it, so I wrote CREATIVE NONFICTION with each letter in a different style. Get it, it's creative!

Attendees filtered in. There were maybe a dozen or so people, not too many. Several people had expressed interest in the panel but said they had a conflict. Kloud was there, and I think Kitty was as well. The moderator spoke for a while on creative nonfiction and various memoirs she recommended, especially medical memoirs. She had provided a long list in a handout. The longer she spoke, the more aware I was of her very annoying verbal tic: "Uuuuuum." Everyone has different verbal tics! We don't even know we're doing them!

She introduced the first panelist, a man to my left who was writing a memoir. He had written out a whole thing and had been editing it and marking on it, and he really knew what he was going to say. He talked about things he'd learned while writing a memoir. He recommended Stephen King's On Writing, which I also love.

Then the moderator introduced me by reading the bio I had provided.
Sunil Patel has written and illustrated two books, The Disastrous Dino War and K.E.E.T. and the Invasion of the Insectoids. He was in elementary school and wonders whether his mom still has them. His writing matured over the years, and he was first published in his high school literary magazine. His crowning achievement was winning $1000 for a short story judged by professional writers and then winning $150— second place!—for the exact same story judged by graduate students. He has the unfortunate habit of viewing his life as a narrative, which means he often does things just so he can write about having done them.
She was particularly tickled by the bit about grad students, as they always felt like they had something to prove.

Now, I had focused all my time on my cancer pharmacology workshop and hadn't put a great deal of thought into what I was going to say on this panel. After the previous panelist's well spoken presentation, I felt I should give a disclaimer. "I didn't write out what I was going to say or anything," I began, "so I'm going to be making this up as I go along." I knew the basic topics I planned to talk about, though.

I started out by noting that in the long list of memoirs provided in the handout, there was a distinct lack of Augusten Burroughs. I recommended Dry and Magical Thinking as examples of dealing with heavy topics like alcoholism and AIDS but still keeping the tone sarcastic and funny. I got into a digression about the advertising industry; we had been discussing at breakfast how people love hearing about other people's jobs. And Augusten Burroughs gives an insider look at the advertising industry that made me really interested in the field. I also liked Then We Set His Hair on Fire, by...Paul Dusseldorf? I couldn't remember his name (Phil Dusenberry, for the record). But it also gave an insider look at the advertising industry.

One of my favorite memoirs—and one of my favorite books in general—is A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers, and I love it for being a memoir about memoirs, often breaking the fourth wall and deconstructing the methods we use in memoir, the way we present information. As I said, I hadn't done a lot of preparation, and I hadn't read these books in years, so I wasn't able to give clear examples of things, which was annoying.

Then I talked about a couple comic memoirs, Maus (I saw a woman nod her head) and Fun Home (I saw the moderator nod her head). I basically said what I said in the post except far less eloquently.

I moved on to discuss my own approach to creative nonfiction, which is to take techniques I admire in fiction and use them for nonfiction. After reading Lorrie Moore's Self-Help, a book of short stories mostly written in second-person, I started experimenting with second-person and found it very effective, as it affords you a sense of detachment while giving the reader a sense of attachment. Except I was more rambly about it. The whole thing was very rambly, and when I seized upon a way to end, I took it, remembering what I'd posted in Bitches that morning.

"Just this morning," I said, "I was thinking that my whole life is creative nonfiction. And it's true, your lives are all creative nonfiction. Now it's up to you to write about them."

A woman asked me to write the books I'd recommended, and I used the flipchart once again as the moderator introduced the next panelist.

I had had no idea what the hell I was doing up there, but several people told me afterward that they were really impressed and thought I did a good job for not having prepared. I always clarified that I did have the basic topics in mind, so it wasn't like I was making up everything on the spot, as I might have implied.

The last panelist led a writing exercise where we all wrote down our favorite childhood memory and then volunteered to share with no fear of criticism, as only positive comments were allowed. Some were boring, some were interesting, and one guy from Ghana retold a folk tale that he loved hearing when he was a kid. It was a little hard to decipher his accent at times, though.

After the panel, I went to the open session titled "The Least You Need to Know to Publish a Book." I sat at a table with someone who had liked my talk at the nonfiction panel and gave me her card. And then I slept through most of the panel, so I don't know much about how to publish a book except that it sucks and publishers only want to make money and you should just self-publish but do it right. Or something. I can't extricate "self-publishing" from "vanity press" in my mind, even though I have friends who have self-published books. If I'm going to be published, I want it to be...real? I know a lot of self-published books can be bought on Amazon, but I want to be in bookstores. None of this is really worth thinking about until I get off my ass and actually write something, though.

On the way to lunch, I ran into Holli. A freelancer, she was meeting a client, but she didn't know what he looked like. She went over to a guy in a grey suit, but it wasn't him. After a few minutes, she stepped away to get a new vantage point and perhaps make a phone call. Seconds later, a man in a grey suit passed her and stopped, facing the opposite direction. He looked around at the empty space surrounding him and then pulled out his phone.

"Are you looking for [Holli]?" I said. He was. "She's right there." I pointed. Holli turned around and thanked me.

Standing by the messageboard, I noticed Kitty and a woman from Seattle talking about how everyone in Seattle has worked at either Microsoft and Amazon. I joined the conversation by commenting that I had friends from Seattle who worked at both Microsoft and Amazon. The three of us talked for a while before doing the Card Exchange (although Kitty had not brought cards). Conferences are all about making connections and exchanging cards and then going home and adding each other on LinkedIn.

It was hard to find a seat at lunch again, and I ended up sitting with Kloud, who was impressed with my off-the-cuff talk at the panel. Another person at the table and I totally convinced her to read some Poe. The lunch was rubbery chicken. Has mass-produced hotel chicken ever been good? I should have learned my lesson by now. The speaker was a man who wrote a book on frontier medicine.

As we got up to leave following his talk, I caught Ali, who was sitting at an adjacent table, and asked him if he had any plans for lunch Saturday. It was time to assemble my Saturday lunch gang. He said he had no plans, and we exchanged cell phone numbers. I asked him for Jimmy Pop's last name because I had forgotten it, and I left Pogo and Jimmy Pop messages on the messageboard.

After lunch, I had a very important errand! My comic book store was having a sale the weekend I was gone, and I really wanted to buy the three volumes of the Frank Miller Daredevil run for 25% off. I was afraid someone else might possibly have the same idea, so, thanks to jeeperstseepers's brilliant suggestion, I had asked if I could call in and order over the phone. And I could! I was going to make it a big DD day, getting the Frank Miller run, the last Brubaker trade, and Daredevil #500, since back issues were 50% off on Friday and the issue had lots of bonus material that wasn't included in the trade. It took the woman a little while to find the books I wanted since they weren't shelved where she expected, and I had to choose between two different covers of #500. She described them both to me and said they were both good, but when she said one looked like an Alex Ross cover—and therefore painted—I opted for that one. She rung me up over the phone. Success!

As I was on the phone, a familiar-looking girl passed by and waved at me, and I waved at her, and I couldn't place where I knew her, since I didn't think I'd met her at an AMWA conference. We ran into each other later on, and she told me we'd met in Boston. Ah! The training course, yes. It all made sense now. Cool! Running into people! I like it.

I ran into Holli at the elevators. She thanked me again for helping her client find her, especially because she had gotten a job out of the lunch. I asked her where she was going. Project management. So was I! Ha.

I told her that I'd had a klatch last night. "What did you talk about?" she said. "Wait, let me guess: TV!"


"I've got you figured out."

The project management course also had technical difficulties, as the instructor had the same issue I did with the computer not displaying on the screen and the clicker not working. Frickin' Sheraton Dallas! He did have his slides on the handout, though, so we just followed along in there. It was a decent course, but I found it hard to follow since I don't have a lot of actual project management course.

Holli was going to be spending most of Saturday in Fort Worth, so I didn't think I would see her again, so I told her goodbye before I left for my, er, appointment.

Curiously, on the way down, I noticed that the elevator now had a stick hanging from a hook for no apparent reason. When I reached the lobby, I saw that this weekend, the hotel was also hosting a convention for...the Little People of America. Oh my God, you guys. It was so bizarre. So many little people! It was only on my way back up later when I saw the stick again that I realized what it was for. Aw, Sheraton Dallas!

So I knew very little about my current potential future wife. I had gotten her biodata, which gave me her educational background (microbiology) and her favorite TV shows/movies/books/music (er...we had different tastes). I had sent her an introductory e-mail a couple weeks but had gotten no response. Recently, we found out she'd been sick, which explained her lack of response. Also, she didn't have a brother, so apparently my mom has relaxed that requirement since she's so desperate.

An uncle was waiting for my in the lobby; he was our middleman matchmaker. With him was a woman I presumed was my current potential future mother-in-law. My mom and sister and current potential future wife were in the bathroom. When they returned, I saw a girl in a pink sari who was cuter than she had looked in her pictures. She kind of looked like a prettier Mindy Kaling. We shook hands, and my mom switched to Annoying Mom Showing Off Her Son Mode. She told me to take off my badge, even though it had ribbons on it that made me look important and could be conversation-starters.

Then we were set free to find a place to talk. I knew there was a Peet's, so I went in that direction, but it was closed, so I turned us around. I joked that we could just wander around, and she said, very seriously, "No, let's not do that."

There were places to sit in the hotel restaurant, but I didn't know whether we would be forced to buy food. I asked if we could just sit at a booth, and they said it was fine, so we sat at a booth.

She acknowledged that it was awkward right off, and I agreed, so we were at least both similarly at a loss as to what the hell we were supposed to talk about. But we talked for about half an hour, I think, about...stuff. We would talk about stuff, and then there would be an awkward silence, but it wasn't as awkward as it would have been if we hadn't acknowledged and embraced the awkwardness already. I think she was more awkward than I was. This was the first time I'd ever met a PFW that I'd never talked to at all before (wait, that's not true, just the first official PFW), but I was only the second person she'd met in person, period. Sometimes her dad would call her up and give her an e-mail address for a potential future husband. Just an e-mail address, because he didn't know his name. At least I get more than that!

The best part? She learned that she would be meeting me today on WEDNESDAY. (She was packing for the wedding and her mom was all, you know, you should take a new outfit, wink wink. I told her she looked good in it.)

I learned that she did not do horror movies. Also, that she drank Pepsi.

"Oh, this will never work," I said.

"You drink Coke?" she said.


"You don't...always have to drink soda," she said, as if I truly believed that the Coke/Pepsi dichotomy would hinder our future relationship. My dad had warned me not to make jokes, but what the hell! You can't just tell me not to make jokes. It's what I do.

Oh! Also, apparently my parents have been including that page of Testimonials I solicited like three years ago with my biodata. She thought that they might have been from my professors. I...didn't know how to respond to that. She didn't seem too amused or impressed. Don't you think The One would be quite taken with endorsements such as "I've met POLTER-COW three times, and each time he has failed to murder me horribly. Were you to marry him, he would probably fail to murder you horribly too, unless I was just lucky" and "The Cow is one of the ten coolest people I know. And I know a whole lot of really cool people. So, that's really saying something"?

After we had talked enough, we got up and returned to our mothers. It had been nice to meet each other, handshake, bye. My mom grabbed me and whispered to come with her, so I wasn't free yet. We saw them off, and then my mom asked what I thought. I said it had gone fine, not horribly, and maybe there was potential, who knows. It wasn't like we magically clicked, but it wasn't awful, so...that's good?

(Newsflash from The Future: she's not interested. 0 for everyone continues!)

I was missing the annual business meeting, so I hurried upstairs and caught the very end of the meeting. Alas. I asked Aioli for a card to give to Pogo, but she was out. At some point I do not remember, I ran into Jimmy Pop personally and invited him to lunch, and he was game. I told him we were meeting in the lobby around noonish.

Back up in my room, I put on a tie and changed into nicer shoes for the awards dinner. Again, I couldn't find a great table to sit at, but at least this time, the food was actually good. It was mass-produced salmon, but it was good. The awards were awards. I hope to get some one day!

I was really tired, but I had plans to meet Buffista Daisy Jane after dinner, so I called her place of work but was unable to get a hold of her. So I called Mr. Jane, who said he would pick me up in about half an hour. This gave me time to watch The Office on Hulu, although the stream or my connection was bad because the buffer kept running out. Time continued to pass, and I was very tired, and I watched 30 Rock as well. I feared Mr. Jane was never coming, but I called and he was almost there.

I went downstairs and outside to meet him. He greeted me with a strong Southern accent. He was very friendly for someone who knew nothing about me but that I posted on the same messageboard as his wife. He even let me change the radio station to my beloved KDGE, the station I listened to throughout high school. Our destination was some bar where it was karaoke night.

As we entered, the DJ was calling for "Big-Boobed [Daisy]." He said that's how it was written down. She did a very sexy rendition of "Fever" before coming over and meeting me. She claims we met at the SF2F, but I have no memory of such a meeting, so she gets the tag.

She introduced me to her cadre of friends. There was another [Daisy], and there were two Amys, one of whom was an opera singer. Also a Bob, I believe. Opera Amy was looking through the songbook and dismayed that they did not have anything she wanted to sing. No Muse! No Eisley! I liked her taste. No White Stripes! No Tori Amos song about pancakes or something!

Opera Amy was quite drunk, and she thought it was great that I was helping her look for songs even though I didn't know her. She had missed the introduction and asked who I was. "Sunil," I said.

"Neil?" she said.

"Sunil," I said.

"Oh, you're Neil!" she exclaimed. "You're meeting your wife!"


"Your future wife!" Oooh. Daisy had told her about that?

It was a bar, and I was tired, and it was loud, so it was hard to talk, but I enjoyed hanging out and listening to people sing. I even put my own name in, and the DJ called up "Big-Boobed Sunil," who sang "Basket Case." And was not too bad.

I only stayed for an hour or so, since I had to get back and sleep. Mr. Jane told me I was a good singer and I should do it more often. He was really nice! He gave me a little tour of downtown Dallas and recommended a place to go for lunch, City Tavern, which served Arizona-style nachos, which were more like a Mexican pizza. They sounded yummy. It was walking distance from the hotel, he showed me.


Saturday morning was another Breakfast Roundtable, and I was the last to show up again because I first made a stop to grab the free book I had been eyeing and was glad was still there (An Apple a Day: The Myths, Misconceptions, and Truths About the Foods We Eat). This morning's topic was career growth in medical communication, and I'm not sure I got the answers I was looking for exactly, but I was more involved and engaged than I was on Thursday.

I checked the messageboard to see if Pogo had gotten my message about lunch but saw that it was still up there. On my way to an open session, though, I recognized her from the back and called her name. She said she'd just gotten my message and would join us. "Thanks for thinking of me!" she said.

The first talk was about PubMed and MedlinePlus. I didn't even know MedlinePlus existed, and it seems like a great resource! But I couldn't stay awake during the PubMed section, which is what I really came to hear about. Oops. I saw Holli, but she didn't see me, and I didn't get a chance to talk to her since she chatted up the speaker after the talk, whereas I went to go get some damn coffee or something to keep me awake.

The second talk was about effective verbal presentation. A little late for me this conference, but still. Jimmy Pop was also in attendance! The speaker was very good and very entertaining, and even though it was mostly things I'd heard before, it's always good to have those concepts reinforced.

Jimmy Pop and I went down to the lobby to wait for Pogo and Ali. Pogo arrived, but no Ali. I called Ali and got his voicemail, and then he left me a voicemail, and it turned out he didn't realize we were actually going to meet in the lobby at noonish; he thought I was going to call him. I didn't remember whether I'd made it clear to him yesterday or not, but whatevs, he was on his way. Jimmy Pop had to get back by 1:30 for a tour of the arboretum, so I was itching for us to leave. Ali came down the escalator, and I led the way.

The weather was much nicer today, no longer rainy and gloomy. A good day to get out of the hotel for a while. We walked up Main St. to City Tavern, where we were to seat ourselves in a booth. I slid in, and Ali joined me. Jimmy Pop and Pogo took the other booth.

We looked at the menu. I pointed out that they also had "famous" tortilla soup. I don't know who determines the fame of these things. I ordered the nachos—the waiter thought I wanted a half-order, but oh no, I wanted it for the table—and a shrimp po'boy. We discussed where the name "po'boy" might have originated, assuming it had to do with...poor boys or something. Frickin' classist food!

It was time to confirm my suspicion about Jimmy Pop. "Did we sit at the same table for dinner at Asilomar?" I asked him. We did. "Was your dad one of the Stooges?" He was.

Ali thought that wasn't a nice thing to say. Jimmy Pop explained that the Stooges were a rock band. Jimmy's dad had co-written and played all the songs on Raw Power. He left the music business to become an electronic engineer, but he's going on tour with Iggy Pop next year. Jimmy Pop told me all this, but I am also reading it on his dad's Wikipedia page. The people I meet! Jimmy had never met Iggy Pop, but he'd talked to him on the phone when he called his dad.

I wasn't sure whether it was a mix or the radio, but the place was playing really good music. Jimmy commented on "The Uprising," saying, "This is one of the bands I really want to see live." I agreed, as I'd heard Muse were really awesome live. Jimmy and Pogo and I started reminiscing about awesome rock concerts and Bay Area venues; Ali was not a rock fan, but he had been to some of the venues. Jimmy Pop had totally seen Beck and Radiohead at Golden Gate Park! Pogo was sad she was missing the Bridge School Benefit. She had fond memories of seeing Neil Young at her first one. She also recommended seeing Ozomatli. It was clear that we should organize some concertgoing in the future.

The nachos came, and Jimmy said they reminded him of the Mexican pizza from Taco Bell, but bigger. And much better! They looked so good!! Black beans and cheese and guacamole and chicken and yum. I encouraged everyone to dig in. They thanked me. "Don't thank me; thank [EthicalMedical.net]!" They thanked EthicalMedical.net. The company dime is the best dime!

Since Jimmy had to get back earlier than we did, he had asked the bar to call him a cab, and he got his lunch to go. My shrimp po'boy was a little hard to eat since all the fried shrimp kept falling out, but it was good. Sadly, the mac and cheese used cheese sauce, so it wasn't that grand.

The walk back to the hotel seemed shorter than the walk to the restaurant. On the way, Ali coordinated with a cabbie in Farsi to pick up him up and take him to the airport. Farsi is an odd language; I wasn't sure I'd ever heard it before. There seemed to be a lot of stops and starts, and it seemed kind of...raspy. Pogo and I could tell what he was talking about since we heard words like "Sheraton" and "available" and "run the meter." When he had gotten into town, the Persian cabbie had taken him to a Mexican restaurant but had initially refused to take his eleven dollars. Ali had tried to explain that, no, that was nice, but it wasn't his money, so please take it!

We also discussed science writing and the state of journalism these days, where it was key to get a special set of knowledge first and then be a journalist. For instance, the guy who broke the Enron scandal was an accountant; he was the only one who could actually understand the books and see what was going on.

We had time to get to our 2 o'clock workshops. Mine was "Understanding Eye Disease" with Jenni. It was also a non-credit course, and, uh, there were four of us. Four of us total. It was sad. She lamented being in the last slot, as many people had already left.

A woman behind me had taken my cancer pharm course, and she said she had really liked it and thought it had a very good chance of becoming a credit course. I saw that she wore a ribbon signifying her as an annual conference coordinator. Ooh, so maybe she had some pull. She thought it was sad that she hadn't worked in oncology a while, but she still knew most or all the names of the drugs I covered. I said that I wanted to give an overview of the field, so I included oldbies as well as recent, proven newbies.

The eye disease course was fairly informative, and now I am totally scared of getting them all. Jenni ended over an hour early, which was what I thought I was going to do! And I didn't really mind since that gave me time to go back to my room and watch FlashForward before the kickoff reception for next year's conference in Milwaukee.

During the kickoff, I met up with Pogo and Jimmy Pop. I was finally able to introduce Pogo and Aioli so they could discuss a workshop she could develop. She was not going to be coordinating the workshops for next year, though, so I went and found that woman and brought her to Pogo as well. (There was some amusing confusion when Aioli told me her name and I said I didn't know her, except I totally did; I had just mistransliterated the name in my head into something unfamiliar.)

Pogo wondered if Ali had made his flight, and I still had his number in my phone, so I gave him a call. He had! Huzzah.

Sadly, none of us won anything in the raffle. As the reception wound down, I called my brother, Kiran, with whom I had made dinner plans. He was still waiting for his friend Cass to arrive, so it would be a bit. Pogo and Jimmy Pop were headed to the sports bar, so I accompanied them while I waited for my brother.

We talked and talked about various subjects like job searching, since Pogo was worried about how she would break into the field. Jimmy and I told our First Job stories, both of which involved networking. I kept calling my brother for updates, and Cass was still not there, so I continued to wait. At one point, I excused myself for a bit to go upstairs and change into a T-shirt to be ready for my brother when he arrived. Pogo was impressed with how fast I was able to change, and she liked my shirt.

Finally, Kiran was on his way, but he was trying to navigate to the hotel, and that took time. So what if he was almost two hours late, he had given me more time with Jimmy Pop and Pogo.

It seemed it wasn't enough, though. When I declared that my brother was here, they both raised their hands in consternation and exclaimed, "No!" in unison.

I smiled. "That makes me happy," I said. I told them it was great to meet them and that we had to keep in touch and get together since we were in the Bay Area.

On my way out, though, I was waylaid by a table of medical writers who recognized me from the nonfiction panel and wanted to chat about memoirs a bit. Pogo joked that I was famous.

Outside, I got into my brother's car. Kiran remarked on my T-shirt, thinking I had worn it during the conference and then understanding that, no, I just had to show off my clever shirt. But what if it was a place like Silo, where we had dressed up? We were off to Fuse, home of, er, TexAsian cuisine. We found a parking garage that appeared to be valid. My brother had made reservations, and we were seated in this strange table right in the middle of the stairs and next to a Buddha. Kiran said it wasn't Buddha since it wasn't the jolly fat Buddha, but Cass agreed with me.

The menu did not seem to be very TexAsian. They had pad Thai, for God's sake, and there didn't seem to be anything Texan about it. Chicken fried pad Thai, that would be something! They also had sushi and sashimi, but we were considering sushi for tomorrow. There were some fusion-y dishes too, though. We looked at the appetizers. There was really only one that had potential, stuffed calamari. The waitress recommended the special appetizer, the tempura rockfish. Er, rock shrimp. Rockfish? We were pretty certain she said rockfish the first time, but she said rock shrimp every time afterward. That sounded good. We said we were looking at the stuffed calamari, and she clarified that the calamari was not fried. It was just tentacle. Oh. Some people preferred it that way, but not I! So we went with the rock whatever-they-were.

My brother just started med school at Southwestern, so I caught up with him and the illustrious Cass, who was finishing up college. Cass was very nice, and she was apparently even geekier than my brother. She had a Firefly/Serenity license plate frame, for instance.

"You know who doesn't watch Firefly?" I said.

"The girl from last night?" said my brother.

"You know who probably hasn't even heard of Firefly?" Where is my geeky Indian wife? WHERE?

The tempura rock shrimp was pretty good, even though it was my second fried shrimp of the day. This was lighter and had a nice dipping sauce, though.

We had to ask the waitress's opinions on various entrees to determine what to get, but I settled on the crispy stuffed quail—with creamy spinach, celery root puree, squash and ginger sauce—Kiran went with the jumbo sea scallops—with creamy jasmine rice, lump crab and honey-jalapeño glaze—and Cass chose the cashew-crusted hamachi—with Napa cabbage and lemon.

This paltry amount of food that constitutes, like, three bites, cost $24.

This small lump of food cost $23. THAT'S LIKE FIVE DOLLARS A SCALLOP.

This little baby bit of fish cost $19.

The food was all generally good, at least, though Kiran's scallops and rice tasted the best. My bizarre quail spring roll thing was presented in a unique TexAsian way but was not very filling. Cass wasn't very full either. My brother wondered how rude it would be to ask the waitress where we could go to get more food afterward.

She asked if we wanted dessert, and I asked for the menu for kicks. Nothing really interested us, although we were amused at the dessert bento box. Except the only thing we actually wanted from the bento box were the chocolate won-tons. I told the waitress that's what we liked, and she said, to be honest, everything came with chocolate won-tons. Still, though, we didn't want anything else. I asked if we could just have some chocolate won-tons. A couple each. Sure!

And when she brought them out they were SO GOOD OMG. It was basically a little fried won-ton with a dollop of chocolate cream—like in a cream puff—and sprinkled with powder sugar. And she didn't even charge us for them!

I bought my brother dinner, which was part of our arrangement.

Outside, we mused that there should be a restaurant next to Fuse to eat at after Fuse doesn't fill you up. But there wasn't, so we walked around downtown Dallas. I asked my brother what the plan was for tomorrow. He didn't really have a plan.

"Well, we eat lunch," I said.

"We eat lunch," he repeated. "And then we find a magical...camel."

"That we have to eat to stay alive."

"And that's it, I give it a B-."

"And I give you an F!"

This is why I love my brother. We are always on the same pop-culture wavelength.

We spied an Italian cafe where people had gathered to watch some UFC match, and we stepped in, but the pizza was that generic, tasteless pizza that was not really what Cass and I were in the mood for. With time, anyway, I felt a little more full and would probably survive, so we just headed back to the car and then the hotel.

Just for kicks, I stopped by the sports bar to see whether Jimmy Pop and Pogo were still there...and they were! And my seat was still free, so I strolled up and took it. They were glad to see me again. Even better, they had ordered some pizza and had a slice left that they offered me. It was good bar pizza and served its purpose quite nicely.

Monk was showing on one of the TVs, but there was no sound. Pogo suggested I provide the dialogue myself, but I wasn't up to the challenge. To my surprise, I noticed Felicia Day! I didn't know she was on Monk! I did exclaim, "Felicia Day!" to myself, but I didn't make a big deal about it because that would be weird and they probably didn't know who she was.

Jimmy and Pogo were both big Curb Your Enthusiasm fans, and they recounted hilarious scenes and storylines and extolled the show's virtues.

Behind us, a television was showing a Spanish channel, and I read something out loud, which drew their attention to it. It appeared to be some infomercial. There was a woman drinking orange juice in a kitchen talking to an older woman.

By now, however, I was feeling up to some improv, so I began providing their lines, deciding that the woman had slept with the older woman's son, and the older woman had peed in her orange juice. The woman had even done the deed in the mother's bed! Pogo and Jimmy were cracking up.

And then it switched to talking heads, all women whose sons the woman had slept with. Then there were flashes of symptoms in Spanish, at least one of which was vaginal. This drug, Feminelle, could cure everything! EVERYTHING!

Then, hilariously, the scene shifted to the woman—identified as Laura Flores—on a bed talking to another woman, so I had her describing the various sexual acts the son had performed on her. The reactions of the women often matched up perfectly. It was a lot of fun.

There was a number to call for more information, so I called for kicks since we wanted to know what the hell the product was for. I got a woman speaking in very rapid Spanish. I couldn't remember my basic Spanish on the spot. I said my name was Manuel. But I couldn't figure out how to ask what I wanted, and I had no damn idea what she was saying, so I hung up and went back to improvising dialogue.

Finally, it was time for the night to end. It had been great hanging out with Jimmy and Pogo some more, but they were both leaving early Sunday morning.

Back in my room, I got a phone call from an unknown number. Confused, I picked it up. A woman asked in Spanish if I was Manuel. Oh fuck. I said I was not. She then said many more things in Spanish that I could not follow, and I wasn't sure what to say until she finally said, "You're Manuel, right?" in Spanish. I said I was. And then I think she railed at me for "playing" with her until I hung up. So, uh, don't prank call infomercial lines if you don't speak the language? It is...less effective.

The AMWA conference experience was over, for all intents and purposes, as I wouldn't see anyone the next day. It had been a pretty good conference, and I was glad that the people I'd bonded with this year were local, so I hope to see them more frequently than just at conferences.
Tags: being indian, books, buffistas, coke is the nectar of the gods, desi arranged marriage notification, ethicalmedical.net, family, felicia day, food, girls, i am so awesome, it's a small world, lorrie moore, medical writing, not being a serial killer, personal, pictures, pimpings, singing, such is life
  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded