Sunday, June 16, 2013

Had a Blast in Reno!

Hi everyone,

When I arrived at the airport in Reno on Wed, June 5, I have to admit I was totally unprepared for all the slot machines I saw as soon as I deplaned.  And people were playing! I was like, Really?  You're fiending that much that you have to gamble at the airport? But then just as I thought that, a woman was hitting on her slot machine.  As the coins steadily clinked into her tray, I thought, What the hell do I know? Play away happy people!

My friend Elizabeth picked me up--it was about 6:30pm in Reno.  The workshop and performance were the next day, so I mostly wanted to rest and conserve my energy until then.  I stayed at the Eldorado Casino and Hotel.

The room was very nice.  I spent most of Thurs rehearsing and resting.  Here's the view of Reno from my hotel room:

The last photo is of some huge bowling center in Reno.  Apparently, many people travel to Reno to gamble and/or bowl.  If they venture out, maybe they go to Lake Tahoe.  But as I will show in later posts, there is so much more to Reno than casinos and tourist attractions (hint: Great food! Pyramid Lake! :)

As I was hanging out in the hotel/casino, I noted there were at least 4-5 restaurants, a theater show, cafes, shops, pool, fitness center, connecting bridges to 2 other casinos--and I realized that people could come to Reno and never have the sun touch their skin.  They could literally stay inside the casino and never feel the need to see the outside world.  It felt kind of sad to me.  I'm sure there's a poem to be written about that...

I love water fountains, and the Eldorado had a huge one on the mezzanine floor.  I sat by it to listen to the water and meditate for a bit, but when the smell of chlorine and cigarette smoke became too much, I went back to my room:

Later that day, Elizabeth picked me up for the show.  Here she is at The Holland Project (the venue and co-sponsor of the event):

We couldn't get in, so we were hanging around outside.  And then that's when I had my first experience with local culture.  While Elizabeth was checking her cell phone and texting Iain Watson (the co-founder of SpokenViews Poetry Collective, the other co-sponsor of the event), I was keeping an eye out for people on the street--ya know, having her back so she/we don't snuck and all that.  So I see this guy coming towards us on a bike. He's making a bee-line straight for us. And I start sizing him up on my weirdo-meter.  He's smiling and my weirdo-meter starts buzzing.  He gets closer and closer, and the weidro-meter is ringing off the hook, like HELLO! RING-A-DING! WEIRDO ALERT! And I just kept thinking, Why is he smiling like that?  Maybe Elizabeth knows him ...  And then he's right there in front of us, smiling big and saying "Hi!" like we were old friends.  And Elizabeth had no idea who he was.  And this was my first experience in Reno local culture--everyone is so friendly. Even when they don't know you. And it was a bit of a culture shock--I mean, I think I'm a friendly person, but I'm in Philly all day.  In East Coast cities, you have to be ready to throat-chop someone if necessary (right Elizabeth! LOL!)  But how could I have such thoughts about native Renoians? They were too nice.  I resolved to save my throat-chopping thoughts for drunks back at the casino...

Finally, Chris from The Holland Project let us in:

Here's the Spotlight Series stage:

Members from two poetry collectives participated in the poetry workshop before the show: SpokenViews Poetry Collective and Two Shits Poetry Collective (TWOOO SHITS! :).  Here's a picture from the workshop:

Seated next to me from left to right is Christine (who hosted the show that night) and Levi.  I didn't get pictures of everyone, but many thanks to the following people for participating: Levi, Christine, Griffin, Shawn, Griffins, Callie, Angela, Micah, Edward, John, Steve, Naomi, Artie, and Iain. my apologies if I misspelled your name.  I hope you all wrote conversation poems!

I'm sorry I couldn't get pictures of everyone who performed at the show (the pics I took came out too blurry).  Here's Christine hosting and John on the open mic:

Thank you so much to all the people who performed on the open mic: John, Naomi, Edward, Shawn, and Micah.  Special thanks to Elisa Garcia for opening up for me.  Your poetry was amazing (she performed 3 poems: a love poem to her boyfriend, a poem for her 10-year-old niece McKayla, and a poem in response to a stranger who called her fat.  So powerful!).  I also want to say what a pleasure it was to meet all the SpokenViews ladies.  Pictured below with me are Jessie, Elizabeth, Elisa, and Alicia:


Shout out to Iain for making this event happen.  Special thanks to my wonderful friend Elizabeth for all her tireless work and energy to get me to Reno.  Huge thank yous to everyone who came to the show, supported my book, talked to me after the show, and hung out.

Soon I will post about all the yummy food I ate while in Reno (with pics!) and of the amazing adventure Elizabeth and I had at Pyramid Lake in search of Stone Mother (in 100 degree temps!).

Much love, Reno!