Winston-Salem, Day 1

Okay, then.  First things first.  It’s been two and a half months since I’ve blogged.  Not that I was ever on a regular schedule, but damn.  And of course, the reason for my not having blogged isn’t lack of things to say.  Work continues to chew me up and spit me out so it can do it all over again.  And I let it.  Silly me.  But it means I’ve sacrificed pretty much everything.  I don’t write except for brief journal entries and maybe a page or two of fiction now and then.  I don’t read much.  Here we are in April, and I’ve read something like eight books, mostly poetry.  I don’t do my walking/photo shoots much.  To say nothing of keeping the house clean.  I’ve been as patient as I possibly can with my job.  I’ve been hearing “it’ll get better” since last July.  We keep taking baby steps, but those baby steps aren’t getting us anywhere.  And we’ll be adding yet another bank (22 branches) some time in the fall, most likely.  Without having increased staff in a way that will make such an acquisition tolerable.  Fuck it.

Some new things have happened.  Good things.  I have acquired a new camera.  The Canon Rebel T3 in red.  Her name is Lucinda.  Don’t ask; it just is, okay?  Needless to say, I fucking love her.  I got that back in February, so some stuff in Flickr was taken with the new camera, but (see above) not as much as I’d like.

My laptop began to crash a couple weeks ago.  It had been running hot, so I dusted off the air intake.  That sort of helped.  I turned it off one night because of a thunderstorm.  After about ten minutes, it crashed.  It rebooted just fine, but the next morning, it was running very hot, so I shut it down again.  Booted it up when I got home from work, and ten minutes later, it crashed.  With a completely different error message!  So I made sure I ran a back up and started looking for a new laptop.  MacBooks have been calling my name for a number of years now, and the shopping for a laptop trip became a buying a MacBook Air trip.  I’m still not completely used to the UI, but I’m really loving it otherwise.  It’s only not intuitive because I’ve been on PCs for years, and a lot of that stuff has become second nature.  It’s a well-made, well-designed machine.  And it’s easy.  I plug a printer into the USB port, and she goes (yes, it’s a she; her name is Sophia), “Hey, I found a printer.  Wanna set it up?”  I say, “Yes, please.”  She says, “Sure!  Hang on … okay, done!”  Even migrating all my crap off my PC to the Mac was easy–took forever, but that’s okay.

And now we get to the reason for the title of this post.  Back in January, I attended a workshop by Lola Haskins, one of my favorite contemporary poets.  The organizer of said workshop mentioned the Gathering of Poets, an all day poetry event with a variety of workshops to choose from.  Considering the fact that a lot of workshops and conferences can be pricey, I was surprised at the cost for this one and figured what the hell.  The biggest thing I got from the Haskins workshop is that I need to be out in the poetry community.  When I saw the early start time, I figured I’d need to get out to Winston-Salem before Saturday.  It’s about a two-and-a-half hour drive.  Then I thought, what the hell, I’ll make a little mini-vacation out of it.

So here I am.  I got here around 11:45 this morning, promptly found a place for food and spent a good two and a half hours walking around downtown Winston-Salem.  It’s very similar to downtown Raleigh and also makes me think of downtown Norfolk for some reason.  Maybe it’s a common thread for mid-sized cities of roughly similar age.  There’s a wonderful mix of old and new architecture.  The RJ Reynolds building was built in the 1920s and has lots of lovely art deco (or nouveau, I have no clue) flourishes on the outside.  The building’s under renovation, so I didn’t get inside, but I wish I could have gotten into the lobby.  It looked neat.

A block or two beyond the building is an old tobacco factory.  Lots of wonderful rust colors, vertical and diagonal lines and a set a train tracks (of course) running right by it.  It really did look like an abandoned castle.  I leaned up against the cement of the train’s overpass, and I could smell tobacco, like the cement had just soaked it up for all those years.

From there, I found myself in an arts district, where the road signs are pink and the fonts are funky.  I found gargoyles perched atop the roofs of shops, a decent coffee joint and an odd sense of displacement.  I was more comfortable in the run-down area a block over.  This kind of art is artifice, although I don’t mind the little galleries all over the place.  Maybe it’s just that my idea of art doesn’t include a whole lot of refinement.  I like to find the beauty in things as they are.  I did quite a bit of that today.  Pictures will hit Flickr eventually.

Tomorrow, I will mostly be haunting Salem Cemetery, resting place of the Reynolds clan and the Hanes clan (yes, that Hanes; underwear and tobacco; gotta love the combination).  I can almost see the cemetery entrance from my hotel room.  There’s a house in the way.  It’s that close.

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2 thoughts on “Winston-Salem, Day 1

  1. “I leaned up against the cement of the train’s overpass, and I could smell tobacco, like the cement had just soaked it up for all those years.”

    That is a very cool observation. That you thought about doing this, and that you thought it important enough to record says a lot about the quality of your art, and maybe even the quality of your life.

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