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March 19, 2018 / jennrudsit

A Seattleite’s Survival Guide to AWP in Tampa

by Meghan Foulk

AWP is full of amazing treasures, interesting people, and SO. MANY. BOOKS. But traveling from one corner of the country to another can lead to a cultural shock, so I’m here to help the fellow PNWers cope with these possibly terrifying changes.

1. You’ll be tempted to break out all your summer clothes for the 60° weather.

Perhaps you’ll look like a fool wandering around Florida’s winter with shorts and a tank top. It is a possibility that the windy weather will make wearing a dress inconvenient. Nevertheless, own it. You just came from a place where snow is still lying about, so ignore those Tampa native’s eye rolls at your ridiculous enthusiasm for their “winter” weather. A Pacific Northwester may also be confused by the bright thing in the sky, but through research I have concluded that this is natural. In fact, the sky is blue and not gray! Who would have thought??

2. Need your daily coffee fix? Too bad.

AWP is full of writers, publishers, and literary magazines. What do these all have in common? Usually caffeine addiction. Being a Seattleite myself, I figured that I could get my usual morning cup of joe. Boy, I was wrong. It turns out that having a Starbucks on every other corner isn’t normal, and Tampa was not ready to accommodate the increased need for caffeine. With only one coffee shop in the convention center and a Starbucks in the hotel across the street, I admit that I was willing to wait in a 20-minute line to get my fix along with other book lovers with bloodshot eyes and jittery hands. Writers are a special group, that’s for sure.

3. Yes, those tall things are considered trees.

Unlike the gorgeous pine trees of our homeland, Tampa has tall palm trees that make it always feel like summer. While I am partial, I must admit that the palm trees are pretty and have their own appeal. We probably all looked like idiots, trying to take pictures of the sun and the trees to send back to our friends and family who were left in the cold and snow to rub it in their faces make them feel better.

4. THERE IS NO RECYCLING.

This was quite distressing. Washington residents are familiar with having at least three options for their waste, but in Florida, there was ONLY ONE BIN. How am I supposed to sort my trash from my recycling? Throwing away clean recyclables into the black bins of the landfill killed my soul a little bit. Especially with the number of Styrofoam products. WHY GOD WHY. A small voice in my head was telling me to sneak my trash back to Washington so that I could sort it properly. But alas, I needed that space in my bag for books.IMG_2867

We were quite excited when we found a recycling bin. Of course, it was in the Starbucks, and we just had to take a picture with it while waiting in the ridiculously long line for coffee. That might have been the only recycling bin in all of Florida, and we were lucky enough to find it. Just don’t get me started on how there was no compost.

5. THERE IS NO COMPOST.

What am I supposed to do with my food waste and food solid paper products??

That is all.

6. Learn to laugh every single time someone says, IMG_2826“Wow, you guys came a long way,” like it’s an original joke.

It will be said a lot. Many times a day in fact. But you’re trying to sell the magazine, so just smile and nod, laugh along with them as you recount the same anecdote about your flight that honestly isn’t that interesting but you have to keep them engaged. There isn’t really an appropriate response to this, but try not to awkwardly laugh and say a drawn out, “Yeahhhhhh…”

7. Never forget to wear your flannel.

All the MFA programs will be wearing spiffy button up shirts and the publishers with their suits and ties, but you, oh you PNW soul, will have your [flannel/Birks/Chacos/Patagonia/etc.], looking like you’re ready to go on a mountain hike on one of Florida’s beaches. It may be intimidating, but own the tree-hugging, gourmet coffee loving, microbrewing, hiking hipster and take Tampa by storm. You came a long way, after all.

Meghan Foulk is the Assistant Fiction Editor at Rock & Sling. She enjoys almost all PNW stereotypes, as well as spending way too much money on books and theorizing about the latest Star Wars/Game of Thrones/pop culture in general.

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