Saturday, August 16, 2008


I understand it's 100 degrees at home. Here, in the foothills of Vermont's Green Mountains, it's a pleasant 72.

I feel as if I've been transported to a parallel planet. Meatloaf (as my boyfriend jokingly referred to this place in an email) is almost surreal in its setting. Rolling green hills and moose sightings aside, there is just enough of the remote to subvert the paradigm. Cell phones don't work here, so no need to take up the first minute of each meeting with an admonition to turn them off. Showers must be staggered, because the ratio of residents to stall is several to one. As though we suddenly belong to a family of ten, we must relearn to share, take our turns, be patient.

The only elbowing and vying and, dare I say, aggressive behavior is at the bulletin board near the Victorian blue parlour where one can sign up to read on a ten-slot list. I'm on the waiting list for tomorrow, aced out of yesterday and today by being incidental in my meanderings rather than deliberate.

The agent and editor meetings take place on wide porches at civilized hours, and everyone seems so happy to be here instead of in their regular lives, that one almost forgets the point of the meetings. Grace seems to be the frontrunner here, purpose only slipping in around the edges. I'm feeling a lot of suspended will, forgotten agenda and subverted bravado around me. Or maybe I'm just projecting. Cheryl Strayed aptly described Bread Loaf as summer camp for writers, and now I know what she meant by that. The usual intensity of writing conferences is mitigated by space, anachronism and the lack of strong coffee.

Everyone could do with a little meatloaf in their lives, I think. Served up at room temperature.


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