So here's the part where I'm likely to put my foot in my mouth, since I know that Workshop people are reading this now. Over the weekend, the recipients of next year's Teaching-Writing Fellowships (TWF, pronounce it "twif") were announced. It's a prestigious deal and basically means that the powers-that-be have looked upon your writing and found its odor sweet in their nostrils. Some good friends of mine were recipients, and they are now especially good friends since I'll need to ride their coattails to fame.
See, that's a joke, but people have these like pathological strictures about not joking about the TWF. Everyone gets very uptight about it, since the community is kind of insular anyway and there's always the underlying competitive streak. Also, we're actually getting ideological rifts, which is kind of exciting. I didn't think we were allowed to have those until we were old and crusty and had to write polemics instead of having sex, like Norman Mailer. But the budding Carvers are clashing with the budding Pynchons, and it's all a lot of fun until your own personal story goes up. Anyway, you could cut the tension with a knife in the week before the TWFs were announced. Nobody would talk about it except my friend Marlowe (tobacconist, cabalist) who has a thing about flouting social convention and would talk to people using no word but "twif," like the little "dink" creatures in Spaceballs.
So on Friday the fellowships were announced. A lot of people who had hoped to receive one did not (there were 7 awards, out of our first-year fiction class of 25). So substance abuse occurred. There was a party Friday night, and by the time I met up with people at 10:30 they'd already been drunk and/or stoned for the last seven hours. One gentleman had a bad reaction to the weed and ran home across the river, through the frozen streets of Iowa City, in order to take a shower. I didn't even know what was going on at first; I'm on this different system where the TWF awards don't affect me, so I can watch with sociological interest.
Ethan, incidentally, claims that you shouldn't want the TWF because it causes everyone to start gunning for you. He received it as a student and turned it down after a couple months, since he can get away with things like that.
The evil space fungus is set to land on 20 March.