I went to Austin for five days and gained four pounds. This is why I can’t live there anymore.

It’s just so much meat and beer, you guys. And I am powerless to resist it.

I found a way to make any trip to Austin seem to last twice as long — spend half of your waking hours with your “Have another drink; now eat this meat” friends, and the other half at a “Have another drink; now eat this meat” film festival. I got to spend quality time with quality people, and the best part is ever since I got back I’ve been writing every day with much more productivity than I’ve been inspired to do in a long time. I’m very grateful for that.

Now, the sitting around writing isn’t helping my “four pounds in five days” situation, but luckily I don’t have immediate access to incredible brisket in my apartment. I’ve been doing a lot of home cooking instead. Of fish. And some chicken. But mostly fish. So I’m back down to pre-fun me, right at that frustrating part where I want to eat everything in Austin once again.

The nice thing about Austin Film Festival is that it’s a conference for writers about writing. It’s not so much a showcase for this film or that directing process or what’s being picked up by whom. It’s about the scripts, the business of working as a writer, creating stories and characters that are exciting and interesting and makes you simultaneously want to be a better writer and think you’ll never amount to anything. I like that kind of inspiration. Because it’s always fun to work when you’re trying to beat the odds.

I spoke on a number of panels, and I think they mostly went well. I went to a lot of parties and made it through several nights in questionable footwear. I blew out my voice, most likely kick-started by Karaoke on the first night. I got to lead a pack of non-locals down Sixth Street. One night I went to dinner at a barbecue joint with a large group of writers and ended up being seated next to John August. I’m quite proud of myself that no matter what I never, ever, ever teased him for eating salad. Never. Not once. …until now. I noticed it because it was the only green thing on the entire table. But still. Salad. At a barbecue joint. SALAD!

This time I barely got to Eat Through Austin. In fact, the closest I got to the list was goodbye lunch at Shady Grove.

This is where I got mercilessly teased for using a fork to eat a messy chicken wing.

“OH! In Los Angeles we eat messy things with FORKS!”

“OH! My MANICURE! This food is too FOOD-LIKE! I simply MUST use my FORK!”

“OH! Waiter! I’m so sorry, but I USE FORKS NOW because I’m so FANCY!”

Jerks. I got shamed into eating with my fingers. And this is why I’m glad I didn’t tease John August about his salad.

Besides, I’d have immediately have dorked it up anyway.

“HA HA YOU ARE EATING SALAD and you write good movies– You wrote Big Fish — you know that, though, haha sorry — but also: and you wrote things that Johnny Depp was in and — OH WAIT! Tell Johnny Depp anytime here’s a key you just give it to him I have to go now, sorry I just spilled my beer on your salad I FELL DOWN TOO STOP LOOKING AT ME bye.”

….but still.

Salad.

… It only just now occurs to me that maybe he’s some kind of vegetarian, but in Texas that’s when you eat potato salad and beans.

Mmm. Potato salad. I miss Austin.

I am gonna go curl up around my fancy fork and cry.