This month, in an effort to immerse myself in a post-MFA literary life, I attended the Aqus Cafe Speakeasy Literary Saloon. This quarterly reading, hosted by Ransom Stephens and Susan Bono (of Tiny Lights, which I've blogged about), showcased the extraordinary talents of local authors such as Stefanie Freele (fiction editor for Los Angeles Review, whom I've also blogged about). They always have a drawing for two open mic slots, so attending writers are encouraged to come prepared. I haven't read to an audience for almost two years, so I brought an excerpt from an essay that was recently accepted for publication in the literary journal South Loop Review: Creative Nonfiction and Art (slated for fall, 2013). The whole time that I sat listening, I had the almost certain feeling that my name would be drawn. And it was! As one of the last readers, I was pleased to see the cafe was still full and was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. There's something so exciting about getting one's work out there. Reading aloud brings with it the gratification of an immediate response, but also the increased vulnerability of exposure before one's audience.