Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tuesday Ten: Ten Reactions to RT

It’s over now. I’m at home after more adventures in airline travel than I really wanted. My tired body is planted in the chair, my aching feet are encased in comfy slippers, and my office is nice and quiet, soothing a spirit rattled by too much noise, too much partying, and too many new names and faces to absorb. I’m trying to assess the experience and here are some of my quick reactions.

1. My brain is still tired. I think my mind stalled out somewhere over Philadelphia and it hasn’t quite caught up with my body yet. Maybe you can tell since I started this on Tuesday and didn’t get it posted until Wednesday.

2. Airline travel sucks. The airline lost my reservation for the first leg of the return trip and had to re-route me. On the second leg of the trip, both coming AND going, the airplanes had mechanical issues that delayed my flights for several hours. Yes, I’m glad they’re concerned about my safety and I’d much rather wait than fly in an unsafe plane, but still. I was glad it happened on the second half of each trip so I didn’t have to deal with missing connections.

3. Airline employees can be amazingly nice. When she discovered the airline had screwed up my booking, the wonderful lady at the United ticket counter in Pittsburgh not only rebooked me on another airline, she helped me get all my baggage down to the other airline’s ticket counter at the other end of the terminal, helped them get the boarding passes reissued, and walked my suitcase over to security herself to be sure I would make it to onto the flight. I wish I’d caught her name so I could write a letter of recommendation to her employer.

4. The Conference is more than a bit overwhelming. So many people, so much noise, so many events, so little sleep, etc. It can get hard to be polite to everyone. At least that’s the excuse I was making for them, when I was snubbed by a couple of people I’ve known for a very long time. Fortunately I’ve long since learned to let things like that roll off me.

5. The program was incredibly hard to figure out. I mostly relied on others to tell me what was happening, when and where.

6. Many authors and publishers put out a lot of time, effort, and money to sponsor wonderful events for the conference. I regret that I couldn’t get to every one of them, but highlights for me were the EC Hollywood party (of course), the Intergalactic Bar and Grill, the Fairy Ball, and the Dorchester party.

7. I understand that some truly unsavory activities took place. I managed to miss most of those. I did see some things I considered tacky and more than a few that should have embarrassed the crap out of the participants. I had a Mr. Romance competitor who was younger than my own children put an arm around me and hug me close. Since I’m not comfortable being touched and hugged by perfect strangers, I didn’t care for it, but I realize he was doing what he probably thought was his job—try to flirt with as many convention goers as possible.

8. Food was okay but not spectacular. Most of my best meals were at restaurants outside the hotel. Of course, there I could actually carry on a conversation with my companions without having to shout myself hoarse. The hotel itself was a mess, but that’s been covered more than adequately elsewhere.

9. Was it fun? Hell, yes. I really enjoyed meeting so many people I’d corresponded with online and putting faces to names. I made new friends and re-connected with old friends. Most of the parties were great. Unlike most conventions, I didn’t spend a lot of time in the bar (a good thing since I hear it was packed all the time), but they had cash bars set up for most of the parties, so I could get all the overpriced drinks I wanted at those. The band at the Dorchester party was great. I had fun listening, dancing, eating soft pretzels and scoring a couple of free books I wanted into the bargain.

10. Will I go again? I’m not sure. It was a hugely expensive string of parties and I doubt the return on investment could possibly justify how much it cost. Maybe if it was someplace I could drive to, or in a place where I had family or friends living so I could combine it with a visit, it might be worth it.

- Karen McCullough


Jennifer Dunne said...

Heh. I figure the only way to make RT "affordable" is to come home with more than my conference fees in free books. The goody room "free for all", publisher spotlights, author afternoon events, and Dorchester party "take all the books you want" were enough that I came home with three cartons of books...mission accomplished. :-)

Karen McCullough said...

A good strategy if you're driving, but hard to do when you're flying. Those free books would have cost me a fortune in overweight charges if I'd tried to take them on the plane. As it was, I picked up enough of them that I probably was overweight anyway. But when they rebooked my flight I had only 10 minutes to get through security and to the gate to my plane, so no one paid any attention to how much my suitcase weighed. Small favors.

Carolan Ivey said...

I understand most big hotels will help you ship boxes home! :)

Next time I'm not going to be shy - I'm bringing an extra suitcase on wheels! I brought home a number of free books but I limited myself to not more than I could carry. Which ain't a lot. I envied those who were strong enough to lug around armloads of books!

Karen McCullough said...

Hey, Carolan -- It was nice finally meeting you at RT. I'm just sorry we didn't have more time to talk! I heard rumors that there was a way to ship things, but I never could find it--not surprising given what a mess the hotel was. I asked at the bell stand but the guy was so busy he just shook his head and gave me a blank look. Oh, well. My TBR stack is already of mountainous proportions anyway.

Mechele Armstrong said...

I shipped books home from the two previous RT's I've been to. This one, I was driving so didn't worry about it.

I hear you on being tired. I'm still exhausted!

Linnea Sinclair said...

Hey gal, Are you doing RT Orlando in 2009? I'm driving, since it's in my home state. So don't fret extra stuff. I'll take it and ship it for you after the con. ;-)

Glad you enjoyed the Intergalactic Bar & Grille! We'll be doing it next year (another reason I'll be verrrry glad to be driving--Cindy Holby lugged all the shhhhtuff this year.) ~Linnea

Karen McCullough said...

HI Linnea!!

It was good seeing you at RT and I wish we'd had time to do more than just say a couple of hellos in passing.

I'm undecided about RT '09, but Orlando does look like a possibility! If I do, I'll take you up on that offer to mail stuff, and collect books like crazy. Glad to hear the IGB&G is a go again. It was huge fun! You guys did a great job with it.