Monday, July 30, 2012

Mouse Ears and Cheerleaders

So, last week I was in Anaheim for the Olympics!  Or possibly for RWA Nationals.  I arrived Monday and examined the pool.  The pool was described to me by a lovely hotel employee as indoor/outdoor.  Um, I would like to quibble with that.  There was a top over half, but since this top had no walls or doors it basically meant that half was shady.  Don't get me wrong, the shade was nice.  (And yes, I do realize I am complaining about a pool.)  The pool was designed for people of smaller stature.  It was four feet deep in the center, but the edges (which comprised two thirds of the pool) were shallower creating that experience of bumping one's knees into the bottom.  But the hot tub and I became great friends. 
One child was very concerned that I had brought my ereader into the hot tub, but I had my drypak, so it was all good. 
I went to Roy's Hawaiian for dinner, because, yum and because as multicultural as the food is in DC, we lack Hawaiian.  The lovely waitress talked me into the pineapple upside down cake with coconut ice cream, and oh it was so good.
I did a little exploring of the area the next day, and some more reading, both in and out of the pool area.  I also did some knitting.  It was a hard day. 
The hotel was located within spitting distance of the convention center where there was a cheerleading competition, so there were some, um, peppy folks headed that way. 
I headed to downtown Disney that evening for dinner because I may have heard that there was a menu designed by a certain "Chopped" judge.  The hotel person kindly warned me that the bus back stopped at midnight.  I told her I was still jet-lagged so was aiming for staying up until ten. 
Wednesday was when the lobby and the Starbucks in the lobby really started to switch over from what appeared to primarily be Disney visitors to book folks.  Ran into a chapter mate in the Starbucks.  Folks toting RWA bags started popping up everywhere.  The YARWA chapter had their big day of workshops which was excellent even if the raffle was obviously rigged. The Literacy Signing was in the convention center, which worked out great because it meant that there was tons of space.  (The seating order was strange, but that's another story.)
I fangirled at a lot of people.  I told Jennifer Echols she had made me cry on the plane (Such a Rush) and she wanted to know which part. (Yeah, I thought I was so clever reading about a pilot while on a plane.)
The cherries gathered up for dinner at Cheesecake which was fabulous (even if they were out of my favorite kind). 
Thursday I went to workshops galore.  And Thursday is also the point where the days blur.  There were conversations in the line at Starbucks, in the hallway, in the lobby, outside of workshops.  I saw people I knew everywhere.  I stalked some people successfully enough that they now remember they are supposed to know me.  There were books.  Oh, yeah, Friday I helped lay out the books for lunch, I remember that part, as does my back.  I asked people what they were reading.  One woman in the lobby was reading Meg Cabot's Abandon, which had been in our bags.  She had started reading it to see if she could give it to her daughter and, um, couldn't stop. (I read it on the plane back - fun read.) 
Had dinner with a fellow YA writer.  Talked in the bar for hours with folks.  The luncheon speakers - Robyn Carr and Stephanie Laurens were both excellent.  And the award recipients at lunch gave lovely speeches. 
There were more books, more book signings, more people.  Had great conversations about knitting and books and one time, books about knitting.  Got to hang out at the St. Martin's party and then some more in the lobby, and then the bar.  (And the rumors about the bar closing early did not seem true, but perhaps I was still jet lagged.) 
I did cast on for my Ravellenic Games project Friday afternoon, only to realize Saturday morning that I had read the color chart backwards and have to restart.
Saturday was the awards day and well, there were sparkles and sequins and glitter and bling.  I had met quite a few Golden Heart finalists on this trip, in addition to the ones from my chapter.  And well, it did seem that knowing me was not much help to winning. Lorenda Christensen set the bar high as the first winner by doing a "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" inspired rap.  One winner confessed she almost hadn't made it because her son was in the hospital.  There were lots of thanks to spouses and friends and kids for putting up with living with a writer.  As we moved into the Rita's there were the first two wins for digital first presses.  And the first win for the Harlequin Presents line.  Barbara O'Neal made it into the RWA Hall of Fame with her win.  And Brenda Jackson received her well-deserved Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement award. 
That was the night that I actually noticed what time they closed the patio and when last call was.  (It was probably bedtime, although not everyone seemed to agree.)  Lots of goodbyes.  Every year there are more people I wish I could have spent more time with, which really is the best problem too have. 
I got out early for my shuttle the next morning to discover there were quite a few people waiting for shuttles with times early than my scheduled time.  One of the hotel staffers spotted the cloud of frustration and came out and called the shuttle with one of the earlier folks confirmation numbers. (She had already called and been told five minutes, fifteen minutes before.)  A shuttle did arrive, but it was apparently my shuttle (and seven others standing there).  She did make one substitution for someone who had bailed and taken a cab.  (The shuttle was about five minutes late for the window they had given us.  Nothing terrible, but enough to make folks nervous). The woman who hopped on was the one whose son was in the hospital.  She felt bad since there were folks out there who'd been waiting longer.  I told her really, in the grand scheme of things taking the airport shuttle was not a big life debt and everyone knew she wanted to get home to her son.  (She got an automated call about her shuttle later.)  Hilariously, after folks were worrying because if security or traffic was bad the cushion built in to the pick up time was disappearing, the van pulled in to the gas station to gas up.  Everyone was polite, since we all realized running out of gas on the highway helped no one, but it was not keeping folks calm.
We did make it to the airport.  Security wasn't bad, but basically I got to the gate and they had started boarding, so while I was not actually in danger of missing my flight, it was closer than I would have imagined given the shuttle pick up was scheduled for 2.5 hours before my flight.
There was food, sun, books, knitting time, pool time, and writer friend bonding.  It was a great thing and next year is Atlanta!