More Learning and a Long Drive

Well, as you can see, there was so much brain-stuffing that happened yesterday, I didn’t even manage a blog entry. I left the dorm right after breakfast and didn’t return until after 11:00 p.m. I had two more two-hour editing classes, and I’ve got to say, if you ever get a chance to attend a class taught by David Farland, go! Between him and Kevin J. Anderson at the Dallas conference, I feel like I have a toolbox full of new ways to improve my writing. I also have a ton of notes to type up and organize!

I had another appointment yesterday, this time with an editor at the press which will be publishing the anthology my story will be in. Basically, it was to talk about the strong and weak points in the story, and to brainstorm ways to improve it. I’m kind of glad I get another whack at it.

After lunch I skipped a class because after multiple conferences, I have learned that I always crash and burn on the afternoon of the second day. I just reach that saturation point where I want to crawl in a cave and hibernate for a week or so. Instead, I now take an hour off and give myself permission to knit or doze or just stare vacantly into space. That is all it takes for me to be able to sit through another class without having some kind of crisis.

My last class was a class on map-making. Pretty much heaven for a geography nerd like me. There was a final keynote speech by Robert Liparulo, who was very encouraging and inspiring. Then they did the raffle drawings. A sweet girl named Adrienne won the cloak I made and she was so excited! However, she is also quite petite, and the cloak was so very long on her that I offered to bring it home and re-hem it for her. The lady who won the cloak I made last year was there also, wearing it, so I was able to get a photo of the two of them together wearing their cloaks. I already have next year’s cloak designed in my head! The raffle money goes toward scholarships for people who otherwise would not be able to attend.

Then we had supper, at which there was almost nothing gluten free, so I ended up having spaghetti sauce on broccoli.

The final activity was a large-scale Nerf war for those what wanted to participate (and had brought their Nerf guns), and table games for others. Then there were a few like me who just sat around and talked with friends. Rebekah came and worked over my shoulders (she is possessed of ten very skilled massaging fingers!). My shoulders have been so sore today, which just proves they needed that masterful un-knotting.

I waited with Rebekah until her friend Taylor arrived to pick her up. Taylor is another one of the many wonderful kids I met when my kids were involved with that writers’ group based in Colorado. She and Rebekah were able to spend some time together before Rebekah flew home later today (Sunday).

By the time I finally returned to my room, I was much too exhausted to blog. This morning, I was up early, packing and getting ready for breakfast, only to find when I was halfway to the dining room that breakfast didn’t open until 8:00 today. So I did more packing before joining my friend Donita for one final meal together. I had a big breakfast so I wouldn’t have to stop for lunch. It was sad saying goodbye to Donita, because even though we were at the same conference, we were both so busy that we didn’t really see each other except during some of the meals.

My goal was to try and get all my stuff down to the car in one trip, because my feet have been giving me so much trouble this week and I just couldn’t face making that long walk twice. So, I was pulling my big suitcase with the briefcase on top, and in the other hand I had my (heavy) handbag, a large full basket, a pillow, and my bag of trash to be thrown out. I struggled down the long, L-shaped hallway and made it as far as the elevator. I knew I was in trouble. The stuff I was trying to carry was just too heavy for me to make it all the way to the car.

Right after I pushed the elevator button, a young man from the conference came up. He was a very chivalrous, kind and also handsome young man named Adam. He held the elevator door open for me so I could get all my stuff in, and then when we reached the ground floor, he offered to help me get my stuff to the car. It was a long way! He took the heavy suitcase and briefcase, leaving me to distribute everything else between two arms instead of one. Once we got to the car, he lifted all the heavy stuff in for me. I was so thankful for his help!

The day went downhill rather quickly after that. This was the longest road trip I have ever been on by myself. No kids to entertain me. No air conditioning. No being able to drink caffeinated beverages. No music, unless I turned it up loud enough to make my ears bleed, because there was so much noise coming in from the open windows.

Although I had a strong cup of tea before breakfast, and a caffeine tablet shortly thereafter, I was already sleepy by the time I got through St. Louis. I stopped at a gas station to fill up and got one of those “5-hour energy” vials. I didn’t get five hours out of it.

I continued to struggle until early afternoon when I realized that my sleepiness was causing me to be dangerously impaired. As I have repeatedly told my kids, no deadline is worth dying for, so I pulled into a gas station, parked in the shadiest spot I could find, and dozed off for about twenty minutes. I guess my body was determined to get its traditional Sunday afternoon nap! After a snack, I felt ready to continue. There were a couple more times when I became sleepy, but both times I was able to snap out of it. Lots of caffeine was involved, and protein in the form of meat for supper.

The last leg of the trip was the best. It was dark, but I was in the home stretch, on familiar roads, and wide awake. The stars were incredibly bright in the sky as I drove on a deserted country road. It was tempting to just stop and gawk for a while, but I really wanted to get home!

Now I am home, and tomorrow night Mercy will be too! I’m just waiting for the last of the caffeine to wear off . . .

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