Monday, October 29, 2007
There are not a lot of speaking engagements I would have accepted the weekend before the NYC marathon. Aside from the exhaustion of traveling, it's hard to eat right, work out, or sleep well when you're away from home. But when the American Association of School Libraries asked me to be their banquet speaker, it was an engagement I really wanted to accept. The organization has a conference only once every two years, and to be invited to be the banquet speaker is a real honor. So I said yes! The trip started off with a fizzle. A two hour delay. Weather in San Francisco was cited as the reason. My connection to Reno was in question, but I lost myself in the writing of my next story and tried not to stress. I did make it to San Francisco, and although this airport saga is actually quite convoluted, I'll cut to the chase -- my flight to Reno got canceled and the "best they could do" was get me on a 10 PM flight to Reno. The banquet started at 6:00 To cut to the chase once again, after communicating with my (very nice, very competent) Random House connection and exhausting all other options, I was told to hop in a cab. Isn't that so New York? But, really, time was of the essence, and I'm grateful that their mindset was Get here any way you can. We stopped for gas in Roseville (a city that's very clever at hiding its gas stations) and were asked by 2 people if we were lost. Not a lot of bright yellow San Francisco cabs in Roseville. But the cabbie got me to Reno, pulling up to the banquet venue at 7:20. (I was scheduled to speak at 7:30. ) My Random House connection met us out front and paid the nearly $900 fare,(yes, the cab driver ran the meter), she let me make an emergency pit-stop and refuel with a glass of water, then showed me the podium. So (thanks to a generous publisher) I made it, and my speech was really well-received. I talked about everything from my first car, to Exercise the Right to Read, and afterwards I signed books until after 11:00. And since the restaurants in the area had all closed down at 11:00, I wound up with a big bag of vinegar-salt potato chips for dinner, which I ate while I watched Reno 9-1-1 on the tube. How could I turn that off after the day I'd had? Then I tossed and turned all night, and tried to look not-too-wiped-out at my two book signings the next morning. I'm home now (and still kinda wiped out) but the truth is, I would do it again. I met some wonderful, amazing people, and reconnected with some of my favorite librarians. They treat me like a "book star" but to me these book missionaries are the ones to be revered. I just hope getting to New York is easier than getting to Reno!