So January came and went like an annoying aunt you can't seem to avoid at family reunions.
The month got off to a solid start, but quickly faded into atrociousness thanks to the flu.
That pesky flu. For years I have put off getting flu shots, emboldened by my typical good health and lack of, well, lack of flu. But this year I have been humbled, beat down, kicked and bruised by the virus that kept on virusing for nearly three weeks.
If December of 2011 rolls around and I haven't blogged about getting a flu shot yet, feel free to scold me in public.
Thankfully my condition improved right before leaving for New York City to attend the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators 2011 Winter Conference. The folks at SCBWI sure know how to put on a show, and I'll be blogging over the next few days about what I learned, who I met, and perhaps one or two scandalous rumors. These are KidLit people, after all--if you think there's some skeletons in those closets, you'd be right. All it takes are a few cleverly timed alcoholic beverages and my gregarious nature and they start singing like a canary.
No one is safe. Nothing is sacred. You know who you are! But I will withhold your inebriated ramblings... for a price.
Now that my web of extortion has been spun, on to some travel tips.
First, please, SCBWI, for the love of all that is holy, can you please explain to me why the Winter Conference is in frigid NYC and the Summer Conference is in sweltering Los Angeles? Unless there's some sort of logical publishing industry reasoning behind it, I highly recommend NYC in the summer and LA in the winter for a switch. Traveling under the constant threat of snow delays, frequent plane de-icing, and strong winds is not pleasant. Also, do you know how hot LA can get in the summer?
To be fair, the trip from Nashville to my layover in Baltimore was flawless. The plane wasn't full, the crew was fun (Southwest FTW) and if there's any airport that's actually enjoyable for 3.5 hours, it's Baltimore. I was able to get some great character concepts written up for my new Middle Grade project, but more on that later.
New York was great. As densely populated urban centers go, it's not that bad. I've seen worse (/glares at Detroit). The sidewalks were covered in plowed snow, and the wind wasn't pleasant, but that's nothing a little cab fare can't fix. I stayed with a buddy of mine who lives in Manhattan and hit up some amazing restaurants.
If you're ever in the area, and like Thai food, head over to Soho and check out Peep. Unbelievably delicious food, good service, and reasonable prices. Tip: be sure to visit the restroom; you won't be disappointed.
On the way home Monday the weather took a bad turn, and everyone in the airport was talking about "Snow-mageddon." Now, I might be a Bible scholar in my spare time, but I'd hardly liken some hardy snowfall as anything-mageddon. It's snow, people. It is, at most, fluffy water... or very light ice. But the way my fellow anonymous travel buddies were talking, you'd think the Fifth Horseman was named Avalanche. (You're welcome, newly-inspired fantasy writer.)
Despite coming up to NYC through Baltimore, my return flight took a detour in Chicago, where Snow-mageddon was about wreak its blustery havoc. Flights were being canceled left and right. Passengers were trying to get on the next flight to AnywhereButHere. Many folks were nervous or cranky, as if doing so would somehow not make them constipated and obnoxious.
Me? I took it all in stride. And by "in stride" I mean that I kept checking my delayed flight status obsessively, whilst smiling encouragingly at the little old lady seated next to me in the terminal. Despite the strong aroma of perm, she was actually quite pleasant.
Anyhow, very long story short, my flight out of Chicago to Nashville managed to take off about 25 minutes before heavy snowfall started battering the Windy City. (Trivia note: Chicago is not called the Windy City because of weather. True story. Look it up.) And by 7:00 pm that evening, I was safely home, with my family, and relieved to have avoided Avalanche and his triumphant ride across the Midwest.
It's been a few days since I got home, and I've had time to do, well, nothing but play catch up on work and family and other stuff. But as the weekend approaches and the prospect of "free time" peeks out over the chaos, I will be back, right here, sharing my notes from the NY11SCBWI conference... and maybe, depending on my Paypal balance, some gossip.