Sunday, June 13, 2010

ALA Your Way to Success!

In a couple of weeks, ALA, The American Library Association, is coming to Washington, D. C. for their Annual Wowser Summer Convention. It's not held here every year, so since it is fairly close to where I live and doesn't require a naked airport x-ray to get to, I am going to go.

Spend quality time on the metro. Flit about the humongous convention center. Try not to panic amid a gazillion stampeding people, all charging in different directions toward . . . something. (What are they charging toward? I don't know. I never know!) Act nonchalant while angling for arcs (advance reader's copies) of hot books not yet released. Which will mostly be a fail. Dive bomb for totally cool book bags. Which will mostly be a fail. A fail not just because of my lousy acquisition skills (which are legend) but because I have heard that not as many goodies will be available this year, due to the recession. Sigh . . .

Through it all, though neither a librarian nor a popular, beloved author, I will try to look like I "belong." Which will mostly be a fail. So, why is it that almost everything I attend related to books ends up making me feel like an abject failure? Hmm . . . [Taps fingers on counter.]

I think it's the crowd.

I am not a crowd person. Mostly, I see a bunch of people and I panic, though I try to do so politely. Instead of clawing my way over people blocking my exit, I say, "Excuse me." "Sorry." "Excuse me." "Sorry." This is not because I am especially noble or even polite. No. My mama did teach me to be nice, but I am not always nice. Mostly, if I clawed my way out, I'd be embarrassed by the aftermath, all the bodies strewn across the floor, flopping about and spurting blood. If I paused at the exit, turning around to look at the carnage, I would feel morally obligated to help with the clean up. And the blood might tempt me. I might turn into a vampire. Which would mean more blood and more clean up. And since I hate to clean, and don't want to lug bleach and Bon Ami around the convention center, I have to be careful. As my mama said, one thing leads to another.

I do hope to say hello to some online writing acquaintances, most of whom I have never met in person. If I have not yet turned into a vampire it will be a welcome, pleasant experience--they'll leave unbloodied and I can leave the bleach at home. I will also hear the speeches by the winners of the Printz and the Newbery awards, both of whom fall into the same category as above--online, distant writing acquaintances. If I have turned into a vampire at that point (probably, given the odds) I will restrain myself , keeping my fangs retracted, so as to not spoil their moment.

I will get home late. I will ride the metro back out to the far suburbs, to the very end of the line, with only a few other weary travelers accompanying me through the darkness. By then a full-blown vampire, I will nonetheless resist the urge to bite. Bigger things are at work in the night than one lonely vampire. Clean up, for instance.


  1. I'm sure you will meet some other cool people there (other vampires who worry about clean up even)! And I look forward to hearing what ARCs you score.

    If I was there I would love to hang out with you but then I'd want to convince you to bust out of the conference with me (because I am extremely curmudgeonly like that and hate focusing on the business of writing, although of course free books are always a good thing!!) and go to the movies or something. And then you would have no ARCs and maybe get angry and even bite me, necessitating clean up!

  2. I hope your actual experience is not nearly as traumatic as you depict, Kathleen. Still, I suggest you take in one full week of Mardi Gras as training to overcome your anxiety with crowds and your legendary inability to obtain freebies. No need to worry about the cleanup as the city already has that covered. As for the vampire aspect, no need to worry about that either. The undead are a mainstay in New Orleans. Just ask Ann Rice.

  3. C.K., I would never bite you! Maybe a little nibble . . . In truth, I can only spend so much time on the convention floor before I feel the urge to run screaming out the door. And since you can't bite and scream at the same time . . . I guess everybody will be safe. I'll give myself a couple of hours to troll for arcs, then split. In and out, that's me.

  4. Gil, Mardi Gras! What a great idea to get over my crowd anxiety. And you're right, the vampire angle would be covered. Now to just get over my fear of naked x-ray flying so I could actualy get to New Orleans, and, uh, then get over my fear of Mardi Gras itself . . . (If only one person marched in Mardi Gras, could you hear a phobic's shiver?)