I am writing this from the six floor of the downtown Cleveland Public Library around 2pm, Friday August 20. After a fourteen hour conference day Wednesday and a fifteen hour conference day Thursday, I welcomed an unexpected 2 ½ hour break to eat lunch and retreat to an introvert-recharging-station. Since I have some kind of archivist-radar, I landed in the history and genealogy area. It is a bit hotter in here than I would like, but I blame that on the weird Midwesterners who don’t understand the glory of blasting air conditioning in every building like us southerners. [I should probably point out that it is 71 and gorgeous outside. I’m sure the temp in this building is actually fine.]
As of right now, I have forty-five minutes until I need to head back for my next meeting. Then the evening is pretty much full, especially if you count the later evening mixer with my regional association. And I do – networking is a required part of conference attendance.
Oh, the air conditioning just kicked on. Awesome.
I thought I was going to share a few days of posts about this conference like I did last year for DC, but I haven’t really left a six-block radius in the downtown area. Plus, the conference has been kind of spectacular this year so I’ve concentrated on attending as much a possible and soaking up knowledge. Usually when I return from a conference, I feel energized about my career. I’m not sure if that is going to be the case this time, but it has been really great anyway.
So, what have I done? The neatest by far was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I walked around with a big smile on my face and passed several people actually crying – seeing this type of history really moved them. I enjoy music, but I didn’t realize how much it would affect me to see costumes and memorabilia from The Doors, David Bowie, Elvis, and even Beyonce.
Photo time! My battery was running low, so I wasn’t able to take a ton. I snapped as much as I could. Also, I spent $75 in the gift shop. I recommend visiting it before you see the exhibits and get your nostalgia going.
Stay tuned Wednesday for some more photos of general Cleveland!
In the grand scheme of things, I know these travel woes are minor. After last weekend’s botched road trip though, it just seems like Texas is trying to eat me. Any more delays and I was going to abandon my old life and start looking for apartments.
12:30pm: I get into my car to head to the airport for my afternoon flight. I could wait a bit longer, but I want a good seat to read in and time to grab some coffee.
12:32pm: I get a text informing me of an hour and half delay. Well, damn. I’m all ready to go and don’t want to go back inside with the dogs who are already waiting at the door, just in case.
12:45pm: After sitting in my driveway like an idiot, I decide to head to Panera for a cookie, iced green tea, and reading time. This plan quickly falls apart however, as I realize everything is packed since it is lunchtime and the day before a holiday weekend. Yuck. That does not sound like a pleasant reading atmosphere, so I decide to just grab a drink from the Starbuck’s drive thru and park somewhere quiet.
12:50pm: While sitting in the drive thru, I get a second text saying my flight will only be delayed 30 minutes. Oh good, I think. I’ll just go to the airport anyway and read there.
1:15pm: Arrive at airport. Original departure time = 2:47. Current departure time = 3:26. Not bad. I ponder whether to take a Xanax for stress (I’m not a good flyer) or Dramamine for nausea (I get nauseous if I turn around too fast). I pick the Dramamine.
1:25pm: The line at the American Airlines counter is long. And the only line in the whole airport (it’s a small one). I’ve never had good luck on American Airlines and I’m starting to wonder if booking with them was a mistake. I’m flying first class, so I get in my special line to wait. It quickly becomes clear that some of the desk workers are kind of freaking out. Several late flights (weather was not cooperating in this case) mean lots of connections to be worked out. Unfortunately, it also means they are randomly calling people out of line depending on what flight they are taking. This is not making the crowd happy.
2:00pm: I make it out of the line and through security. Since everyone is still downstairs at the counter, I breeze right through the security line. I have an hour to kill before boarding, but that isn’t too bad.
2:20pm: While sitting at my gate, I realize one of the flights the desk workers were so concerned about actually leaves after our plane from the same gate going to the same place. Way to be inefficient. With two sets of passengers waiting in the same place with boarding times that have changed multiple times, there is some confusion. It interrupts my reading.
Late Afternoon/Evening: The forty minute flight is uneventful, as is getting out of the airport and grabbing a cab to my hotel. My fellow conference-goers are all at a reception (I didn’t register since I would have just arrived), so I eat alone in the hotel restaurant. And when I say alone, I don’t just mean by myself at a table. I mean totally alone – there was no one else in the restaurant. I tipped my waiter well since I was probably going to be his only diner that evening. Eat. Read. Sleep.
8:00am-2:00pm: Conference business breakfast, followed by a session about film preservation, and my first board meeting (and the reason for planning such a whirlwind trip to a conference I wasn’t actually able to attend).
4:00pm: My flight doesn’t actually leave until 9:15, but I have to check out. I have the choice of sitting in the hotel lobby (or, more likely, the bar) or sitting in the airport. I choose airport. Mistake.
4:30pm-7:00pm: I eat dinner, roam the terminal, visit the silly shops, and find a comfy seat. At some point, I finish reading the second book I brought with me and stop by the book store to buy another.
7:15pm: I get a text that my flight has been cancelled. It is the last one to Little Rock from this airport – on any airline. I’m rebooked for 8:30am Sunday morning. No one even says sorry. Sorry goes a long way, American Airlines. You can’t control the weather, but you can at least smile.
7:30pm: I hit up Dunkin Donuts for some kind of frozen coffee ice cream drink and reevaluate my situation. I’m alone and don’t want to sleep in the airport. I need to find a hotel asap. I realize that I’m lucky to be alone – not that I wouldn’t love some company, but because when I travel with other people (especially my husband) I fall back into my neuroses and anxieties. Alone, I’ve got it under control.
7:30pm-8:30pm: I book a room at the Hyatt on airport property – it is pretty much right next to one of the terminals. They make me give them a credit card to hold the room even though they are going to come pick me up in the shuttle as soon as we hang up the phone. I have trouble finding the shuttle, miss it because I’m not where I’m supposed to be, and have to call back. The shuttle eventually finds me (still not where I’m supposed to be) and the driver is great. He is the first one to say sorry for the canceled flight. In fact, everybody at the hotel expresses sympathy. This is how you do it American Airlines. I know they don’t care – they are getting my money and just don’t want me to complain – but they smile and say sorry. It’s not hard.
8:30pm: The hotel gives me a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and makeup removal wipes. They are out of women’s deodorant, so I’ll be rocking Old Spice Sunday morning. It’s better than the alternative. I order a $15 glass of wine from room service and call it a night.
2:00am: My phone shrieks about a flash flood warning. I open the curtains of my small balcony to check out the weather, momentarily forgetting I’m naked. It is raining sideways.
2:30am: My phone shrieks again, this time about a tornado warning. The television doesn’t have a signal, so I find a local station on my telephone and check that I’m safe. The hotel is quiet, so I don’t feel like I need to be alarmed, but it is always good to check.
6:30am: Up and at ‘em. Too tired for a shower, I put on yesterday’s clothes and head downstairs to catch the shuttle sometime after 7:00.
8:45am: I finally leave Texas. The flight is uneventful, but pretty bumpy (weather again).
— Day 3 —
First off, I overslept and missed the first plenary. I know lots of people skip the early morning plenary sessions at these kinds of conferences, but I don’t – I actually really enjoy them. When my alarm went off only 30 minutes before it started, I was a little sad. My fault though for not paying attention when setting it.
The rest of the conference day included great sessions and the Academy of Certified Archivists business luncheon. But you don’t want to hear about that. You want to hear about the sightseeing.
I headed to Ford’s Theater first. Like I mentioned before, I’m only visiting sites I’ve never seen before; all of the big landmarks and monuments are out. This was a biggie to cross off my list – I’ve only seen the outside.
Ford’s Theater started with a small museum. It was visually striking and well interpreted. I enjoyed it. In the actual theater, I was creeped out by people taking photographs of their children in front of the box where a president was assassinated . . . to each their own, I guess.
A park ranger gave a short overview of the history. It was conversational and I think it held the attention of the children much better than the museum probably did. If your kids aren’t up for the museum, save it for another time and just do the theater/ranger program. Unfortunately, I was running out of afternoon and was unable to finish the tour with the Peterson House. I snapped a quick photo before heading back to the Metro.
By now I was getting pretty tired, but powered through on my way to the National Archives. I didn’t tour all of the exhibits (it was pretty busy and I was out of patience), but I saw the Magna Carta, Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. I heard a lot of people talk about National Treasure when talking about the document housing. That movie really made an impression.
Next up, I needed a break. I spotted a Starbucks just off of Pennsylvania and indulged in a green tea lemonade concoction. After a little people-watching, I joined the commuters and headed back to the hotel.
The best part of the day was dinner with friends I had not seen in quite a while. We had great conversation and good food. I was sorry to see them go, but happy we had been able to meet up. Till the next time, I guess!
All of that and I was still in my pajamas by 9:15. Conference continues tomorrow . . .
— Day 4 —
This day was a huge conference day. With the exception of lunch and the evening reception, I spent all day shuffling from session to meeting to session. I won’t share the details of my archives day, but I will leave you with a few photos of my lunch. It was restaurant week and I indulged in one of the preplanned, multi-course meals.
— Day 5? —
Day 5 had a couple of final sessions, but was mostly a travel day like the first (although without the longer layover) and doesn’t really need to be recounted. I made it home around 9:30pm and was happy to see my bed.
— Day 1 —
My day started with a very horrible alarm clock as 3:30am. I immediately started questioning my sanity for booking a 6am flight. When I made it to the airport at 5, I was happily surprised to see my airline had curbside check-in. This made the check-in process a breeze, although I was starting to wonder why I was there an hour early if I didn’t have to stand in line to check my bag.
Another lucky moment, I got put in the TSA expedited screening line. I didn’t have to take off my shoes or remove my laptop from my bag. Plus, the line was short.
I made it to my gate by 5:16 and spent the rest of the time thinking about the extra sleep I could have enjoyed. ::sigh::
Flight #1: first class to Atlanta, slept, no turbulence
Layover: Atlanta, wondered around for a while, bought some hummus
Cloudy at the Atlanta airport
Flight #2: first class to DC, flight crew late, plane slightly delayed, rained, no turbulence
It was raining when we landed and I didn’t get to enjoy the view of the city coming in. The Washington Monument was so foggy it might as well have been a smoke stack. I quickly caught my shuttle and headed to the conference hotel – with a van full of archival strangers.
Reagan National airport
I grabbed lunch in one of the hotel restaurants and intended to settle in, but found a second wind when the rain stopped. A metro stop was right across from the hotel. I headed down and – once I got my bearings – set off towards Chinatown. Then Dupont Circle. Then I walked down to Nordstorm Rack and didn’t find one single thing to buy (that I could afford anyway). After about three hours I crashed back in the room.
The Friendship Arch in Chinatown
I love exploring cities.
— Day 2 —
Prepare yourself for a very boring conference day. I don’t even really have any photos to share to make it more interesting. This is my real-life work travel though, warts and all.
I originally attended to get up early and head to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights (I’m limiting my sightseeing to things I’ve never seen before). Unfortunately, I misread my schedule and actually had to be in a meeting at 10:30. Good thing I remembered that before I headed out.
So, 10:30-12:00. Leadership forum. Because I’m a leader. No really, I hold a leadership position. It was a very interesting meeting and I got some good ideas from the others at my table.
For lunch, I headed back to up my room and ate my leftovers from the night before. Yeah fancy, I know. It was all for a purpose though; I had to create and print a couple of documents for a meeting I was co-leading later in the afternoon.
After lunch I went to a great meeting for women archivists. The speakers were interesting and I really enjoyed myself. I almost decided to skip it – since it butted up against my meeting – but I’m really glad I changed my mind. Plus, great conversation with the other ladies at my table.
Next up was the meeting I was co-leading. I’m not going to tell you what it was because 1) it feels like the only thing I haven’t revealed and 2) you don’t care. I kind of steamrolled and talked way too much, but it was a good meeting. Afterwards a group of us headed to dinner at the nearby Lebanese Taverna.
Yum. I had chicken schwarma and a passion fruit mojito. It was lovely. The restaurant was wonderful and the staff did a great job dealing with our table of fourteen.
It was a beautiful night, so after dinner I took a little walk around the block to enjoy it. After that? Pajamas and television. The television in this hotel is lacking, so I spent way too much time just flipping through the channels over and over again.
Don’t worry – tomorrow there is actual sightseeing to tell you about.
Friday was full of sessions and work, so I didn’t take a lot of photos. Here is my short run-down:
My day started at a working breakfast with the professional development committee. I only had a latte – I am still just so full from everything else I’ve eaten. Great meeting though.
Then sessions. Actually, during this time I attended one of the best sessions of my time here. The kind you walk away from saying, “Yep. That was good.” Or whatever it is you say if you aren’t me.
Next up was a working lunch with the publications committee. We ended up at the Country Flame and I had a chicken burrito. Are you upset by the number of non-cajun meals I’ve eaten? Eh, I live in the south. It might not quite be up to New Orleans’s quality, but I can get that stuff anytime. The burrito was good.
Then more sessions and I staffed one of the information desks for a hour. Always helpful! Next up – Cafe Beignet. Nope, not Cafe du Monde. I don’t have the patience for that place.
I was alone, so the order of three was really too many. I ate two though and walked away without room for another bit. How about a close-up of that beautiful powdered sugar? Just enough powdered sugar once you picked it up and let the extra fall off. Unlike some unnamed place ::cough:: Cafe du Monde ::cough:: that seems to be single-handedly keeping the powdered sugar industry afloat.
Then a short break before the evening reception that I spent in the bar (writing this blog entry) and drinking a Cucumber Gin Fizz. I didn’t love it, but that is what experimenting is all about.
Dinner was a reception at Historic New Orleans Collection. Technically, it was only hors d’oeuvres, but we made a dinner out of it. I was too tired and wet from yet another downpour to take any photos. Here is one of their courtyard from NewOrleansOnline.com.
I was back in the hotel room by 8pm with a cup of decaf and some television to watch. Ahhhhh.
Saturday was technically the last day of the conference, but we had to leave before the last session because of the long trip home. Breakfast business meeting then on the road again. I was so thrilled to sleep in my own bed again.
Most of the day was spent in conference sessions. I won’t bore you with the details and I didn’t take any photos to share. It was educational and a little boring – really just like every other conference out there.
Occasionally, the skies open up and dump massive quantities of rain on everything. I’m constantly either sticky from the humidity or wet from the rain.
We used our spare time in between sessions to visit the World War II Museum. I have wanted to visit this museum for years and it was the main thing we wanted to try and work into the schedule (and good thing too, time is a hot commodity around here and we are swamped!).
Lunch! A delicious french dip with homemade chips at the American Sector restaurant in the museum. It was large and filling. I ditched the bread by the time I got to the second half as it was just way too much.
Eating in the French Quarter on a work budget is difficult. We have rules around how much we are supposed to spend to get reimbursed and we try really hard to comply. I googled my little heart out to find a place for dinner where we could get a honest-to-god-entree within budget. Not a burger. Not a sandwich. Not red beans and rice. An entree. And I succeeded! We ended up at Pierre Maspero’s and I ordered chicken and waffles. It came with a deliciously spicy honey Tabasco glaze. Oh it was good!
Next, I saw this shirt with all of the typos. Love it!
My Instagram isn’t working, so you get to see all of my random photos instead.
I slept in a bit on Wednesday morning to recover from the road trip. My room was silent and pitch-black. Totally amazing and comfortable. Breakfast (and lunch, really) at the hotel – it was simple, but delicious.
The rest of Wednesday was spent teaching a four-hour workshop then celebrating with dinner at the Napoleon House, one of my favorite places to visit. Naturally, I indulged in one of my all-time favorite drinks, the Pimm’s Cup.
I crashed when we got back to the hotel, but did manage to wander down to the hotel bar for a nightcap. (Yes, I like to enjoy a few local cocktails during work conferences. Only after the sessions though, so its all cool.)
(Yes, it is fruity and silly. Delicious though.)
Or two. Don’t judge me. I’m never alone and without the kids. This one is a Pecan Bourbon Manhattan.
I’m at a conference in New Orleans this week. Since I have been here several times before, I feel like I can have a nice relaxed time around the French Quarter without feeling like I’m missing out on something. I will post some photos as I go along, but – be warned – they will just be from my cell phone. You should know not to expect much more.
Pretty nice, huh? I took more photos of the sitting area and large doors leading out to an additional atrium sitting area, but they didn’t really do it justice. You know what I love about traveling for work? Having my own room with a great big king size bed. Ahhhhh. Within thirty minutes of checking in, I was completely unpacked and already sitting on the couch enjoying a cup of decaf and the complimentary slippers I had housekeeping bring up. I believe in soaking up every little bit of luxury.
Dinner was at a random Mexican place on Bourbon Street that was close to the hotel, didn’t have a line, and fit in our budget. I would share a photo of my burrito, but it took so long I didn’t stop to think before diving in.
I spent the rest of the night going over the workshop I’m teaching. Woo! Getting crazy down here!
Returning to the real world after a professional conference is always a little bittersweet. The conference atmosphere is electric, exciting and supportive – in other words, it is the perfect place to encourage critical thinking and the development of new projects, goals and strategies. This doesn’t always translate when you get back to work on Monday.
In the conference-world, everything moves smoothly. You slip into an alternative universe where there is unlimited time, unlimited budgets, and perfect relationships. In the conference-world, you feel invincible. Sure, I can do [x], [y], [z] in addition to my regular job. Sure, I can write up weekly progress reports and communicate with this nifty informal group we just put together. But then. . . Monday comes and your email is already overflowing. Time and budgets are bending under the pressure of huge demands and you have to navigate the lava field of not-always-perfect working relationships.
It can be a bit of a let down. I’m especially prone to the post-conference-blues, as I can’t help but get all worked up when surrounded with like (or similarly) minded people. This is why I don’t attend protests.
The fact is – I’m sitting on my couch on a Sunday evening and I’m already starting to feel it. This time I’m going try to avoid it by being more deliberate in my post-conference plans. I will spend a little time gathering together my notes (handwritten and digital), handouts and even the swag. This will give me a chance to organize my thoughts and really get a good plan going. I will also take this opportunity to pursue a new professional development educational opportunity – something that has been on my back-burner for a while. Nothing wrong with a little artificial extension of the conference high.