Everything was great about this day, except for that one little thing.
But why start with the bad stuff? Let’s start with a little Kalamazoo random info.
You know how many cities take an iconic image particular to their region (cow, donkey, pig, etc.) and encourage artists to render this image in public sculpture around said cities?
Well, in Kalamazoo,
it’s a taxicab.
Because K-zoo is where they made the first Checkered Cabs. Which is pretty cool. Better than donkeys.
So, back to our program.
The plan was to wake up at 5:30am, so I’d have plenty of time to get ready before I was picked up at 7:30. Kevin was going to pick up Terry Trueman and me, then drive us out to the Adolescent Lit conference where we’d be speaking all day.
I called the front desk and set the wake-up call. Got to sleep around 1 am, figured I was good to go. I fell asleep instantly.
(notice how the wake-up call hasn’t showed up yet?)
At 7:40 am, the phone rings. It’s Kevin. I don’t know who Kevin is. I am more deeply asleep than I have been in a month. I don’t know where I am, who I am, or what I am doing in a nice hotel talking on the phone to a strange man who sounds rather nervous. He tells me he is waiting downstairs. I mumble something about getting down there in 10 minutes.
I get out of bed, slowly. Still very confused. I turn on the TV. Turn on the coffee pot. Avoid looking in the mirror. And then it hits me.
My name is Laurie and I know who Kevin is and I am supposed to give a very, very big speech in half an hour and I am in my pajamas. In Kalamazoo.
The next seven minutes were a blur. Suddenly I was in the lobby.
(We’ll skip the hours of self-loathing I tormented myself with. We have to skip it because I am still beating myself up about this. The ENTIRE trip I have woken up before my wake-up call came in. I should have set a back-up alarm or two or three. I shouldn’t have stayed up so late talking to Kevin and Terry. And on and on and on… )
We pulled into the parking lot and made a couple of decisions. I could have spoken as scheduled, but to be honest, my head was still waking up and I hadn’t eaten anything. Terry and Kevin and the other conference people were extremely gracious. Terry and I switched places so he spoke first thing and I spoke after lunch. (I apologize to anyone who had planned on listening to me in the morning.) Terry was funny and fantastic and I ate a bagel. During the end of his speech, I snuck off to the bathroom to put my make-up on. I had everything with me except the paint you put on to hide the raccoon circles under your eyes. I think I wound up looking like a strung-out clown, but everyone was too polite to say anything.
I was pleased with my speech. Along with talking about my books, I touched on the pain that most teenagers have to fight through while they are trying to live in the pressure cooker of their lives. I also ranted about how teaching the “classics” often turns kids off to reading completely and in many cases is helping foster this underliterate generation. Terry and I had a couple of signings and we did a Q&A session that was more like a stand-up comedy routine than anything else. The audience of librarians and teachers (hundreds of them) was fantastic. Thank you so much everyone for coming out and being so supportive.
This gives some insight into one facet of Terry’s personality.
After the conference, Kevin took us home to meet his wife Kathleen and their kids.
See next post for more details.