NESCBWI15, Ready or Not, Here I Come!

Photo credit: Pam Vaughan at Whispering Pines 2015
Photo credit: Pam Vaughan at Whispering Pines 2015

NESCBWI15 is this weekend and I can’t even stand how excited I am! Writing conferences are all about sitting and talking about books and writing. Every time I go to an event like this, I feel like I’m boarding my mother ship. It’s a complicated thing, though, to prepare for an event like this. Here is my game plan to be ready:

  1. Do the laundry. You can’t pack if you have no clean laundry. Start by bringing the hamper down to the laundry room. Decide that if you’re going to wash clothes, you might as well do the sheets, too. Strip the bed. Decide that if you’re going to change the sheets, you might as well switch over to the spring bed linens. I mean, it has been pretty hot at night lately. Decide, definitely, to switch out the thick comforter for the thinner one, the one with the flowers. Hope against hope that you washed it before packing it away last fall. Of course you did. Who puts anything away for the season without washing it first? Certainly not you. Give it a sniff. Smells great. Thank God you washed it first. That will save time. Put more blankets on the bed underneath the spring comforter to compensate until the nights really get warmer.
  1. Change the curtains in the bedroom. The spring comforter goes better with the green curtains. You won’t sleep as well with the green ones. They’re not the kind that blocks out the light. Oh well, that’s a small price to pay for a color-coordinated bedroom. I mean, seriously, how much sleep will you actually get if the comforter and curtains don’t match?
  1. Remember that you’re supposed to be packing for the conference. Think about seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Realize that your business cards have an email address on there that you no longer use. Decide to create new ones and have them printed out later at Staples. The conference starts in two days. Plenty of time. Fall down an online rabbit hole of possible business card templates. What color best represents your sunny yet serious personality? Blue? Red? Green it is. Should the layout be portrait or landscape? Come back to that. Should you include a picture? Should the picture be of you? Of your dog? Of a book? No, no picture. Okay, fine, the dog. No wait, the book. Upload all your new information. Realize there is no room for your twitter handle on this template. Fall back into the business card template rabbit hole.
  1. Think about shoes. You’ll need comfortable but attractive shoes. Look for shoes. Realize your closet really needs to be more organized. Move all sweaters to top shelf. Move all spring and summer clothes to bottom shelf. Realize you forgot to put up the spring curtains in your bedroom. You’ll get there, you tell yourself. Do the shoes first. No, you’d better do it now while you’re thinking of it. Set up the ironing board. The curtains are sure to be wrinkled after spending the winter shoved at the back of the linen closet.
  1. These curtains remind you of a tablecloth you haven’t seen in a while. Wouldn’t it look nice in the living room, now that you’ve changed those curtains, too, from the heavy navy blue ones to the sheer flowery ones? What the heck, you have the ironing board up. Look for the nice tablecloth, iron it, and place it over the table under the bay window in the living room. Step back and admire. Notice puzzle pieces and a pair of earbuds stuck in the baseboard heater. Realize that, seriously, this room needs to be vacuumed.
  1. You’ve got the vacuum out. Might as well vacuum the bedrooms, too. Knock some things off son’s desk while vacuuming underneath. Feel bad. Get over that feeling quickly as you vacuum up mud chunks that have fallen from his baseball cleats on to the carpet.
  1. Put vacuum cleaner away so that the Yorkie dog, who would tear that vacuum to shreds if he could only get close enough, can be let back in the house. Let Yorkie back in the house. Spy the greenhouse and realize those plants will need to be watered while you’re away. Go check on them to see how they’re doing now. Oh, they look lovely. Lettuce, spinach, marigolds, watercress, basil, parsley, and even the daisies that were planted only a few days ago, all look swell. And the radishes? There’s nothing like a radish to feed a gardener’s ego. You put them in soil and ten minutes later, they’re ready to eat.
  1. Realize that you’re hungry. Go in the kitchen to make lunch. Clear the table. Do the dishes. Sweep the floor. Realize that you’re hungry. Make lunch.
  2. Sit down and take a break. You can pack tomorrow. And maybe you can just cross out your old email address on the old business cards and write in the new one. Stand up and look for a pen …

Note: For some really, really good advice on preparing for NESCBWI15, read The Almost ABCs of your first SCBWI Conference by Hayley Barrett. Great reading even if you’re not a newbie.

Also, the photo of me talking about books at the Whispering Pines 2015 Conference was taken by none other than photographer extraordinaire, Pam Vaughan.

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The Winter that Broke the People

The sleet against the window sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies succumbing to a slow drizzle of milk. The tiny, airy, cereal puffs cry out in pain like they’re being burned alive. God, how they whine. Did I mention that I hate Rice Krispies? Always have. I am not a fan of sleet either, or, at this point, winter in general.

Now that we’ve (almost) rounded the bend from New England winter to New England spring, I take this time to reflect on what the record-breaking Winter of 2015 has done to us.

I’ve observed that a number of people have taken up smoking. On my drive to work, I’ve seen lots of people walking along the sidewalks, up and down nice little neighborhoods, all with cigarettes hanging from their lips. I can’t say I blame them. I certainly yearned for vices stronger than coffee and chocolate and jigsaw puzzles to get me through the worst of the winter days, but still, there’s something about a man driving an ice cream truck with his arm out the window and his fingers curled around a burning cigarette to make me think that something isn’t quite right.

And speaking of things that aren’t quite right, I saw a young mom walking along the sidewalk pushing a baby carriage. She had a burning cigarette between her teeth. Now, I don’t want to sound all judge-y, but I guess I can’t help sounding all judge-y. Please put the cigarette out, young mom, and refrain from lighting another. I get it, I really do, but everything is going to be okay now. You made it. Winter is over now (I think). It can’t hurt you anymore (I hope).

And then there’s all that tomfoolery on the highway. We enjoy directional-free lane weaving all year round regardless of weather. But now, the Dance of the Pothole has taken this fun game to a new extreme. There is epileptic lane switching that one would normally associate with texting, but it’s so, so quick, that it can’t possibly be a maneuver undertaken by someone in a cell phone stupor. There is no time to check rear and side-view mirrors. One can only hope that there is no Mac truck or SUV filled with small children in the lane that the pothole dancer plunges into in order to avoid a flat tire. It’s directional-free lane weaving on steroids.

And lastly, there is the superstitious caution in the form of winter-weather talismans. Though we are all desperate to put our coats and boots away, this year, we haven’t put them too far away. And every house has a shovel by the front door and a bag of sand near the entryway. We are sure that if we put these items away, (and we should be able to, now that it’s April), we will invite the mother of all blizzards right into our own back yards.

I have a feeling we’re going to see these things still outside in July, next to our garden hoses and watering cans. We may never trust Mother Nature again.

We are a broken people.