You expected anything else?
There were no thunderstorms in either direction on Thursday and the flight was smooth and easy and on time. I took a shuttle bus to the hotel, where my room was waiting for me. I ate the world's most expensive room service hamburger for supper and made phone calls and read and relaxed.
Friday I ate an equally expensive breakfast, then took a shuttle bus with one of the many helpful and really nice Houghton Mifflin Harcourt people. We got to my panel discussion early enough that I could say hello to the librarian son of one of my best friends.
Then I got on the panel. Here we are:
|Cory Doctorow, Susan Beth Pfeffer, Marie Lu, Laurie Halse Anderson, Sarah Dressen|
After we finished paneling, I convinced Mr. Doctorow and Ms. Lu that they were willing to have lunch with me. We scurried over to the Hyatt Hotel restaurant (nothing like eating local). Mr. Doctorow and Ms. Lu discussed working for Disney, gaming, and fighter piloting. I waited my turn, then regaled them with the story of Mrs. Fitzherbert and George IV, and the exact circumstances of Queen Victoria's conception. Oddly enough, Mr. Doctorow and Ms. Lu left almost immediately thereafter.
I then found a cab and asked the driver to take me to the Art Institute Of Chicago. He refused. It seems that having a parade with over 2 million people in attendance affects which streets can be driven on in Chicago and which cannot. So he left me about a half mile away from the Art Institute and told me to keep walking straight. The Art Institute would be on the right, and there'd be statues of two lions to let me know I'd gotten to the right place.
I hadn't expected the lions to be hockey players, but in Chicago that day, everyone was a hockey player or a librarian. Those were your only options.
The Art Institute is a phenomenal museum, which I would have enjoyed even more if my feet hadn't hurt from having to walk a half mile to get there. But the weather was beautiful and the walk was fun and I saw paperweights and miniature rooms and pictures of naked people and famous Impressionist paintings, and the Art Institute is the kind of museum where you can't possibly see everything and everything you do see is well worth the seeing.
Saturday was my big autographing day. First I went to the conference and walked around looking for free stuff. I mostly limited my free stuff to carrying bags to put the free stuff which I didn't take in. I don't know why I was so carrying bag obsessed, but I brought home about a half dozen of them, none of which I've put away, since I don't exactly know where to put them.
But then came the autographing, which is one of my all time favorite things to do, and which was even more fun than ever before because I got to meet Ing and Nora Durbin and Mr. Cavin. Ing had already begun reading The Shade Of The Moon, so I tested her on where she was in the book, while Mr. Cavin put his hands over his ears so he wouldn't hear any spoilers.
You have no idea how exciting it was for me to meet people who read my blog. You guys are legends to me, and it turns out at least three of you are actually real.
I autographed for a tad longer than I was supposed to, because I'm prone to chatting with people who tell me they like my books. Also it takes a while to write Accept The Impossible and Susan Beth Pfeffer and June 29, 2013 in books.
But eventually the fabulous people of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt pushed me out of there, and I promptly got a cab that took me to the airport. My flight left a little late, but got to Newark on time, there being no thunderstorms to deal with. I carried my suitcase and all the empty bags to my car, and within fifteen minutes of arrival, got a flat tire.
If you ever have a choice between spending three wonderful days in Chicago, meeting authors and librarians and people who read your blog and going to a museum and eating expensive room service meals or sitting in your car at twilight on the side of a highway where everyone is whizzing past you at 70 miles per hour while you wait to be rescued, choose the former. Trust me on that.
But eventually I did get rescued and I drove home safely, where Scooter greeted me by telling me repeatedly how glad he was that I was there.
He wasn't alone. My time in Chicago was wonderful, but I was just as glad to be home as he was to see me!