There was an unusual mood to this conference, one I have never experienced before at RWA. It seemed the energy in San Francisco was low. Both inside and outside of the hotel. I'd arrived early with the intention of combining the conference with a mini-vacation. The only one I'd allowed myself this year. Sadly to say I got no vacation and very little conference but I did pay a hefty price to sleep in a hotel bed.
Walking outside of the hotel was beyond depressing. Maybe it's a reflection of our current economic situation, or has SF gone downhill since my last visit? Side-stepping a scruffy man seated with his back pressed to the wall and spitting gobs of phlegm in my direction was beyond yuck on the yuck-o-meter. Side-stepping a pool of vomit in the street was disgusting. Watching people beg and panhandle and smelling the great unwashed was not pleasant. Gripping my purse to my side while walking the street was not pleasant. Viewing the high-priced items called memorabilia but that resembled the worst schlock I've ever seen, was disheartening. But the whole scenario also left me feeling saddened. This was once a city of great beauty, a place that on my first visit took my breath away. What happened?
Back in the hotel the prices were astronomical. I'm a world-wide traveller and don't mind paying for quality but resent being stiffed. I thought I was being stiffed. On everything.
Then I got sick. I guess I met a shrimp I didn't like, or that didn't like me. I went to the 39th level bar to meet a friend. Hadn't eaten so decided the way over-priced shrimp coktail was a good idea. The following day I came down with chills and took to my bed. When I awoke I couldn't make it to the bathroom to throw-up and grabbed the waste basket. Thank goodness the basket was metal and not a woven bamboo. Anyway, who knew someone could throw up as much as moi? I went to management to make a report convinced I had food poisoning as I never get ill like that. Management said there'd been no other complaints. After that I was determined to flush every remaining bad thing from my body. I drank so much water I squished when I walked. *grin*
So I missed two networking parties, many workshops, many get togethers with old friends. I considered cancelling the rest of the trip and going home but didn't feel strong enough to travel. I spent most of two days in my room. Fortunately I'd lugged my laptop along on the trip. On the plus side I put some polish on my manuscript and began brainstorming another story. Also, I felt a lot better by the night of the awards ceremony. Krissie (Anne Stuart) won a Rita in the romantic suspense category for Ice Storm. That was fabulous. Congratulations again, Krissie!
And I read Homecoming, a wonderful inspirational by Jill Marie Landis. I've never been big on inspirational stories. I was raised in the Christian faith, then converted to Judiasim for my husband and to raise my children Jewish. After divorcing I explored my own beliefs and took journey's into Eastern religions, spirituality, quantum physics, etc. I never thought I'd enjoy a story with a strong Bible influence. I was wrong. I guess it all goes back to the quality of the writing, to the storytelling. I love Jill's work, adore her voice, and that was why I was willing to give this book a chance. By the first page I was hooked. This is such a beautifully crafted story about finding the truth to who we are on a deep inner level, where we truly belong, and having and trusting the faith to find out. It touched my heart.
It's Wednesday today, one week after meeting the shrimp that took me down. I can finally say I'm feeling back to normal. Will I ever eat shrimp again? I don't think so. Will I re-visit San Francisco? I doubt it. Will I go to National in D.C. next year? You bet.