Monday, January 30, 2012

Woman vs. Room

Well.  I said I'd report back about the conference, and that's what I'm doing.  But first I have a question: is it weird to be intimidated by one's own hotel room?  Because mine did things that no hotel room has a right to do, like turn on the lights by itself when I walked in.  Is it so hard for a human to flick on a light switch when entering a room?  What exactly was my room trying to prove? It was what I think of as a "smart" room, but in my opinion, it wasn't nearly as smart as it thought it was.  Because every time I walked in, it not only turned on all of the lights, most of which I didn't want but which could not be manually turned off; it also took it into its cyberhead to open the blinds.  But that was where the room and I parted ways, because I, personally, did not want the blinds open, since the view from the windows was the interior of the apartments across the way, and I had no desire to either be the peeper or the peepee (teehee), so as a result, I spent what I considered an inordinate amount of time closing the blinds (electronically, of course) when I hadn't wanted them opened in the first place.  But it didn't do things a respectable hotel room, to my mind, should be expected to do, like have a functional clock.  Eventually I figured that the featureless white rectangle on the bedstand with the flashing "12:00" in ghostly figures on its face was supposed to be a clock, but, except for some weird flap on the top that opened and closed but seemed to do nothing else, all its surfaces were smooth.  Pristine.  There was no way that I could discern to set the clock, and I ask you: what good is an unsettable clock supposed to do me?   I was left with the very unsettling feeling that my room, far from having my best interests at heart, was merely interested in showing off.  Otherwise, if it was so smart, wouldn't it have figured out a way to ask me what I wanted, instead of making unsupported presumptions about my predilictions?  I just find it hard to imagine that I'm the only non-voyeur to ever occupy that room, for instance.  That the hotel had been deluged by complaints from guests who said: dammit, I don't want to be bothered walking over to the windows and manually opening the blinds every time I want to check out what the neighbors across the way are doing in the privacy of their homes!  I DEMAND AUTOMATICALLY OPENING BLINDS!!!
     Perhaps I digress a bit.  Perhaps all of that was not, technically, about the conference.  Fine.  Well, what should I say about the conference?  It was very, very big; some 1,200 attendees from all over the country and from a number of foreign countries too.  I got to see a surprise speaker, Henry Winkler, who found hilarious ways to describe what it's like for someone who was called "dumhundt" by his German parents, in sensitive recognition of his learning disabilities, to grow up to be the co-author of 17 books for kids.  I got to hear Chris Crutcher describe the many ingenious ways his older brother found to torture him throughout their childhoods.   I got to hear Kathryn Erskine give an inspiring pep talk to those of us still toiling in the dark of unpublication.  And I got to go out to dinner with some really nice people from the New Jersey chapter of SCBWI.  And then to go back to my (mwoohahahahaha!!!!) room.
     I did meet Sarah Davies.  I left one of my breakout sessions ten minutes early to go lurk outside the room where she was conducting her breakout session.  When she was done, I came in and got on line to talk to her.  I will make this mercifully short by saying that she was about as underwhelmed to meet me as I was excited to meet her.  Period.  The end.  Lesson learned.  There are a lot of demands from writers for the attention of literary agents, and they (the agents) need to adopt strategies to allocate their energies and continue to do their jobs.  It's a business, not a party.  I get it now.
     Overall, I'm glad I went to the conference.  I learned some things about the publishing market, I got to hear some very talented and admirable people speak, and I realized that an event like this is just too big and crowded for an introvert like me, so I won't need to go again next year.  And I learned that I like the rooms I stay in to be very, very stupid.


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  2. Susan,
    My blinds did *not* open automatically, but I had really weird light switches... I prefer stupid rooms, too.