Tuesday, August 16, 2011


I made it safely to and from Detroit and here is my report:

I was pretty nervous when I left Thursday. I had already received an email from Kristi (pictured above with yours truly - by the way, that shot there was about the 25th picture taken of the two of us. One or the other of us - usually me - kept objecting to the shots of our double chins) that her flight had already been detoured that morning and I just knew that would happen to me, too! I'm not familiar with flying, only having ever flown once before in my adult life - and that was with Paul who did all the navigating. But it went great!

I'm sure I must have looked like a little kid, so excited. I kept peering out my window and was just delighted to watch the earth fall away as we gained altitude. It was SO neat to be flying on top of the clouds! We landed in Chicago right on schedule and I just LOVED that place - so huge and so bustling (a lot more bustling than the Des Moines airport!). I found that I had to take a shuttle to get to my concourse, which was a surprise, but I managed fine. I landed in Detroit around 9:30 Eastern time and my ride picked me up an hour later.

While I was waiting in line in Chicago, a Chinese young man turned to me and in halting English asked if he could use my phone to call his parents. That made me a little nervous because I'm pretty sure that our unlimited calling plan every month doesn't include service to Shanghi! But he explained that he needed to call his host parents in Detroit - he was a foreign exchange student. Only, his English was pretty limited so he ended up handing the phone to me and I talked with the host on the other end. She ended up calling me back twice verifying flight times. At first I was a little hesitant about helping this guy because, of course, I didn't know him. But then the thought went through my mind that as nervous as I was about flying to Michigan, how much more nervous this young man must be flying around the world and to a country where he couldn't even speak the language well. Compassion won out.

I got picked up and began meeting fellow FaithWriters. That was neat - strange people were hugging me. I recognized the name of one of the ones who greeted me - everything she writes is like gold. But she found out my name and said, "Oh, I LOVE your stories!" The next day I discovered that this gal - Lisa - just got her first book published. And yet, she loves MY stories! I bought one of her books and she autographed it for me.

The hotel was nice and quite a bit fancier than the Comfort Inns that we tend to gravitate towards. Only, for all that fanciness, we didn't even have a fridge or microwave in our room! But we did have Sleep Number beds! So-o-o neat. I'm thinking that our next mattress purchase will have to be one of those. Unless of course, the economy totally collapses in the next 10 years (when we'll need a new mattress), the Chinese take us over to recover what is owed to them, and we all end up sleeping on bamboo mats. But that's a post for another day.

Kristi ended up getting in around 1:30am, after being routed all over the country. We talked until 3:30 am when we finally decided that we HAD to sleep. The next day we slept in until 9:30am and then went shopping. The hotel was very close to a mall and a number of little strip malls, so we just hotfooted over there. Kristi's luggage was lost so she had to buy new clothing and necessities. My luggage wasn't lost, but I'm always up for a shopping trip! It was a really nice time of getting to know one another at a face-to-face level.

The conference started Friday night. I was so impressed with the truly Christian emphasis of it. One of our first speakers challenged us with the idea of are we writers first, or are we Christians first? God may have totally different plans for our life that don't necessarily involve writing the way that we, ourselves envision. I appreciated that.

Saturday was to start with a breakfast. So Kristi and I set our alarm for 6:30am. We were sleeping and all of a sudden I was awakened by Kristi exclaiming, "Is someone breaking into our room?" Well, that wasn't happening, but a transformer had blown outside and so our alarm didn't go off. We had overslept by 35 minutes. But you know, it's amazing how fast you can get ready when the only person you have to get ready is yourself. We were showered, dressed, and make-upped in just 30 minutes. We got down to breakfast and discovered that we were the lucky ones. We still had lights and electricity. Some people had to come down with wet hair because they didn't have any power at all in their rooms. I would have skipped the conference if that was me!

All day long we went from one workshop to the next. I took copious notes and am anxious to go over them again. I learned SO much! But the hotel was losing more and more power as the day went on. And this is August. Granted, August in Michigan is a little cooler than Iowa, but it was still hot. The rooms were dim because the power was lessening and they were hot. Poor Kristi about fell asleep in one session! Eventually, in the late afternoon, full power was finally restored, much to my relief. At one point Kristi and I had gone up to our room and we had to use our cell phones for light in the bathroom!

I had a critiquing session with one of the big editors who was at the conference. This experience took the wind out of my sails a bit. She took one of my pieces and had thoroughly critiqued it. By the time we were done, I felt like I should just put up my pen forever - why did I think I could ever write? But the more I thought about it, the more grateful I became. If I want praise for my writing I already have plenty of people who will gladly give that to me. But those people can't help me advance to where I want to go. This editor can. She knows what it takes. And I don't have it yet. But if I follow her directions, I might just develop it in time. And, really, it was quite generous of this lady to give her time to a lowly beginner writer like me. My desire is that editors clamor for my writing because it's just so amazing. But that's not going to happen. Writing is hard work. And if I want to succeed I'm going to have to get over any pride I've got, knuckle down, and learn how to do it right. Then, just maybe, I may have a chance at success.

Fortunately for my battered pride, Paul had slipped a couple of cards in my luggage. One was a cute "Miss You!" card that he had labeled for me to open on Friday. The one that I opened on Saturday was breath-taking. It was a card that said, "I believe in you" and he had written this letter in there about how he did just that and how he knew I could make this happen. I ended up tucking that one in my purse to pull out and read again on the way home. It was so special.

We finished up the conference on Saturday night. There was some big meeting going on next door and they were so loud that we could hear their music and yelling clear across the hall where we were having our little conference. But yet, prior to our evening sessions, the coordinators for the other meeting had come over and demanded that WE keep it down and not interrupt their meeting. Whatever! (eyeball rolling here).

Kristi and I turned in early Sat. night (well, prior to midnight - early for us!). She had to be up at 3 to get her ride to the airport at 4. We asked for wake-up calls for both of us, but we never got them. I could not shut off my brain that night. Even on my lovely Sleep Number bed, I tossed and turned. Finally, at 12:30am, I got up and tried to lightly cover Kristi's eyes with an extra pillow. She had assured me that if I wanted to watch tv it wouldn't bother her sleep, but I wanted to be extra careful. Well, I think she thought I was trying to smother her in her sleep, because I woke her up! Anyway, I watched stupid, mind-numbing tv until I was finally able to turn in for good at 1:30 am. Then, I woke up at 3 with Kristi and sadly said good-bye to her. :( I was up by 7:45.

You know, besides the conference and besides Kristi, what I really enjoyed about this trip? The solitude. Unless you live a life like I do where you are constantly being talked to and needed for something, I think it's hard to appreciate just how wonderful it is to be totally alone. I had an hour or so in the hotel room all by myself and I had hours alone at the airports and on the planes. It was wonderful! My mom assures me that thirty years from now I won't find alone time quite so amazing, but I sure appreciate it right now!

A couple of the other Faith Writers took me and another lady to the airport and I ended up having 3 hours to myself in the Detroit airport. My flight was nearly an hour late. And I sat in there and froze. It was rainy outside and cool inside. Eventually we boarded and ended up in Chicago again. Now, I was supposed to have about an hour layover in Chicago. But since my flight was late, I no longer had that time. I figured that United would probably put me on another flight but I wasn't sure what the protocol for that was - could I amble through the airport, miss my flight, and then assume they would get me home via another plane? Or was I expected to do my best to catch my planned flight? I decided to opt for the latter, which is really unfortunate, because I would have loved to have more time to explore O'Hare. As it was, I raced from one end to the other, trying to get to my gate. I wasn't running, but I sure was walking fast! I went so fast, in fact, that I gave myself some pretty nasty shinsplints. My hip, which had been bothering me slightly all weekend, completely went out and I've been in some serious agony since then.

But I made my flight! As I got to gate B7, they were loading the last of the passengers. I gasped to the clerk as I handed him my boarding pass, "Is this Des Moines?" Funny man replied, "Actually, this is Chicago, but the flight is headed for Des Moines!" Grrr....

And then we began descending near Des Moines. I looked out my window and I could see the track at Simpson College where Ben participated in Special Olympics this spring. And then I saw the water tower in Norwalk and could clearly read the town name emblazoned on the side. We landed and I turned on my phone which immediately began to ring and I could see that I had three messages. My phone had been silent for my entire trip...back to reality!

I walked off the plane and rode down the escalator. And my family was waiting for me, all smiles. Sam told me he had not missed me, but I think the others did. We went out for ice-cream and I regaled them all with my adventures and then we went to church, where I nearly fell asleep.

I want to go back. Maybe not next year, but some other year soon. I need to go back so I can keep learning. And I will enjoy myself each time I go. But the best part, I suspect, will always be when I ride down that escalator and see all my men.

Waiting for me.

1 comment:

  1. Loved your post, Sarah, and I'm glad you had a wonderful time at the conference and time to yourself! How sweet of Paul to write those messages to you! Who was your big publisher that you had your critique with? I, too, am learning this craft. Someday I hope to buy your book!