RWA National Conference: One Survivor’s Account (part 1)

Making my way to the madness known as the Romance Writers of America’s national conference was an experience. Whoever said “getting there is half the fun” never tried to navigate the Newark airport.

Step 1: The packing
Since it takes most of the day to get there from here, I had to pack six days’ worth of clothing, some of it dressy, and still leave room for books to take home. I had to pare it down to just the essentials.

What, we’re not considered “essential”? How is this possible?

Step 2: Getting there.

This involved a multi-stage journey. I had to change flights, with a long layover in O’Hare. Once I finally arrived in Newark, I attempted to find the express bus to Manhattan.

Brief interlude wherein I provide advice.

In case you ever need to find your way to a particular destination in the Newark Liberty Airport, this is the procedure to follow:

  1. Find someone wearing something that identifies them as an employee of the Newark airport.
  2. Ask this person where to find what you’re looking for. In my case, it was the express bus to the NY Port Authority.
  3. Attempt to understand the person’s response. Fail in this, and just go in the direction they’re pointing.
    I was prepared for the fact that people in New Jersey would have a different accent from the one I spoke. I don’t watch much television, but I have heard of the Sopranos. I was expecting people who referred to their state as “Joisey.” But none of the people that I spoke with were actually from New Jersey. They came from various countries that had only one thing in common: English wasn’t the first language. They were all kind, sympathetic, and would-be helpful. And polite. I mean, the embarrassing fact that I couldn’t understand their accent didn’t stop them. They still tried to help me. Unfortunately, I think none of them knew one crucial English phrase, i.e. “I don’t know.”
  4. I asked for directions three times and three times got kindly and cheerfully pointed in three different directions.
  5. If you repeat this process enough times, you will eventually end up where you need to be. Probably.

I thought taking the express bus from Newark would be better than the train because I’d see more scenery. I hadn’t reckoned on the fact that it also meant I’d experience NYC traffic firsthand. Oi vey.

Step 3: The hotel.

This is the only hotel I’ve ever stayed at where you were advised to watch a video on how to operate the elevators. They go up to the 49th floor and they have walls of glass. Because they like torturing people who don’t like heights, apparently. But the rooms have nice views.

Times Square. You can almost see the pole where the little ball drops down on New Year's Eve.

Times Square. You can almost see the pole where the little ball drops down on New Year’s Eve.

Step 4: The badge

You’re supposed to attach ribbons and pins and sundry “bling.” Helps people start up conversations, icebreakers, etc.

The ribbon for the Daphne contest was lovely. Couldn't figure out which way to wear it.

The ribbon for the Daphne contest was lovely, but I couldn’t figure out which way to wear it.

Step 5: Immersion

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