Friday, May 7, 2010

Erin Murphy Retreat, Pt 1

I’m a few days late in posting this, but it turns out the world doesn’t stop just because I’m out of town. So I came home to a To Do list the length of my living room (Don’t panic. It’s not a very big room). Anyway, here is the wrap up.

Day 1: Thursday

I got in early to the Whitehall Hotel, which had these strange brown fuzzy blankets on them. But they folded up cute and the bed looked comfortable so that was fine. Also, I had a blinking light on my phone, which meant I already had a message waiting for Erin. The message was in my hand, but the light was still blinking. I picked up the phone and pushed a bunch of random buttons. The light stayed on, and I think I ordered room service or something.

Since I knew absolutely nobody who had already arrived and since I’m pretty loyal to my antisocial tendencies, I decided to go out and begin exploring. Exploring large cities is not generally a good idea for me. I can barely get around in my own town, (even though I know the mountains are always to the east). I asked the doorman which way was east and he pointed in the opposite direction as I’d have guessed. Turns out there are no mountains in Chicago.

But I was hungry, since the little cookie on the airplane was insufficient and a sandwich at the hotel would’ve pretty much consumed my trip budget. So it forced me into the wilds of Chicago. I got up to Michigan Avenue without too much trouble (it was 400 feet straight ahead) and debated whether to go left or right. There were fewer people to the left so that’s the way I went. Probably should’ve gone right. Founds a few stores, but the only people who could afford to shop in them are the people who buy sandwiches at my hotel. However, I eventually found an Einsteins Bagels, hardly native food, but it was fast, cheap, and the only other food place around so I went in. Turns out it was the best lunch of my stay – a turkey wrap I chose because it’s under 400 calories, but it was absolutely fantastic. I’m thinking of going back to Chicago so I can get another one. Alternately, I suppose I could just drive to the Einsteins Bagels down the street right now.

After lunch, I found a Borders bookstore (ahhh) and an H&M store just around the corner from my hotel. It was a sign that I should shop there. I love H&M because the clothes are cute and not too expensive. And it was practically mandatory that I buy something because the weather was a lot warmer than what had been forecast, so I hadn’t packed the right clothes. Darn! I have to shop! Well, okay!

A little later I met my roommate, Sarah DeFord Williams, whose brilliant book, Palace Beautiful, was released just a couple of weeks ago. I had been crossing my fingers about my roommate because when you’re sharing a room with someone new, you have to sorta hope they’re not any combination of deranged, Kleptomaniacal, or infused with bodily odors. Turns out, Sarah jumped onto my top ten favorite people list almost immediately. She is one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met and it was all I could do to keep my deranged, Kleptomaniacal, body-odor infused personality under wraps.

Sarah and I went up to the 19th floor, where a chorus of chatter and laughter could be heard from inside the elevator seven floors away. Nearly everyone had already arrived and they gave us a warm and cheery welcome.

The first night was all about getting to know each other. I made a few awkward comments, endured the “well aren’t you a strange one?” stares that inevitably followed, and had a great time.

My lesson from Day 1: I am in an agency with two phenomenal, savvy agents and with several of the most talented authors I could ever hope to keep company with.

My goal after Day 1: Be a better writer. Oh, and say fewer awkward things tomorrow.


Sarah said...

Being roomies with you was one of the best parts of the trip for me. So fun!


Jen said...

For me too, Sarah. I really learned a lot from you.

Luke Reynolds said...

Sounds like a blast! I really wished I could have made it to the retreat this year, but I certainly hope to make it next year!