Funny Things I learned At A Weekend Conference


    Anyone who knows me well knows I don't fly. Ever. For this reason, I have missed out on some spectacular opportunities due to my debilitating phobia. I'm left to daydream about trips to exotic places from the comfort of my La-Z-Boy chair.


     For quite some time, I've been trolling through my friend's vacation photos on Facebook with a twinge of envy. Although I'm not a fan of the airbus from hell, the thought of driving to a destination that takes longer to reach than the hours between lunch and dinner is even less appealing to me. Long road trips bring out the fidgety kid in me who has to pee every ten minutes, eat every five and whines, "Are we there yet?….ARE WE THERE YET???" My family knows if they want a happy passenger riding shotgun in the car, it's not going to be me. They're better off taking the dog.


     When word spread across the internet that there was an Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop taking place at her alma mater in Dayton, Ohio, I wanted to go. Badly. Tickets were selling fast and the list of attendees read like the Who's Who of the blogosphere. I was instantly swept up in the tide of excitement generated by my blogger friends who'd already purchased tickets. Within minutes, I found myself scrolling through the registration form and clicking on the "Pay Now" button. Before I knew it, my reservations for the three day conference and hotel room was confirmed.


     And I had no freaking idea how I was going to get there from Florida.


     My husband generously stepped forward and volunteered to drive me to the conference. Seventeen hours up, seventeen hours back. That's thirty-seven hours of interstate purgatory.


     Somehow we did it, and we survived without throttling one another at the end of the day. It was one of the most rewarding experiences in my life, not just because of everything I learned at the conference but in the friendships that were made.


     Rather than bore anyone with the details of the new writing and publishing techniques I learned, I'm going to share instead some valuable lessons gleaned from roadside observations and my first foray into the conference world.


     During this six day adventure, I learned the following:


* Hair dyed the color of a red velvet cupcake is frowned upon by the A&W lunch crowd in a small town populated by people who are all related to one another.


* There's enough roadkill between Florida and Ohio to feed a family of six for a year.


* Places with names like Big Bone Lick State Park really DO exist.


* Every roadside restroom is NOT created equal.


* Don't get lost in the dark mountains of Kentucky late at night where the only visible light comes from a cell phone. Nothing motivates you to drive faster than a highway dotted with "BEWARE OF FALLING ROCK" signs.


* If you eat more carbohydrates in three days than you consume in one year, don't be surprised if your sphincter muscles go into shock. You might need the jaws of life or a garden hose to get your inner plumbing right.  * I also learned that it IS possible to gain ten pounds over the course of a weekend.* 

Avoid driving through Atlanta, Georgia during rush hour….unless you enjoy sitting in standstill traffic and watching a guy in the car next to you digging for gold in both of his nostrils.


* It's all fun and games staying up late in the hotel bar with the other conference attendees until you see your reflection in the mirror at 6:00a.m.  By the look of everyone else, I wasn't the only one sporting puffy under eye baggage. I haven't seen that much luggage since the great carousel jam-up at the airport in 1989.


* Invest in satellite radio for long road trips, otherwise you'll be subjected to Mexican opera and hours of country music that will cause a permanent twang in your voice.


* At the convention dinner, if you decide to skip the fish dinner in favor of a meatless meal, you might end up with something resembling cat yak.


* You'll laugh so much that all those Kegel exercises you did twenty years ago will be put to the test.  

    The Erma Bombeck conference will return to Dayton in 2016, and I already have my packing list ready of the next trip. This includes an extra supply of fiber pills, a flashlight and a fold-up Port-a-potty. I also have my list of expenses prepared:





New friends made at the conference…..PRICELESS!





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