Oh, my god--guess who just found THE APPLE STORE!! I'm sooo glad I got an iBook earlier this year! Free free free free FREE wireless, and they have these comfy bean bag pods to sit in. Heck, tomorrow I might just sit out on the canal!
See, wireless is hard to come by here. Plenty of Internet cafe/"coffee shops", but they run about $13 an hour for access, and you have to listen to thumping music and breathe in secondhand ganga smoke whilst surfing. And most of the computers are turned so that everyone can see your screen--no privacy for your emails. And if you want to use your own computer, forget about it!
So I slept late today and missed breakfast entirely, but I was so thrilled not to have to set my alarm that I didn't mind much. Hung around until my FedEx arrived (yes, Tony, the blouse fits perfectly!) and then checked out and took a cab to my much more humble hotel before wandering around the city. Pix to come!
Had Ethiopian at a lovely restaurant, Addis Ababa, with the client (hi, Patti!) last night. Yummy, and my first hot meal since I've been here. Then got a craving for chocolate and got a Milka bar with hazelnuts. Yum!
Night before last, this was my sleep pattern: couldn't keep my eyes open past 6:00 p.m. Slept until midnight, and then watched old episodes of Ellen and Buffy on the hotel TV until 3:00 a.m. (and running across a plethora of European phone-sex ads on channel after channel!)
Sleep pattern last night: finally managed to stay up to a reasonable hour--10:00 p.m.--but woke up around 4:00 and leafed through more American, French, and Dutch TV.
Up for the last day of the show today. Over breakfast, at some point, I took a step back from my life and looked at myself. Who'd have thought that, over 15 years ago, when I first came here as a broke student, that I'd one day be sitting in the lobby of a four-star hotel, sipping my second cup of coffee after an ample breakfast buffet, all while wearing a Victoria's Secret pantsuit? (I used to dream of having reasons to buy the sexy suits in the catalogue!)
And just in case y'all were thinking that this life as a speaker is oh-so-glam, I thought I'd include a shot of where I am most of the time during a show. See, when I'm not on stage, it's usually hard to find a quiet place to sit and rest—convention centers aren't really built for sitting unless it's in a session, and I try not to stray too far from the booth. So I'm usually hiding out in the bat-cave, otherwise known as the sound booth, with the A/V guy. This is usually a dark, cable-ridden space at the center of the booth that is warm with the radiation of several monitors, switchers, and the like, and is usually packed with the staff's bags and purses. For both and , Eric was my hideaway buddy, making space for me on an overturned packing crate.
OK, just got a new, tri-band cell phone, so that I can make calls in Europe if I need to. Sure, it'll cost over $1 a minute to check my voicemail, but I can! Very exciting! And the service I got at T*Mobile was great. But then, isn't the service always great when you're buying the thing, not so much a month or a year later when you need help?
Actually, when I was in the store and the cute little young sales thing was telling me all about their great service, I just shrugged and said, "You know, I've changed wireless companies before. I've used AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. I know that I will get crappy service wherever I go. That's just how it is."
He seemed appalled. And you know what? He's right! I wish that there wasn't this incredibly low bar of service that we all tend to expect from our wireless companies. I mean, really, is there anyone out there who has had a great customer service experience with a wireless company and remained a loyal customer as a result? If so, I want to hear about it! Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your experiences!
I was soooo very happy to see that the show that I thought was tomorrow is actually next month. I'm glad that I corrected the mistake before looking too silly, and, more importantly, I'm glad that I have the whole week to unpack and plan for the upcoming show in Amsterdam. Yaaaaay!
Oh, and yes, this is one more pic from GraphExpo of me in action. :-) I had such fun at that show!
Anyway, I just booked my hotel for my tacked-on extra three days. I'll miss Halloween in the states completely, which really bums me out. I have too many goth friends to miss this most wonderful of dress-up holidays! But then, I'll be in Amsterdam, so I guess I can't really complain. ;-)
So... anyone gonna be in Europe next weekend and want to join me for the museum jaunts?
Well, GraphExpo is drawing to a close, and I'm surprisingly bouncy. Ben Franklin (Duane Sharp) and I are having so much fun with the presentations that he actually made a comment during our last one in his Scooby-Doo voice, to much tittering from our young audience! Me, I had to focus on a very serious-looking man's forehead so as not to crack up laughing during the rest of the talk!!
But today is a short day, and my only big task is to arrange for my air fare to Amsterdam in a few weeks. I'm trying to decide how many extra days to stay to enjoy the city, but hey, what a rough job, right? As far as decisions to make, this is a pretty nice one!
And tonight I'm off to a fundraiser for a local group, which I foolishly volunteered for, even knowing that I'd have been in a show all week. Here's hoping that my mood holds up through the evening!
It's been an exhausting few weeks, and there's more to go!
I got home from Atlanta with a scant two days to unpack and do laundry before starting rehearsals for GraphExpo, which is thankfully right here in Chicago. The presentations are going beautifully--for a long script, Ben Franklin (played by the very talented Duane Sharp) and I are really reeling them in and keeping them in the booth! I'm incredibly pleased that we're getting such huge crowds, and that the attendees are not only staying through the presentations, but they're hanging out in the booth afterwards, sometimes for up to an hour!
And I'd love to write more, but I've gotta shake down a client for new scripts for ACTFL (you know who you are!) and book my ticket for a show in AMSTERDAM (!!) in two weeks!
Now, this is the part where I start complaining about having too much work... and then I look back at August's blogs, when things were slow, and remember my whining then about not having enough work to keep my mind occupied. :-)
Never happy, are we?
Went out with the clients to a wonderful restaurant in Atlanta called Spice. The cilantro-encrusted halibut was scrumptious, and made all the better by the fact that it was laid on a bed of--get this--roasted-red pepper GRITS! Ah, the melange of haute cuisine and good Southern cookin'!
I was at the international table, with Maurice from France at my arm. He really gave my French a good run for its money, and I'm remembering how very much I do love to speak it. I get timid, however, since it's been so long since I've had a conversation in French, but eventually remembered what I always told my students: language is about communication. The grammar and vocabulary will come. But for now, just try to get your point across.
And it's true. I had things I wanted to say, so I abandoned my fear, asked about vocab words that had temporarily slipped my memory, and graciously accepted compliments about my accent. And Maurice and the boys (really, Patti and I were the only women at the table!) made merry all night and didn't care a whit about grammar.
And here she is, presenting in a packed booth. :-) I'm so excited that the client is talking about prebooking me for all their shows! That would be very nice. Not only are they really cool people, but I really like their product, too.
But enough of the love-fest. I wanted to relate something that happened recently for the first time, a real milestone for my business: I had to refer work out to a colleague because I was overbooked. This was a real pleasure for me; I've been looking forward to the day that I'd have to turn down work because I was already booked. And it's happened! I referred the client over to Jill Monaco, whom I trust to do a bang-up job for them. "And," as she told me over the phone, "You know that I won't steal your client away from you."
This is actually quite common in the business. As a matter of fact, she had just gone through an ethical dilemma involving client-"stealing" and some dishonesty. I won't get into it here--not my story to tell--but I told her my stance on this. I don't think it's possible to "steal" a client. Or, for that matter, a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. Where did we come up with this idea that people belong to us, anyway? I told her that if the client prefers her to me, then they should use her. It's their business, and they have the right to chose who they want to represent them. If she does a better job, then they should use her instead of me. First of all, it's their right to do what's in their own best interests, and secondly, why would I want to encourage my clients to do something that's NOT in their own best interests?
And I extend the same concept to relationships--if someone I'm with really would prefer to be with someone else, then (a) it's his right to do what's in his own best interest--i.e., follow his heart, and (b) why would I want to force him NOT to do something that would make him happy?
I'm not saying that it wouldn't hurt a bit (in both cases of losing a client or a more personal relationship), but I'm of the opinion that being an adult means taking responsibility for your own choices and respecting other people's right to do the same.
So there! :-)
And to this I'll add... I haven't lost a client yet. I'll let you know when I do.
Another glorious morning here in Atlanta, and I'm psyched for the rest of the show! Thought I'd throw up a picture of my gracious hostess, Shelly of Convention Models and Talent, and her feathered friend, Baci, who apparently doesn't share her affinity for the TV show Cops, although he does love a good hair-brushing fly-by. But then, who does share her affinity for the TV show Cops? ;-)
Even though I'm still quite low on sleep, I'm just so happy to NOT be yelling at various service people who can't quite seem to show up when they say they will at my new condo. And the client is so very happy to have an outside presenter that it's giving ME a rush to feel so appreciated. Guess I'm really an actor at heart--I love the applause!
Today's timeline so far:
3:45 My alarm goes off, and I stumble to the shower.
4:15 I check my phone, which has a message on it. It's from the IKEA delivery driver, from 10:40 p.m. last night, wondering why I wasn't up to receive the delivery that was four hours late.
5:20 My cab arrives.
5:45 I step out of the cab at O'Hare. Hmm. Seems like the move cut 10 minutes off the trip and $5 off the fare. Good to know.
6:00 Checked in, did the barefoot walk through security, and found a Starbucks at the end.
6:30 Hear the announcement that my plane will be delayed because the plane is late out of another city.
7:45 One hour after our original departure time, we start boarding.
8:00 The plane pushes away from the gate.
8:30 The pilot makes an announcement that the fuel light is on, and we're going back to the gate and deboarding.
8:45 The gate attendant won't return my carry-on that they checked at the gate (with my medicine and ear prompter inside, which is why I carry it with me) and promises an update at 9:05.
9:10 The gate attendant makes an announcement that they will announce a decision at 9:25.
9:25 They announce that our flight is cancelled and that we will all be booked on the 10:06 flight.
(sigh) And here I am, finally in Atlanta, a full 12 hours after I woke up. And it's only 3:00 p.m., and I have yet to actually rehearse with the client. Ugh.
Oh, much better! It's amazing how much an adoring client can do for my soul! Just give me big crowds at the booth, applause, and a grateful client, and my exhaustion melts away like chocolate fondue.
The Atlanta show, ASTRO, is going just swimmingly. No technical difficulties to speak of, and the client has had nothing but good things to say about their first experience with a outside presenter. I'm so excited to be making a good impression for the industry!
And the crowds today--the CROWDS! For most of the presentations, we not only had all 15 seats filled, but people crowding both aisles so densely that there was barely room to pass through. Really, I was looking out at a sea of faces that were fascinated by Accuray's new CyberKnife Radiosurgery system. (insert product plug here). Really, it's an amazing advancement in the world of oncology; I'm genuinely excited to be a part of this marketing campaign.
So... yeah, baby; here's to loving what you do!