Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Define: frazzled

Main Entry: exhausted

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: tired Synonyms: beat, bleary, bone-weary, bushed, crippled, crispy, dead, dead tired, debilitated, disabled, dog-tired, done for, done in, drained, effete, enervated, frazzled, had it, limp, outta gas, played out, prostrated, run-down, sapped, shot, spent, tired out, wasted, weak, weakened, wearied, worn, worn out

Example: Playground Monitor after a day of frantic shopping

Just when I thought I had it all together for the RWA conference in Dallas, I found out I needed another dressy outfit. You'll remember that I found a dress last week for the Saturday night awards ceremony. Even being the fashion goober that I am, I know I can't wear the same dress to both functions.

So off I went yesterday morning on the quest for another dress. Luckily Tuesday's are "Old Lady Discount Day" at Ross and apparently they'd gotten a shipment in since last week because I hit the jackpot. I came home with three dresses and today I'm getting together with PC and Angel to play American's Top Runway Model and see which dress is best.

I go through this every year at this time and with three national conferences under my belt you'd think I'd have my act together. Well, I do to a certain degree. But add in the "fancy factor" and I'm out of my league. Which brings me to my "Lessons Learned from Conference," which I hope will be of some help to anyone else going.

1. Never underestimate comfort. When selecting your clothing, be professional but keep comfort in mind as well. You're going to be in an outfit all day and perhaps half the night. If it pinches or binds, you're going to be mighty miserable.

2. But does it fit? Try your clothes on before you pack them. It sounds obvious but nothing is worse than reaching your destination and discovering your black pants don't fit anymore or they have a rip in the seat. Check them all out carefully before packing.

3. Shoes. The best advice Linda Howard ever gave me was to invest in a good pair of comfortable black shoes. My feet might not be the most stylish, but my black flats with the cushioned soles are a must. I can't think if my feet hurt. If you're one of these women who can wear pointy-toed high heels all day, I'm in awe. I can hardly wear running shoes all day without my footsies complaining.

4. Share more than your room. Before you leave home, get together with your roommates and figure out what items you can share. There's no need to take 4 bottles of PC's favorite Wrinkle Spray. One person can take it and another can take another necessary item. This saves room for everyone, especially when you're flying to your destination. And check the hotel's website to see what the room ammenities are. No need to pack a hair dryer if the room has one.

5. Be mindful of others' noses. While you want to be fresh every day, please leave your perfume at home. You'll be in close quarters in your room and in the meeting rooms. A hundred people in a workshop multiplied by a hundred different fragrances can get mighty stifling. So just wear the fresh-showered smell for the duration of the conference.

6. Prepare for contingencies. I always pack an over-the-counter pain reliever, antacids and pills for diarrhea. And I carry the pain reliever with me wherever I go. You'll make a friend for life if you offer a fellow workshop attendee a pill for her headache. And if it's the presenter, or an editor or agent, well... :-) If you take prescription medication for any reason, make sure you have enough for the duration of the conference.

7. Use your vibrator. Most of us carry cell phones and they're a great way to stay in touch with your family back home and your friends at the conference. But please remember to put it on vibrate during a workshop. Nothing is more embarrassing than having your cell phone ring out "Achy Breaky Heart" in the middle of a senior editor's presentation.

8. Drink a lot. Water that is. ;-) If you get dehydrated, you're more likely to get a headache and feel achy and lousy in general. The hotel usually provides water in the meeting rooms so take advantage and stay hydrated.

9. Network, network, network. This is your chance to be around thousands of other writers as well as agents and editors. Introduce yourself. Ask them about what they do or write. You never know when that chance meeting might come back and work in your favor. I have a little networking challenge for the Playfriends (ssshhhh, don't tell cause I haven't mentioned it to them yet, but they'll thank me for it) that will be fun. Honest.

10. Stop and smell the roses. At my first conference I believed I had to attend a workshop during every session. By Friday night I had literally hit the wall. I was in an evening workshop, sitting in a chair against the back wall. I leaned my head back and next thing I knew I'd dozed off. Apparently I didn't snore because I didn't get any ugly looks. The next year I was more selective and made time to sit down and rest, and also scheduled lunches and afternoon drinks with friends. I already have several things lined up for Dallas.

Based on your experience, what other good tips do you have for conference-goers? You may not have been to RWA, but I'll bet you've been to a business seminar, a church-related weekend or some other such affair.

P.S. Lady Vampire needs to email me because I want to send her a prize for suggesting the title of my current story.


Maven LJ said...

You hit the biggies for me. Wear comfortable shoes and don't try to do everything.

It's early and I'm on my first cup of coffee, so I'm not entirely awake. So I can confess that the first sentence of number 7 gave me a momentary start. :-)


Kelley St. John said...

Great advice! Though "use your vibrator" and "drink a lot" both had me nearly spewing my coffee!!!


Problem Child said...

If you're gonna use your vibrator, I want a different roomie.

I networked last year--got all kinds of people to agree to come play on the Playground. But I do have different networking goals this year.


Rhonda said...

I, too, stumbled over the use-your-vibrator comment. :-)

Playground Monitor said...

Y'all have dirty minds. ;-)

I'm just trying to keep you from falling asleep before you reach "The End."

And yes you did network, PC. The current website interview comes from your networking.


Instigator said...

I know. I need to network more. You'd think it would be easy for me...being an extrovert and all. But once I get together with my trusted friends it gets more difficult to move outside that box. So that's my goal for this year.

And I absolutely agree on the comfortable shoes! There are times for flashy (and I will be bringing my bling :-) but for most of the day comfortable is the name of the game. I didn't listen my first conference and had blisters by the end of the first day. Not fun!


Kathy said...

(Drags chin off floor) Vibrator? My thoughts exactly, PC. :-)

Thanks for the reminder list. I've been trying to find a comfortable pair of black shoes but can't find anything with a cushioned insole for BIGFOOT! (Loud sounds of people scrambling to flee my gigantic presence) I may break down and order from Zappos but I'm not sure there's still time. I only found 2 prospects. And not being able to see them and know they'd be comfortable has me hitting every shoe store in town that carries my monstrous size. All I can say is....ARGH!


Smarty Pants said...

I'm sure #7 would help with the nerves, but yeah, not kind to your roomies.

I'm in Nationals denial. I'll probably be running around my half unpacked house on Tuesday the 10th screaming "I'm fat!" because all the clothes I planned to wear won't fit.

Nini :) said...

Oh Marilyn....#7 was hysterical! And for the following reason:

I had a workshop to attend today for school. It was called "HOQ" and secondary school age kids...

First off - what's HOQ? It's higher order questioning, a new buzz word thru out the educational field.

I'm not a teacher. I'm an interventionist for remedial reading in a middle school. My kids barely know how to put 3 words together to make a sentence, and the new administration wants us to use HOQ. For ex: What types of challenges are there in reading? How will learning to read help you in the future?

My kids want to hear: Read this. Answer these three questions. Put the papers away. get back to the vibrator...

I forgot i had my phone on. I normally turn it off in workshops, but i forgot. During a quiet moment of reflection about the previous discussion, "Sweet Home Alabama" comes blaring out of my purse.

Talk about turning the color of red.... I laughed, apologized and turned off the phone...

Next time, i'll use my vibrator!

Nini :)

Maven Linda said...

PM, you naughty girl ;-)

When I read #7, my first thought was: What a GOOD idea! The conference would be a much happier place if everyone took that advice!

Kathy, Zappos can get the shoes to you in plenty of time, and you can always choose to ship them FedEx if you're in a big hurry. Some comfortable shoes are SoftSpots, because they have the extra padding in the ball of the foot. I can literally stand and walk all day in a pair of Donald J. Pliner's I have, with microfiber straps, and the little heels are just about an inch and a half, plus the sole is non-slip. Munros are very comfortable to me, as are VanEli shoes. If you're unsure, order a pair of each, and ship them back if they aren't comfortable. Zappos pays for the shipping. Zappos is a wonderful thing, the eighth wonder of the world.


catslady said...

I think we all thought the same thing on #7 roflmao.

jen said...

PM, nothing was more liberating than the year I decided to pack light for Nationals. A black skirt, a pair of black slacks, a black jacket that went with both, and a bunch of different shirts and jewelry to change them up. The bottom line is as long as you aren't wearing something weird, no one notices. Call me a goober but at this point, I'd wear the same dress to two different functions. ;) Of course, the truly liberating act is to stay home -- which is what I'm doing this year.

Amanda said...

An addition to the aspirin and tums, take allergy medicine or benedryl. I was allergic to a hotel's detergent and was covered in head to toe hives, not a pretty picture.

Great list.


MaryKate said...

I've never been to Nationals, but I am a meeting planner, so I'll give you the best piece of advice that all women who attend these things should adhere to.

They keep meeting rooms frigid. Generally, it cuts down on the "people-funk" that Marilyn talked about, and also, most meetings are unisex, and men tend to be warmer natured than women.

Wear layers. The power of the sweater set cannot be overemphasized. Wear a sleeveless shell, if you need to go outside, but pair it with a cute cardie or blazer. Trust me on this.

Second piece of advice, hotels always, always, always have a vegetarian offering (if lunches are plated). If you just can't take another day of chicken, ask about the vegetarian option. They almost always have fruit plates too. Sometimes you just need a break from chicken and pasta.

Theresa S. said...

In years past, RWA has required us to pre-register for vegetarian or other "special meals" options. You get a ticket in your registration packet entitling you to the special meal. No ticket, no dinner. Don't know if they'll be strict about it this year.

Maibeeme said...

PM, like everyone else, the vibrator comment made me smile. But even more, I love that I'm not the only "fashion goober" out here. What a hoot!