February 19, 2009

Conference mornings


My body isn't used to conference life. I did go to some off-site readings: Peace-loving Feminist read her just-published novel in a bar, and Mentor Poet read his poetry at a small art gallery. And of course, I went to restaurants, enjoying great food and conversations. But I spent an awful lot of time inside a huge old hotel -- sitting in a stiff chair to listen to a speaker, milling about in ballrooms and hallways to find friends, and walking through a book exhibit that featured more than 800 tables and not a single window.

That's why I got up early each morning to take a long walk outside. My roommate -- who is considerably more wholesome than I am -- would put on her running clothes and go for a run. I'd put on my red winter coat and take my camera, and head towards the lake.

Despite the thousands of people at the conference, and the millions who live in the city, the lakeshore was empty most mornings. Perhaps it was the icy wind that kept people away. When I took my mittens off to use my camera, they'd get cold pretty fast. I'd have the whole wide expanse of water to myself as I walked along the concrete piers, planning my day, thinking about all that I'd seen so far, and just enjoying the time alone while behind me, the rest of the city began to wake up.


Rana said...

I can see the morning light in this photo. :)

YourFireAnt said...

It's the early hour too, probably. I remember last year at that same conference in City Like No Other being the only person in Starbucks when I walked in at 6:30 to get a double espresso.

You've got some nice shots of the city though. I especially like the one with Amtrak in it.


Chip said...

yeah it's great to get away from the conference site, and I really like that city you were in. My conference was in the absolutely worst hotel setting I've ever seen: NOWHERE to sit down at all, huge cavernous halls, no wireless internet service. Fortunately it was in the midst of Big City Like No Other, so there were plenty of cool places to escape to.

Lorianne said...

I seem to be temperamentally averse to conferences: being around that many other people stirs my Inner Thoreauvian, and I find myself wanting to run away & live in a pond-side shack somewhere. I'm giving myself permission in June to skip sessions when I feel the need to run away & explore. "Running away & exploring" is how I understand the world, and I can absorb conference papers only in small, carefully metered doses.

jo(e) said...

Well, at least at the ASLE conference, we stay in dorms instead of hotels. And the sessions are in classrooms (usually with windows!) instead of the basement of a big hotel. I can deal with conference life so much better when I'm outside a good part of the time.

I'm an extrovert so being around all the people doesn't drain me at all.

Leslie F. Miller said...

I like early. In the olden days, I'd have been the one running. Now I'm the one with the camera.

We take our places for granted, some of us. We sour and grimace at the new day of same old, and we wonder what the tourists are looking at.

Patti said...

Although that is an awesome shot, I thank God that the lakeshore I take my walks on doesn't look like that.