The One That's Big in Texas

While I was mentally composing this blog post on the subway ride into work this morning, I kept trying to think of some clever way to start it. But I'm going to be upfront with you--the most important thing you need to know going into this post is how obsessed with Friday Night Lights my team at work is. When I went in to interview for this position, the first thing I talked about with my supervisor, A, were the pictures of Coach Taylor and Tim Riggins she had taped to her door. I had to suffer through not being able to tell everyone what was happening when I watched Season 5 on DirecTV and they decided to wait until it started airing on NBC. Anyway, anyway, we all flew into Austin on Monday, and waited about 2.5 seconds before the first, "TEXAS FOREVER!" joke and the maybe-not-really-joking joke about going to find Coach Taylor's house. All three of us walked outside and let out this blissful sigh--it was 85 degrees! And while it was warm when we left NYC, it certainly wasn't 85 degrees warm. There's a lot of happiness that comes with prancing around in 85 degree weather after being stuck in the ninth circle of hades all winter (that being the circle with no sunlight, snow storms, and a crushing sense of endless cold weather, FYI).

Tuesday morning was the start of set up. When we arrived, we had something like three pallets of boxes waiting to be unpacked. And while it was SO, SO, SO nice to have all of the tables set up and waiting for us, it's pretty daunting to start with a blank slate:

tx1

In total, I think it took us something like eight or nine hours to completely set up. A lot of that time was dedicated to unpacking the galleys we had brought with us, sorting them by age group, and finding creative ways to stack them under the tables. But! Okay, so have I mentioned how awesome Texas, Texas librarians, and the Texas Librarian Association are in the past few sentences? Because they are. Really. Talk about a group of awesome people. Not only were they so welcoming, they also gave all of the exhibitors free lunch during set up! BBQ turkey sandwiches!!

Another thing I realized on the way into work: I, apparently, only ever took pictures of food I was about to nom-nom-nom while I was in Austin? I swear, I have like ten pictures of different lunches and dinners, approximately two pictures of our booth, and absolutely zero of Austin itself. Yikes. Here's the dinner I had at Stubbs (fried green tomatoes, mac 'n cheese, BBQ chicken, sweet tea, and mashed potatoes):

tx2

I also just realized I had mac 'n cheese three out of the four nights I was there, so... double yikes.

This conference was a little difference than my first one, which was ALA Midwinter. No awards handed out here, obviously, but we had authors with us. (Authors, by the way, are really NOT supposed to go to Midwinter.) Man, can I just say something about our authors here? What a fun group of intelligent, talented people. I loved hearing them speak on panels and hanging out with them in the booth. And such troopers! They went to panel after panel, dinner after dinner, and signing after signing like total champs. Gold stars, everyone!!

So, so sorry if this post is feeling a little scattered--the past week went by in a blur, basically. I do have to tell you the second best thing about the city of Austin, though (after the mac 'n cheese, clearly): the taxi drivers! Okay, so obviously we have plenty of them in NYC, but none that were as nice or hilarious as the ones we found in Austin. AND AND AND--we actually had a LADY DRIVER at one point! I KNOW. But gather 'round the campfire, kids, because I have a particularly funny story to share...

Me being me, I managed to bring contact solution but forget the special case I have to use with it. I got through the first night fine by just using my spare contacts the next morning, but the hotel store had a brand of solution I had never used before (couldn't risk accidentally melting my super-ridiculously-expensive contacts). After we ate at Stubbs on Tuesday night, I mentioned to our fearless leader A that I was just going to walk to CVS to buy a different kind of soaking solution. And A, being thoughtful and of sound-mind, was like, "Uh, no, crazy child. You're not walking alone in a dark city you've never visited before. I know what your sense of direction is like!" So we got in a really nice cab at our hotel, with its super friendly driver, Brett. He was just going to wait in the car while we ran in, but... apparently all CVS stores aren't open 24/7? Who'd have thought.

We got back in the cab and were like, "It's okay, we'll try again tomorrow..." but Brett went, "Oh no! There's this little market a few streets over. Let's check there!" And, naturally, they didn't have ANY kind of contact solution. At this point, both A and I were just like, "Back to the hotel, then..." But once again Brett chimed in with, "Wait! I know of another place. But we have to leave downtown to get there. I can take you to a REAL grocery store..."

So we ended up seeing much more of Austin than we thought we would, especially after Brett decided to play tour guide and point out all of the cool spots in downtown Austin and in SoCo. And, okay, this is where Friday Night Lights comes back in: so the entire time we were in Austin, A kept asking cab drivers and locals if they knew where they had filmed FNL in the city. I looked at her and said, "You should ask him!" since, you know, he seemed to be a fount of information. And not only did he know EXACTLY where they had filmed, he had been an extra in something like three episodes and was more than happy to tell us allllll about that experience. So that $38 cab ride for $8 contact solution? TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Anyway, anyway, in case you couldn't tell, I had a GREAT time and loved pretty much every second, even when it was time to break down and head home. The last day of the conference was actually kind of hilarious--we ship a ton of books out to be put on the tables for display, but then we turn around and sell them off at the end of the show to avoid having to send them back to the office. I kid you not, the doors to the convention center opened at 9 AM on Friday and by 9:20, all of our books were gone. (All of our galleys were gone by Thursday morning, by the way!)

And then I came home, attempted to work on BitC's sequel but instead got emotionally invested in attempting to update the firmware on our Blu Ray player so I could watch TRON: LEGACY ("YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO FIGHT FOR THE USER!! WORK, DAMMIT!!"), and started watching Showtime's Shameless, which is actually pretty great.

One more thing (since this post is obviously not long enough). YouTube was streaming Coachella all weekend, and my boys Mumford & Sons had a really great set. They played two new lovely songs that I will leave you with--total ear candy!