Nawlins, ctd

Got to the registration floor and stashed my bags, then visited the exhibit booths. Bought a t-shirt for my mom, a book for me, and visited the Psi Chi hospitality suite where they gave me a Psi Chi sweatshirt and a cute little harlequin New Orleans doll with a Psi Chi pin on it.

We eventually went to lunch at the ACME Oyster House for the Psi Chi luncheon. There were about 30 of us. I got the chicken and andouille gumbo, which was delish, and pecan pie for dessert. Sandy and I walked back to the hotel to get my laptop set up for my talk.

About 200 people ended up showing up for my talk and it went over very well. Although some did take order forms for my book and one woman ordered one on the spot, many were disappointed I didn't have any with me (I later got an apology email from my publisher about the whole thing). It's too bad, I could have sold all 20 I had asked to be sent, plus more!

After my talk, went back to the hospitality suite to talk with some folks, then went to hear Michael do his talk with Maria about the pluses and minuses of online classes vs real life classes. It was very interesting, especially since I do all my UMUC classes online now.

After that, I went to the gift shop to buy a few things, then up to my room to take off my shoes and give my feet a rest. I was going to take a nap, but ended up answering email, phone calls and packing.

At 5:30 went to the grand reception and met Michael, Sandy and Maria there. We stayed for a bit and mingled, then added Ginny to our group and went to dinner in the French Quarter at a local spot (not one of those touristy places) called Fiorello's. They don't have a web site and now I wish I'd taken my camera with me.

It is quite the place. Holes in the wall made it a real hole in the wall, ha ha. It's a hangout for goths (my friend Cass would have loved the place) and our waitress was very pretty and had tattoos up and down both of her arms. She was hilarious and we joked around with her. They make a special fried chicken, which I ordered, and their specialty is baked mac and cheese, so I had that as a side dish.

While we waited for dinner, Michael and Maria went outside - he for a smoke, her to talk with him about something they were working on. When she came back in, she was crying. It turned out a homeless girl caught their attention outside. She was with a puppy, very drunk and very young. Once they got past her facade (Michael asked her how old she was and she replied, "16, 48, 64, 10), she told them she was from Maine and had been there for a while. He asked when she'd spoken to her parents last, she said a couple of weeks. He convinced her to let him call her parents on his cell phone, but no one was home. She did leave a message on their answering machine and Michael promised to come get her if they called back. I am trying to get their phone number so that I can call them to see if I can help them get her back. She's got to be all of 15. It's so sad. And the puppy would just lick her face, even while she was constantly yelling at it. Michael had asked her if she was hungry, but she wasn't. She said she'd "shot up" for the first time the other day, but it scared her so much, she'd rather drink. I don't know if that's good or bad. Her clothes are dirty and torn and her hair is bleached blonde, so who knows what her real hair color is? I see these posters of missing teens from Maine and I wonder if one of them is her now.

Dinner, although somber, was very good. We walked back to the hotel and Michael and I talked quite a bit. He's divorced and was very hurt by it. He's a very nice guy and I hope he eventually gives marriage another shot. Turns out he has a Triumph motorcycle - what a coincidence! I told him about Chris' that I'm trying to sell. That perked him up, LOL.

Hugged everyone, then went to my room to sleep.

Got up early, shared a taxi with this guy from Philly who was on one of the floats in the Mardi Gras parade. Turns out he is an acrobat who performs for Cirque du Soleil, on Celebrity Cruise Lines and is also a cheerleader trainer. Seriously. He was hilarious. His name was Mario and he's originally from Birmingham, England. We ended up hanging out at the airport until his flight left. When we had to scoot our checked bags under a rope for the x-ray machine, I lost my balance and fell on my butt. We laughed as he helped me up. The TSA women there laughed as soon as they knew I was okay.

At least I made someone's day, ha ha.

The flight home was fine. No turbulence this time. Stopped in St. Louis, but had the same plane/seat the whole way. Got home, unpacked, went through the mail quickly, then took mom out for dinner at The Lobster Barn here in town.

When we got back, I took a long bubble bath with both dogs in the bathroom, then watched The Ghost Whisperer with mom and went to bed.

Today, I take her home, then come back to probably collapse.

I have tomorrow to catch up on some things, relax, then Monday I pick up my "brother" Peter at the airport. I can't wait to see him!


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