Thursday, April 03, 2014

After the con.....

I have returned. I spent most of last week off at the USITT annual conference, which was in Fort Worth this year. I've not been to one of these in 15 years. It was quite different from what I remember. Back then I was still in college; now I am a professional in the field. I had gone to the one in Pittsburgh in 1997 and again to Toronto in 1999. We always kind of laugh when people talk of a work conference as a 'vacation'. Maybe for other fields, but we're an industry that works from sun-up until the wee hours. Why would our conference be any different?
Every day is filled with discussion sessions, teaching sessions, hands-on workshops, commission meetings, showcases and xxxxxxxxx . And then there is the Expo floor filled with booths from vendors, organizations and schools alike giving out swag, demonstrating new products, drumming up business, conducting interviews mixed with the chaos of friends new and old meeting. It's fun to put faces to the voices on the phone you order from, or play with a new fogger or automation system. Programming is scheduled from 8am until 7, 8, 9pm or later. And there are no meal breaks scheduled in, so you often have the dilemma of "do I attend this really interesting session on XXX, or do I eat?" Sometimes you might pick a session where they feed you. This is not kind of conference where you go to a meeting or two with a catered lunch and spend the rest of the time at the pool.

And I loved it. Even though it dang near killed me. There was a lot of walking. A LOT of walking, and even with my cane it wore me out. Luckily we booked the hotel that was right across the street. I made some new friends, finally put some faces and face-to-face time with people that I have corresponded with for years. I learned tons. Was inspired even more. And somehow I ended up chairing a session for next year's conference. (And I was totally sober when that happened. But then again, it was an 8am session).

Texas was lovely...for what I saw of it. I didn't wander much further than 4 blocks from the convention center, and that was to hunt for food. The weather was much nicer....86 in Texas in March is nothing like 86 in Hartford in August. Especially when I come home to be greeted by a freak snowstorm the next morning.

Things I learned from this conference:
  • Have business cards. Even if you aren't looking for a job. It's the best way to pass along your information.
  • Have a portfolio handy....both online and a brag book in hand. Again, even if you aren't looking for a job, people are going to ask to see your work. 
  • Take pictures and write everything down. You will be so inundated with information that you will never remember what happened 5 minutes ago.
  • Bring your own tea if you are picky about what you drink. (so glad I did this)
  • Powerbars/granola bars are your friends. Have lots of them on hand.
  • Talk to everyone you can. You never know what may come of it. If you like someone's work/idea/project, tell them. Everyone likes positive reinforcement. 
  • Don't be bitter. (at least out loud) There were a few Debbie Downers that ruined a good moment or two. 
  • Remember this is a small business. Everyone knows everyone whether you realize it or not. 
  • Drink More Water. 
  • Ask the locals where they eat. 
  • I hate iPads (borrowed one from the University library for the trip to use instead of my laptop.)
  • I can out eat a bunch old techies and a Army veteran under the table where all you can eat ribs are concerned. (Sorry Riscky's. You didn't make any money on me that night.)

And now I am back. Dealing with paperwork, waiting for a designer to arrive, cleaning/organizing the shop, and researching/writing up ads to see extraneous shop possessions on Craigslist. You know the budget is bad when you are selling things just to fix/replace your other things.

I did get knitting done on my flights. And I only had one schmuck ask how TSA let me through with my (circular) needles. I told the guy (who had an uncanny resemblance to George R.R. Martin so I didn't want to be rude in case it was him and he decided not to finish the books because of some snarky knitter) that TSA discovered that we knitters were far less dangerous with our needled than without them.

This is what I managed to get done while flying and waiting in airports. I did knit a little in sessions but I often had to take notes, and with the cane knitting while walking was out of the question. The yarn is Glissade from Ball and Skein. (I swear I'm addicted to her stuff) in the colorway Elderberry. The color perfectly matches the new color of my hair. (What you expected me to go to Texas looking like a normal person?) What you see is slowly becoming the Medusa shawl by Amanda Muscha. I originally fell in love with this pattern because the lace is more geometric than flowery/frilly looking. So far both the yarn and pattern have been wonderful. The beginning section of this is perfect airplane knitting paired with an audiobook. (Bleak House by Dickens via CraftLit).

Otherwise I returned to a perfect shitstorm of a friendship imploding and new and scary health issues. One is the usual waiting game of doctor's appointments, tests, and more doctor's appointments. I'm doing my best not to dwell on the horrible notions that keep drifting across my brain. There's nothing I can do until I know more. And as far as the other one....who knows.


Back to reading about reed organs and band saws.

No comments: