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Sunday, November 20, 2005

I'm Leaving On A Jet Plane (not so fast, pal)

Airport Blues (A POST CONFERENCE REFLECTION)

I am currently seated in the airport, waiting to board my flight that will whisk me away to Motown, so I can climb into my Cavalier and drive home. I should be home by now (2:30 p.m.) but I remain here in Pittsburgh. Why? That’s what happens to novice air travelers who arrive at the airport 5 minutes too late to have their bags checked and to make it through security. Yes, I disembarked from the hotel shuttle, went to the e-ticket counter, punched in all the essentials, and the machine replied, “Please see the attendant.” I flagged-down a lady behind the counter who quickly informed me that there was no way (Stephanie N., do you recall the name of that RR Company Norfolk & Way?) I could make it through security in time for me to catch the 12-noon flight. She quickly assigned me to the next available ride to DTW, which will depart Pittsburgh at 5:27 p.m. So as I sit in this airport typing, my thoughts drift in particular to my Pittsburgh partners: one van carrying Troy, Arum and their passengers, and the other car occupied by Carlin and Andrea. I’m positive that at this very moment, both vehicles are traversing the highways and byways in a NW direction, headed for Michigan.

So I’ve spent the last 2 ½ hours plugged into the airport electricity and the FREE wifi (Radisson Hotel, please take a hint…) listening to and reading and immensely enjoying our entertaining RCWP blog. This validates the entire NCTE conference experience for me. Thank-you, Janet and the RCWP, for allowing me to participate in this fantastic event. To be able to mingle, rub elbows, and essentially “hob-nob” (to borrow a quote from one of my favorite characters, Professor Marvel, in the 1939 classic film Wizard of Oz) with 5000 enthusiastic and energetic teachers of English is an absolutely uplifting experience. It is my wish that all teachers could have a shot at re-charging their batteries by attending the NCTE/NWP. What were my highlights? From the newcomers breakfast (where I was able to meet and chat with Jackie Swensson who claims our Janet as a relative), to the McCourt address, to walking around and marveling at the David Lawrence Convention Center, to interviewing Jerry Spinelli, to the holiday lighting ceremony downtown with 250,000 of our closest Pittsburgh friends, to Thursday dinner with Renee and Toby, to listening to Carlin and Rob’s magnificent presentation, to the new friends I made, to hanging out and composing in our newly-adopted writing center (known to non-RCWP’ers as the William Penn Omni Lobby), to the many other marvelous sessions I attended, to watching Andrea’s attempt at recreating the ski-jump crash scene that began every airing of ABC’s Wide World Of Sports by sliding down darn near the largest hill in Pittsburgh, to our Friday evening RCWP dinner in 34 degree temps outside the sandwich shop, to stalking our favorite authors, to typing in the airport, it was all wonderful, wild, and more than worthwhile. I am proud of the fact that the RCWP is out front when it comes to technology. We were the “buzz” of the convention. Thank you, my colleagues, for making this an unforgettable experience for me. Please have a safe trip home, and happy holidays to you all!

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