Monthly Archives: September 2010

What Should I Do With My Hands?

National Book Fest 2009

Sunday night, I learned that we are officially going to D.C. this coming weekend.  We are going for many reasons, the main one being The National Book Festival.  We went last year, and our only regret was the bad weather.  Even with the near-constant rain, it was a good day on the National Mall.  Our English teacher selves were in nerd heaven, surrounded by thousands of people who had traveled to celebrate books.  Imagine!  We wanted to go back for this year’s fest, but were waiting to hear about the weather (it’s supposed to be good) and then decided that we’d forgo the trip in the interest of saving money (because we’re putting out a lot so that I can go to NCTE in November).  And then we changed our minds, said ah well, it’s only money, and away we shall go.

One of the other (main) reasons I want to go on this mini-trip is to cleanse my palate.  I’m very excited about our upcoming Orlando NCTE Convention trip, but I’m not so sure that Disney World should be our first excursion after the disaster that was The Great Europe Trip.  And as D.C. is my third favorite city in the world, I think it is a good choice for a palate-cleansing trip (Vancouver is still #1, but D.C. has moved down to third since I’ve been to Amsterdam, which is now #2.  The other places on my favorite destinations list are not cities, so they don’t count in this instance.)

But there’s something that has me a bit puzzled.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my hands during this trip.  You see, about three weeks ago, I deleted my Facebook account (well, not deleted–that’s not actually possible.  I ‘turned it off’.)  So I have nowhere to post photos, which begs the question ‘why spend the whole time taking photos?’  I imagine this is how a long-time smoker feels after quitting–like they have nothing to do, when they used to be quite busy killing themselves.  Yes, the more I think about it, the more quitting Facebook is exactly like quitting smoking.

Fortunately, I still have this blog–but the beauty of a blog is that you can write whenever you want–even after you come home or, like this, before you leave.  So when I’m on our weekend trip, all I ‘have to’ do is be on said trip.  I wonder what that will be like!


The Teacher Becomes the Student

As a teacher, I can tell you that what–or how much–you learn matters less than how you use that knowledge.  So for our next trip, I fully intend to use as many of the lessons I learned about travel (and about myself) on The Europe Trip, thus (hopefully) ensuring a more successful trip.

Of course, the fact is that this is a very different sort of trip.  Apples to oranges, Europe to NCTE Convention, Paris to Disney World.  However, like most authentic learning experiences, I truly believe that the lessons transfer over quite nicely.  Take, for example, my decisions on flight options.  I could have taken a (slightly cheaper) flight home from Orlando, landing over an hour’s drive away from my house at 11pm on a Sunday night.  This would have given me an ‘extra’ day to possibly spend at one of the Disney parks–after checking out of our hotel.  But based on lesson number twelve ‘just because you have the time, it does not mean you should spent it’, I knew that this was a bad decision.  Thus, we’re flying home at 2pm–three hours after check out, which is perfect–and flying into our local airport, less than 15 minutes from our house (which also works with lesson number fourteen:  ‘it is worth the extra money you’d spend to fly into and out of somewhere closer to your starting and ending points’!)  Additionally, I know that one is very exhausted towards the end of a trip–even a shorter trip, like this one–and trying to do a park (full of lines) at the end would be a poor choice.

I’m also heeding the advice of lesson number thirteen:  ‘it is worth the extra money you’d spend to stay somewhere more centrally located’.  As the main convention resort was sold out, we had the option of staying anywhere else for less money, or staying at the more expensive, but very conveniently located overflow resort.  Overflow resort, here we come!

Lesson number three is a big one–’guidebooks are bullshit’–though I feel this may be less true when looking at a place as unreal as Disney World.  Still, I’ve adopted what I feel is a very realistic planning policy for this trip.  You see, this trip has two parts–the larger, more important, grown-up part of the professional convention, and the smaller, less important but just as fun, bonus-prize Disney portion.  So it requires two different planning approaches.

For the convention, I will have a binder.  I had a binder last year, and it worked out very well.  I need to know the important location and time information about the sessions I want to attend.  This is very grown up of me.  But for Disney World–no planning.  Because do you know who has the most fun at Disney?  Kids.  And do you know what kids don’t have?  Guidebooks.  Binders.  Highlighted itineraries.  So I’m not going to have those things either.  I’ll have purchased my tickets ahead of time (because you have to to get the convention ‘after 4’ rates), but that’s it.  And if that means that all we get to do is wander around and look at the park, then that’s what we’re doing.  I am not running about, collecting fast passes and checking attractions off a list.  I’m going to eat an ice cream cone and get my picture taken with Mickey and hold a balloon.  That’s it.  Oh–and follow my husband around whilst he ‘drinks around the world’ at Epcot.  If they have anything other than beer, I may actually join him in that pursuit.

Finally, there’s one more rule that I shall be forced to follow–thankfully–as we are not paying for wireless internet at the resort.  Following lesson number seventeen–’blogging whilst traveling is not always the best idea’–I shall not be posting on here during the trip.  Am I taking my netbook?  Of course–it will be incredibly useful for note taking at lectures and workshops.  Will I use it to write possible posts?  Probably not–after all, the resort has a 24-hour pool and jacuzzi area.  And the netbook is not waterproof.

Honestly, no matter what, I’m thinking there will be some good things about this trip.  If all else fails, it is so very uplifting and inspirational to be around so many amazing teachers–teachers who take time out of their lives and money out of their own bank accounts (like I’m doing) to attend this fantastic convention.  I can hardly wait.  Sixty-five more days to go!  (hey…there was no lesson about not counting the days!)

When You Gotta Go…

…click HERE.  I’ve been meaning to link this to my blog for over a month now–it’s a google map providing the locations of automated toilets in Paris.  They are called ‘sanisettes’, and they are not that scary to use (and better than nothing, which is often your alternative).  My husband and I made this map ourselves late at night our second day in Paris, when we realized that peeing in Paris was going to prove challenging for me and my teeny, tiny bladder.  I saved the page as an app on my iPhone, and it did occasionally come in handy, so I thought I’d share it with the world.  It does not include the locations of all sanisettes, just the ones in the arrondissements we were visiting–pretty much all of the touristy areas.

A word of warning:  like everything in Paris, they are not always in working order.  The link is also now available in my sidebar.

Back in the Saddle

Little over a month after our return from The Great Europe Debacle, I’m once again booking flights and copying down confirmation numbers.  And despite my husband’s insistence that he’d never, ever want to take me to another crowded place filled with lines and tourists…we’re going to Disney World!

Seriously.  We’re going to Disney World.  I will pause to give my readers time to laugh and choke.


Putting both hands over your head helps, if you are still choking.

To be fair, we’re not ‘technically’ going to Disney World.  We’re going to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention.  But it is being held at the Coronado Springs Resort, which is on Mouse Territory.  And we are staying at the overflow convention resort, Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club, which borders Epcot.  So for all intents and purposes, we’re going to Disney World.

Oh–and we are actually going to go to Disney World.  And Epcot.  But more on that later.

You may be thinking ‘now this is a recipe for disaster’, and you are probably right.  But I’m going to try to learn from the Europe Trip, and avoid making the same mistakes.  Other than, of course, the mistake of volunteering to spend time somewhere crowded and line-filled.  More on that later, too.

But it’s the convention that I’m most excited about.  How nerdy is that?!?  We went to last year’s convention in Philadelphia, and it was great.  Better than great, actually.  I had more fun at the 2009 NCTE convention than I had in Paris, and I came home with lots of ideas for my classroom and over eighty new young adult books for my students.  So I have to think that this trip is going to be a good one.  This is me crossing my fingers.