Texas Day One

This is a unusual for for me to write again so soon, but I thought it might be fun to keep you updated on the progress of my trip!  Please excuse typos and formatting issues as I only brought along my IPad (which I’ve had for just two weeks) and not my laptop.

Much of yesterday was traveling, but there are a few notable moments I thought I’d share.

First of all, you need to know that I hate to fly.  I like both feet firmly on the ground, thank you very much,but it’s a long drive to Texas!  The plane was surprisingly small, just two seats a side and that panicked me a bit, but I just kept breathing.  My seat mate wasn’t friendly at all.  She was probably in her late teens/early twenties and barely said hello when I offered up  a big smile.

The talk I’m giving on Friday is about not labeling others and half way through the flight when the young woman spoke to me for the first time, it was to ask if there was a bathroom on the plane and if she should throw out her trash in there.  Her name is Louise and it turns out she is a refugee from Liberia.  she’s 35, has four children, two she’s still trying to get out of Liberia, and she was flying to Texas to see her sister who ended up there.  After showing her to baggage claim and finding her sister, we hugged goodbye.

I went out to get the shuttle to the hotel and it turns out Dallas and Fort Worth are actually two different places, and there is an Omni Hotel in both!  So I had a nice tour of Dallas before begging the shuttle driver to take me 45 minutes in the opposite direction to Ft. Worth.  He came to the states 26 years ago from Ethopia and we talked a bit about my semester abroad in Kenya. Africa Day!

Then I got to the hotel and met Kelli from Hand to Hold in person for the first time.  After big hugs she wanted me to sign her copy of the book while she took a photo.  My mind went blank and I asked for time to decide exactly what to write.  Still thinking.  Erica from Hand to Hold came, too, and the three of us sat on the patio of an amazing wine bar that we walked to from the hotel (which is gorgeous!)

I woke just in time this morning to see a beautiful sunrise!  I plan to have a walk and then we’ll head to the Fort Worth Ronald McDonald House for the book reading/signing Kelli organized!

More to come!

This is a story I wrote on the plane!  Those of you who know my Dad will appreciate it!

No Joke

I gave away my first book today.

Wait, I should start at the beginning.

Central parking at the airport was full.

Auxiliary Lot B was full, too?

I was told to follow the signs to Economy Parking

“How will I get back to my terminal?” I asked, trying not to sound as panicJed as I felt.

“Shuttle bus, mam.”

And off I went, driving further and further from the airport where I thought I’d arrived so early.

I got one of the last parking spots in the Economy lot and didn’t let myself think about where I would have been sent after that. The man I met in the parking lot couldn’t imagine either.

The man I met on the elevator, who was flying to Chicago, helped me lift my over-stuffed duffle bag onto the shuttle bus.

The older gentleman in the navy blue sport coat who I sat down next to on the shuttle bus was traveling to Chicago also.  His daughter was speaking at a conference there.

“I’m speaking at a conference, too!” I told him.

“Fantastic,” he said, patting my arm.

I smiled.

“Now let me ask you a question,” he said.

I nodded.

“Let’s say your conference talk is an hour long.”

“It is!” I said.

“My daughter’s, too,” he said.  “So tell me this – do you jump right in to your talk or do you try to loosen up the crowd with a joke?”

I could hardly believe it.  Just two nights ago Lee and I were lying in bed sharing a pillow while I whined and whimpered about my upcoming talk.  “Maybe you should take your Dad’s approach,” Lee had said. “You know, warm ’em up with a joke.”

“Yeah,” I said, “I’ll start with the old stand by, ‘Did you hear the one about the neonatologist who walked into a bar?”

I covered my mouth so the man wouldn’t see me laughing at the memory.

“Well what kind of talk is your daughter giving?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s a medical conference,” he said. “She’s a blood doctor.  The best, by the way, if you ever need one.”Turns out she works at the hospital just down the road from where Andie lived in the NICU.

“My daughter always just jumps right in,” he said. “And don’t get me wrong, she really captivates her audience, but mix it up a bit I tell her – throw in a few jokes.”

I almost looked over my shoulder to see if my dad had somehow snuck on the bus.

“In your daughter’s defense,” I said. “I bet blood jokes are a bit hard to come by.” Then I told him about my dad and the neonatologist joke story, and he slapped his knee and laughed in delight!

When he shook my hand and wished me luck, I knew he really meant it.
All my nervousness had dissipated, and I felt like my dad was there with me. So I reached into the front pocket of my bag and pulled out a copy of my book and handed it to the man.

We had just arrived at Terminal B where he needed to get off the bus, but instead, he pulled out a pen, apologized to the driver and the other passengers and asked me to sign the book (another first!).

He waved as he got off the bus, and I waved back, knowing that I’d just met yet another angel on this wild and wondrous adventure!

“So d’ya hear the one about the rookie author who somehow ended up speaking at a national conference in Texas?”

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Anyone familiar with Fort Worth and have favorite hangouts to recommend?

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