In the midst of moving, Gerhardt and I took time to roar off to San Antonio for the annual Romance Writers of America convention. Some of you may be wondering what goes on at one of these gatherings (although most of you probably could care less!). Well, let me tell you, there's much squealing and hugging as women who haven't seen each other all year convene to share their latest writing adventures and encourage each other in a rewarding, frustrating, difficult profession that, I've concluded, you have to be a little bit crazy to choose. And I must admit, I did some squealing myself, like when I discovered my latest book advertised on one of the Marriott Hotel's elevators. There I was, right along with my buddy SUSAN WIGGS. What a memorable moment!
I not only met up with old friends, I made some new ones. And I made a fool of myself gushing over SUSAN ELIZABETH PHILLIPS and KRISTAN HIGGINS, two authors I've admired for some time and never had the chance to meet - both are lovely ladies and I suspect I made a fool of myself germing all over them. (By the way, if you're wondering what a germ is, that's Nashville speak for a ridiculously gushy fan. It's pronounced with a hard "g" as in gush. And that was me!)
This is a conference where hopes soar and dreams can come true. Writers learn more about both the business and the craft of writing. When it comes to writing, I don't know if a girl ever "arrives." I, for one, am always learning, and the RWA is famous for how much information and help the romance community gives each other.
Gerhardt came along with me to keep me out of trouble and we enjoyed seeing the Alamo and checking out the River Walk. (The heat down there almost did me in though. All you Texans... how do you stand it?!) I had a great time catching up with my writing buddies, did a bunch of business, had some very productive meetings and enjoyed the getaway, but I was very happy to return to the Pacific Northwest. We're having a hot summer up here but it's nothing like what you folks are going through down there!
Anyway, the party's over and now it's back to unpacking boxes and trying to make room for us in a new and much smaller place. (An extreme challenge for my pack rat husband! Wish us luck.
We've decided to downsize. I'm wondering why. I think moving is a lot like childbirth. It starts with twinkle in your eye and then, next thing you know, you're in the birthing room in pain and it's too late to go back - the only way is forward.
We'd only been at our little lake house about six years. I love it out here. Love the lake, love the neighbors, love my little fruit trees and berry bushes and veggie garden. So, why am I moving? Good question. I came to realize I didn't love being out in our double lot, constantly weeding. I didn't love being snowed in during winter, waiting for the snowplows to come dig us out. And I had visions of one of us slipping on our steep driveway once we got older and breaking something.
Still, now that it's time to leave I'm sad. We probably wouldn't have fallen. The house was big enough that when we got old we had a whole section we could reserve for a live-in caregiver. There's no room for a freezer in the new condo and I'm going to have to leave behind my wood stove. Although I'll also leave behind the mess and the hassle of bringing in wood. (Ah, the mixed emotions that come with change.)
I'm trading one lovely view for another, so that's not a bad deal. And there's something to be said for the convenience of living in town, near all the amenities, being able to walk to local shops and restaurants. Gerhardt is so excited I can hardly stand it. So, when I'm not sad about leaving, I'm excited.
Mostly though, I'm pooped. Those of you who have moved know what I'm talking about. The whole thing is exhausting - the packing, the hurking boxes, the shedding of excess stuff no longer needed (I've lost count of how many trips we've made to Goodwill!)
Official moving day is tomorrow and, bless his heart, Gerhardt is sending me off to the ocean with my buddy Jill Barnett to Sheila-sit me. He'll remain behind to supervise the movers, get the cable hooked up and play with setting up the sound system and his man cave (which has shrunk considerably). The end is almost here. The baby is almost down the birth canal. I just have to hang in there a little longer. Soon it will be worth all the hassle and hard work. Wish me luck!
The last few months have been filled with stress, so it was really nice to take some time to enjoy ourselves. One thing I always enjoy is the sand castle carving contest at Ocean Shores, WA. Artists, amateurs and families all come to compete in various categories. This year everyone had to play beat the clock as they rushed to complete their projects before the tide came in. Nonetheless, a good time was had by all. I don't have the gift of being able to work with my hands and create something out of nothing but sand, and I couldn't help but marvel at what people were able to do.
Over the Fourth of July, like most Americans, we celebrated, enjoying picnics, time with friends, and fireworks. People out on our little lake go crazy and it's like living in a war zone. We're in the process of downsizing and getting ready to move to a condo, and I must say, one of the few things I won't miss is the noise on the Fourth. Good heavens! Some of those babies people are letting off can't be legal. But I was still happy. We had family time, games, chicken and potato salad... and shrimp dip (thanks to my daughter), so life was good.
In fact, life in the U.S.A. is pretty darned good most of the time for most of us. And if you doubt that, you need to travel more, especially to third world countries. We may not always agree but we're free to express ourselves when we disagree. We may find ourselves unhappy with our job but we can go get a different job or start our own company. We may not be happy with what's going on in Washington, but we can vote and "throw the bums out." This is not a perfect country, but it's a good country, full of generous, hard-working people. And there's nowhere else in the world I'd rather be.