I’m a pretty experienced traveler.
I’ve sailed along Australia's Great Barrier Reef, snorkeled with giant manta rays in Fiji , hiked through the Amazon jungle in Venezuela , climbed in the Swiss Alps, and ridden a camel into the Sahara at sunset to camp in the desert. I love seeing new places and racking up new experiences like notches on my bedpost.
So now I have to confess that I am completely, utterly terrified of traveling to New York City next week for the national convention of Romance Writers of America.
I’m not sure what’s got me so freaked out. Probably a combination of things ranging from my general social awkwardness (the sort that causes me to spit gristle in strangers' purses) to the fact that I have no idea what to wear to a dinner when the invitation includes the phrase, “the limo will pick you up at...”
My only visit to New York consisted of a night spent sleeping on the floor of the JFK Airport in a skirt while blazing with fever from a weird bug I’d just picked up in Morocco. While I’ve certainly spent time in larger cities, there’s something about the idea of this city that terrifies the holy living hell out of me.
Then there’s the fact that I’m a serious, serious introvert. People tend to assume introvert is a synonym for “shy,” which I can promise you is not the case. While I'm capable of being bubbly and outgoing in large groups of strangers, I get my energy from being alone. My fear is that after two days in New York, I’ll be so over-stimulated by human interaction that I’ll end up spending the rest of the week hiding under the bed with my hands over my ears humming Motley Crue's, “Home Sweet Home.”
Fortunately, I have a close girlfriend with a designer handbag boutique and a finely-tuned fashion sense that extends beyond knowing which yoga pants pair best with the mustard-stained t-shirt. I’m bribing her with wine to come over tonight and go through my closet so she can tell me what to wear, what not to wear, and what to burn in my backyard barbecue pit before anyone realizes I actually own something that ugly.
So that helps.
But I’m still freaked. I haven’t had time yet to research the logistics of finding my way from the Newark airport to the Marriott Marquis hotel at 5:30 on a Monday morning, nor have I explored options from getting from there to La Guardia when I head home Saturday.
Hell, for that matter, I’m not even sure how I’m getting from my house to the airport for my 1:30 departure on Sunday afternoon.
I know I need to just chill out. Everything will be fine. I will likely not get lost or mugged or overwhelmed with the sudden urge to climb topless onto a table at an awards banquet and do a finger puppet routine.
Actually, I make no promises on that last one.
But there are some things I’m REALLY looking forward to. For one, I’ll be rooming with uber-cool author pals Jeffe Kennedy (who I’ve never actually met in person but feel like I’ve known for years) and Marcella Bernard (who you may recall came to my rescue when I got a flat tire en route to a conference in Seattle last fall).
For another, I’ll finally, FINALLY get to meet my amazing agent in person. I’ve been represented by Michelle Wolfson for 3.5 years, so it’s about damn time I bought her a drink. Or twelve.
And then I’ll get to meet all the Sourcebooks people, including my editor, Deb Werksman, and all the cool publicity and production people and...
Holy crap. That's a lot of people. I think I need to lie down now.
For those of you who've been to New York (or those who've been to big-ass conferences like this) do you have any tips for me? For my fellow introverts, do you have any tricks for handling extended periods of being "on" in settings like this? Please share. I need all the help I can get!