I was selected to participate in the ALA student-to-staff program, which meant I got to go to Chicago for their annual meeting. I had never been to either ALA or Illinois, but going really livened up my summer. I arrived on Thursday afternoon and thought I'd do the tourist thing until I was to meet up with the other s-to-s members. Chicago is a lot like NYC except smaller, cleaner, and cares about architecture and I enjoyed walking about. Of course I went to the tower-formerly-known-as-Sears, which had just opened these platforms so you could look straight down. Toronto has a small, clear floor in their Space Needle so you can stare straight down 1400 feet, and I had to overcome billions of years of evolution to get myself to stand on what instinct felt was walking off a cliff. This was suppose to be cooler; the guard told me the wait was twenty-five minutes. It was... to get to the ticket line. Every time we turned a corner or went up/down an escalator/elevator there was another line. Over TWO HOURS later I made it to the observations deck, ready to pass out from dehydration, starvation, and sheer boredom as I had nothing to listen to or read while waiting. The platforms were packed and I really didn't get the true experience. Naturally, I missed the s-to-s meet-up.
The following day Chess and I walked to the Field Museum--which was a lot farther away than we thought--and loved the dinosaur exhibit and the trip through Earth's evolution (complete with six mass extinctions). When it was time to leave, Chess needed an umbrella due to the downpour. It took forever to find the specific gift-shop that carried a very cool, very girly, very expensive umbrella just in time for the sky to clear.
The rest of the conference didn't lend itself to anymore sight seeing and perhaps I should have made plans to stay longer (just not in the very swanky hotel ALA put me up in). I spent most of my time with YALSA as that was the section I was assigned to as my s-to-s obligation. Depending on your point of view it was either good or bad that their were so many people volunteering for YALSA as there was next to nothing for me to do. I suppose I could have spent more of my downtime going to other events, but, I confess, I was seduced by the prospect of free books in the Expo Center (I would have to send three boxes home by mail). The events I did attend were all good, yet they were really more award receptions and author talks and I don't feel I caught the true feel of an ALA event. Next year is in DC and I'm going to make sure my Queens' MLS program's Library of Congress trip is at the same time.
I don't regret going to Queens College, but I wish we had more people like I met and hung with in Chicago. We're New Yorkers, damn it, why aren't we the coolest? Why is it always pulling teeth to get more than a handful to hangout and simply have a good time? For the love of Vishnu some of these ALA people are from Kansas, KANSAS! Every evening groups of us would get together to socialize and joke around. Do you realize that we never even once talked about library science?! We were too busy just having fun palling around.
*sigh* Since I'm busy wishing, let me give shout-outs to my plethora of secret, unrequited loves (no names here). To Disney's Muscles who knew darn well that every time she touched my arm my knees would buckle, and that's why she did it. To SyFy from Alabama, why can't there be more like you? To Blue-eyes in the Comic Aisle, I'm going to ComicCon just for the chance to swim in the crystal waters of your Irish eyes. And, of course, to Special K--perfect in every way--you're the woman of my dreams...except for being 15 hundred miles away. Thanks a lot, Shiva.
I want to give thanks to the people who made this trip a blast. Chess, you rock my world and can castle my king any day. Denise, who is as perpetually fun as she is sleep deprived, for being my partner in Expo center crime. Miranda, for being generally awesome. James, you're as cool as your mohawk is blue (yes, James, that's a simile but not a metaphor, remember?). Mandy and Sandy for generally rocking. Nicole and Don, we couldn't have done anything without your hard work. M. T. Anderson, for being such a good sport towards us student-to-staff drunkards and making us feel great about what we do. And let me not forget all the authors that played along with my joke of having them sign books to me as if we had some long, poignant history together.