Within Written Distance

Last week I was in Dayton, Ohio to attend the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. I met a slew of like-minded author-types, learned some new promotional tips, found a nice coffee shop, and had my picture taken with Saturday Night Live’s Laraine Newman. I have not necessarily listed these events in “WOW!” order. If you’d prefer that – the cappucino was excellent.

Nah – I joke, I kid… It was a humor writers’ conference, so I brought the funny. Which is a good thing, because I didn’t pack enough underwear.

New friendships developed very quickly, due to the many attendees’ common interests paired with the consumption of alcohol. Out of the hundreds of folks there I’d met only a handful before, with several being Facebook friends versus those acquired “in real life,” as the kids say. I learned many new names – Desiree, Gretchen, David, Janie, Celeste, Dierdre, Xan, Janel… However, I don’t recall to whom those names belong.

The workshop’s preferred hotel was a Marriott (motto: “Thank God We’re Not A Holiday Inn Express”) located within spitting distance of the Great Miami River. Locals refer to this body of water as the “Dayton Riviera,” which would make a whole lot more sense to me if the river weren’t named for a city in Florida. Also, the Riviera in Italy is a section along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, not a river. The Italian version of the Riviera includes the city of Genoa, but while there is a Genoa, Ohio, that is not where neither I nor the Great Miami River passed through. If you find this confusing, just think how *I* felt, which was later compounded by a flight home that took me through Chicago and into a different time zone and now I was uncertain of both my location and the correct time. Appending that confusion to my uncertainty regarding the identity of any conference attendee with whom I’d spoken I was, at best, alert and oriented only times 1 during most of my trip.

Once I made it home and asked Google to tell me what time it was, I felt much more grounded and ready to recall everything gleaned from the workshop presentations I’d attended. I reviewed my notes, only to discover my handwriting had degraded from its prior state of “chicken-scratchy” to “completely illegible.” Fortunately, most of the presenters had uploaded their slides to an online dropbox and I was able to fill the gaps in my memory that were not related to over-consumption of wine and/or bourbon.

I’ve got an extensive list of tasks to pursue post-conference: updating my website, acquiring mastery of something called “TikTok,” double-checking how much underwear I should have on hand when away from home. Also, as the picture atop this post confirms – I really did meet Laraine Newman at the conference and feel it’s just a matter of time before I hear from her regarding her reaction to a copy of my soon-to-be-published book that I shoved into her hands graciously offered her.

If she chooses not to provide me with the rave celebrity review I so desperately crave – well, that’s OK. I’ll always have my memories of strolling along the picturesque Dayton Riviera while sipping an expertly-prepared cappuccino and wondering why all the Daytonians whose paths I crossed appeared perplexed by my greeting of “Buona sera!

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