Saturday, May 18, 2013

The panel that would not die...

I forget the date that we originally scheduled the "Ghosts, Spirits, and the Aferlife" panel, or the day that we rescheduled it to. All I remember is that TWICE we were snowed out. But since I've been interested in ghosts and spirits since at least 1970, I was happy to commit to yet another reschedule. That day was today, May 18.

It was going to be tight. The panel was scheduled from 2-4, with a signing after, and then I had to rush to a graduation party for a very good friend. Still, I could do it. Just keep an eye on the time and all would be well. I'd be late for the party, but at least I'd be there.

Since my first book came out in 2003, I've developed a routine for events. I have a checklist and a packlist that I can print out and check off. My checklist includes two important tasks: Print out directions from and type the address into my GPS.

You might wonder why I do both. After all, the GPS should be good enough, right? That's what I thought when the computer was powering down and I realized I forgot to print out the directions. After all, I knew where I had to start the drive, and I would recognize the end part of the journey, so there was a pretty good chance I'd be okay, right? WRONG.

My first clue should have been as I left my driveway. "Proceed to route 146," it said. Well, that's fine, except that route 146 is 10-15 miles away and I don't remember going that way on previous trips to Annie's Book Stop. Okay, maybe the GPS is confused. Probably just hasn't connected to the satellites yet. I'll just get on the road, and worry about it after I'm on 290, which, I remember, is part of the route.

On 290, it's telling me to get back on Route 9. That's not right, but I can't remember which exit to take. I take one that I think must be close, figuring that my GPS will be RECALCULATING any second now, but no, as I'm nearing downtown Worcester, a highly urban area, it tells me -- and I swear this is true! -- "In 2 miles, prepare to go off-road."

I am serious. Off-road. In downtown Worcester. Can you say WTF?

Being a responsible driver, I pull off into a parking lot to call Annie's to tell them I'll be late and ask for directions. Oh, did I say that one of my instructions on my To Do list is to write the telephone number on the printed directions? (And you do remember that I don't HAVE printed directions...)

No problem. That's what 411 is for. I get the number and call Annie's. Of course, the first question I'm asked is "Where are you?"  Reasonable, right? But my stupid GPS has been directing me to take turns that don't match what I'm seeing on my GPS screen for the last half hour and I have no clue where I am! "I think I might be on Main Street, but I'm not sure."

I decide that since I have Verizon, I can download Verizon Navigator for a one-day use. I'll call back if I'm still lost.

I download Verizon Navigator. I thought it would be instantaneous, but no. I'm waiting, watching my cell phone as it says "Downloading images..." and then, at least 5 minutes later, "Downloading voices..." By now I'm late, officially late.

When it stops, I try to enter the address. No. Apparently there's been a problem with my download.

I return to my GPS, remembering that hubby had downloaded an open-source map to my GPS, using the removable memory. I pop out the chip, hoping it will default to the factory-installed map. I drive. Still no luck. I call Annie's again, describing my new location. This time it's better news: "I think you're really close. Hold on..."  She -- and I'm embarrassed to say I don't remember her name -- looks up on a map and finds where I am. She gives me directions.

After one false start (after all, I don't know where I am, so don't know which direction I should start out on), I'm on my way and arrive at Annie's.

I had almost given up and just gone home, which I might have done had I been able to find out how to do that. I'm glad I didn't,  though. It was a fantastic panel discussion, with a great audience. In the end, the Panel that Would Not Die happened. Whatever cosmic forces conspired against us lost. We were victorious!

But I will say one thing: I will definitely NOT start out for an event without a printed set of directions again :)

P.S. The party I went to after? Of course, I left the gift at home -- A gift that I had spent hours creating! Still, I got to the party and got to see wonderful people. Some times, when one thing after another goes wrong, I go into this weird acceptance mode and just go with the flow. :)

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