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ArmadilloCon, a retrospective

In 2011, I had just moved away from the arid desert climate of Idaho into the most miserable summer heat I had ever, ever experienced of Texas (yes, THAT miserable summer).

I had completed my bachelors degree in English, and had attended a well-known writers workshop the year before, but still felt like I knew next to no one in the writing world, knew less than a handful of short story markets to submit to, and had never even realized until it was too late that there were conventions I could have attended in Utah.

In moving, I had left all of my dance, yoga, and Pilates jobs in Idaho, and knew that my paychecks would be slow to build to anything substantial, as often happens when there’s a gap between leaving successful setups in one location and moving to another.

In the midst of this, I knew that what I needed, even though it HURT to spend the money, was to go to this event that I’d somehow stumbled across online called ArmadilloCon. I was hungry for friends, I was hungry for knowledge, and I knew that my “can-do attitude” had taken me as far as it could on my journey to being a writer.

So I showed up to ArmadilloCon, not even knowing where I was going to sleep because I knew that I couldn’t afford the convention hotel prices.

And then the convention started. An hour or two in during Meet the Pros, I met someone that is now my best friend (and was very gracious about letting me share her hotel room that weekend -thanks again, Megan!)

I met more friends over the weekend, and formed my first writer’s group with some of them.

Between all these new friends and the informative panels, my eyes were opened to DuoTrope, to other Texas conventions, to new short story markets, to writers I needed to be reading, to OTHER wonderful friends, to ideas that had been hitherto alien to me.

I’m sure there are other things I was introduced to that have greatly improved me as a person and as a writer, but can’t remember them now because memories are slippery things.

All in all, it’s safe to say that ArmadilloCon 2011 was hugely influential.

But the best part is that wasn’t a one-off experience. ArmadilloCon is always awesome (although the years where I was juggling a baby or toddler are… perhaps lower on the list, for reasons).

This year was just as rejuvenating as my first, though obviously in different ways. I reconnected with old friends (some of whom are those first friends I made in Texas, thanks again, guys!), I made new friends, shared my Pilates passion with a roomful of fellow fans and writers (thanks again for coming, guys! Go forth with your Couch Potato Pilates knowledge and conquer!), sold a couple books, had a blast in panels and readings, brainstormed novels, and hopefully didn’t say too many stupid things or talk too much.

There are wonderful people at these conventions, y’all. People with beautiful stories to tell, talents and knowledge to share. I feel privileged to have been among them and, hopefully, give someone a much-needed boost in some aspect of their life.

Thanks to all the volunteers for helping out so we could all come and participate in a Weekend of Awesome. You are The Best, and I salute you. To all the people I chatted with, waved at, taught, gave candy to, thanks for being you. I hope you had as good a time as I did.

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The Little Ballet Books of Indoctrination Still Work

gallop-horse

Many moons ago, probably starting somewhere around 2005, I collected ballet books to keep in the foyer of one of the dance studios I taught at to entertain my little dancers while they waited for their class to start. They were simple, charming books like Emily’s Dance Class, Katy Duck Goes to Ballet Class, Ballerinas are Special, Gallop! and so on. Not only were these great distractions for small children, it was yet another injection of “YOU LOVE BALLET YES YOU DO” that I could give them outside of class time.

I was pretty proud of the library I’d been able to build up, and lucky me! The parents kept my books relatively rip-free. Even the sticky fingers were at a minimum.

Fast forward to today, when I have my own toddler to rear. This evening was one of those rare moments when I didn’t have to teach, dinner was simple, and I wasn’t taking on another ambitious baking or sewing project during my daughter’s waking hours. This meant that I had the presence of mind to ask her if she wanted to read extra books before bedtime.

She asked for “Cindalella,” but as I pulled that book from the shelf, another book slid out with it: Emily’s Dance Class. Roz had forgotten this book existed, though we’d read it several times within the last year. She was already wearing her tutu and ballet slippers, and she was intrigued. “Cindalella” was quickly forgotten. Emily’s Dance Class earned 2 reads before we moved on to 4 or 5 other ballet books. Each book was well received – even the ballet history book that’s oriented more towards 7-10 year olds.

I’m not sure I can explain how much my heart swells to see my own daughter so excited about two things I love – ballet and books. I’m pretty sure I won to child lottery on this one.

Then it was time for bed, and she carried the new beloved books to her bedroom. I think this was a way to have her morning reading material ready to go as soon as she woke up.

Now I don’t know who has the ballet bug more – me, or her. There was a great deal of YOU LOVE BALLET YES YOU DO NOW SIGN YOUR DAUGHTER UP tonight. I was planning to wait until at least this summer before signing her up for an official ballet class, but it’s hard to exercise patience on sweet nights like this.