Leading a directionally challenged life…

I just came home from an awesome week of teaching at WIFYR. I always take my work-out clothes and tennis shoes when I go to writers’ conferences—which proves that I am an optimist and that I don’t learn from past experiences. Because I never have time to exercise at conferences. I am talking with other authors into the night and then reviewing student’s manuscripts.

This time, insomnia stopped by for a visit and each day I became more sleep deprived. I kept thinking that since I’d had so little sleep, surely I’d fall to sleep as soon as I crawled into bed, but no.  Every night I had to increase the amount of sleeping pills I took because I knew I needed some sleep or I wouldn’t be able to wake up at seven AM and teach for four hours. I ended up taking more sleeping pills than I ever had, and in the early hours of the morning, I groggily worried that I would accidentally overdose. If that happened, my students would always wonder why I’d opted to kill myself rather than read more of their work.

This would not be the best way to encourage their writing.

As usual, I had a class full of wonderful, creative, and eager students. I know some of them will be published soon. (Soon in the writing world is actually about three or four years…)

It was especially nice for me to be around other authors because I find it so validating. Any of you who already know me, know that I’m directionally challenged. Meaning, I can get lost pretty much anywhere. I have no internal compass. So I loved the fact that the conference director’s daughter got lost twice while driving us around. One of the agents admitted that although he’s lived in New York for years, he never knows which exit to take when leaving the subway. He just goes out the nearest one and figures out where he is once he’s on the street.  Every time Kathryn Purdie walked by me at the end of the day, and then walked by going the other direction with the sheepish explanation of, “I can never remember where I parked my car,” I wanted to stand up and exclaim, “This is my tribe!”

Fortunately, despite my lack of an internal compass, I can rely on the GPS on my phone 95% of the time to get me where I need to go. The other five percent of the time makes life interesting. Once when I was doing a school visit at Timp View High, my phone insisted that the school was located in someone’s garage. There was the time when I was staying at Sarah Eden’s house and—I’m not making this up—when I put in her address, my phone took me to the state mental hospital and told me I had reached my destination. I’m not sure who should be more troubled by that misdirection, Sarah or me. At any rate, it was one of those time when I argued vehemently with my phone. It can keep its snide commentary about my mental health to itself.

While at the conference, I wanted to drive to an evening workshop on marketing that Heather Moore was giving at the South Jordan library. My phone took me there without problem, but on the way home it had battery problems. (It kept restarting, turning off, then restarting again.) I was without the aid of GPS and I hadn’t thought to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to lead me back to the hotel.

I decided not to worry about this problem because I was relatively certain I remembered the way I’d come and could just reverse the process. I know this all sounds terribly easy to the rest of you non-directionally challenged folk, but for my tribe, this is like asking a dyslexic person to not only remember how to spell a word, but then spell it backward.

I set off, sang along to the radio, and before long, I’d reached Auto Mall Drive where the Best Western was. I remembered the name because the street was filled with auto dealerships and hotels. (Hotels apparently don’t get street sign billing like dealerships do.) Success. I thought: Maybe I’m not as bad at directions as I’ve led myself to believe.

I pulled into the parking lot, found a space, and lugged my laptop bag to the side entrance. My room card didn’t work on the lock there. I’d never used the side entrance before, so I didn’t think much of the malfunction, and I trudged to the front entrance. When I went inside, I immediately noted something odd. The lobby no longer looked the same. It was much smaller, a different color, and the front desk was on the opposite wall of where it had previously been.

And that’s when I realized I’d driven to the wrong hotel. So actually, yes, I am just as bad as directions as I’ve led myself to believe.

This is your official warning, should you ever ask me to drive you anywhere.


Comments

Leading a directionally challenged life… — 5 Comments

  1. I’m so glad I’m not alone – we can get lost together Janette 🙂 I once got lost in SLC in what we call the “spaghetti bowl” where all the freeway lanes cross over and under and around each other. I basically cried as I got off one exit, only to have to get back on (repeated multiple times) just to find a measly McDonald’s that everyone was meeting at “just off the freeway”. It was torture.

    • I know exactly where you are talking about because I’ve gotten lost there many times myself. Back when the GPS didn’t give you street names but only told you directions (Keep left, then stay right) I always ended up taking the wrong exit.

  2. I can never remember where I parked either. I always park in the same spot (or near it) when I go to regular places—like the grocery store or church—so I can find my car!

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