ALA technically started on Friday night but since my parents had turned my vacation into a family vacation, I spent Friday afternoon at the zoo and Friday night in Old Town, Alexandria. That was okay, though, because Old Town is one of my favorite places EVER. It's a very historic town and there's even original cobblestone streets. They even offer ghosts tours, though I've never been daring enough to take one - maybe next time! Anyway, Old Time is just GORGEOUS and you can walk down to the water front, where there's people doing all kinds of crazy things to make money. My little brother got a crocodile made out of a balloon.
Then, we went to Ben and Jerry's. Going to Ben and Jerry's has basically become tradition for me every time I go to Old Town. The last time I was there, I ordered a HUGE cone, that was literally bigger than my hand. This time, I just got a small Chocolate Therapy (which I talked about with the cute boy at the register!). It was delicious.
Anyway, the next day, Saturday, was ALA. This was my first ever conference and I was pretty nervous but also EXTREMELY excited. By the time we drove into Chinatown, where it was held, I was practically jumping in my seat. When the building (which was HUGE) came into view, I couldn't stop myself from texting James in excitement. (Seriously, guys, this building was the biggest building I've ever been inside. EVER.)
Since there was SO much going on that day, and I'd bore everyone to tears if I talked about everything, I'm just going to talk about some of the highlights of my day.
-My aunt and I registered then headed downstairs to find James. I ended up wandering around for a while because he kept moving but I did eventually find him. Our first stop was Malindo Lo's signing. I almost didn't buy myself a copy, then I realized a hardcover was only $5, so, of course, I had to buy a copy.
-After that, James and I got in line to see Kami and Margie, authors of Beautiful Creatures. Karen Kincy, author of OTHER (which is fantastic, btw), ended up in line behind us. Then Christina Diaz Gonzalez came by with Danielle Joseph (I think. I know Danielle was there but I think someone else was too?). We all chatted while we waited which made the line move a LOT faster.
-We stopped by the end of L.K. Madigan's signing, where I picked up a copy of The Mermaid's Mirror. My awesome librarian friend Tiff, Amy Brecount White, and Holly Cupala were also there. It was exciting to FINALLY meet Amy because I've talked to her online a lot and she's been super supportive of PAYA from the start. I didn't know Holly well but I must say she is one of the sweetest people I've ever met! (And she wears the cutest dresses!)
-James and I decided that we'd just stay in the exhibit hall for lunch so we went to what we thought was the only place to get food (it wasn't). I ended up paying $10 for a CHEESESTEAK. I almost cried. Seriously. $10. for a piece of bread, a slice of cheese, and crushed up steak slices. INSANE. We couldn't find a table without people and both of us were too shy to just sit down at a table with random people, so we ended up eating on the floor. Then I informed him that I NEEDED Starbucks so we went upstairs and waited in line for like half an hour just so I could get my Double Chocolate Chip Frap. (It was soooo worth it!!)
-We then went to the Laurie Halse Anderson signing. The line was INSANE and I can honestly say that if it had been anyone but Laurie, I would not have waited. But, it was LHA so I did. Cheryl Rainfield and her publicist stopped by while we were in line and we ended up talking to them for a while. Cheryl is so nice! I can't wait to read SCARS. At this point I was getting super-hyper because I was excited so I have a feeling James was ready to hit me over the head, just to get me to shut up. Anyway, I ended up buying a copy of Fever 1793 and getting an ARC of Forge (This made me SOOO happy, because CHAINS is my favorite LHA book.) When it was my turn, Laurie looked at me and went "Haven't I met you before?" and I was like "Yes! In Haverford" and she was like "Oh right! At the signing with Sarah and all the other authors." Then we chatted about the class I'd taken on her and how she really had put a lot of thought into the science tips and vocab included in Catalyst. She totally won me over, though, when she agreed that it was total crap when teachers made you write 9 sentences on a one sentence tip for a three page chapter.
-One of the things I was most looking forward to was meeting Stephanie Kuehnert. Ballads of Suburbia is my all-time favorite book and I was so psyched to finally meet Stephanie in person. By mid-afternoon, no one had seen her and I was starting to worry because a group of us were going out to dinner that night but I couldn't remember if I'd told Stephanie that the time had been changed. So James and I literally walked the entire hall looking for her. James had to leave at that point because he was going to another signing. Since he had to go on the metro, I ended up carrying around his bag of books too. Luckily, I ran into Tiff who was like "Oh, didn't you see Stephanie's tweet? She told you like two hours ago they were in the hotel room watching the World Cup".
-After that, my aunt and I decided to head out. We walked around Chinatown and went into a few shops. Then, it was finally time for dinner - which was what I'd been looking forward to for the whole day.
Tiff, James, Sarah, some other librarians and their husbands, Amy Brecount White, Holly Cupala, Stephanie Kuehnert, Jeri-Smith Ready, my aunt, and I all met at the Austin Grill for dinner. James and I were some of the first there so we went outside to wait for Stephanie and Jeri. I was really excited/nervous about meeting Stephanie and when she finally got there, I was totally fangirling on the inside. I think I acted pretty sane on the outside but seriously guys, it was like a Twi-hard meeting Stephenie Meyer. I wanted to jump up and down and squeal. Because let me say it again - Ballads of Suburbia is absolutely AMAZING. It changed my life and I was meeting the author of the amazingness. So yeah. I was absolutely ecstatic.
Since there were so many people at dinner, we basically got split into two tables - the librarians & husbands, then the authors, James, me, and my aunt. I sat between Stephanie and Jeri with my aunt and James across from us and then when Amy and Holly got there, they sat at the end of our table. Dinner was completely awesome. We talked about so much and it was just tons of fun. Stephanie and I talked about the Nirvana obsession she started for me and Columbia College Chicago, which is where she went and where I want to go. After hearing her talk about it, I want to go to Chicago. NOW. Then Jeri and I talked about Shade, which I had just finished reading the day before when I read it instead of sleeping in the car on the way down to DC. Amy and Stephanie are both coming to PAYA so we talked about that, too, and I managed to convince Jeri into coming up as well.
Unfortunately, at that point, it was getting late and my parents and brother were still at my aunt's so I had to leave before anyone else. I can honestly say that day was one of the best days of my life, though!