Random Thoughts on LawyerCon 2012

The 39th annual conference of the National Conference of Appellate Court Clerks, hereinafter referred to as LawyerCon, took place July 29-Aug. 3 in Charleston, South Carolina. As is the custom here, I spend three or four days recounting the events of the week in excruciating detail (and last year the details were especially excruciating) until we’re all pretty sick and tired of it by the end.

So this year, rather than the usual day-by-day, blow-by-blow account, I’m going to go with the popular, free-form Random Thoughts format. See how that works. Photos will also be random.

RED SHOE DIARY: “Where are my red shoes?” Laurie exclaims. “How should I know?” I reply. “I can’t find them anywhere!” It’s the night before we are to leave and even though I’d rather be in bed, I’m tearing up the basement and looking under couches and chairs and checking in search of shoes. We don’t find them.

“They must be at work. Or maybe you left them at Curves.”

The next day I begin packing up the rental car, hoping that she found the red shoes. Laurie arrives home late due to traffic but with the good news that she found her red shoes that morning in the trunk of her car.

As we head down the road  we haven’t yet reached the interstate when she looks at me and says, “Did you get my red shoes?” “No, didn’t you get them?” We turn around and head for home .

ON THE ROAD AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. Laurie has finally adopted my all-consuming hatred for the airline industry and decides that we will drive to Charleston, South Carolina. The cost of the rental car, gas and two overnight motel stays will be less than one airline ticket. Plus, if we drive we can bring as much crap with us as we want — three suitcases; a cooler of soda, water and hard lemonades; a bag of snacks; books and swim gear; the iPad — and still have leg room to spare.

The downside? 14 Hours In A Car. “It’ll be fun. A family bonding adventure,” Laurie says. “We will want to kill each other at least twice before this is over,” I says to myself.

We were both right.

The plan was to drive to Kentucky Thursday night after Laurie got home from  work, roughly 4 hours down the road. The next morning we would make the 10-hour trek through Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The first day went without incident. The hotel in Eddyville was nice enough. The next day would be the real test. And it was. All was well (except for the frequent bouts of rain. Remember the drought? If you’re suffering drought, invite us over. It rained sporadically, often heavily, every day that we were on the road. Strangely, it always rained hardest when Laurie was driving.) until we were making our way into the Smokey Mountains and I decided we needed gas and we pulled off at a — let’s say not terribly savory — gas station where Lar felt the price was too high and she just wanted me to get a small amount and I’m like “I’m not stopping again for gas,” and she’s like “I’m not using these bathrooms so you’re going to stop later regardless,” and well, we filled up the tank and the credit card got stuck in the gas tank and yes, those bathrooms were not the greatest, and well, it was pretty quiet in the car for a while there. The scenery was nice.

The Smokey Mountains are very beautiful. The roads are windy and steep. It takes forever to get through them. They’re not that pretty after a few hours of driving up windy, steep roads.

We finally pulled into Charleston around 10 p.m. Our home for the next week was downtown, which meant driving in the dark, in the rain, on unfamiliar city streets where the lanes would frequently turn into left-turn only or right-turn only lanes. At this point I was driving. All nerves were frayed by the time we got to the hotel, where there was nowhere to park.

I found a spot and waited in the dark and rain while Laurie went inside to get things settled. We waited. And waited. Laurie came in and said we needed to drive around the block to get the car back to the front of the hotel where the valet would take it and park it somewhere.

We drive in a big circle and get to the front door. We get out and, finally, after being the model child for this entire 1.5-day, 16-hour odyssey, Andrew begins to shake and give all the signs of being a Young Man On The Verge Of A Breakdown. God bless him, he’s due. Everyone else has already had their breakdown, why shouldn’t he get one. Laurie deals with the luggage and valets while I try to calm the boy down and get us into our room without incident.

Lar says something about needing to use our key card to access the seventh floor where our room is but I’m not listening. Andrew and I get in the elevator and I press the button for 7 and nothing. I press again. Nothing. I press the button for the floor above figuring we can walk down a flight. The door opens to a junky closet. This is not helping Andrew’s condition. I finally notice the slot to stick in the key card and remember what Lar said and stick my card in and the 7 button lights up.

We get in the room and I’m using my Calming Voice and Andrew is beginning to calm down. Laurie and the luggage arrive and we get the boy into the tub and the day’s stress slowly eases out of all of us.

Still, better than the god-damned airplane.

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