I am writing from our *excellent* (**second**) hotel room in Atlanta, where Renee and I are attending the ATS General Skills Intensive certification program with Carolena. Oh yes, Sharon gets the best adventures and drags other people along, I think. Well, I take the blame because it seems like I am the constant in these things. Nevermind the horrid check-in at the airport. Nevermind the ridiculous security line (idiots running that place!), and barely making our flight in time. Nevermind that the people who volunteered to pick us up from the airport neglected to mention that they also agreed to pick up three other people…three hours after our flight arrives, so despite landing at 7:30, we have to sit in the airport waiting and get to our hotel at 11:30pm… (believe me, I am grateful for the generous gesture, but had we been informed of this, we would have rented a car, which would have also settled a few other transportation issues we are running against now)…
We get to the hotel which was recommended: an Extended Stay America, which is set up with a bunch of individual buildings around a courtyard. Each has yellow “danger” tape around every building and giant trash containers taking up half the parking lot spaces. The very nice lady at the desk (yes, really) informs us they are roofing all the buildings. She doesn’t know how early they start in the morning. Hooray. We get our assignment, and we hike off across the parking lot to our building. We open the door to the first room, and aside from it being the most depressing hotel room I have ever seen, it stinks like a chain smoker just left…after a week’s stay. So we haul our luggage back to the main office (ow my back!), and get our second room assignment a little further away. We hike out there…it’s not much better. Turns out they have NO plan for smoking room blocks. They have rows of smoking rooms with one non-smoking room tucked in between! (You know what my father would say). These rooms are so sad–a single glaring fluorescent light in the center of the room, a bathroom about as big as the front seat of my car, nothing on the walls, a single low dark wood dresser with a 22″ TV sitting starkly in the center… It’s kind of like a prison as far as decor and charm go, and no I don’t think I am exaggerating.
So we hike back to get a third room assignment. The nice desk lady says, “Well, we only have three more available rooms. Two of them are the old rooms, which you could try. The rooms you have seen already are our newly rennovated rooms. The older ones won’t have the plush furniture. Would you like to try one of those?” (PLUSH FURNITURE?!?!?!) Renee starts to say yes, and I say “Uh…NO! No no no no…” So we try one last “plush” room, and I inform Renee we are moving to the Holiday Inn Express up the street. She halfheartedly agrees (it is a pain in the ass–we will have to walk there, since our ride has gone home) She sits on the edge of the bed and… “Oh damn. These are like slabs of cement with sheets thrown over them.” She calls to check on reservations at the Holiday Inn Express.
We hike back to the desk one last time and ask for our money back. It’s midnight now Atlanta time, and we have the workshop in the AM. So we grab our bags and head down the street. It is a 5 lane highway, btw, and there are no sidewalks! So we are walking in the road against oncoming cars, ducking into the occasional parking lot to save from walking in traffic. We finally make it…and it is nirvana! Matt The Desk Guy has just popped a bag of popcorn and offers me a handful while he checks us in. Turns out it’s all suites, so we get a freaking wicked room (but not before grabbing a couple free cookies and some tea). We dance around the room, leap onto the soft beds, and run into each other’s arms, hugging and laughing gleefully at our fortune. We sip our tea, watch the 30″ TV (with 70 cable channels and HBO!), and sleep peacefully until morning.
So we have finished our first day of the intensive with Carolena (in the funkiest space EVAH!), which was pretty basic stuff and pretty verbose (more talking, less dancing), though we are told that will be less true with each passing day. We were lead to believe the group would be pretty experienced, but really only about half or less have significant training evidenced in their dancing. *sigh* So group work could be dodgy in the coming days, but we’re trying to keep an open mind, and soak up all we can! And Carolena is just fab. She has been incredibly engaging, laughing and making jokes, gives a great amount of detail, and has already revealed some of the insights I hoped to glean from taking this workshop with her. Her assistant, Megha of Devyani, is also sweet and well spoken, and I am enjoying their teaching partnership very much. I am enjoying getting to play zills more than usual. I look forward to more hard work–this from the gal with the back issues! Today was no big deal at all. I could have stood more pain to have more real drilling.
After the workshop, we met up with some gals from Tennessee and Florida, who invited us out to dinner along with two other gals we had met earlier (from Virginia and Baltimore). After getting their reservations canceled over at the Extended Stay and (effusively grateful) moved into the Holiday Inn as well, we head out for a meal. We drove a little out of the way for an Asian fusion restaurant they found online, which was delicious, and there was much laughter and dance talk. Great gals, good time. Stopped at the store on the way home for some snacks and wine for tomorrow night–a little EEMED video watching is in store, as is possibly a trip to one of the largest haunted houses in the US, which is just up the road apparently!
Sorry that got so long!