Monday, 2/5/01 - Hanging in Richmond
I decided Monday was my "get things done on the RV" day again and my trek to the laundry room turned into a media opportunity! It turns out a reporter from the Herald-Progress, the community newspaper for Hanover Country Virginia, was interviewing RVers, and we got to talking.
Later in the evening, he sent a photographer over to my RV to take photographs. She arrived as rain began to pour so we set up inside the RV. Afterward, the Berts and I watched some TV and got to bed early.
Tuesday, 2/6/01 - VCU and On to DC
Woke up extra early to deal with emptying the tanks in the freezing cold. Then had to pack up quickly to get to the coffeeshop where I was to meet the woman who asked me to speak to her class. Got there at 8:00am, ordered a bagel and decaf latte, then paid one dollar for a computer pass so I could access my email on their computer terminal.
My sister stopped in to drop off some mail and have breakfast and then Lori Humm showed up to brief me on her class. We headed over to VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) and into her classroom.
I think one of my favorite things is speaking to college students, particularly in an interactive environment. My speech was about my experiences as a woman online and a woman starting an Internet company. I try not to be too heavy-handed about the woman thing, but then again, I can't help that I'm a woman. I did try to give advice about getting a job in new media and how the Internet affects job-hunting.
The students asked excellent questions, including one who played "devil's advocate," wondering how I can encourage them to get new media jobs with the failure of the dot coms. My answer, of course, was that the dot coms failing are partly because they didn't have a sustainable business model and partly because they are part of a great experiment - trying to figure out what the business model should be. But that the Internet itself is not to blame.
Afterward, students came up to talk and to buy books. One female student was from Nigeria and wanted to build a site for Nigerian women. I hope I encouraged her to do so. Another female student went to the same highschool that I went to and was also into Science Fiction, just like me.
I returned to my RV, which I had parked in a school parking lot, and to the chihuahuas who were basking in the sun on the sofa.
We drove to Washington DC in a couple of hours, passing a sign for a Frank Lloyd Wright building in Virginia but not having enough time to stop. I had made a reservation at the Radisson in Old Town Alexandria because none of the DC hotels could accomodate my RV, but once I finally found the exit, I realized that I didn't want to drive the RV in Old Town's busy streets.
So I got back onto the Beltway and randomly picked a hotel that I saw from the highway - Hampton Inn. They didn't allow dogs but did not say anything about not allowing "Berts," so we checked in. Had a late lunch at the diner next door - BLT and soup - then caught the shuttle van to the Metro.
Metros in DC are very clean and mellow and I carried the Berts in their bag on our journey to the Borders bookstore at the Pentagon City Mall. When I (we) arrived, the manager offered to move the chairs set up for presentation from the back of the store to a position front and center if I wanted. Yes, I said. I had already done the back-of-the-store, no-one-comes-back-here route.
The presentation went really well, with Naina Mistry, a woman featured in my book, joining me and bringing family and friends. The audience of about 25 filled out with people who found me through RV Girl and USA Today, people I had invited by email, some miscellaneous Webgrrls and DC Web Women and a few passerbyers.
After speaking, Naina invited me to join her and her friends for dinner - Tex Mex at Chevy's. The group was a lot of fun and good conversationalists. The Berts behaved in their bag and no one was the wiser. Then Naina and her husband gave us a ride back to the hotel, via a few missed and wrong turns off the Beltway, but we made it! Overall, I'd have to say this was one of the best appearances yet.
Wednesday, 2/7/01 - Home, Sweet, Home????
The drive from DC to New York City took about six hours, some of it spent in traffic trying to get over the George Washington Bridge into the city. As I approached Manhattan and then turned up a neighborhood street, my first thought was "This city is so small."
I parked the RV in a big open lot on West End Avenue, loaded up a taxi, and headed to my studio apartment. When I opened the door and walked inside, my first thought was "This apartment is so big."
So I guess it is all relative. After being in other, more open parts of the country, the Big Apple seems rather small and confining. After living in my narrow, compact RV, my tiny apartment suddenly seems like a mansion.
I can't say I'm happy to be back. My feelings are so mixed that I don't really want to even think about it. I've got things to do to keep me busy, and I'm walking around like I'm in a bubble, trying to find protection from the sensory assault. I'm not fragile here but rather rugged and free, but I don't seem to fit here now. Maybe at some other time. Maybe never.
I'll be back on the road in March - going to California. I might put another entry or two about my NYC experiences so stay tuned!