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August 4th, 2006

So I packed up some cheese curds and a flask of brandy and went to Atlanta for RWA.

If you are from Wisconsin and have spent any time in Milwaukee, when you think of Atlanta, it is as “that place that stole our baseball team. I am not a baseball fan, and not all that young, but not old enough to remember the Braves as being from Milw. And yet…

I’ve been to Atlanta twice, now, and sorry, but I am still disappointed. I always expect it to be, I don’t know, southern. They’ve got the accents. And Thursday’s lunch came with grits, so I knew I wasn’t in New England. But looking around downtown Atlanta, I keep expecting something a little more “Gone With the Wind” but all I see is concrete.

Apparently, I went out for popcorn during that scene where the Yankee’s burned Atlanta to the ground. So sue me.

I was in the downtown hotel district, same as the last time I was there, within spittin’ distance of the Peachtree mall, in the same hotel as I was in 1986.

The Marriott Marquis. Or as my husband describes it, “The one that looks like the inside of the alien mother ship, with the elevators running up spines in the middle. The glass elevators that don’t work…”

Yeah. That one.

The sadist that designed the Marquis took the basic atrium with glass elevator concept, got really drunk, and started sketching. The bottom of the hotel bows out, and the floors get smaller the further up you go. Nothing runs in a straight line. All paths are curves or circles, surrounded by fountains, or hanging in dead air 23 floors above the lobby.

And the elevators, if they come at all, take a dramatic pause before opening or closing the doors, as if they know the end is near and are giving you one last chance to bolt for the safety of the stairs.

So you are torn between being afraid to look down while riding the glass elevators and being afraid to look up while sitting on the ground floor. Either you are going to plunge to your death or the building is about to collapse into the conference level. All possible phobias are aggravated in the name of architecture.

My friend Heidi wanted to stand in the little round promontories on the corner of each level, singing “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”

I wanted to have a camera ready when Kim Novak jumped.

So I blame the architect, and not my poor sense of direction for anything that may have happened on Thursday morning. I was helping out my friend Katy Cooper at the workshop information desk. And I need to apologize to the woman with the straight brown hair. Remember when I pointed front and right and told you that was the way to the Amsterdam room?

I was holding the map upside down. It was back and left.

Sorry.

But I hope you enjoyed the men’s room. I understand that, when they switched it over to a “ladies” since there are only a hundred men and two thousand women, they put potted plants in the urinals to make it less offensive. Nothing but the best at the Marriott Marquis.