I survived ALAN. Overall I think it went well. And no bed bugs! In my opinion, any day without a bed bug is a good day. I won't mention cockroaches (though I am happy to report there were no cockroaches in my hotel room, either, at least none that I could see) as too much talk about bugs and their nimble little toes can cause fainting spells in even the most stout-hearted among us. My hotel actually seemed quite posh, and not just because it didn't have bed bugs. (Oops, sorry.)
I am a nervous traveller, so I was surprised by my reaction to NYC: It seemed so small! Where, I wondered, did such a notion come from? Of course, I only saw a tiny sliver of NYC (mostly around Times Square, all touristy and bright) and I know NYC is huge, but I think I had built it up to such enormous proportions in my mind--buildings at least twelve miles high--that no city could have met my expectations. I was also strangely comfortable trotting about on foot--I had a good guide who showed me around--so that made it all seem reasonable.
ALAN was lovely. I met a few new YA authors, and said hi to a couple I've met before. The nice thing about actually meeting people is that even if they are giants in the YA writing world, they are human-sized in person, with a bountiful share of human kindness. So, the next time I have a case of the shivery fears about, oh, life, wondering why I am not rich and famous like some other writers are, I will try to remember the human size of my own life, and cherish the difficult, human-sized failures I struggle with, as well as the occasional, modest, human-sized success that comes my way.
General warning: If it is late at night and you are alone in a hotel room in a big city, do not, I repeat, do not, watch the brain scene at the end of the third Hannibal Lector movie. Seriously. Stop now. Turn it off! You've been warned.