Sunday, July 25, 2004

The weekend it was...


Ran errands all morning, took Christian to work with me. Took care of

last minute details, picked up audio equipment, data projector,

extension chord.

Went to Wal-mart and stocked up on food for the kids.

Showered, packed, wrote a note to the sitter.

Departure time: 3:20 p.m.

Dinner reservations scheduled for: 7:30 p.m. in St. Louis.

Jen drove.

The Radisson Hotel Clayton

We were at the hotel by 6:30 p.m., checked in, got to our room, (which has been upgraded, but I'm pretty sure that they tell everyone that).

changed clothes, and met folks in the hotel lobby for dinner at 7:10.

The Harvest

We decided, since we had seven people, to take one car: mine. We got

a little lost, but ultimately found our way to the restaurant. Let me

tell you. It was lovely. It was darkened, lots of elegantly set

tables, very nice atmosphere. Appetizer: goat cheese tart. Gin and

tonic with Hendricks gin.

Dinner: filet mignon, rare, with sides of braised vegetables, with

sauce drizzled over the plate, and a corn chowder spoon pudding. It

was really perfect.

Red wine with dinner.

For dessert: coffee with brioche bread pudding with currants and a

whiskey sauce.

The Problem...

9:30, one dignitary starts talking about wanting to return to the

hotel (after his coffee). 9:45 we have a problem: we now have eight

people at dinner, seating for seven, we are still having dessert, and

I have to be at the airport in ten minutes to pick up another dr.

The solution:

Cell phone: call friend Karl and beg him to come and get me and take

me to the airport. He can't come, as he is hosting friends at his

house; sends his friend Brad, with whom we swam at Lake of the Ozarks,

who has a new car.


Brad, just the sweetest man, comes to get me at the restaurant one

cigarette later, and he is listening to Rufus Wainwright. All will be


The airport.

We get to the airport and have to circle a few times. Brad drops me

off. I go in, no dignitary. Call my babysitter and have her check

through my email for flight information. All we have is the time, and

a vague impression that of what time the flight comes in. I guess

that the flight will actually arrive a half hour later, and I am

correct. Outside into 88 degree temperature at 10:30, and awful

humidity for a cigarette. Go in, pick up dignitary, and head back to

the hotel.

The set-up...

At the hotel, I recruit Dereck (who is currently awake, but will not

be in the morning) and he helps me set up the conference room with the

microphones, tape recorder, nametags, data projector, etc. We do

sound checks and get the laptop setup. People from my team come down

to check the room, approve.

I was really really happy that we did it all that night, because in

the morning, I would have been screwed trying to put it together

without Dereck or any real sense of how long it would take me.

At 1:00 a.m. I go to bed, toss and turn, and eventually sleep until

the wakeup call at 7:00 a.m.


Get up, shower, head downstairs. Forget glasses. Check on everyone

downstairs, go back up for glasses. Go back down and they are trying

to use the internet in the conference room to download one song. I

point out that they will charge us $100 for this. We don't need the

song after all.

From 8-5, I change tapes, take notes, talk to hotel staff about the

meals, slip notes to my team discreetly arrange for shuttles to the



We want one guy who has to leave early to be there as LONG as

possible, so I finally volunteer to take him to the airport

mid-afternoon, which means I will no longer be giving my presentation.

That's fine.

Grab Dereck, take dignitary to the airport, come back, go back to

meeting. The meeting doesn't last much longer (only three hours). At

the end, I am given a round of applause, and am convinced that

everyone thinks I am either a secretary or a techie, but I don't

actually mind.

We now resemble swiss cheese, having taken rather a beating from our

consultants. But we all assemble again for dinner at 6 p.m.

After having dissembled all the equipment in the conference room...

Frank Papas

We have two cars now going to dinner. One street we need to turn onto

is closed. I call the restaurant for alternative directions. Try

calling car behind us. Cell phones are off. I have Dereck hang my

phone out his window in hopes they will get the hint. They do, they

call, I explain the alternative route, and we get there about 20

minutes late, but are received warmly.

Groovy grapevines on the ceiling with grapes, very classy place.

Lovely waiter from Ireland. It was a lovely dinner, lots of barbs

and jokes (Jen to waiter: You forgot to fill up Dereck's wine glass.

Waiter: I'm going to serve her first from now on or I'll never hear

the end of it! And so he does. Jen: Please don't spit in my food...)

(Dignitary: It's really great for men when the women think it's

important to spend time with the kids. Jen: That's why I'm


We get frequent phone calls from friend Karl, with whom we are to meet later.

Eventually, after a lovely meal: crotini with goat cheese, calmari,

tenderloin with a lobster cognac sauce... lovely cakes and chocolate

ravioli and we finally go back to the hotel.

Party Time

We drop everyone off, and head directly to the party at which Karl is

waiting. Hang out at the party, which is actually a separation party

for a couple, who have a cat bigger than Mr. Kitty, and we do not stay

long at all. Less than a beer.

We have a mission: the bars of East St. Louis.

Clearly, Shabbat has gotten a little lost in the shuffle tonight...

The Driving...

Many highways are closed, and we lose Karl repeatedly. Dereck has the

mission impossible theme song set for Karl's number, so every five

minutes, we hear the mission impossible theme song and we negotiate

meeting places. We eventually make it to three or four bars--

they all start to run together. I hang out with Angela, and we are a

little bored so we don't

really get into it. I think Dereck and Karl have a good time. We

stay out til 2:00 a.m. and then head back to the hotel.


At 10:30 a.m. Mission Impossible. Call me when you are conscious. We

discuss, and call him back-- come over for a hot tub dunk.


Hot tub, check out of hotel, then a lovely brunch in west St. Louis (after a trip to a

middle eastern store for hummus, baba ganoush, bak lava, grape leaves,

and a hookah for Angela) of poached eggs over smoked salmon on an

English muffin, with hollandaise sauce and really good fried potatoes,

with hot sauce.


Drop Karl off at home, get to the airport, and my parents arrive a

little later. We hook up, get luggage, get ice cream at Carvel's, and

head off for Columbia to meet the kids at the mall.


Find the kids in Target with a frazzled sitter, picking out toys. I

get toys, several DVD's, a DVD for Erin, an extra $10 for cleaning,

and then mall food, and a very expensive trip to Barnes and Noble,

then homeward.

And that was the trip!

Phew!!! And then the dog kept us up a lot last night....

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