I flew out of Newark Liberty and there was a mix-up with my boarding pass, so security frisked me. I had to stand there with my arms up in the air while she checked for contraband. Then she opened and scanned my carry-on.
Aside from that, the flight was short and uneventful. I ate a container of olives I'd bought in the Mediterranean store: Lebanese ones, kalamata, meaty olives, and plum-colored.
The Rosen Centre Hotel is a short drive from Orlando International airport. After checking in, I was entranced with my Asian-inspired room: cinnamon-color and leaf pattern bedspread, dark cherry furniture and yellow tulips in a vase.
Here's what you can expect in terms of convention blog entries when I arrive home: an interview with Dr. Ken Duckworth, NAMI's medical director, who will share insights on schizophrenia in young people: treatment and hopes for the future; a roving reporter feature where I ask attendees to chime in with "how to best fight stigma"-along with a look at NAMI's StigmaBusters campaign; an analysis and interpretation of the NAMI schizophrenia survey findings; and blog entries devoted to the workshops on recovery, and health and wellness. Also, I will try to interview two NAMI board members; one is a peer.
If you're ever at the Rosen Centre, I recommend their Cafe Gaguin restaurant, where you can get the rock shrimp and chicken pasta in lobster butter with parmesan. I'd suggest a salad, for starters, to balance out a healthful meal. The buffet option was offered at a discount to convention attendees.
I find it helpful when dining alone to bring reading material or work to read. Hopefully since I am attending as a reporter, my press badge will embolden me to initiate conversatiions with people. The pink ribbon with gold letters proclaims "Media," and it does tickle me pink to wear the ID.
On Friday I registered and met up with my friend M. who dined with me at the restaurant. The NAMI convention is a welcoming, life-affirming affair that attracts people from all over the world. I urge you to try to save up money to go at least once in your life. Scholarships are available for peers. I received one in 2006 for the Washington, D.C. conference.
Last year, I felt awkward because I flew to San Diego solo at the beginning of the cross-titer. It has gotten better and I hope to put people at ease with a smile and kind words. That is all I can do: expect that if I open up to others, they will be receptive to me.
We are all peers-diagnosed or otherwise living-with mental illnesses. The devastating toll these cruel diseases take is lightened and not so hard in the company of friends.
Have a good weekend and I hope to post the first convention blog entries late next week. Enjoy your day.
Published On: June 13, 2008