So I spent most of the weekend in Houston -- I taught a tag book class at two different stores: Friday night at Scrapbook Village, and twice on Saturday at Lone Star Scrapbook Co. This was kind of an experiment my publisher cooked up with a local rep. My books are distributed by F+W Publications, who employs local reps to make sales calls. My publisher Elaine worked with Stacey with the rep group in Houston to set up a mini "store tour" there in town -- it's a neat idea, since the local reps know best which stores would be most interested in my coming to teach, and they get some orders out of the deal. Elaine is so amazing about coming up with promotional ventures that help everyone involved. She really is a marketing goddess. But I digress...
All the classes went very smoothly, I'm happy to report. I love teaching, but I still get so nervous before a class. It's gotten better over these past five years -- the length of time that I'm nervous has shortened dramatically. I used to get nervous a couple of days, even up to a week before a class -- just worrying about all the last minute details, worrying that I'd forget to bring something, worrying that I'd forget what I wanted to say, worrying that what I thought was pertinent and significant would come off as "yeah, so?" to the students, etc etc. Now I tend to get a little fluttery as I'm packing, but that's a packing thing -- "now, what am I forgetting??" I get the beginnings of nervousness about the class the night before, but then I get out my outline, and look over my main points, and it helps me settle. (It's absolutely crucial for me to have an outline -- well, not crucial, as I have definitely had to wing classes before, but having an outline ensures I get in all the material I want to give the students.) Then the next morning I look over my outline before I leave for the store, and again before I start the class, and I'm good. At least I don't generally feel like I'm going to throw up anymore, hey?
I taught this tag book project at CHA in February, for the launch of Book of Us -- that CHA class is still so much a blur for me, even several months later. I was completely exhausted when I did that class, running on absolute fumes. I had to prep ~90 kits for the class -- diecut over 1000 tags, and Sizzix letters, and put together the handout content. I was also madly completing projects and outlines for the companion class CD -- 10 complete class kits to promote BoUs concepts. Elaine and I also had the brilliant idea to do a 2nd class CD, focusing on the Bridal and Baby market -- another 10 complete class kits. Plus formatting the content into eBooks, and burning the CDs for the show...honestly I'm not whining (well, maybe a little), just describing why I was so exhausted. (And BTW, you can email me for more info on those class kit CDs, if you're interested.)
Anywho -- this is the same tag book I taught at CHA, but I tweaked the class approach to apply to "regular scrappers", rather than storeowners. And I was much better rested, so I gave a much better 'performance'. ;) I love giving people concrete examples from my own life and scrapbooks to explain the concepts in my classes & books -- and I love it even more when people laugh in my classes. Sheri, the storeowner at Lone Star mentioned she heard people laughing in class, and I just loved that. The classroom door was closed, and she was out on the store floor, and still she heard it. I'll admit, we were having a pretty good time. ;)
One of the stories I shared in class is a layout I want to do about the relationship between my husband and son -- I plan to title it, "GeekSpeak". They spent a good six months very into a PC-Online game called World of Warcraft (or WOW, for those in the know). David started playing it with a bunch of guys from work, and James was so intrigued that he was thrilled to find his own copy of the game under the Christmas tree. So they both were very into this game, and I would often hear cryptic conversations between them, talking about getting through specific passages or campaigns in the game, or earning enough gold to buy a mount for their character, or "leveling up" at a particularly fast rate. While I am familiar with the concepts of the game, their conversations made very little sense to me. I just let it flow right over me. But the point is...THEY understand it, and each other. They share this passion for the game, gaming in general, and computers in general. It's something they have in common, and something they enjoy doing together. It helps them relate to each other, and gives James something that he identifies with his dad. It's those key points of interaction, of bonding, of relationship, that I plan to highlight in my journaling.
And it's specific anecdotes like that which help people understand the concepts in my classes. I love that. I get to talk about stuff I already know (like my family), and my students get examples of ideas they might not have previously considered.
Another highlight of the weekend was the approximately four hours I got to spend with my friend April. I met her when I taught at Scrappy's (sadly now a defunct store in Dallas) Celebrity University in 2003. I've seen her only a handful of times since then, but we've become pretty good friends. When she found out I was going to be in Houston this past weekend, she begged her husband to drive her in from Tyler so she could attend. Such devotion! It was so good to see her, have her in my class, and then enjoy dinner and dessert after. God, we laughed so much! It's funny, because she said her husband said "I seem 'confident' and 'trusting' when [Angie's] around. she just does that to me. she's a magic bean, i tell ya!!" That's funny to me, because I noticed confidence in myself when I was with April -- I was confident enough to just let go and be myself (that would be my sarcastic, snarky, smart-ass self, right, April?) Whatever that "magic bean" might be, it definitely took root, because that evening was a wonderful break from the ordinary for me. Read April's account of the evening here.
Another thing I enjoyed about the weekend was hanging out with the local rep Stacey. She's quite the sarcastic smart-ass herself! (Which meant we got along quite well.) She had the dubious pleasure of squiring me around Houston for the two days -- from Hobby airport, to Missouri City, to the Woodlands, and back to Hobby. (that doesn't really mean that much to me, either, not being from Houston, but trust me, it was HOURS of driving!) But all that car time was still good, we chatted about tons of stuff, and while I'm not terribly big on Country music, she did introduce me to a fine theme song -- JoDee Messina's "My Give-a-Damn's Busted". Crack me up! Granted, the sentiment doesn't apply for me personally, but it's got "Theme Song" written all over it! You can listen to a snippet of it at Amazon (scroll down to Listen to Samples).
All in all (and this has been a LOOOONG all, ain't it?), a good weekend!