Like a couple of thousand other writers, I attended Romance Writers of America's National Conference in mid-July, this year in beautiful Washington, DC. It was warm, but since it turned out to be even warmer when I got back to Seattle, the weather in DC in comparison (in hindsight) was lovely.
The conference itself was a mixed bag. I hadn't attended in a few years; the last time I went was in 2006, when it was in Atlanta. This was the first year I got to attend as a member of PAN (Published Author Network), which allowed me to check out a whole different series of workshops, which was both interesting (we had Amazon evangelists espousing the goodness of Amazon and, of course, the Kindle) and mystifying (there was a motivational speaker who didn't do much for me motivation-wise). I got to see old friends again, see Washington again (the Hub's alma mater is there), and endure the discomfort that has become travel by air.
But no matter what else the conference brought, it was all wiped out by an incident when I stopped to speak to someone whose blog I read fairly regularly. As I turned to leave, someone from my home chapter called me by a wrong name. I was momentarily confused, because she knew me and I knew her; but she repeated it. She called me by the name of another chapter member, and when I corrected her, she shrugged and said that she couldn't tell us apart, and that it didn't matter.
That would have been funny, but see, I'm tall and Asian. The chapter member she was confusing me with is short and of Indian extraction. We're pretty different. She couldn't tell us apart? Why, because we didn't fit into her mold?
There are so many things I wanted to say, most of which wasn't politically correct ("All blondes look alike," I was tempted to say to this person, who is a blonde, but I know that's not correct). But I bit my tongue, because, you know, I was trying not to be impolite.
This short exchange has bothered me since. I live in an area that's predominantly Caucasian; my writers' group is predominantly Caucasian. It's times like these that I am reminded, in an abrupt fashion, that I am not Caucasian.
Sadly, that's what I'm going to remember the most from this year's RWA conference.