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Northwest Tarot Symposium Review and Recap 2023

I just returned home from the Northwest Tarot Symposium (NWTS) 2023 and am still acclimating to being in the “normal” world again after days filled with magic and magical people (not to mention a lack of responsibilities and to-do lists). It’s hard to explain the feeling that you get at tarot conferences to those that haven’t attended one themselves, but I will do my best because they are truly incredible experiences that leave you better than they found you and connected to some amazing people. This is more than a “what you missed” post, it’s the what to expect and need to know if you are planning on or are considering attending a conference, people whose orbit you should be in asap, and my tips and tricks for making the best out of a conference and perhaps your trip as a whole. Fair warning that this is long and not in my traditional style of writing, there are tons of stories in this blog post and some may be triggering.

Last year was my first time attending NWTS and this year upped the game even more. To avoid repeating some of the same sentiments and to make sure that all the details are covered because it’s easy to forget things when you’re in the midst of magic, make sure to checkout Northwest Tarot Symposium (NWTS) 2022 Recap & Review.

Pre-Conference, Exploring Portland & Panic

I have only been to Portland once prior and that was last year for the conference. Unfortunately I did not venture outside of the hotel out of a sheer lack of time. This year I wanted to make sure to have a few days before and after to explore so Jennifer Steidley, Reese Marren and I came in early and rode the rails on Thursday. First of all, Cadillac Cafe around the corner from the hotel is super yummy, their jam is off the hook and they can sub pretty much anything out with gluten free. I LOVE classic cars and of course they have a pink Cadillac that I had to fight the urge to climb into because you know, it’s me.

After breakfast we rode the rails (my first time on a street car) to Powell’s Bookstore, New Renaissance Bookstore and a local coffee shop. If you haven’t been to Powell’s you absolutely must add it to your list of things to see, book lover or not. The size of this place is just incredible. I don’t know exactly how long we were in there, but I walked away with a few used books that were original prints, and I reveled in the Rare Books room on the third floor (Pearl) where I got to place my hand on Manly P Hall’s signature. It was a whole experience and yes I had permission to touch.

I don’t wear much jewelry and the pieces that I do have all have significance to me, they are my talismans that serve specific purposes. Something really has to speak to me for me to buy it, and I couldn’t help myself when I found these sterling silver pieces by Goddess Designs at New Renaissance Bookstore. I didn’t buy anything outside of the jewelry, but I was super impressed with the size of this shop and the wide variety of books, decks, decor, jewelry and plethora of spiritual tools they have. They also had stained glass pieces made by a local artisan that were pretty cool. If I had an extra hundred dollars and a guarantee that I could get it home safely on the plane I would have bought the green sacred geometry Flower of Life piece hanging in the front window. After gladly supporting a small business we hopped down a block and had coffee at Case Study Coffee Roasters. With a name like that, you know I was all in. Word to the wise, they make their coffee super strong so prepare to double the cream; I hear this is the norm for all of Portland. It was while sitting at the coffee shop that Reese made a comment about Jen and I being ready for our class the next day and sheer panic set in. Apparently I was the only one unaware that the class was on Friday and not Saturday. If you have been in one of my classes, you know that I like an active class and have things timed out to a T so our adventure in the city that day came to a halt.

With Reese as our guide we managed to make it back to the hotel and commenced the Keystone to Cartomancy workshop prep. This is Jen and I’s one year friendiversary, it was at NWTS last year that we met. I remember sitting in her Symbolism Layer Cake class and being excited that I found a fellow symbolism nerd and thinking about how we would be teaching symbolism classes together someday. In the last year we have become best friends, launched our Keepin’ It Symbol podcast, and were invited to speak on symbolism together for NWTS 2023. Now that is Divine alignment and magic through and through.

Back to the workshop prep because there are a few hidden gems to pass on:

1. We all learned that I time my learning content and slides, and not to mess with the content and slide breakdown during PowerPoint graphic creation or my Mr. Hyde, aka shadow, comes out.

2. How many people does it take to sort divination cards from several decks by theme, remove duplicates within those themes and then stuff envelopes? I strongly recommend not doing this alone for a large class, or give yourself extra time (ie. not the night before).

3. If you want your students to wait to open envelopes or a piece of class material, do yourself a favor and print stickers (mailing labels work great) because handwriting “wait” on 150 envelopes, especially the night before, is too much. Let’s just not do that again.

4. If you’re a tarot reader and someone mentions Waite in the middle of writing “wait” on envelopes, your brain can’t unhear it and the envelopes will now say “Waite”. See, some of you thought I just couldn’t spell correctly (in all fairness that is an accurate assumption as well).

5. Buy envelopes that have self adhesive strips because nobody has time for licking envelopes and nobody wants you spreading germs. You could also use a sticker to close the envelopes to the same effect.

6. Screwdrivers, various sized knives, tacks, nails and any other sharp object you can find at Dollar Tree is not sufficient to punch a large enough and clean hole through the card stock used to make paper spinners. Avoid unnecessary mangling of your spinners and just cut a straight radial line to the center, insert the spinner piece and then tape the cut cardstock on the bottom. It’s not worth all of the other mess, just trust us on this one. As an added bonus, in the event that you need any of the aforementioned sharp objects, they are at the Dollar Tree around the corner of the hotel, just cut through the mall to save time.

7. Reese Marren is the real MVP - seriously, in a pinch and need a team player to get things done? Reese is your woman! Also, make sure to check out and support this MVPs decks Pensive Path and World of Hilda Tarot.

Keystone to Cartomancy

As explained above, this class was a presentation we were asked to give on behalf of our Keepin’ It Symbol podcast, the channel dedicated to helping you interpret signs and messages from the Universe through the art of symbolism. When we got asked to teach something on symbolism we both knew we wanted to talk about how symbols in and of themselves can be powerful divination tools, that deep diving into their meanings beyond keywords is crucial, and how understanding symbols can change how we see our divination cards. I’m not going to recap all that we taught, but I wanted to share a few takeaways that may help you.

Number one, getting asked to teach a class is a different experience than pitching a class. When you pitch you have stewed on it in your brain a bit and at least have a general outline of what it is you plan to teach. On the other hand, if you get asked to teach a class, it can be overwhelming because you have a ton of topics you “could” teach on. Don’t spend forever stewing on what you could teach. Pick the topic that fits your audience and that you feel most comfortable and passionate about talking about.

Know that things are likely to go wrong and you’ll need to roll with the punches! There was a technical issue with the computers for presenters and our class started 30 minutes late. Our PowerPoint had moving elements including titles, paragraphs and images and none of them loaded which meant our slides were half empty. We also were told to prep for 50 students and ultimately had 66 in the class so we were short on supplies. BUT instead of getting bent out of shape, panicking or trying to place blame, we rolled with the punches and made the best out of it. You cannot control everything, especially when technology and/or people are involved. Sure it’s best to try and mitigate what can go wrong, but do yourself a favor and remember to have a sense of humor when it gets tough. A well placed joke or jig will not only help you make it through by reducing cortisol levels, your students will remember the class for all of the things that went right, the way you handled the pressure and the smile you put on their face (even if only out of sheer embarrassment for whatever ridiculous thing it is you did to make them smile).

Recommendations for those teaching a class at a conference:

  1. If there is not a limited number of spaces available in the class, expect and bring enough supplies for one and a half times the number of students expected. This is particularly true with conferences where more than one track of classes is running at the same time. We should have known better than going with a safe number.

  2. Have a backup copy of your presentation on a USB including a static copy with all of the elements if you have transitions in your slides that may not load.

  3. If you are using a clicker to change slides and it isn’t working, or there is some sort of snag, never underestimate doing a little jig and singing a little diddy like “my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard” to break the tension and make your audience smile while the technical issue gets resolved.

  4. Give students notes, an activity sheet or something tangible. This is particularly true if you are doing a workshop where there will be a series of steps and the students need to follow along. Remember that if your student is frantically writing notes, they aren’t listening to you fully, are likely to fall behind what you are conveying and aren’t going to walk away feeling confident in what you just said to them.

  5. Aside from supplies like dice, spinners, notes, etc, little giveaways like stickers and bookmarks go along way. Remember in primary school when you got a sticker or small prize from the treasure chest after earning enough stars? Believe it or not, but adults like them too.

  6. If you are co-teaching, the chemistry between you and your partner needs to jive and play off of each other to keep your audience engaged. Jen and I are polar opposites in many ways and yet we know how to have fun together.

  7. When moving through a series of activities, you’ll need to use an attention grabber to pull your audience back to paying attention. One of my favorites it to threaten them with my God awful singing. Seriously, give them your best rendition of “kumbaya, My Lord” and see how fast they get quiet… works every time either out of pure shock or their embarrassment for you.

  8. Probably the most important tip recommendation I have for you: don’t be a jerk to the staff. Things will go wrong and no one knows your vision (reality or not) like you do, so let’s jut not be a jerk to those there to help you. Despite everything happening with our technology issues, I made sure to let Mary (SoulTopia Staff and badass) know that she was doing a great job and not to stress, that we were all pros and had this.

The Good: Top 3 Classes

Before I jump into my three favorite classes, I have to preface by saying that I did not attend all of the classes I wanted to and still have Zoom recordings to catchup on.

Siddharth Ramakrishnan “The Emotional Tarot: Listening to your body and all its metaphors”

I was incredibly excited to hear that Siddharth was going to be a Keynote Speaker after his incredibly fascinating class last year at NWTS 2022 (also one of my top 3 classes). Not only is he highly intelligent, particularly as it relates to neurology and biology as one would hope a PhD would be, but he’s also wildly hilarious and delivers complex concepts in easy to understand language. Being a neurologist, Siddharth absolutely loves the ancient Egyptian mummification process where they removed the brain so make sure to ask him all about it when you see him next!

Mary K. Greer “Lover’s Spreads: Layers of Meaning”

While it is true that I am a HUGE Mary fan (the woman could talk about the similarities between dirt and tarot and I would be the first seat in the house), but that is not why this is a Top 3 Class. Mary is incredibly knowledgeable, not just about the art of reading tarot, but it’s history, the players in the game and so much more. I imagine you would be hard pressed to find a topic in the realm of tarot or the Western Mystery Tradition that she has not studied and written about extensively. Those that know me know that I love history and research, and that is exactly what Mary brought us. If you did not attend her class or can get your hands on the Zoom, I highly recommended it. She walked us through the evolution of The Lovers card and its various historical image representations and interpretations within the specific context of time and place. There is so much that is lost to time and so few that are willing and dedicated to doing the work when it comes to understanding and preserving how the tarot, its uses and those that use it have evolved through the ages. To say it was eye opening would be an understatement.

Charles Harrington “Dancing with Shadows”

I did not know Charles prior to the conference and what little I knew of him came from seeing his presentation at NWTS 2022 with Barbara Moore. I don’t remember which class we were in when we got to talking, but the moment he started talking vampires I knew I was in good company. We got to hangout on a few occasions before his class so I did something I didn’t think I would ever do…I sat in a class on shadow work. Here’s the deal, I have a rather extensive background in psychology including college degrees so when people start talking about Jung and shadow work I tend to tune out because frankly they have no idea what they are talking about and give horrible trendy advice. After some good conversations, especially around vampires, I felt confident that Charles had a brain to go with his awesome personality so I attended the class only to find that not only where my suspicions correct, he’s absolutely hilarious and one of the best well rounded teachers that I have seen. He did an excellent presentation on the true nature of the shadow and shadow work according to Jungian psychology, and presented real life cultural associations of the shadow through historical monsters like Dracula. It was well thought out, humorous and beautifully executed. Make sure to ask him about the real life Ewok Shaman he met.

The Bad: Know your content

I will avoid detail as it isn’t necessary, but if you are going to teach a class, you should know your content in and out to include vetting that it is accurate information. You cannot hope to be correct or bank on people “likely” not knowing you are or might be incorrect because there will be the few, perhaps even only one or two who know the subject well and will pick up all of the incorrect information. It is one thing to make a mistake, it is an entirely different story to have a presentation riddled with errors from beginning to end. If you are not certain of your content, it is imperative that you reach out to someone who knows the subject well to ensure that you are presenting accurate information. There is NO shame in reaching out to someone and asking them to double check you!

The Ugly: Know your audience

Equally important is knowing your audience. The subject of artificial intelligence (AI) is a hot button topic among those in the divination and creator industry as artists and authors of all genres are having their work stolen, divination decks featuring AI created art are being pumped out at warp speed, and AI written works are being published under the names of reputable authors to which they are not receiving the proceeds and cannot stop the scam. If you walk into a tarot or divination conference and start advocating the benefits of AI in THIS arena, particularly to include the use of AI for tarot readings, you can bet that there is a buzz in the air after your class and it is likely not favorable to you. This isn’t to say that your thoughts and opinions are not valid, only that you should consider how your words will land, particularly on the ears of those directly being harmed or in the pathway of being harmed.

Surprise! It Could Be You…Don’t Get Caught Off Guard

Jen woke-up Sunday to a text asking if she would teach another round of Tarot Saves The Day (she presented at TIDE 2023) in the time slot of our friend Chris Onareo who unfortunately came down with a bug and wasn’t able to make it. THIS HAPPENS TO SOMEONE AT EVERY CONFERENCE WITHOUT FAIL. Someone gets sick, someone’s flight gets delayed or canceled, or some other something happens and a presenter isn’t able to make it at the last minute. If you teach classes and attend conferences, there is a chance that you will be asked to fill a spot at the last minute so make sure to either have your laptop or USB with you, or if you’re like me, keep it on a Cloud that can be accessed from anywhere. In a mad dash to get everything prepared for another possible tech issue, we also learned that it’s much less expensive to have your notes printed in the business center of the hotel than it is at Office Depot or FedEx (not to mention so much easier than trying to pick up offsite).

NWTS 2023 Activities & Events

Mary K Greer was my Tarot Buddy, we both had the Ten of Wands! There was the extra challenge of finding everyone else with your suit, but that was a bit too much, at least for us.

I didn’t have any books to have signed this go round, see my stack of books and prayer to Saint Mary at TIDE 2023, so I really just showed up to scope out the food and chat at the Keynote Speaker Meet & Greet.

They did “Divination Stations” from Michelle’s book and it was actually pretty cool, I especially enjoyed the station where I got to eat Starburst as a form of divination. No I am not joking and yes it really worked. You’ll have to see Michelle’s upcoming new book for the details. One of the other stations that I was not expecting to have a profound moment at was the pendulum station. Now look, I love using a pendulum when I am horsing around, but it’s not something I use for everyday divination per se. At the station we used the SoulTopia pendulum book to divine our partner’s past life and let me tell you something… I was NOT expecting the clarity that I got. If you’ve been around a bit, you know I am not a huge pusher of picking into past lives unless there is a very valid reason to and you are specific in the way in which you pick. With that being said, my partner’s former life as a nutmeg spice trader came in like the lighting bolt, CLEAR AS DAY and down to detail. We are talking minutes here, not any amount of profound time and with zero context other than the swing of a pendulum to kickstart the onslaught of images.

I thought that Star Day, or dress as your interpretation of The Star card, was a really cool idea to honor the Featured Artist Laura Tempest. I went pretty plain Jane with a star headband from Amazon, but Jen created this amazing shirt that said “make a wish” on the back to go with her sequin pants. She also got Horus, our Keepin’ It Symbol mascot, a friend, the Ibis from The Star card. There is a rather heated debate about his name however. I maintain that his name is Thoth despite her trying to give him the name of Henry, Harry or some such other nonsense. Next time you see The Star card, look at the Ibis in the tree and you tell me Henry or Harry feels right. His insider name is Thoth. Anyhow, I would love to continue to see the conferences have a theme day based on something in alignment with the Featured Artist!

As much as I would like to say that BINGO was another fantastic experience, I have sworn myself to honesty in this post. Not only did I not win any of the amazing prizes of which there were a boat load, I was shafted at the last minute just one square away from my double BINGO and a shot at Charles Harrington’s Tarot of the Vampires. Why you ask? Because he who shall not be named (cough, cough, Roger Welch) has these insane rules where you have to play two cards at one time, BINGO on both cards simultaneously and then just keeps rolling with the same cards as people BINGO back to back…that is until he suddenly decides to mix it up again and swap out new cards. I was back to square one, literally the free space. Word to the wise, I am now triggered by the word BINGO, my right eye twitches a bit, my blood pressure raises and I have the sudden urge to flip tables. Now I understand why there are shouting matches and fights in BINGO halls across America… I can’t recommend conference BINGO enough!

My favorite activity hands down was the masquerade karaoke. I love dressing up, dancing like a Fool and singing. I don’t know that it was my recommendation for a masquerade in my NWTS 2022 blog review that promoted this year’s theme, but I sure like to think so…that means people are actually reading these things. Despite all outward appearances, I was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, I just really, really like to dance and sing and I’m never anywhere that it is sanctioned to be ridiculous. Sure I dance in the grocery store, walking pretty much anywhere in public and at the most opportune times to make people smile like in the middle of teaching a class, but those aren’t designated embrace The Fool energy and shake your groove thing moments. 10 out of 10 would recommend the masquerade with karaoke again!

The Tarot Community

I’ll be honest, classes and activities are not my favorite part of a conference, it is the connecting with the tarot tribe that keeps me diving into my wallet for these things. There is certainly unnecessary drama and just like anywhere else (just stay out of it), not everyone will be your cup of tea and vice-versa, but there are also plenty of down to earth and intelligent people in our community, and all it takes is a “hello” to open up the door of possibility. Not only did I get to meet and hangout with the amazing Charles Harrington and talk all things Vampire, I got to finally meet and have conversations with Thomas Witholt of Hermit’s Mirror, Chris-Anne Donnelly of PixieCurio, Irene Lo, Ailynn Halvorson, Anna Bousquet who I featured on Divinely Inspired, and so many more.

There are several people who I met during the pandemic via Instagram and at conferences since the pandemic that I now look forward to seeing at conferences like Mary K Greer, “Dan The Man Pelletier” from Tarot Garden who I absolutely adore, Madame Pamita and partner Manfred, Richard, Catiara Marie, Casey Z, V, Timothy Yuen, Nicole LeClaire, and again soooo many more!

Right alongside the new relationships and seeing familiar faces, there is also the disappointment that comes with not seeing friendly faces…there were several I personally missed this year like Jenna Diaz, Jamie Sawyer, Chris Onareo, Sasha Graham, Mark Horn, and Amy Fisher (no not that one).

Yes I took a ridiculous number of photos with people, but after my Dad passed from medical malpractice a month after his 59th birthday in 2022 while I was at a conference, you learn not to take time together for granted. You truly never know when it will be the last time that you see someone or have the chance to connect with them. When I asked for a photo of Rachel Pollack for our presentation, so many of these wonderful photos sent to me were captured with friends at conferences. The lesson: take the time to take all the photos, someday they will be all that you have.

The Hotel, Food & Traveling

This year saw a change in venue from the Monarch to the DoubleTree at the Lloyd Center and it definitely had it’s highs and lows. I want to give you our experience and advice for upcoming years.

Lack of Shuttle & Death Rides

Let’s start with the “death ride” from the airport to the hotel. I do not use Uber, Lyft or other ride shares because they are dangerous, hence the term I use for them. You can imagine that serving as a Violent Major Crimes Crime Analyst, I have seen my fair share of serious issues with these ride services. With the new hotel not having a shuttle service and not having any intention of renting a car, we had had no option but to partake in a death ride. We spent 30 minutes listening to the driver talk about how he just recently stopped using cocaine daily because of the fentanyl problem, how he just smokes a lot of weed now but has to be careful because it’s being laced with fentanyl, how he just spent an entire day sick from smoking laced weed after a woman tried to set him up for a robbery, how he has illegally crossed into the US twice and finds it funny when people talk about the border and don’t actually live on the border, how real Mexicans never felt threatened by Trump, and the reality of the Mexican cartels being in bed with him (Trump). The entire time that the conversation is being had to which I am engaging as I would in an interview room, I couldn’t help but wonder if we were going to die first from his driving (possibly under the influence of weed) or the incredible stench emanating from the Febreze clip-ons lining the interior of the car.

In our modern day ride shares are becoming more and more popular as things like shuttles decrease, and it really is the luck of the draw on who you get and what you might get into. Keep your wits about you, travel in pairs if possible and send your location to a friend before getting in the vehicle.

Our Hotel Room, Fire Alarms & Housekeeping

By the grace of God we made it to the hotel though at this point we both had headaches from the car’s toxic stench. At check in we were told that housekeeping would not be coming to the room during our stay unless specifically requested. I do not like housekeeping in my room, law enforcement 101, but Jen is the complete opposite so we asked for every other day just to keep the trash out mainly. After all we were going to be there for 7 days. We got fully checked into our room without incident and here is where the real fun begins. We got a double queen room and it was TINY for two people, but more irritating was the fact that the AC was not working correctly and it was a sweltering hell over half of the nights that we were there. We’re talking so hot that neither of us could sleep and at points we propped open the door to the hallway just to let air in. Yes you read that right, now that’s a safety issue. Anyhow, Cat had an incredible room with a balcony on a higher floor so it just seemed to be the luck of the draw or perhaps crappy planning on my part…maybe, probably, definitely. I used my Hilton App to check-in and it selected the room for me, but being new to the experience, I just rolled with it instead of checking the location of the room (room next to elevator on the 4th floor). I’m not sure if there are varying sizes of double queen rooms, but this is definitely something you’ll want to checkout in the years coming because the smaller double rooms are tuna cans.

For some reason on our first night and over the next two days the fire alarms kept going off. The first night we didn’t hear them, we only woke up to texts asking if we heard them as it happened on floors higher up than ours. The following two days were in the middle of the day and a sensory scratching buzz noise was echoing through the speaker in our room. There was a highlight to this though…cue the firefighters. Believe it or not, having worked in law enforcement I don’t find officers attractive (probably because I know what they are really like), but firefighters, yes please!

As I mentioned above, housekeeping was scheduled to come by every other day for trash and clean towels if needed, but we only saw them once on our second day and they took the extra towels we requested without replacing them so that was a big bummer. Jen has long and thick hair and I have hair to my hind end so two tiny bath towels for both of us was not sufficient. Worse than the constantly wet towels was the mound of trash that was piling up from all of the DoorDashed food, water bottles, coffee cups, etc. I mean large handled brown paper delivery bags from restaurants filling up and lining a wall because housekeeping wasn’t showing up. I even looked for trashcans in the lobby and conference areas to throw them away and they simply weren’t big enough so the mound became a mountain.

I’m not surprised that housekeeping wasn’t coming in though, the hotel seemed to be short staffed and got even shorter while were were there. First a server quit and the restaurant staff had to double time it, and then a chef quit and the restaurant had to be closed down. Let’s just say that it was super busy and the food took a while to get to you because of the limited staff and high number of guests. In the grand scheme of things, they did the best that they could with what they had to work with.

Conference Meal tickets, hotel restaurants and DoorDash

Here’s the really important parts you need to know. We chose not to do the meal ticket through the conference because I have gluten intolerance and DoorDash is so much easier and less expensive than risking food I won’t be able to eat. The plain drip coffee and food in the hotel restaurant is overpriced and ok at best. It was cheaper to DoorDash lattes from Starbucks down the street than to buy coffee from the coffee shop in the hotel. I learned the hard way with the food on night one when I got straight up raw salmon served to me and couldn’t eat it. It was one of two gluten free options and somehow I still got sick from the salad portion. If you have food allergies and intolerance, DoorDash is your friend. I LOVE creme brulee and it is rather hard to get in Texas unless you go to a high end steak house of which I don’t have any near me so I made sure to have it almost every day that we were there. First I ordered from Black Angus Steakhouse, but it was only ok so I ordered from Ruth Chris Steakhouse the following night and holy cow was it amazing! Cat had the Chocolate Sin flourless cake which was also incredible. I fell in love with Mai Thai Portland’s satay chicken so we had that two days in a row. Unfortunately we weren’t able to Doordash Cadillac Cafe like we had intended because it looks like they don’t take orders on the weekends with being so busy. Something to remember for next time because they are an absolute must! Now we did have breakfast on the last day at the hotel with a few people and it was pretty good, they even had gluten free toast. I am a coffee for breakfast, and breakfast for dinner kind of person, but would definitely recommend their breakfast buffet.

Classrooms & Vending Hall

The space for the classes and the vending hall was so much better than last year. There was more than enough space in the classes and the round tables were a better setup, not to mention there was actually walking room in the hallways without people being on top of one another. The Monarch had the vintage vibe which I loved, but it just was not right for this conference and the number of people in attendance. Also the lighting in both the classrooms and hotel rooms was significantly better. They had coffee stations again which was much appreciated for the addicts out there such as myself.

Overall I think it was smart to swap the hotels, and this seems to fit the bill with a few tweaks here and there. Either buy the meal ticket or DoorDash your food and coffee, watch what room you select both in size and location, stay on them about getting housekeeping in there if you need it, be a broken record if your room’s ac isn’t working because it is horrible not sleeping for days, and prepare to take a death ride and know that even preferred drivers are not necessarily safe.

Post NWTS Cool Down

I live in Texas and Jen lives in Colorado so we wanted to take an extra day this year to explore Portland and decompress before parting ways. Seriously, having your best friend live in another state is a major bummer. Anyways, we got up and had breakfast at the hotel with a few people before venturing out to the Japanese Gardens. Without Reese as our street car guide we decided not to risk getting lost and ordered another death ride. It’s times like this that the difference between the two of us becomes very apparent. I am trying to get the driver to talk a bit so that I can get an accurate assessment of him as well as the sound of his voice in the event that I had to ID him by his voice…Jen is talking a hundred miles a minute about I have no idea what. She’s asking me questions and I’m giving the “shut up” look to which she was not catching on. In the end we did not die between the hotel and the Starbucks so all was forgiven. We got our coffee and hiked up the hill and through the woods of Washington Park. Surprisingly I was not the hesitant one to wander the trails and through the woods. I showed Jen a little trick for keeping yourself safe in the event of an attacker, especially when you need to act quickly….scalding hot coffee. I had a venti so I showed her how to quickly loosen your grip on the cup to allow it to slide down your grasp to the rim where you can quickly squeeze to pop the lid off and then chunk said coffee into the face of your offender leaving them at least temporarily blinded. Having Ubers referred to as “Death Rides”, always watching your surroundings, never being allowed to have your back to a door or glass, and getting lessons on blinding attackers with coffee… this is the life of someone with a Crime Analyst as a best friend folks. You have been warned if you have considered befriending me. Anyhow, we made it through the uphill trails of Washington Park and came across the Rose Garden to which we spent a long time in taking picture. I absolutely love roses to the extent that my suitcase is even covered in them, so we won’t even talk about the maxing out iCloud space with rose photos. We eventually made it up to the giftshop and then around the corner to the Japanese Gardens, but by that point it was raining and getting colder with no end in sight so we hailed another death ride back to the hotel. As I mentioned above, I have a coffee and creme brulee problem so naturally we ordered more of those things plus food and spent the rest of the day hanging out in the room talking, watching The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and just enjoying the last bit of time we had before reality kicked back in. The following morning we hailed another death ride and made it to the airport safely in record time at 6am with zero traffic. We made it to Denver where we parted ways as I took the next leg of my flight to Austin. By the time I got off of the plane in Austin with the 2 hour time change and smack dab in the middle of rush hour traffic, I was exhausted. I went to bed at around 8pm and took a three hour nap the following morning, but it the memories and fun were worth every bit of it. If you are new to conferences and have the luxury of spending an extra day to decompress and hangout with a friend(s), I strongly recommend. It’s so much better to share flights with someone you know and absolutely prepare for the need to have a rest day once you get home…conferencing is exhausting work.

Before I leave you, I want to reiterate that it is important to remember that the issues that we experienced could happen anywhere, at any hotel, at any restaurant, in any city, in any rideshare, and any event, they were not NWTS conference issues. We need to make sure to always put things into perspective when it gets a bit hinky. I want to say a HUGE thank you to Michelle and Roger Welch, and the entire SoulTopia Team for another wonderful conference!



PS. The Ibis in question...

Reese Marren and Jennifer Steidley at Northwest Tarot Symposium (NWTS) 2023 Portland OR

Copyright © 2023 Brandy Rachelle

Uncredited images from my personal collection or stock images