How One Bold Adventurer Survived the Opening of Exhibit Hall at Convention (We Think)

running of bulls

At approximately 8:35 pm on the evening of Thursday, November 14, a sheath of papers and an undeveloped roll of film were recovered by a custodian working in the Posters section of the Exhibit Hall at McCormick Place in Chicago. Tucked snugly under a (still warm) seat cushion, the yellowed, tattered handwritten manuscript and frayed film were rushed to the Leader’s office in Rockville, where they were subject to the most intense scrutiny and interrogation. Satisfied with the integrity of contents, astonished at the revelations contained therein, and aflame with ardent desire to share a unique eyewitness account of a quintessential ASHA convention event, the Leader presents the discovered manuscript in its entirety. For intelligibility, we’ve translated from the original Most Distant, Really Dullest, and Certainly Deadest Tongue.

DEAREST READER: Months of arduous sojourn across twilight epochs and treacherous terrain have brought me to this place, this moment, to this gathering of likeminded intrepid explorers poised to shatter the boundaries of convention and assail terra incognita. Mine is a wandering soul consumed by curiosity and troubled by siren calls beckoning through forbidden entryways. Standing and milling with hundreds of students and professionals outside the Exhibit Hall before it opens on the first day of ASHA convention, I am at last after all these long years among my own kind, again. We all want in, through that entrance blocked by McCormick Place staff. Right now. We’re just not always sure of the reason.

Someone pray tell—why are we here, waiting?

Huddled on the carpet some 20 feet away from the others, three students rapid-fire last night’s anecdotes and today’s possibilities while flipping through convention programs. Purses, askew tote bags and half-drunk cups of coffee ring them. Hmmm…perhaps their obviously keen attention to detail lends insights into why hundreds of us are all just, well, standing here ready to spring into whoknowswhat beyond yonder guarded entranceway.

After a lengthy, cross-city quest for a men’s restroom to change from elegant breeches and ruffles into roughen jeans and a too-plain button down shirt, I approach, ever hopeful, pen poised.

“So, are you waiting to get into the Exhibit Hall?”

Two nods, one dismissive glance back to the program.

“If you don’t mind me asking, why?”

Smiles and a chorus of replies. “I hear there’s lots of cool stuff in there—giveaways.” “My friend’s in charge of a poster session.” “I want to visit the bookstore.”

The latter speaker pauses, leaning forward. “We didn’t realize,” she hiss-whispers, “that there’d be so many people here when it opens!”

“Um…” I try to reassure. “You do know it’s open for all of convention, right?”

Shrugs. Blank stares. Heads return to programs and chatter resumes.

gary1

I next squirm, dodge, and dart my way mightily to the front, hoping to converse with those possessing a vast reservoir of experience with such opening day events. One of the security staff is more than happy to chat.

(Me out of breath after crowd-tunneling extravaganza) “Why…in the world…are there so many people waiting… to get in?”

(Chuckle) “It’s always this way, sir.”

“Any reason for it?”

(Slight shake of head and sigh). “It’s just the way these things go.” (Mt. Vesuvius yell eruption) “MAKE SURE YOU ALL HAVE YOUR BADGES READY FOR INSPECTION!!!”

I scuttle-crawl away, none-the-wiser and God help me, somewhat deafened.

gary2

It’s now about 10 minutes before the opening of the Exhibit Hall, and a most fascinating ritual is occurring. The crowd without prompting or dispute is self-organizing into a single, momentously long, serpentine line that curls and stretches into the distance across the palatial hall. Sitters and standers fall into place; no disputes, just a low murmur of expectancy rippling up and down the line. Calling upon fifth-column skills well-honed for decades in His Majesty’s Most Glorious Topsy-Turvy Revolution, I slip into line, one-third back, without incident.

There’s still time to uncover the answer.  Hmm…perhaps another direction. My laborious research en route here did uncover the venerable Black Friday tradition of frenzied mob trampling while seizing limited time deals. Maybe exhibitors likewise promise opening hour deals?

“Hey, is anyone here to nab a bargain?” I call forward and back.

Universal acknowledgment of query but a stunning silence of reply. A few shakes of heads; one roll of eyes.

Dearest reader, I…still don’t understand. But, what the heck, let’s go along for the ride.

gary3

11 am, zero hour. The line begins moving into the Exhibit Hall past security staff…steady…steady…the quick-stepping of hundreds of feet…we’re a millipede slowly picking up steam…and then the hounds unleash. Back segments of the line press forward and come alongside; we’re now four—nay, eight—across and coming on strong.

Faster. Faster. Oh boy.

A backpack-toting student a few millipede steps in front turns to me, brown eyes flashing and giggling. “Hey mister, you know why we’re here?? Because…it’s FUN!” Bursts of laughter.

We’ve just zipped past security and through the entranceway…rows upon rows of exhibits (staffed by some who seem rather startled by the human torrent) flash by to the right.

Goodness—most of us are surging left, a millipede in mad pursuit of the Poster sessions. Or NSLHA. Sustenance, perhaps? Wafts of downright delicious offerings pour in from 2 o’clock.

Pant. Pant. Fasterfasterfaster.  Woops–someone’s foot. Ouch—stand back, good sir. I must confess it’s most difficult to pen this narrative and properly capture visuals while honoring the press and pace of the crowd.

Oh my God, I can’t believe it! There’s hundreds of–

The narrative unfortunately breaks off at this point. The Leader has no reason to suspect that the author came to a grim, bone-crunching, nasty little end. We suspect that the tantalizing offerings of the Exhibit Hall were enough to draw him away from his sordid tale.

Gary Dunham, PhD, is the director of publications at ASHA. He can be reached at gdunham@asha.org.

Writing an Article for Special Interest Group Perspectives

QWERTY Keys

(photo credit)

You’ve never contemplated writing a research article since you left college, right? Perhaps writing in your field was something someone else did? No time, interest, or motivation to pursue such a professional endeavor? If you have a passion for your work, you can write that article if you simply approach it in steps. Start with your topic and what would you like to share with colleagues. It could be a therapy approach, new information about a specific population, or facilitating your documentation. Start compiling information through your search engines such as Google Scholar and ASHA’s research databases. Start bookmarking abstracts and articles on your topic. You’ll discover there are many facets that you never considered–bookmark those too. As you gather information, you’ll learn more about your subject.

The next step is to paste your facts or paraphrase them from your abstracts and articles including your article’s bibliography into a Word document. You’ll notice there are sometimes two, three, or more authors on a specific facet to your topic. This document will be your working template and will give you a basic framework for your article. Your next step is to review and revise your template into a readable paper. As you edit your paper, you’ll find yourself moving portions of your research from beginning to end, omitting data, and going back to your search engine to pursue that one piece of information you’d like to add.

Once your paper is assembled, ask a colleague to read it to see how the paper flows in form and style. Read it again and revise it again. Now it’s ready to be sent to your Perspectives Editor (find the editor for any Perspectives publication under the heading, “Information for Authors.” Example: SIG 15′s Information for Authors.).

My first article I sent off came back with so many revisions and corrections that I felt like I was back in English 101. I felt deflated and intimidated. My issues included simple grammatical errors, citation omissions, spelling and sentence fragments. The only way I was going to get this information out was to fix my mistakes and improve my first draft. You will feel like giving up. I would recommend that you avoid working on it when you encounter a difficult section, but keep chipping away at it. You will ultimately be rewarded for your efforts, learn a great deal about your topic and professional writing, and have the satisfaction to know you’ve written your first article.

My editor taught me a lot about professional writing and surviving the process of editing and revision. I kept my first draft with revisions to document my growth as a writer and researcher.

Once your revisions are completed, read it again, and ask your colleague to read it again. You’re almost done. You now need to write your article’s abstract and submit five questions about your article’s content for continuing education credits for other SLPs. You can do this!

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge my colleagues who encouraged me to attempt my first article: Ann Kulichik, owner at AK Speech, past SIG 15 Associate Coordinator who inspired me to write; Joanne Wisely, Vice President, Regulatory Administration & Compliance for Genesis Rehab Services, who reviewed my articles and encouraged me to keep writing; Grace Burke, Senior Director of Adult Day Services at Life Senior Services, who was the previous editor of Perspectives and guided me through my first article with patience and professionalism and Anna Feezor, Senior Clinical Specialist at Genesis Rehab Services and present Associate Editor for SIG 15 Perspectives. Thank you!

George A. Voyzey, M. Ed., CCC-SLP, is a speech pathologist for Genesis Rehab Services at Maine General Rehab and Nursing Care at Glenridge in Augusta, Maine, a 125 bed skilled long-term care facility specializing in Alzheimer’s and other dementia care. Mr. Voyzey also serves as a Master Clinician in the area of dementia, a clinical instructor and mentor. He recently had his fourth article published for ASHA’s Special Interest Division 15 (Gerontology) on-line publication, Perspectives, and serves as a coordinating committee member for SIG 15. Mr. Voyzey received his Master’s degree in Communication Disorders from Pennsylvania State University in 1983.