American Atheist Convention 2009 - Atlanta

Unfortunately there wasn't free internet access in Emory Hotel so I couldn't make any updates while I was at the Emory Hotel. So here it goes!

Day 1 (Friday):

We (my dad, my sister Vanessa, and myself) left super early that morning. I had a hard time getting to sleep that night because I was so excited so I was pretty tired when I got up at 7am (doesn't help that I went to bed around 3am either). When we got to the convention center at the Emory Hotel I thought it was very nice but a little confusing because there was some construction going on...at least it wasn't noisy and the workers were polite.

Convention staff greeted us as we came into the hotel....such a gorgeous hotel. Since it was built on a sort of cliff/hill the hotel was designed around that. Brilliant. There was a wonderful view of the court yard...you could see goldfish in a little waterbed, a small forest, landscaping, and you could see all this from almost a 360 degree viewpoint depending on where you were at in the Hotel building. Dad parked his truck, we headed in without him...got out IDs and looked around the info booths (lots of great free pamphlets and posters). I got a nifty evolutionary poster of scientists. Got a few copies that I'm giving to friends (I should take a pic of that too!).

First event of the day was the Opening Ceremony, I was a bit confused about the seating and I didn't want to be rude by grabbing seats way up front so I sat behind all the table seating and grabbed a seat close to the front of the chairs that were lined up. Opening ceremony was great! There was a break afterwards...not yet lunch time either. My sister had to use the bathroom so my dad and I waited just out front of the ballroom. I sat my purse down on the empty table in the middle of the hall and put away the schedule. When I looked up to the left I about died. Richard Dawkins was walking right towards me. I wasn't sure what to do, so nervous, but I managed to wave slightly and quietly said hi. Richard Dawkins smiled at me and stopped right in front of me and asked where the coffee was. I told him that the coffee was back from where he just came from. Another woman came up from behind and said the coffee was taken away already and Dawkins responded "why would they take away the coffee before break?". The same woman asked for him to sign her book and Dawkins left. I saw him going up the stairs where the dining area was. When my sister came back from the bathroom I told her that Richard Dawkins just spoke to me! It was so surreal. I hardly remember looking at his face. He was quite taller than me as well....well; most people are since I'm only 5ft. We headed upstairs to leave for a late breakfast. I saw Dawkins still looking for his coffee....I think he was able to find some.

We came back for the rest of the events after breakfast. We found time to check into our hotel during another break. The hotel room was great and the view from the room could not have been better. My sister and I were joking about being able to see Dawkins at the lower floors because there were so many glass walls. And what do you know.....we were able to see Richard Dawkins!!!!! We were banging on the window to try and get his attention, though he was inside and probably couldn't hear us. Funny enough, another man heard us who was outside and waved, and this ended up being Blair Scott, from the American Atheist convention (I have pictures!--go look in the photo album). We continually saw Dawkins throughout the day, it was driving me crazy seeing him and not having the guts to go and speak with him. At the way end of the day, my sister and I sat on the couch while our dad was in the bar. A few older men decided to chat us up while they were drunk. Lol They were very nice though and it was interesting meeting people from out of state....such dedication to travel half way across the country for a convention! We got bored and went to sit down with our dad in the bar even though we were underage (19). We just wanted to sit with our dad but guess who we see walk out of the bar jus after we come in? Dawkins! I saw him head into the elevator so I assume he was calling it a night. I stayed up with my sister for awhile longer reading the pamphlets we got and then went to bed after awhile as well.


Night 2 (Saturday):

YAY! Dawkins is to present Saturday! During that entire morning....I kept feeling like Dawkins wasn't supposed to speak until the next day. I was completely giddy and giggly the entire day. XD We got up super duper early, headed down for breakfast, and grabbed a table super close to the front where we thought there was a good view of the stage. I hate getting stuck behind tall people so I made sure we had a good place to sit and claimed that table for the remainder of our time there.

After a few other presentations, it was time for Richard Dawkins to come to the room and I was surprised to see him wearing a pretty casual outfit....no suit...just a button up shirt with some tropical trees. My dad got up and starting taking pics for me! I joked with some of the people I met there saying it was funny that my dad was taking pictures for me because he wasn’t an atheist. Thank you dad! You got such great pictures! It was hilarious when Dawkins had to undo his shirt to fix his mic. I saw a bit of flesh there! lol Sorry....that's not very appropriate, is it? I just can't help myself. I was really hoping that my dad would enjoy Dawkin's lecture. My dad spent all day on Friday huffing and puffing because of remarks towards conservatives and believers and such. He really liked Dawkins though! When Dawkins asked where the coffee was the day before....my dad had no idea who it was. I had asked him what he thought of him and my dad said he thought he was nice. I then told him that it was Richard Dawkins, my dad was very impressed and thought Dawkins was a nice guy. He even commented on Dawkin's accent and said it was nice. So yay!, my dad got a good first impression of Dawkins. Ok! Enough of what happened yesterday. Dawkins started his lecture with humor of course and ended with humor. I enjoyed every second of his lecture (just as I had enjoyed all the other speakers I saw).

After the lecture he gave, Dawkins removed his mic, and they quickly moved Dawkins out of the ballroom to get ready for the book signing. The line was HUGE!!!! Somehow...even though I thought we got out of the ballroom at a reasonable pace, we were at the very end of the line! The line didn't take long to move through however, only about 20mins+ I think. I had my copy of The God Delusion to get signed and my sister had a copy of Unweaving the Rainbow. My sister got wonderful pictures of my getting my book signed (go check them out!!!!!). Before I left, I gave him a StarBucks gift card as a joke to me not being able to point him to any coffee and I gave him a book called "The London Zoo".

Thank you to American Atheists for such a life-changing event. Richard Dawkins was the reason why I went but I look forward to going to future conventions by American Atheists. And despite my dad not being an atheist, he said he had a great time and learned a lot.

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Tags: american, atheist, convention, dawkins

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