Tuesday, April 24, 2007

back from the beach

When I got off the plane in Chicago Sunday, I looked around, let my bag slide off my shoulder and finally allowed myself to relax. Five days of little sleep, nonstop hustling and nearly every form of transport but donkey--though sometimes I felt like a pack mule myself-- and I was home.

Then I slept for 16 hours.

Thank you all for your good wishes and tips; H read them to me over the phone while I waited for a connection. When I got to the conference I smiled at everyone and introduced myself to anyone whose attention I could retain for thirty seconds. It was extremely awkward and uncomfortable, but got a little easier with practice. And so did the being alone part. I managed to use the city's counterintuitive unmanned masstransit, even though I kept thinking about that scene in Total Recall where the automated taxi crashes and continues to say "Have a nice day! Have a nice day!" I approached people whose lofty reputations and fancy titles intimidated me. And I even ate a few meals on my own (although it was in my room with CNN; sitting alone at a restaurant's going to take some time).

I was very unsure about talking to people. Seriously, what the heck can I contribute in a conversation with veterans in the business for decades? So I stuck to subjects I knew I could hold my own in: The overuse of air conditioning in seminar rooms, Thanking Goodness they offered free coffee and asking if my fellow attendees had yet dared to risk their knickers out on South Beach.

And what did I discover? That superduper bigshots are just like regular people. Especially during a lengthy discussion about the exhorbitant price of children's ice skating costumes and the perils of bidding for them on eBay with the one person the association awarded for his overall excellence this year. That's no easy feat. And the eBay trick wasn't a simple task, either.

Two of the coolest people I met do what I do, but for the government. Say what you will about the people at the very top, but Joe and Christine are smart, decent and fun to hang out with. Now I'll think of "Central Intelligence" in a whole new way.

I had to do my sightseeing when it was convenient:

Somewhere over Tampa

What IS that stuff?

The only time I actually saw the beach, though I was a lot closer to it on the ground.

The view from my hotel room, of Miami's Biscayne Bay and the causeway that leads to South Beach.

Not as impressive a skyline as Chicago, but very lovely indeed.

The main difference between a conference and a vacay? Getting up at the crack of dawn.

It's hard to see, but I could only get about half of my foot out onto the "balcony."

The view was just as lovely at night.

And they had cool ships!

Sunrise over the clouds and the city, as I left for home.

I'm really glad I ignored my fears and went on this trip. You really can do things you never thought you could, as long as you don't spend too much time thinking about it.


jazz said...


you did good kid!

Librarian Girl said...

Was everyone in the world at a conference this weekend? Well, you were, and I was. That's everyone, right?

Syar said...

That's awesome that you had a good time. And good on you! I'd have preferred the restaurant, but baby steps.

Love your pictures. Simple.

Alexandra said...

you are MY ROCK STAR! and the views are amazing... waaaaw

Lia said...

Glad to hear it went well. I know that feeling of being somewhere exciting and not getting to see it; happens every time I get sent somewhere on business. I try to schedule conferences (ha, ha) around a weekend to get some touring time. It's only worked once.

And I'm glad you've discovered that guvmint people aren't ALL bad.

Beenzzz said...

Glad you're back! Your photos from the sky are so intriguing. I'm sure you had a lot of insightful things to contribute during your conversations/meetings with the "big wigs." Sometimes, young talent is what keeps things alive.

Anonymous said...

If you met some good contacts, it would be best to e-mail them and thank them. Follow-up never hurts.

ML said...

Great photos and I'm so glad your trip worked out for you. Sometimes I think it's anticipation and fear of the unknown that makes you nervous. But, you made it!

Jon said...

I need a little clarification on one of the pictures… it appears as thought there are two tennis courts on the roof of another building. What I need clarified is if one is regular size next to a mini one, or if there is an enormous, way too big to play on court right next to a regular size one. Thanks!

cadiz12 said...

i'm sorry, jon. i know nothing about tennis. is there a chance the smaller is for something else, like squash? it also looks like maybe there's some kind of bocce ball area or shuffleboard. all i know is that i didn't see a soul out there the entire time i was in the room.

jinius said...

great pics! and nice to know that bigshots are just regular people too--with more money.

Guyana-Gyal said...

You are a brave, brave girl. Ignoring your fears, and going to far off places, and meeting strangers, talking...that takes courage.

Florida. My ol' stamping ground. I looove Florida, I can't say it enough. But one of my cousins who's been to Chicago says that it's well planned and beautiful.