So what happened in San Diego, you ask? I've been back for a week and haven't posted any summary of the vast amounts of knowledge I gained from my conference, you say? Well, I've been a little distracted. There's been some jet lag to deal with and then there's been the family lag - one being where your body is trying to catch up with the difference on the clock, and the other being where your family tries to make you pay (and pay and pay) for abandoning them, even if only temporarily.
But there are a few things I remember from my moments in the sun.
Okay, first, you should know that karma is real. And I had to pay for enjoying myself in sunny San Diego with some impish karma happenings. Yes, I enjoyed a conference in which I was able to professionally refresh myself, get re-energized about our upcoming projects, learn a few new things, and do a bit of networking. And true, I had a beautiful hotel room with: a giant King-size bed, upon which I slept cross-wise - just because I could; a balcony upon which I could sit in absolute silence and enjoy completing an entire thought without being interrupted by "Mom. Mom. Mom? Mom!"; a spectacular view of the Coronado bay, bridge, and island, where I witnessed a couple of breath-taking sunsets; a bathroom I did not have to share and where - similar to the balcony - I could complete my thoughts without interruption or audience; and, a television that wasn't tuned to ESPN even ONCE. I also had fabulous food, which was either provided by the conference or for which my company will be kind enough to reimburse me, and though I had my share of adult beverages, I didn't pay for any of them with my own money. And unlike my college days, I didn't owe any other kind of non-monetary payment for said beverages at the end of the evening. Although I think the consultants who bought most of those drinks probably would like a little something from me, I'm pretty sure it involves contracts and advice, not dark dorm rooms and next morning walks of shame. Of course, with some of these consultants, you really can't be too sure. Oh! And I got to hear another very energetic and motivational speech from Dean Hager, of whom I admit I am a bit of a Lawson groupie.
And for these wonderful benefits, what did I have to endure? Well, there was the attack of the killer sodas. Every - and I am NOT exaggerating - can or bottle of carbonated soda I opened immediately fizzed over making a mess on me, my clothes, and the floor. The worst attack came when I tried to save a can of Diet Coke for later. I had it in my conference complimentary messenger bag to take back to my hotel room so I could have it the next morning (for some reason, conferences have not caught on to the fact that there is a segment of the population who get their morning caffeine in a colder and more carbonated form than the gallons of coffee they provide for everyone else). I stopped to use the restroom, hanging my bag on the cute little hook. You know, I didn't want to set my bag on the floor and risk becoming infected with e.coli. Unfortunately, right after I sat down, the bag fell. And then I heard an odd noise. Had a snake, now angered by its jolt, somehow snuck into my bag? Oh, no. I frantically grabbed for the bag, throwing things out of the way of the exploding can. I grabbed the can and put it in the nearest receptacle I could reach from my sitting position - and no, I couldn't get up, yet - which was the handy container for feminine product disposal. I pulled my notebook, papers, electronic essentials, and vendor giveaway trinkets (aka souveniers for the kids) from the bag and laid them on the floor (I'm still waiting for the e.coli to set in) until I could safely get up. Then I took the bag to the sink to dump its cola contents. The good news is that I now know that if I ever need to use that bag as a portable cooler, it is certainly water-tight. When I went back to the stall, I noticed that the can had continued to exude its contents, which were now dripping from the stall receptacle. I don't know about you, but I never want to see something dripping from there when I enter a stall, so I removed the can and put it in the larger trash can by the door. As I was going back to finish wiping up the mess on the floor, another woman came in. I'm not sure what she thought I had done in there that I needed to be wiping things up off the floor, but luckily, I didn't see her again for the rest of the conference. Needless to say, I was caffeine-less the next morning.
I also had a karma clash with my camera, though on this one, I think the good karma won out over the bad. I have only had a digital camera since early December and I have loved every minute of being in the digital world. I took the camera with me and I took a LOT of pictures. I was also so excited to run into two women I worked with in my early Lawson days. We all worked together when I was new to the team and very pregnant, Sara was a consultant, and Hannah was our Lawson expert. I haven't seen either of them in several years, and we hadn't all been together in about seven or eight years. Wednesday morning, the last day of the conference, we were all in the breakfast area so I wanted a picture. My excitement got the better of me, and as I pulled out the camera - the camera I had worked so hard to protect during the conference for fear of something happening to damage it, my current favorite material possession - I dropped it. On the concrete floor. It didn't look too bad, but part of the battery cover was broken off and the casing had popped apart on one corner. I snapped it back together and turned it on. I could still see the pictures that I had already taken, but the display screen was black when I switched it to camera mode. I told my friend that she would have to look through the viewfinder because something was wrong with the display. They were all very concerned for how I would handle the disaster. Inside I was a screaming, crying, hysterical mess. Outside, I tried very hard to keep it together and not feel like I had just dropped my newborn on the floor instead of a camera. I found clenching my fists and clasping my hands helped. As I examined the camera later - after Sara and Hannah had both left to catch planes - I realized that it was not the display that was broken (duh - I could see the pictures from the night before!), it was the lens. The picture of the three of us - it's a black square. So sad. Later, we were in the exhibition hall and the sales guy from our favorite consultant company called Stacy and I over. I was still in a bit of a shell-shocked state, trying not to think about my lovely, broken camera. Tom had gifts for Stacy and I. For Stacy, he handed her an oversized version of their 2007 mascot, Jett - a black panther - he is way cute. He handed me a box. With a camera in it. The camera I broke is a Canon PowerShot A540. He gave me a Canon PowerShot A530. Stacy had to explain to him why I was so overcome with emotion I couldn't speak - he thought I was unhappy with my gift. If that's not the triumph of karma, I don't know what is. And it also proves that someone somewhere really WANTS me to take pictures of the CIBER consultants drinking and partying it up. And maybe, just maybe, I honor the good karma mojo and not use those pictures as future blackmail. But I may still post the videos to YouTube.