Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A conferencing we will go....

I've been out of town and terribly neglectful, dear Diary. It's been a traveling whirlwind, but I'm beginning to settle down. Time to blog :o)

Every Fall, I go to the same conference. I have since 2003. This is my sixth year there. I serve on the Board. I'm Chair of a Committee, and just volunteered for another one. I met South Carolina there last year. I love this conference. The personal and professional contacts are incredible. Simply love it.

This year, attendance was down. A bunch of people went through last-minute budget cuts. Including South Carolina, as I mentioned. I missed a lot of people, but still enjoyed those who were there.

I've presented sessions at each of these conferences, since 2003. Someone came up to me this time and told me they still use the handout we gave in the first session I did for them. That's a nice warm-fuzzy! This year, though, I really wanted to fly under the radar. No presentations. No nervousness. No stress. I let the proposal deadline pass.

Two weeks later, my phone rings.

"Blogget," says a familiar, authoritative voice from the organization having the conference. He's been with this group since the beginning. "The Conference Committee noticed you didn't submit a proposal this year. Do you plan on doing that?"

"," I mumbled. I felt my short flight under the radar coming to an end.

"Would you consider it, please? I have topic ideas for you. I'll even help, if you need it."

Sigh. Ok. I agreed. I'm such a sucker. Then, do you know what I did?

I volunteered for two of them. Two. What's wrong with me? I mean, really.

The first one was based on an idea the man who called me had. See, I published a journal article last year, on a topic I'd once presented on. I gathered a panel of others who have done the same, and we had a discussion about it. The PowerPoint had five slides. Pretty easy and informative, too.

The second one was all me. It was Jedi-themed. I went nuts with the media. Audio and video. Made my own background. I got a faculty member to go and present with me, so that helped. We gave away Star Wars toys. Our presider gave us lightsabers. How cool is that? Mine is above my monitor at work now, with my Darth Vader head. See?

Smashed that one out of the park, lemme tell ya.

Before we started, the guy presenting next door comes to me. "I wanted to come to yours, but they scheduled me at the same time," he said. "I just had to come say....You're so cool!"

Yep, we were identifying the dorks pretty fast. This is the same guy I danced with last year, who greeted me at the opening reception this year and said, "It's really nice to see you again. I mean really." And he wiggled his brows for emphasis. Yep. Dork. He's married.

The first night, a bunch of us had dinner at Ozzie's (owned by baseball great, Ozzie Smith). Two of my faculty members actually came with me, and one went to dinner with us that night. We had a long table of happy people. This faculty member walked in with her arms crossed and her scowl in place. She's hard to please.

She sat down at the opposite end of the table from me. Soon, I went to make introductions. "It's okay!" said an old friend. "We've all met. We're having a good time! We're taking good care of her!" And sure enough, the wine was flowing and a good time was being had by all.

I watched her during the conference. Each session, she sat scowling, arms and legs crossed. The last night, she told my other faculty person, "This is the rudest conference I've ever been to." Uhm, no, sweetie. You were the rudest person at the conference. I watched them try.

The general theme of the conference was "Route 66." The opening reception was decorated pretty cute, with St. Louis and Route 66 stuff. The host school was a university in Illinois, so some of their people drove up with spouses to help them set up. The Nice Faculty person (my roomie) and I arrived and found a seat. We were joined by Gossip Gal and her husband. Remember her? The one who gossiped about South Carolina and her coworker? I learned something about her at this conference.

She really and truly is a complete moron.

And she looks like Droopy Dog. See the pic? Yep. Years of frowning, I think. You laugh, but I'm not kidding!

Anyhow, she picked up this cute St Louis postcard that was on the table and said, "What is this? Why do we have these? I don't get it."

No, really. On the 12th floor of a building in the middle of St Louis, she doesn't get why we have St Louis postcards.

Right before the conference starts, we have an annual face-to-face Board meeting. All the others are via phone, but this one is in person. On the agenda each time is to decide where the proceeds from the silent auction will be donated. We've donated to Hurricane Katrina Relief and the families of the miners killed in Utah, in past years. We opened the discussion for suggestions.

Gossip Gal piped up. She's from the host school. "I think the money should go back to our school. We're not making enough on this conference."

[insert crickets chirping]

Wow. She really missed the boat on the brains AND common sense. I repeat: Moron. Just in case you couldn't tell how I feel about her.

After knocking the presentations out of the proverbial park, I went on about my very relieved and much happier business.

I got a little concerned when one of my favorite people pulled me aside. "I have to talk to you about something," she said. So, I got serious. Turns out, they've pegged me as an "expert." They want me on a panel to professionally evaluate their university's distance learning courses. Me. An "expert." Woo hoo!!

Ranger is already making plans to go with me, and show me some things in Nevada and California. And I repeat: Woo hoo!

When I told my folks, my mother turned to my dad and said, "She's making a name for herself, dear." Is that what I've done? Really? Gotta love that.

I attended the remaining sessions, engaged in each discussion along the way. I was a force to be reckoned with this time. I also attended the silent auction. Okay, so attended isn't the right word.

I circled like a shark. I obsessed. I apologized, but still outbid those who seemed to want to challenge me. Silent auctions bring out this horrible competitive side of me. I've been known to stand beside a competing bidder (or even a potentially competitive bidder) and say, "No. No. No." like it's a chant. I've talked people out of stuffed animals by convincing them it's a choking hazard. I'm awful. I say so up front, when the doors open. Everyone is fairly warned.

And after six years of this, I have a reputation to uphold. And each year brings a new packing challenge for the return trip. Last year was easy; I drove. This year, I flew, and they're charging for additional bags. Crap.

For the record, I got it all in one bag. One 56 pound bag.

So, I'm explaining to someone why the Wolfpack Wolf (University of Nevada at Reno) must go home with me. It's for my daughter. She needs one on her bed. We love wolves! You should see all my wolf stuff.....

beep! beep! beep!

It's my cell. I actually have a Picture Mail. The subject line says, "What size do you wear?" and the picture is....

...wolf slippers.

I couldn't have asked for a better timed piece of evidence, concerning my wolf obsession. Who else would wear such a thing?

Uhm...Ranger. He got a matching pair.

During the last session of the conference, I'm sitting in a big discussion meeting about college distance learning. I'm in front of the speaker, but it's about lunch time. I'm starving because I slept through breakfast.

I check the time on my phone.

Dang, the screen is dirty. Let's clean that.

On my pants leg. It catches the seam and...

wheeeee! Off it skitters across the floor.

I'm sitting between Nice Faculty, who is trying not to laugh her damn fool head off at me, and the speaker, and the new president of this organization. And I have to retrieve my phone from across the floor. Brilliant.

So, I do. Trying to duck and dodge and keep out of the way as best I can. I finally make it back to my seat. Crawl back into it. The new president has written me a note and is sliding it across the table to me.

Oh no, I think. Here is comes. The reprimand. Well, the new prez is my friend. Maybe she won't be bad on me. So, I open the note with a little embarrassment and trepidation. It says....

"U R a dork."

I smiled proudly.

And that about sums it up.


Fire Byrd said...

a dork who's making a name for herself.... sounds the perfect mixture!
Love the slippers!

e jerry said...

I'm thinking about going back to one of your older obsessions. My brain has been traveling without me, looking for Huey Lewis and the News t-shirts while the rest of me is asleep...

Blogget Jones said...

Byrd -- Thank you!!! And hugs to you, too. I'm in love with the slippers now. Toasty warm tootsies on cold days and nights!

Jerry -- HAHA!! Oh, I still love Huey....luckily, my 80s station here does, too, so I hear him a lot :o) I have a friend here who grew up living next door to him, lucky gal.


Walker said...

It's obvious that the Force is with you

Blogget Jones said...

Haha Walker!! Someone said "May the Force be with you," when I was leaving the conference. My Catholic upbringing kicked in and I said, "And also with you...." LOL!

e jerry said...

And now you're subconsciously compelling me to buy Howard Jones in iTunes.

Get outta my head, lady...

Blogget Jones said...

Jerry --

I have the power!!

;o) BJ