Sunday, February 27, 2011

Back from the Conference

This past week I was down south for a conference. Lately I've been going to the same state every few months. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like it, I would just like to visit new places because I don't get to travel a lot. Conferences are my chance to see new places. At least it was in the 70s when back here at home it was snowing. Anyway, I was down south, left Tuesday came back Friday evening.

I look forward to this one every year. It's stuff I'm really interested in and the hardest part about it is choosing which session to go to because there are so many concurrent sessions. There were some I had to attend because they were presentations for The Grant. It was exciting to see how many people came. It's really, really good for us since our funders were also there and we are having our mid-year program evaluation this year. During the day the sessions were great, including the plenary sessions. Lunch and breakfast were lousy. I wish they hadn't provided it because then we could buy what we wanted and get reimbursed. The plenary sessions had extremely high-ranked government officials in our field. They all talked about the "elephant in the room" - funding. Our particular field is getting cut, dramatically in the new proposed budget. I think it's a threat to national security and local preparedness measures but it looks like it's going to be a fact. It sucks and I try not to think about it. Not sure what I'm going to do when The Grant runs out.

The evenings were fun. The first night I just stayed in my hotel room and got room service. I got in during the evening, then we had a networking session but I had to teach my seminar. I went back to the hotel room and taught my class. The next day was great. After the last session and a reception Frazzle (a PI on the grant who's hair is always frazzled) and Lawset (PI on The Grant also) went out to dinner at an Asian place, I had soup and sushi. It was fantastic. The conversations the three of got into, well, sometimes I just had to sit in listen in disbelief. We discussed:
  • Death. Frazzle wanted our opinion on a show idea he had. He wants to make a show about death. All aspects about death. He had obviously put a lot of thought into it so I did my best not to laugh. He wanted to start with a radio show and move into television.
  • Spirituality and Religion. Lawset started us talking about spirituality and religion. What we believed; what we think happens when we die; what about reincarnation.
  • Dream jobs. What would we love to do if we could do anything. I shocked them all when I said I'd become a vet if I was guaranteed a job working with tigers. Talked about shocked expressions.
  • Codependents. Frazzle has a sister who he says is crazy. He means it. He's an MD and they've apparently had problems with her most of her life. Right now she's not speaking to the family. Her partner is making things worse even though she thinks she's helping her. Frazzle made the comment that she is an out of control codependent and there's no hope for her.
Codependents are crazy too. That's what he said. That really stopped me. I just looked at him and said there is hope, there are different levels of codependency, and people can heal but it's a process. Frazzle and Lawset just looked at me. Of course they wanted to know why I said that. I've know them for years, especially Frazzle. And I know they have a high respect for me so they would often listen to what I had to say. Therefore, I told the truth. If me talking about it helps someone else, even if it's helping them by helping other people understand - I'll talk. I just looked at them and said "I'm a recovering codependent." Then we had an honest discussion about how hard it is, the process of healing and separating, and how it's not easy but also not hopeless. I said S was a recovering alcoholic. Lawset just looked at me said "That explains a lot." That sounds harsh when I type it but it wasn't, it was said in a kind way - like now she understands why we're not married after being together so long..  Like I said, we had a good discussion of what it's like for a codependent. I think Frazzle needed to hear it. And both of them thanked me for sharing something so personal.

After dinner Frazzle went back to his room and Lawset and I went to the lounge for some nightcaps. We talked a couple hours more about all sorts of things: education, goals, family, peers, character, priorities, perspectives on life.

The next night I had pizza from my favorite pizza place which we don't have here at home, did classwork and watched t.v. What people need to understand is that staying in the hotel room and doing nothing is like a mini-vacation for me.

I thought a lot about the time I spent with my coworkers. I'm very blessed to be where I'm at. I often browse ads, look at jobs, but I hesitate to apply for anything. I have it really good where I'm at right now. My boss likes and trusts me, she encourages me and supports me. My coworkers are usually good to be with, nothing is always perfect. I have flexibility in my job. And I have time to do things in my personal time. I've got it good and it makes me hesitate to move elsewhere.

But it's back to the grind tomorrow. The downside of the job. Meetings, meetings, meetings. But that occurs most places so it's something I have to do.

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