Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Only I can arrive 7 hours early and still miss my flight...

It’s no secret I am habitually late. I really don’t mean to be, and believe it or not, I have actually improved as I have gotten older. Yet, I still tend to run about 10 minutes late to everything. Maybe it’s a lack of planning or maybe as my stepmother says, I just piddle.

In any case, despite arriving at SFO seven (yes, count ‘em seven) hours before my flight home from Cali on Sunday, I actually managed to miss my flight!!! I didn’t fall asleep, I wasn’t drunk; I wasn’t impaired or understandably occupied in any way. I missed my flight because I was running my damn mouth. Insanity! Only me. My friend Kinsey works at the airport and I was standing outside security talking to her instead of getting in line and going to the gate.

When I got to my gate, the plane was still there, but they had closed the doors and there were no airline personnel in sight. I was freaking out and visibly upset. This was actually the first flight I have ever missed. Most people who have heard this story are quite surprised by this fact given my history of tardiness, but usually I am quite prompt when my plans involve a departing aircraft. After the shock wore off and I resigned myself to the fact that I was not getting out of town until the morning, I actually started laughing and couldn’t stop. Who sits at an airport for seven hours and misses their flight?!?!?!? It’s just funny.

I guess if it HAD to happen, this was the perfect situation. I was able to spend one more night with Kinsey, I had a free place to stay and free ride to the airport the next morning, and I didn’t really have any pressing plans in DC the next afternoon...except having my gas turned on in my apt, which I had to reschedule again so no cooking or heat for week number four! Good thing it’s summer and I love takeout.

Oh well, lesson learned!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My journey west

I’m slouching in a chair at the International Terminal of SFO looking like a hot mess, but I really don’t care. My luggage is all around me because I’m about four hours too early to check my bags according to AirTran and I am stuck at the airport all day waiting for my redeye home tonight. Yes, I could take BART into the city, but what a hassle with the massive bags I have—one of which I had to purchase at the airport because once again I am bringing back way more stuff than will fit in the bags I made the journey with. But this time it isn’t my fault; I have loads of binders, books, and crap from the communications conference that facilitated my visit to the west coast. Plus, I am tired and I feel like I’m getting sick, and I’m a great big whiner today.

It’s been a pretty cool week. I headed into the trip utterly exhausted from pulling two of my latest nights at work to date right before I left DC. I got all of 3 hours of sleep before I had to hustle the dog out to BFE Maryland to the kennel and then BARELY made my Super Shuttle to Dulles. But alas, I arrived. By the way, Virgin America is the way flying should be—just a great experience.

One of the best parts of this entire visit was that work was footing the bill for me to spend a few days with my dear friend Kinsey. She trekked out to DC in March so I promised to return the favor. Aside from the fact that I was lame and stayed glued to my damn Blackberry most of the time, we had a lovely time. We visited Gloria Ferrer and sipped bubbly on the patio, met the mini-burroughs at Cline Cellars, unsuccessfully sought out a tattoo parlor to get our noses pierced, had fantastic foot massages, and were ladies who lunched in Walnut Creek.

I drank endless glasses of wine and champagne, talked about relationships and the meaning of life with Kinsey’s family, got a sunburn from cruising along the Golden Gate Bridge in a convertible, and even scored some authentic Buddhas from Thailand (hence the need for an extra bag…well, that and the wine…).

Before I made it to my conference, I met up with a friend in Oakland and had THE most amazing chicken sandwich of my life. If you ever find yourself in Oakland, check out Bakesale Betty’s. It’s a no-frills-eat-on-painted-ironing-boards-outside-type of joint, and simply fabulous. I was introduced to all this deliciousness by my friend Josh, a fellow Texan who calls Cali home, and is an amazing communicator/consultant/musician. Check out his band:

The actual conference was really great as well. I attended the SPIN Academy, a media training conference held in beautiful Petaluma, CA. All the conference materials clearly explained we would be staying on a ranch and would not have cell phone service, but I have to admit, I really didn’t believe them. How could this be possible? Of course there would be some way to get a signal. Well guess what? There wasn’t! Let me tell you (as sad as it might be) four days with no cell phone is no joke. There was wireless internet, but in my haste to depart DC, I didn’t have a chance to have my IT administrator at work reconfigure my laptop, and even though I (and others) seemingly had everything setup correctly, I could not get my computer to connect. Damn Dell…should have brought my Mac. So I really went the four days with almost no interaction with the outside world. This wouldn’t have been so bad, except that I am nearing the deadline of a major project at work that has been owning my ass, and requires me to reply to countless emails and issues that seem to arise every day.

On one hand it was liberating to be unreachable. After accepting defeat with the wireless connection, and using my old school phone card to call the office, I settled into the fact that I was going to have to let go, trust the team filling in at work, and focus on resting and learning and strategizing.

Since I assumed a new position at work in April, I have been feeling a little overwhelmed. There hasn’t been a moment to sit-down and re-evaluate things and make the department my own. I feel like I am running around like crazy on someone else’s course, and just reacting to the latest mess of the day instead of actually executing any plans or really excelling. Luckily, I am leaving this conference with a lot of tools and a better grasp on what I need to do when I get back to work.

The training also showed me that I know more than I think I know. From talking with other participants, I think that many of us are searching for something that doesn’t exist—we are looking for answers that aren’t there in any of the trainings we keep attending. While many of the sessions at this conference were full of great information, I still didn’t find some of them to be advanced enough to tackle what I seem to be looking for. But maybe there is no perfect formula or presentation or magic-pill; maybe there is no answer other than that I need to be confident and take comfort in the knowledge I already possess.

It was great to interact with so many amazing, interesting people who are doing social justice work all over the world. I regretfully haven’t always been as open to meeting new people as I am now. I have always been pretty outgoing and social, but I never really saw the value in meeting people unless I was going to have deep, lasting relationships with them. As a result of this attitude, I have lots of very close friends and that is a wonderful blessing, but in the last year I have really been relishing in all the new people I have met and connections I have made all over the country.

Five more hours til my plane…