Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Whew! I just got home after having been gone to a conference for 5 days. I'm exhausted, but it's been so fun to get home and see my family again. I always love and appreciate them, but after being away from them for that long, I just want to squeeze them. My boys, of course, will only put up with a short squeeze - given their ages!

This was a conference unlike any I had ever been to (for many reasons). I'll spare you those details, but I have a few stories to share, so here goes:

FUNNIEST (?) PART: In the first session this morning a guy came in with his breakfast in hand(s) and with his bags on his shoulders. As he went to sit next to me, his bag shifted off his shoulder, and his orange juice went flying in this lovely parabolic arc that landed on me and covered me from head to toe. I had already checked out of the hotel - so had no private place to change or clean up. My luggage was stored, so I had no access to a change of clothes. I now know that when orange juice is spilled on black fabric, it does not disappear, but rather dries to look like vomit. So I've spent all day today with my hair a sticky, gooey mess and with a shirt that looks like I've vomited on myself - so professional!

(I actually felt more sorry for him than for me. He apologized at least 28 times and was just horrified - and kept apologizing even though I kept reassuring him it was OK. I'm just glad I'm not as self-conscious as I was in years past. I actually found it kind of funny! Of course, this is probably the only thing I'll remember from the conference a year from now!)

WORST PART: There was actually a session that was so horrendous I spent the evening recovering from it. I'll spare you those details too other than to say this was a conference aimed at community college faculty and was intended to address issues of basic skills students. This session was a complete NON-example of how to facilitate ANYTHING, and what I learned from it was what NOT to do to my students (and that was not the intended outcome of the session).BEST PART: Networking with colleagues and the little ideas I got from them in passing that were so much more valuable than what happened in the sessions (and meeting some from my own campus that I had not known before - took us 3 days to find each other) - really cool people! I'm looking forward to connecting with them on campus when school starts again.HARDEST PART: I had no access to email. Since I normally check email every fifteen minutes or so and typically respond immediately to any message I receive, I imagine those of you that I am in regular correspondence with probably thought I had died.

The best metaphor I can come up with as to how this impacted me is that it was probably like what a heavy chain smoker endures while stuck in an airplane on the tarmac for 14 hours unable to smoke. I was almost jittery from lack of access to email. A woman I met Tuesday took pity on me and let me come to her room and use her computer to check my email, a full 4 days from the last time I had checked. It was like water to one dying in the desert! Thank you Pam!! BUMMER PART: We were at a luxurious hotel with a golf course, tennis courts, THREE swimming pools and more, but we had ZERO time to do any of those activities. I wish they'd had us at a Motel 6 or something so we wouldn't have to walk past these tempting pools we did not have time to swim in! (Although I did have a big screen TV in my room on which to watch the Olympics - cool! Michael Phelps got to swim - I didn't - that's OK).

BEST OF ALL: Due to my sleep disorder (and the fact that I would have had to get up at 3am Sunday to catch my flight had I not made alternate travel plans), I got to spend time with Uncle Marv and Aunt Bonnie (and fam) - bonus!! I really love, respect and enjoy them and don't get to see them nearly enough. They not only "put me up," but they hosted me in ways I was not at all anticipating. On Saturday they took me out to a wonderful Italian Restaurant and then on to Hollywood Bowl, a place I had never been before, and - get this - a concert of my absolute favorite Broadway production was being performed - Les Miserables. WOW! I don't know what else to say but WOW! Les Mis was playing 3 days in a row (unusual for Hollywood Bowl, I guess), and all the performances were sold out. Marv and Bonnie told me they had never seen the bowl so full. What a treat to be able to experience that! We took wine and strawberries - CLASSY! Then, today when they picked me up after the conference they treated me to a tour of Balboa Island in Newport Beach and a yummy treat there - all this in the midst of a very busy time for them. I think I'm still glowing!

Thanks Uncle Marv and Aunt Bonnie! You guys ROCK! :-)

SPECIAL THANKS: to David who made this possible and on this very busiest of weeks for him (when he and Caleb have begun school and he is trying to figure out how to balance physical therapy and full time work and lots and lots more) managed somehow to be in five places at once much of the time and manage everything around here better than a world class juggler.

David, you are the BOMB!

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