Monday, April 20, 2009

Compare & Contrast

There are any number of conferences with varying degrees of relevance and quality. It is a now time for The Meeting, a lengthy ordeal - seven days jammed full of sessions and meetings, lunches and dinners and special events. I tend to go, having only missed a single opportunity while completing my graduate and postdoctoral work.

But, if you reference last year's meeting, you'll note that I spent very little time learning. I chose to mope instead. I would never find a job! I was so sad! I must comfort myself with lengthy naps in a lovely hotel. Massages. Long baths that left me splashing happily until I remembered I was likely to be unemployed in the near future. I would dutifully slump in the sudsy water, cheered by the bubbles despite myself.

So ingrained is that habit that I arrived last night, skin soaking in the humidity and hair frizzing alarmingly, I tossed my suitcase on a bench and flopped on my bed. I arched into a delicious stretch, muscles aching from 8+ hours on airplanes and opened one eye to glance at the clock as I relaxed into the fluffy bedding. I sighed, tempted to curl into a nap rather than dress for one of the three activities for which I had invitations. It doesn't seem like something I'd do, I thought, closing my eye again.

Motivated only by guilt, I quickly pulled off traveling clothes and shimmied into a dress. Briefly admiring the color, I forced myself to don heels and make-up, tucked my hair into some vague semblance of a style and set off to find one of the gatherings. I walked, heels clicking oddly against a background of flip flops. Smiling at people in swimsuits and beachwear as they ate ice cream or wandered off to find some suitably fruity beverage, I checked my cell phone for the room number again and frowned at signs as I tried to navigate the area.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it - people know who I am and stopped to chat. I drank free cocktails and nibbled complimentary treats, reminding myself to mingle after I'd lingered with one group too long. After a couple of hours, I declared myself exhausted and retreated to my room.
I started the day with a walk and am taking a break to eat a container of fresh pineapple. I took care of five items on my list of things to do before 9AM (local). But, sitting in a huge ballroom telling myself to focus instead of wishing I was napping, I realized conferencing isn't all that different than it always has been.

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