object lessons

I flew home last night and left a glorious Florida sunset behind.

01.2015 florida sunset

Before I left, I took another walk to try to absorb as much sunshine as I could, and added some birdwatching to the mix. It’s always fun for me to see different birds in different places, although I wore my iPhone battery down trying to Google ‘small brown bird with yellow butt’. It made for some dicey moments standing in line to have my boarding pass scanned at the gate (I use the Delta app on my phone and I kept wondering if anyone has ever had their phone die before they could have their electronic boarding pass scanned…this is the kind of thing that would happen to me.)

This white ibis was pretty easy to ID and he was a fine looking fellow. There were a couple of other wading birds that were more difficult, it’s hard for me to distinguish egrets from herons from cranes and it began to interfere with my attentiveness to the final bits of my seminar so I finally gave up.

01.2015 florida ibis

And of course there were the usual flocks of house sparrows, a brown plague that has taken over my own yard at home. But I couldn’t resist this picture – they were all sitting around the table at the Trattoria at the Disney Boardwalk looking expectant and vaguely European.

01.2015 florida sparrows

My seminar was quite large, almost 300 people, and when you attend these types of events, there are funny little behaviors that emerge. You find yourself sitting next to the same people every day, you quickly establish your cliques. People network and chat and swap business cards and I am wretched at all of this. I sit in the front row where no one else wants to sit and I try not to make eye contact with people. I don’t like small talk or chatting, it makes me nervous. I always forget my business cards and I tend to be focused on consuming as many of the free meals and snacks as possible in the shortest amount of time and then fleeing to somewhere quiet. (I also stockpile pens at these seminars. For some reason my pen jar at home tends to be filled with dry markers and useless highlighters and small screwdrivers and broken-tipped pencils, everything except pens that work. I found these Disney resort pens quite satisfactory.)

The sunshine and birdwatching opportunities made my lack of desire to network at breaks even more prominent, as did the fact that I started reading George R.R. Martin’s “A Feast for Crows” on my Kindle during the flight down. I’m so absorbed in this book that I want to read it straight through and I feel a little dazed when I look up from the pages. I spent many a break hiding in a sunny corner poring over the pages. To be sure, this makes me feel guilty. When my company sends me to a seminar, I’m on the clock, so I really shouldn’t be sneaking away, even on scheduled breaks, to read or play or absorb sunshine.

So when I pondered skipping the last day lunch and heading to the airport to try for an earlier flight, I thought better of it. I girded my loins and hit the buffet and found a new place to sit and before I quite knew what had happened, one of the panel speakers sat down next to me and then another and then two board members on the other side. The first panel speaker started talking to me and quickly we were laughing and he introduced me to the other speakers and board members. I felt like the new kid at school who suddenly finds herself at the cool kid table. I came away with a pack of business cards and promises of LinkedIn invitations and guidance on which chapter I should join, feeling stunned. I told myself sternly that this is an object lesson – 45 minutes at a lunch table and I made great contacts that my boss would appreciate. Those 45 minutes of somewhat painful socializing probably had greater benefit than the prior 2 days of seminar materials and skulking. I was proud of myself and so I had Pinkberry at the airport to reward myself.

It was about 18 F. in Detroit and the airport was full of tired commuters, ready to be home with their families. It was so nice to be home, cold notwithstanding, and Emmett & Sarge piled onto my lap on the couch while I ate pasta late at night and finished watching ‘Broadchurch’. (What do we think about mysteries that end with the killer being someone entirely unexpected? Do we feel impressed at their cleverness or do we feel a bit put out that we aren’t given the proper clues to solve it ourselves?)

And now, Winter Storm Linus. For fuck’s sake.

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