Train ride coming home

Amtrak travelMy sociability is exhausted after spending 6 days surrounded by people and being “on” from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed. I love this conference and the chance to see old friends and meet new ones – but I really am looking forward to being home and quiet with the kitty. No lines for a bathroom, no crowds in the hall, no eating out every meal with different combinations of people.

Right now I’m on the train en route between DC and CT and this is definitely not the quiet car. There’s a woman behind me who’s been chattering in loud Spanish on her cell phone off and on for the last three hours. The two seats ahead of me are occupied by Rachel and Amy, who are dissecting relationships and using the word “like” at least every four words. I want to strangle them and am longing for the iPod, which I left behind in an effort to not take everything I own on this trip.

I’ve been going to this event for 16 years, since the very first conference, and there are just a few of us who have that longevity. And at one point I was program chair and even chair of the organization. Now I just feel so tired and a bit depressed to see how out of touch I am with the technology changes and energy levels of the folks who are doing presentations. I don’t have a job where dreaming of big things in a systems sense really happens, so even if I wanted to propose a program, I wouldn’t know what would be interesting when my work feels so low-tech.

Yeah, I’m a little depressed and sad. I miss being important and part of an active, dynamic team – even as I know I don’t have the skill set, knowledge base or really interest in doing it again even if I had the chance to. It’s not helping that my feet are swollen up like water balloons, my knee is sore, and most annoying, my head feels as though it’s about to explode and the throat hurts when I swallow. I’ll be fine when I’m home in my own space, cuddling up with my kitty, and have a few days to rest and recover.

…. Rachel and Amy got off the train and were replaced by Sarah, who worked her way through a list of potential donors for a charity auction. I know more about all of it than I ever wanted to know.