Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


To DC and Back Again

Rain bootIt’s another rainy day here in Connecticut – one of many that we’ve had this summer.  It’s really strange.  Don’t get me wrong, being inside listening to the rain is a nice relaxed thing to do, but the saturated ground, flooding, and constant humidity are getting old.  I went out in it today anyway to take my stinky garbage to the dumpster and make a trip to the grocery store to get edamame and a few other things.

Note to self:  make sure you actually have edamame before you start making edamame salad.

On my birthday, I headed down to DC on the train with some colleagues to attend the annual meeting of my professional association. I’ve gone to almost all of them for 28 years and always enjoy the chance to see old friends and meet new ones.  This time, though, I really found myself hampered by my unhappy knee.  I brought my cane to help with balance with all of that standing and walking (our hotel was still a bit of a hike from the part of the convention center populated by librarians). I also had some Biofreeze with me to take away aches and pains.  The stuff is awesome; I highly recommend the roll-on or spray.

It didn’t help that DC was hot and humid, especially by New England standards.  I know this is normal for the end of July but honestly, I found that easier to deal with when I’m thinner and more mobile.  So as a result of sore knees, long distance, stairs, and heat/humidity, I really cut back on some of the socializing I usually do.  Part of me regretted that and part me was just relieved to get off my feet.

Twitter on iPhoneMy friends and I realized as the conference went on that we were no longer the cool kids; that role has been taken over by the Gen X/Gen Y caucus folks, many of whom we know and like.  But when they were all together, it was clear that they have the energy and ideas that we used to have.  It was a bit depressing and sad to realize that I’m in the old guard now.  I still have a place but it’s a different place.

At the same time, we were graced with free wifi in the convention center, thanks to one of our vendor sponsors, which let me twitter to my heart’s content.  It was such fun to be in program sessions talking with other people in the same session or in others about program content and ideas to implement at home.

Now I am home and much to my surprise, I lost another 3.2 lbs in the last 2 weeks.  My total is now 23.6 lbs in 4 months.   I knew that I’d eaten carefully at the conference while still indulging a few times on food that was truly worth it. Why waste those extra points on just average food?


Happy Birthday to Me – Let’s Take a Train Ride

Birthday cupcakeTomorrow is my birthday and I will spend a big chunk of it on the train with some of my colleagues, going south on Amtrak to Union Station in Washington, D.C.   It’s kind of like a road trip in a really long car with someone else driving.  It’s also very easy transport, especially here in the northeast corridor, where trains are frequent, relatively inexpensive, and much more convenient than flights.  Plus there are plugs so we can charge up the electronic stores that we are bringing with us to this conference – Kindle, cell phones, iPods, laptops/netbooks, etc.  Actually, I have all of those but promise I won’t use them all at once.

I called Amtrak today to see if I could have Red Cap service to help me with my stuff getting on and off the train, as well as getting in FROM the train in DC, which is huge.   I feel a little bit like a fraud since I’m not immobile, but on the other hand, my knee hurts a lot and the service is free, other than tips.  I have a feeling I’ll really need it for the DC end of things, especially coming home.  Walking and standing (which is worse than standing) for the length of the meeting will take their toll and I’ll be very happy for the help on the way home, which I do alone, since my colleagues and I are all coming home at different times.

Birthday dinner will be with some friends who served on a committee together in 1999.  We liked each other so much we’ve had a reunion and this will be another, in the same town where we first celebrated.  We’re going to a Spanish restaurant which promises to have excellent sangria.  I don’t drink much but adore sangria – and it IS my birthday, so I’m planning on having a glass or two.

At this point in my career, much of the conference is about networking, committee work, and spending lots of time in the exhibit hall talking to vendors, as well as selected programs.  It will be busy but there are social events thrown in to keep things balanced — a reception at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, followed by a reception at the Library of Congress, catching up with friends, a bloggers and tweeters get together, and, of course, karaoke night.  I’ve never actually done karaoke but this could be very entertaining – and a nice break.

Stay out of trouble until I get back!


Taking My Balance to California

BalanceI leave for California on Saturday to attend a computer users group conference.  It’s one of my favorite events and I’ve attended every one since this started in 1993.  We’ve grown from a group of 300 attendees to 1800 at last year’s meeting.  This year, though, because of the economy and tight budgets, I know that attendance will be down, but it will still be a fun and productive time.

What comes with it, though, is 6 days of eating in restaurants.  I know how to do this but admit that I’m nervous of upsetting my still-new-feeling balance with healthy eating.  Airport eating is particularly hard because I want to eat everything not nailed down.  There’s something weird and “out of place” about airport waiting areas that just make me want stuff, plus there’s a 3-hour time change on this trip on top of having to leave the house at 3:30am to get to the airport in the first place.

I’ve been checking restaurant listings on the local arrangements website to see what kinds of options are available and likely to be visited, and checking foods in the WW book to get an idea of points values.  But really, how hard is it to make good choices – assuming they are available to find in the first place?  I’m bringing some Fiber One peanut butter bars to throw into my bag so I have an alternative to pastries and cookies out for breaks and snacks, and I’m hoping there will be fruit around.  It’s California so hopefully that won’t be a problem.  Maybe I can take a cab to a little market to pick up some stuff after I arrive.  We’ll see.

I just want to be prepared but not so rigid that I can’t enjoy myself with friends while keeping boundaries around this balance that I’ve rediscovered.  To get myself started right, I’m going to a WW meeting on Friday night before I pack, throw some good options in my bag, and not beat myself up if I slip.

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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.


Greetings from DC

The good news is that I’m down in DC for my favorite geeky library systems people conference with 1600 of my closest friends. I took the train down yesterday from CT and enjoyed the comfortable travel and chance to see things on the way, though the bathrooms were a bit smelly. We don’t spend the trip in the loo, though, so it wasn’t a big deal. Had dinner last night with my roommate, a friend of many years from Philly, and this morning we were at excellent workshop on transitioning systems, and then lunch in a very posh place with sparkly chandeliers and yummy food.

This afternoon my roomie and I went to the National Zoo, just a few long blocks down the street. We’d planned to go and really wanted to see the pandas and big cats, and were smart enough to take a cab to save on my knee. If you’ve never seen the National Zoo, make sure you go when you’re in the city. It’s free and it’s huge. The giant pandas are so cute and cuddly looking as they munch bamboo and look through those black eyes. The only other animals we saw actually moving around much were the tigers, who paced back and forth like, well, tigers. The lion, cheetahs, clouded leopard, and fishing cat all were sleepy and made me think of Tessie. I bought a little stuffed cheetah that makes rrraaawwwrr sounds when you push her tummy.

The bad news is that my afternoon adventure has about killed my knee. Slow walking through a rather raw afternoon, with lots of up and down hill sections, had me limping badly and feeling sorry for myself – and in a lot of pain. I opted to stay in the room tonight, dining on room service and letting the percoset start to work. I have three more full days here before heading home, and I can’t afford to be such a mess this early. Keep your fingers crossed that I listen to my body and pay attention to what it needs. Stretching limits is one thing but immobility and pain is something else.