Lockdown: How do you know it’s nice to meet me?

this guy. thinks he’s going to be the conference jokester.

I’m writing about Tuesday and it’s only 8:38 Thursday. I’m getting closer?

I think I only got two hours of sleep Monday night. I could have gotten another hour, but I forced myself up to get a PSL from Starbucks and a couple of breakfast sandwiches from McD’s before the conference began at six.

We had a couple of large-group sessions after the formal introductions and housekeeping. They were a lot like the sessions two years ago, but it was fine. Some of the same material, framed differently. One’s persuasive writing skills can always use a booster. The speaker in one session said his approach isn’t exactly to persuade someone to give; it’s to inspire someone to give.

Heck yeah I wrote that one down. It’s exactly the approach I take, and I’ve tried to muscle and finesse my influence on the writing I get to produce or edit. Sure, there are times and places for numbers and Things With All These Capitalized Words, but hit someone’s inspiration button and hit it meaningfully, and you can toss most of that in the slag heap. Make someone feel something.

There were three breakouts, for which we signed up weeks ago. I’m in the “major gifts” writing workshop. That’s a term in the business. The leader of the workshop is the same guy who did it two years ago, and I really respect him. It shouldn’t matter to me that he has two English degrees, but it does. It means he’s a development officer who understands writing from a writer’s perspective, not merely from a fundraiser’s perspective. Instant cred.

I’m socially awkward, so I always have difficulty fitting in at these things at first. It’s why I make a point of either asking a good question or offering a good answer sometime in the first session. I don’t need the others to take me seriously, but it helps me get the most out of the time we have; it makes me a lot more comfortable.

they really shouldn’t encourage me.

Being from Hawaii always helps. People want to talk to you if you’re from Hawaii, and I’m here for it.

They gave us a writing assignment that was going to take me some serious time. I didn’t even know for sure I had an active project to use for it, but when I looked at the material some development officers sent me for a group proposal, I knew I had something good to work on.

If I were at a real-world conference, of course I’d have the rest of the day to work on it and to do whatever. Probably get dinner with some of the other participants, which is what happened last time. We would have had an early-evening reception, which I would have attended with great anxiety.

But I’m in my usual spot at my usual desk this time, and because we’re on East Coast time, I’m actually done at noon. Which leaves plenty of the workday for work. Unfortunately.

I did it, too. After dashing to the pharmacy for a prescription refill, a spur-of-the-moment flu shot, and a takeout lunch nearby, I had a Zoom meeting, then a one-on-one with the boss, and I’ll spare readers the details, but I was utterly wiped. And still tried to do NaNoWriMo.

I only got 1124 words out of me before I had to run the white flag up the pole. And that was a struggle. I think the flu shot might have hit me hard, too, right into Wednesday.

I’ve often been accused of not knowing how to take a compliment, and I see why people say it. It took me until well into college to learn to say “thank you for the encouragement” when people say something nice about something I’ve done, just as it took me the same amount of time to learn to say “It’s nice to meet you” when I meet people. I told you: socially awkward.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate a compliment, and it’s not like it’s unpleasant to meet people. There’s just this part of my brain that takes these interactions literally. When someone compliments me on something, I’m thinking of all the things wrong about it. And when someone says “It’s nice to meet you,” all I can think is, “You have no idea if it’s nice to meet me.”

But these are not literal interactions. I know that now; I’ve known it since very late into college. I still have to coach myself ahead of time, though, to accept these things and to play my role.

I digress here because it doesn’t take long in these writers workshops for me to feel a quick shift. People recognize that I can write, even sometimes before seeing any of my writing. It’s one of the very, very few things I accept compliments on without forcing a thank-you. I know I can write.

And I have to say it feels really good to be complimented on my writing, because it’s one of the only things I want to be complimented on. My coworkers compliment me frequently, although less frequently than when I was new. They’re used to me now, which in some ways is even better.

But maaaaaaaan it feels good to be acknowledged for my ability to do something I really care about by people whom I’ve just met. It makes me feel for a short moment that all these crazy things in my brain and all these ridiculous things about my personality are okay. They might even contribute to my writing well. Even if they don’t, I feel myself carrying them a little more easily.

The foundation can’t afford to send me to this conference every year, and I’m only going this year because I didn’t have to fly to it — and the conference registration by itself is pretty dang pricey. But I may consider asking to go again in two years, and if they can’t pay for travel and lodging, I might offer to cover that part of it, just for the professional affirmation I get. It helps me sleep a lot more peacefully.

Breakfast was the McD’s stuff with a lovely, lovely pumpkin spice latte. For lunch I went to the 99 Ranch market, which is just called Moanalua 99 or something these days. Enormous food court where there used to be an enormous Asian grocery. There’s a local plate lunch place there that’s just okay, but it has one dish you don’t see anywhere else: Jamaican chicken. I don’t know how Jamaican it is or why it’s called Jamaican, but it’s freaking good. I haven’t had it in years, so when I was in Mapunapuna to get my scrips refilled, I picked some up and brought it home.

That was lunch and dinner, and part of breakfast the next day. I think I’m going to do something similar next Tuesday: not worry about food at all but get decent takeout. I should submit a per diem request since I’m at a conference. I shouldn’t be expected to pay for my own food!

I got the rare text from Susannah. She sent me some encouraging words about NaNoWriMo, which she’s participated in and won. Also from my friend Melody who is having Twitter problems. Someone took over her account, and she’s had it since a few days before me in 2006. Crush Girl and I traded a few texts to talk about our Wednesday holiday. She had a few fun things lined up, but I knew I’d pretty much be working all day.

Tuesday was in turns rough and terrific. I guess I’ll take it?

Leave a comment if you’re not getting enough connectivity these days. I’ll do my best. We can text or DM or whatever, if I don’t forget!

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