I tried to "walk the talk" of taking advantage of this conference to meet new people from the many other schools in our system, so I took a seat at a table with three people I didn't know. Unfortunately the three of them just talked to each other, and then a fourth person who knew them joined the table, and they talked to him.
And it wasn't like a didn't signal to them that I was interested in engaging, as when one of them made a comment about the trivia taking so long the night before followed by a comment by another one of them about there being an open bar, I said, "There's probably a direct correlation between those two things." They were polite and laughed and all, but that was it.
I know it's a natural inclination to sit with people "like you," and believe me, if there had been a "gay table"—a male table that is attracted to another male table?—I would have sashayed right on over to it. But I digress...
For the 8:30-9:15 set of sessions, again there wasn't anything compelling with regards to the work I do to attend, and by this time I was pretty much on edge about that fact that Jen and I were presenting in about five hours and we were still tweaking our presentation—not to mention hadn't gone through it at all to try and time it or so that I could get used to the tool (which was not PowerPoint) that we were going to be using to project our presentation to our audience.
I ended up running into her and we went to the boardroom and worked through the next set of sessions, which again were all vendor sessions, and then completed the final updates during the following set of sessions. Our presentation styles are so incredibly different, both from a preparation and from a delivery point of view that it was a little bit stressful at times. Plus she had a shit-ton of stuff going on as one of the main organizers of this conference.
Once again, I found the food at lunch most delicious, and I tried the sitting-with-strangers thing again. This time, there were 7 people at the table already, and one of them actually introduced herself to me and asked me who I was. She then introduced everyone else at the table to me. Imagine that. Manners.
It did not go unnoticed that four of the eight directors of our organization were all sitting together, talking to each other, at a table in my line of sight. So much for "leading by example."
Jen and I finally "went on" at 2:15 and did our presentation called, "Social Media Goes to College: Building Your Campus Community." We never did practice using the projection software, and I was only slightly horrified to get to my slides realizing that the window containing the speaker notes was only about an inch deep, and my speaking points were about three inches deep on at least two slides. Oh well.
Evidently, not being able to remember one of my points, I started talking about the big one that got away:
Just kidding. Here I am, back on track, and yes, that is my "No one cares about your blog" t-shirt that I'm wearing while presenting about how important social media is. Let's keep it all in perspective, people.
I absolutely adore Jen's face in this picture. She was as cool as a cucumber presenting and I was proud to be sharing the spotlight with her. Here is a portion of the feedback we received after our presentation, for which five stars is the highest rating:
Needless to say, an incredible weight was lifted off me once we completed our presentation, and I set out to make it a night of celebrating. Tonight's dinner was actually part of a riverboat cruise on the Henrietta.
The weather was absolutely perfect, and the lit up shoreline was beautiful from the boat.
We had a great dinner on board, with a delicious marinated and roasted chicken as the entrée, and I met some fun people on board. I had a hoot of a time with the female bartender I went to for every one of my drinks. One time while getting a drink, I ran into a colleague who said, "Here, taste this," as he handed me his cup. It tasted like tequila to me, which I can't stand. I later found out that it was moonshine.
I'd set a goal to meet at least one person from each of the 17 schools in the UNC system while I was there, and once I told people that, they were happy to introduce me to other people who they knew and that helped me along. I wasn't successful in my goal, but as "they" say, it's better to have a goal and miss it than to not have a goal and hit it. I certainly met more people than I otherwise would have.
Back at the hotel, another celebration of the Marine Corps Ball was going on, so the place was teeming with Marines in dress blues again. The few. The proud. The hawt.
We made our way down to the Front Street Brewery, where as I entered, Sarah grabbed me and introduced me to one of the vendors who proceeded to put a large "C" on my hand to indicate to the bartender that he ought to pour my drinks freely, and by freely I mean free. I took advantage of getting three bourbons and diets before the tab got cut off.
After closing down that place, several of us walked further down the street to a place called The Whiskey, where there was a live band playing and the lot of us proceeded to dance and carouse later into the night.
There was a beautiful blond girl there alone, and I watched with amusement while guy after guy walked up to her (including at least one from our group) trying to become her next big thing. (As it turned out, she was the girlfriend of the lead guitarist, and she wasn't looking for anything.)
After a string of about five guys coming up to her, I walked over to her and said, "Hey baby," laughing. She smiled a nervous smile, and then I said, "Actually I'm gay, so I don't want a thing from you. I just wanted to tell you that I've enjoyed watching the stream of men come up to you and making their moves, so I thought I'd come over and give you a break," to which she cracked up.
When the band finally stopped at a little after 2:00, we made our way back to the hotel in various stages of various people taking detours (to a late-night pizza place, for one), then realizing one of the people needed help getting home because they'd driven but they were in no shape to drive now, which meant they needed to sleep on someone's floor, and someone else was in a hotel down the street that we weren't sure should be walking to alone, and all the logistical things involved in friends not letting friends go home alone drunk, but making sure they get to some home alive.
Another successful CAUSE celebration.