Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Give a Girl Some ROOM!

by Cassondra Murray

Personal space is a strange thing.

And even stranger are our perceptions of it, and how we handle its being invaded.

I thought a lot about personal space this past week. Mine was invaded. I invaded the spaces of others. I didn't much like it.

I'm talking about the RWA national conference of course. 2500 women (mostly) jammed into one hotel (mostly) for a solid week.

Friends and neighbors, that's enough estrogen in one place to scare the muscles off Ahhhnold, Rocky, and the Italian hunks in yesterday's post, all at the same time.

Most of the Banditas have come home from conference bone tired and road weary.

I was so tired when I got off that airplane I was telling myself, "a few more steps and you can claim your checked bag. Steve will be there." Then, "a few more steps and we'll be to the van. You can sit down." Then, "One more hour and we'll be home. You can stop moving for a whole night. Maybe you can actually SLEEP HALLELUJAH!" I was pep-talking myself through the airport. That's unusual.

I generally attack life with a fair degree of energy. On Sunday evening, all the "attack" had been sucked right out of me. I can count on two hands the number of times I've been so tired that I wanted to lie down on the concrete sidewalk and sleep. Sunday night was one of them.

As I've thought about what, exactly, made me so bloody exhausted, I've come to the conclusion that it was, among other things, the loss of personal space involved in air travel, hotel stays, and the crowds at conference. While the keynote speakers are always fabulous and encouraging, the workshops are brilliant, and the meetings with professionals are uplifting, and a forward boost for a writing career, there is absolutely nowhere to get by yourself for any length of time at these events. It just doesn't happen. And even if it could happen, honestly, I wanted to be with my friends. The people I get to see only once per year. I wouldn't miss that for anything!

But it takes its toll.

See this hotel lobby? Looks rather Zen doesn't it? Okay, add a gazillion people to it. Poof. There goes the Zen and here comes the stress Baby!

I've recognized for a long while now that we create our own "personal space" using our own perceptions, and the need for "actual space" varies based on the situation. Or, maybe the NEED doesn't vary, but what we'll accept as okay certainly does vary.

As a rule, I need a lot of personal space. I can look out my front door and see fields. Soybeans this year--it'll be corn next year. And cows. Cows in the field don't intrude upon my personal space. Maybe it's the way they look up at me when I go outside. They lift their heads from grazing and stare in my direction, chewing their cud contendedly. Believe me, as a farm girl, I have no illusions about how cows actually are when one bothers them. But in the field right next door, they're okay. They chew their cud peacefully.

They're peaceful-feeling, those cows.


A conference is not a peaceful-feeling thing.

Of course, like everyone else, I have to adjust my need for personal space based on the situation. Still, long periods of space deprivation make me tired.

My roomie for this conference, Bandita Buddy Keira, did an outstanding job of dealing with infringements on personal space, as we had quite the party in our room on Wednesday evening. All the folks who've blogged with us over the past year were invited to this bash we threw, and poor Keira was trapped right in the middle of it and she handled it admirably well.

Any stay in a hotel room is, of course, infringement on everyone's personal space if the room is shared. The rooms are small, and I think even if you have one to yourself, living in that artificial environment makes a person tired.

But nothing makes a person as aware of personal space, or the lack thereof, as does travelling on shared transportation. Especially air travel.


I don't do that a whole lot. But this past week I did. I flew on a commercial airline. I hated it. I hate it so much that I usually work real hard to avoid it. I actually believe that this is at the root of Americans' addiction to their own automobiles. Inside your own car, you have a certan degree of personal space to expand--to just be. It takes a LOT more mental and emotional energy to use public transport.

Don't get me wrong--I have absolutely no fear of flying, but I HATE to fly on commercial airlines. First, there's something wonky for me about entrusting my safety to an entire group of people who neither know nor care about me, and any one of which may not care whether he or she does the job well.

You know. Little, insignificant jobs like putting the gas cap back on the airliner. Those jobs. It always gives me a bit of comfort to see the pilot out there, on the ground under the airliner, actually checking out the plane he's about to shove into the air under the power of jet engines, and hurl through the sky at a gazillion miles per hour and then...aim back at the ground and actually reconnect.

Time spent on an airliner is a long way--metaphorically speaking--from those cows in the field next door.

These days, flights tend to be full. One of the things I hate most about flying is being imprisoned in close quarters with a bunch of other folks.

I know. They don't like it any more than I do. And we've all developed a set of rules for how we behave in these circumstances.

The guy who rubs up against my butt as he tries to get down the aisle when we meet--he probably didn't mean to do that. If we were in a bar or an alley, he'd either back off fast or he might well get the back side of my fist to the side of his head. Or an elbow in the face. In the aisle of an airliner, we just say, "Oh, sorry." "Excuse me." And we move on, never actually meeting one another's eyes.

That's one way of maintaining personal space. Not looking at the other person.

I noticed that phenomenon in New York the second time I went there. The first time I went there, the people I met looked me right in the eye. But that wasn't The Big Apple in all its glory. That was an aberration. It was only a week after the attack on the World Trade Center. Everyone I met in New York City while I was there with my search dogs met my eyes, and they looked for hope in mine--and offered hope with theirs. Everyday New York City isn't like that. The second time I went, it was a bit closer to normal--everyone maintaining his "space" by simply imagining it to be there--by putting up an energetic wall and remaining inside it, somewhat oblivious to everything outside of it.

The whole process of shared transportation, and air travel in particular, is a fascinating study in how we adapt our personal space. This week I had to shrink it to almost nothing for periods of eight to twelve hours per day for two whole days while I flew across the country. Ugh. They shove you into two square feet of space for the flight, with no real choice as to who is in the two square feet next to you, and the "public" space--aisles and lavatories--has to be shared.

Even the waiting areas at the air terminal gates are studies in the need for space. People don't clump up. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, looks for the most open space--the most unoccupied chairs, and sits right down in the middle of them, preserving as much "personal space" as possible.

We shift our need for personal space based on who we're with and where we are I guess.

Have you noticed that when you're in line at the ATM, the people behind you (if they're smart) automatically give you a bunch more space than they would, say, in line for tickets to a concert? I appreciate that. But I've also noticed that some cultures don't place a high value on personal space, and when those cultures mix with others, it can be a little uncomfortable. Some folks will come right up to me in a shopping line, or wherever I'm standing, and get right inside my personal bubble, and I immediately back up. One time three guys were almost on top of me while I was using the self-checkout at the grocery. They put their stuff on the conveyor, it shoved up against my stuff, and they were standing almost against me where I was scanning my items. They were less than a foot from me and they were oblivious.

It was as though I wasn't even there. They were giving me NO space.

So I did something uncharacteristic for me. I put my arm against their items and shoved them all to the far end of the conveyor. Then I stared really hard at them and said, "excuse me, but I'll be finished in a minute, then you can have this station." The one sitting on the conveyor looked at me like I had three heads. They all got kinda quiet while the crazy lady finished checking out. I didn't care. They'd invaded my space bubble and darnit, I was defending it.

When we Banditas were together at conference--in our rooms or in the hotel bar, I didn't mind the space infringement at all. Because that was social time, with people I knew and trusted. Bandita Buddies would come up to the table and sit right down with us and start chatting and I loved that. We were shoulder to shoulder and I felt absolutely no sense of loss of space. Here's a picture of the gorgeous bar at the top of the Marriott. It was our Bandita hangout last week, and it does live up to its name. It's called "The View." That table with the yellow seats over on the far right? That was ours.



Imagine us jammed in there like sardines and you'll get the picture. I loved every minute of it. I was with people I trusted and wanted to mingle. To mix my energy with theirs and have us both be the better for it. I wanted to get close enough to really interact. No defense mechanisms with these ladies.



The bubble shrinks when you're with your lover too, doesn't it? Even more than with friends.



Y'all will get tired of this picture if I keep using it, but I'm not quite recovered from the week of having too little space, so I'm too tired to look for another. Besides, I love it. I think it's a perfect illustration of the trust between two people who are intimate, or moving in that direction.

When I studied photojournalism and portraiture, we studied how people act and how to show their relationship in a photo. One of the tools we used in our photos is the same one we writers use in our books. Having one person touch the other person's head. It is, perhaps, one of the most intimate gestures available to the human. Allowing another person to touch your head is a gesture of complete trust. And we don't give it automatically. This photo, of course, is staged. Those are professional models and they might not have known one another before this shoot. But that's not the impression we get from looking at it. They look open. Vulnerable.

Intimate.

We Banditas write about relationships, primarily. And one of the best ways to study relationships is to watch how people handle their personal space bubbles. The closer you are to a person, the less space from that person you need.

See? Even the verbiage for our levels of intimacy mirrors that of our physical relationship. We want a person "close" or "far away". As we write the meeting for the hero and heroine, the way we have them interact, physically, is very different from the way they behave when we're getting ready to write a love scene. I think it's fascinating.

Now that I've had a few hours of sleep I even find my exhaustion fascinating. I think it was caused, among other things, by having to keep my personal space bubble so small for such a long time. Sucked the very life out of me.

That energy-sucking time in transit, and the time spent in close quarters in workshops and ballroom banquets, crowded elevators and constantly having to be "on" was a real drain. The entire time my personal bubble had to be small--sucked in--held close so I didn't infringe on the bubbles of others. This, as opposed to the type of relationship in the jeans ad above, and the time spent with my friends this past week, where a person invites another, or others, into her space. Those invasions are actually energizing in their own way. Tantalizing sometimes, even powerfully provocative when it's a lover or a potential lover opposite us.

I'm already missing the other Banditas. And the most fascinating thing of all is that most of the "space" I would have needed because we'd never met in person has been bridged during the past year by conversations typed on a keyboard--through emails, and through this blog. Though I'd never seen most of you until this past week, and some I've still never seen, this blog has brought an entire community of people together. It's brought us Banditas closer, and it's brought me closer to you, our readers and friends.


So what do you think about this idea of personal space?


If you travelled this week, did you find your space infringed upon?


Does it make you tired when you have to be in big crowds? Or do they make you feel energized?


Have you encountered other people who don't have the same sense of or need for space that you have?


And did you ever have to defend your personal space bubble the way I did at the grocery store?

Have you ever felt that you "knew" someone after reading her book? Do you feel that you know characters after a great read? That if you sat down with them, it would be like old friends meeting--and your space bubble would be welcoming?
Have you come to know a close friend without ever seeing or touching him/her--in this way--through cyberspace? And when you finally met, was your actual "space bubble"--the personal space you needed to feel safe-- smaller and more intimate because of it?

64 comments:

Kirsten said...

Oh my oh my!

Cassondra said...

Well, well, well.

The Rooster goes to the Northwest.

Hmmm. Missing the West Coast weather I guess.
;0)

Congrats Kirsten!

Kirsten said...

Seriously, that GR got around so much at RWA, there's no way I'm letting him invade MY personal space!!

Cassondra, another brilliant post! I share your utter exhaustion upon returning from RWA. Not being a country girl, and doing a fair bit of traveling, I was not as troubled by the lack of personal space as you were. That I can handle okay. I don't love it, but it's okay. For me, the exhaustion came from the constant interaction. You could give me all the personal space in the world, but it's the interaction that will eventually kill me.

That doesn't mean I don't like it, because I do. I absolutely adored meeting all the folks at RWA, I had an incredibly great time hanging with all the Banditas and BBs. It's just that as an introvert, it sucks energy out of me to socialize that much. I hear that you extroverts out there recharge your batteries by this sort of interaction (though even our resident extrovert Jeanne was tired by the end of it!). But for us introverts, being social takes lots of energy. And five or six straight days of social is exhausting to the point of coma-inducing.

Still, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Putting faces to names is absolutely priceless, you are all incredibly interesting, unique, funny, talented people and I am so thrilled I got to meet those of you I did. Thanks for sharing bits of yourselves with us, and spending your own precious emotional energy to connect with us. We KNOW how hard that it.

Really. :-)

We love you!

Now get some sleep, Cassondra. We'll talk in the morning.

Nancy said...

Well, Kirsten Scott, look at you! Snagged that old bird on your first Wednesday back. Congrats.

I agree with you about the introvert thing. I spend a lot of time by myself or with just the family. Having to be "on" all the time drains me. I enjoy seeing people, and I think I'm pretty friendly, but I need period time to be "off."

Yes, Cassondra, I have a space bubble. It's 18 inches in all directions when I'm among strangers, collapsing appropriately if someone I trust arrives and expanding if anyone in the crowd does something that isn't quite "right." I frequently notice it at RWA when the chairs are so close, we're sitting hip to hip with people we don't really know. I look for empty rows or rows containing banditas.

I also love it when they open the dining hall as soon as the tables are set up, avoiding the mad, lemming-like rush forward that occurs when people have to form lines. Well, more like mobs than lines. We Americans aren't very good at lines. The British queue up so nicely; we clump and surge. To each culture its own.

I've never actually defended my personal space in the way you describe. I've only thought about it. I salute you for doing it. I'm okay in NYC except around Times Square or in Chinatown because those areas are just too congested. I can deal with the subway or bus at rush hour if I'm not going far, but I try not to need to.

The second leg of my trip home, the plane wasn't full. It felt like riding in luxury. Planes used to not be full all the time, but as more and more flights are cut, the ones remaining will jam up even more.

Anyway, I'm glad to be home. No one in my study but me. No one in the house but us. I think we're all a bit, as you put it, bone tired and road weary.

As usual, a thoughtful, perceptive post. Nice illos, too!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Anyone remember the line from Dirty Dancing? This is MY dance space, this is YOUR dance space... illustrated by the arc of the arms outspread.

I SO get that. :> Even as the resident rampant extrovert, I was indeed tired and ready for some downtime. Alone. In my office. Just me and the voices in my head. Ha! (Just a quick reminder that all writers hear voices in their heads, right? Right?) Grins.

I've never had to defend my personal space in the grocery store, but I've had to do it in other places, like the Metro in Paris. Oh, and in NYC. One of the reasons I don't like NYC. Ha!

There are so many writers with whom I feel kinship after reading their work. I've now met some of them and its been really interesting. Some have been like the 'voice' in their books and some haven't. Totally odd.

Oh, hey, Kirsten, enjoy the rooster. I think he slept the day away at Gannon's. I know he was one tired chook after all the wooing and preening at National. :>

It's great to be back in the Lair, that's for sure. Welcome home everyone, and great, insightful post, as usual, Cassondra!

Tawny said...

Great post, Cassandra :-) I'm pretty comfy with my personal space and am not overly defensive of it. That said, I'm not really comfortable in crowds simply because of the energy drain. But with the space thing, we had well over 2000 women at conference and I feel like I hugged at least half of them *g*.

I did come home exhausted. Talking, being "on" so much is wearing. In my real life, I talk to people outside my family maybe a couple times a week. Like I said in KJ's post, I'm not shy, but I am definitely introverted and I think conference sucks up my outgoing energy for about 5 months LOL.

Kirsten, 'grats on the GR. and good plan not to let him in your personal space *g* that was one naughty rooster.

Amy Andrews said...

Hi Cassondra. It was great meeting you in SF as it was all the banditas. Great to see Susan get the GH on Saturday night.
I've just arrived home - 24 hours of standing in queues and squished into airplane seats. Ugh! Followed by mounds of washing, double ugh and hundreds of emails.

Loved that picture of the empty lobby. You should have heard the Marriott Lobby on Monday night - you could have heard a pin drop!

Personal space is an interesting thing. I'd never given it much thought before until I worked in a psych ward. There you notice it big time beause by and large, psych pt's have no notion of personal space. It's like that bit of their personality never got developed. I guess there are those who find that interesting, frankly I found it unnerving!

Just like to say thanks for the great party you guys threw and for the mean punch you threw together Cassondra - the Banditas do rock!

Jane said...

Congrats on the GR, Kirsten.

As Nancy said, it is super crowded in certain areas of NYC. NY in general is crowded. It can get uncomfortable being packed in a crowded train or bus, but you kind of get used to it. It just sucks when people are rude or they push and shove to move ahead of you. I missed the days when there were only 20 passengers on a plane that seats 80. Everybody gets up at the same time to get their luggage from the overhead bins and try to be the first ones off the plane. The world's getting more crowded, so we can expect less personal space.

Helen said...

Congrats Kirsten have fun with him

Excellent post Cassondra I agree with you I too need my personal space one of the reasons that I enjoy staying at home I am very comfortable with family and close friends but very shy with strangers although I feel that everyone here is my friend so I would have loved to have been in SF with you all.

If we go to a football game or out somewhere where there are large crowds by the time I get home I too am exausted and just want to sit in my chair and read for a while then I get back to normal.

Have Fun
Helen

Christine Wells said...

Cassondra, as usual, what a great post! Thinking about that couple's intimacy on the Guess ad reminds me of the way the hero in North and South cradles the heroine's head in his hands as he kisses her--wildly romantic! I hadn't connected the trust involved before, but undoubtedly that's the underlying reason.

I loathe having my personal space invaded and equally loathe flights, although on the flight home I had this cute little Canadian boy next to me and I really didn't mind when he curled up to go to sleep with his feet sticking into me. As you say, it depends who it is.

I was so tired at National I was practically incoherent, but I found myself seeking company rather than avoiding it. I don't know if that's extroverted--I love company of people like the Banditas, whom I adore. Not so keen on trying to mingle with people I don't know, though, and I usually like to slink back into the cave for a breather now and then. Kirsten's right, though. You need to get some zzzz, C.

Congrats on the chook, Kirsten!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Congrats Kirsten, hope the GR behaves himself for you.

So now we know why the Lair is so roomy even the off branches are huge.

So what do you think about this idea of personal space?
I totally agree with you, by my nature and circumstances I am and have been alone a lot. I love my family and as far as they are concerned I am a touchy, feely type person, but that is it, I have to know you pretty well to let you in my space.

If you travelled this week, did you find your space infringed upon?
I didn't travel this week and as a rule don't travel at all. The few times I have were many years ago and for very short spaces of time.

Does it make you tired when you have to be in big crowds? Or do they make you feel energized?
Yes, in fact something very strange happened to me this weekend. BF and I went out with a couple we know to a club and because we smoke we can only sit in certain areas, very small areas I might add. So we are sitting at a table for two behind a yellow line. We are literally up against the dance floor, I had saved a larger table for our friends but when they got there they pulled their chairs over to our tiny round table and I was trapped. I love these people but the only way for me to get up was to push back and step up on the dance floor. We were joined my even more people and the space became even smaller. By the time the night was over and we came home I was actually showing symptoms of shock. It is very warm here in WV right now and I am a hot blooded person as a rule. Air conditioners going full blast and a sheet to cover me and I am reasonably comfortable. Not Saturday night, I have covers over me and was still chilling, complete with chill bumps and BF was searching out quilts. BF was getting real concerned and I told him it would pass in a while, just please, stay on your side of the bed right now. I have done that a few times before and it was always in a crowded situation. Even family gatherings have done it, (okay, so I don't love ALL of my family members).

Have you encountered other people who don't have the same sense of or need for space that you have?
Yes again, a woman that used to work in my office would literally get in your face to talk to you. Apparently she didn't have any boundaries at all.

And did you ever have to defend your personal space bubble the way I did at the grocery store?
Yes, same as above. I have told her to back up and get out of my face. I can't breath.

Have you ever felt that you "knew" someone after reading her book? Do you feel that you know characters after a great read? That if you sat down with them, it would be like old friends meeting--and your space bubble would be welcoming?
Absolutely, several authors I feel I would be comfortable with and some of the characters I truly wish were real people.

Have you come to know a close friend without ever seeing or touching him/her--in this way--through cyberspace? And when you finally met, was your actual "space bubble"--the personal space you needed to feel safe-- smaller and more intimate because of it?
Only one, she was a wonderful person and when we met it was like a long lost sibling (I think anyway, since I have no siblings I can only imagine that was what it felt like.) We had talked online for years and when we met it was like coming home.

Buffie said...

Cassondra, great great post!!! I am SO with you on the personal space. I can't stand for someone to be right up on me in line at the store or the bank or where ever. If they do, I tend to shift my weight to one foot and lean back a little bit and stare right at them. It drives me crazy.

I am a person who needs my space. I need time by myself every single day, even if it is only 15 minutes in the car on the way to get my boys from school.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

I had to LOL about you comment Buffie, of "even if its only 15 minutes on my way to get the boys from school" ;) There are times when it feels like that's the only downtime!

Its so interesting, isn't it, about personal space? I'm an extrovert and love the energy of people and busy places, but like everyone so far, I cannot stand someone who gets in my personal space, if I don't know them.

I have one acquaintance who pushes this all the time, hug-hug-hug, lean in-lean in-lean-in. Urg. Worse yet, she wears a very acrid perfume and I smell like it for hours afterwards. I just despise that. I don't like her enough to hug her more than once and I SURE don't want to carry her scent with me. Bleeech.

I'm a very hug-everyone kind of person (ask any Bandita, they'll tell you!), unless I read from their body language that that's not welcome, but there are just some people with no boundaries. I think Dianna used the term and its so true. That's the kind that give me the creeps. :>

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats on the GR, Kirsten!! Perhaps he knows you won't invade his personal space and he can get some well-earned rest! He was definitely the man about town in San Francisco!

Conference completely exhausted me and I had to go to work the morning after my plane landed at midnight. Fortunately I was off yesterday and got to sleep in a bit. Then my CP called and said "Get your butt in that chair! You've got requests to get out!" SIGH I think she is taking lessons in whip cracking from Aunty Cindy!

Great post, Cassondra, and I have to agree that being "on" so much at the conference can wear you out. It was a madhouse! I was constantly looking for people I knew - Banditas, Riskies, anybody with a familiar face. KJ swears I was stalking her! LOL She was there both times I pitched and made me far less nervous about it.

And my Golden Heart class are such a friendly bunch. Our rule was "No Pixie enters any event alone." and it worked. And I got to meet my CP from Arizona, with whom I have e-mailed since the Avon FanLit event, but had not met until the conference. She and I spent a lot of time together and that acted as a buffer against the crowds.

I tend to be somewhat introspective at times. It is then I really feel invasions of my personal space. We musicians tend to want to withdraw at times and we get kind of grouchy when people don't allow us to do so.

I guess in certain situations - on airplanes and at crowded venues - we don't really have choice. That can be very frustrating!!

I have defended my own personal space quite vehemently at times. European male opera singers tend to be rather touchy/feely. I have found a good shove to the solar plexus and a diva-like glare to be very useful in such situations. I would be pleased to teach the technique to any of the Banditas and Buddies at the next conference!

On that note, I want to thank all of the Banditas and BBs for making me feel so very welcome at the conference!! Everyone was so sweet and friendly and made me feel so very much at home. It really helped to make my first conference a fantastic experience! And the party was so much fun - crowded, noisy, squealing, good food and drink FUN!!

Gannon Carr said...

I'm not too defensive about my personal space with people I know and like, but if it's a stranger, particularly an obnoxious one.....back off!

Crowds can be so draining. We just came back from a few days in Washington DC and it was full of people. Security is so tight everywhere, you have to have your bags checked even at the museums. Standing in those lines, people tend to get much too close. I hate waiting in long lines. Makes me crazy.

Like Buffie, I need some alone time every day. It recharges me and makes me a much nicer person to be around.

Gannon Carr said...

Congrats on nabbing the GR, Kirsten.

Deb Marlowe said...

LOL--Well, Cassondra, I think I was the first person to crowd your personal space, since we met up at the shuttle and were promptly squished together on a bench seat! That was a fun moment of spontaneous recognition!

And though I'm a "I need my alone time" kind of girl, I was thrilled to meet you and so many of the banditas at last! After sharing so much of ourselves, it felt like meeting up with some of my best girlfriends--and that's the best sort of situation for restoring my energy--girl talk and lots of it!

So thanks for the boost, Banditas!

Deb
who screamed so loud when Susan won, the lady next to me asked, "Are you a Bandita?" I said, "No, I'm a Bandita Buddy!"

Buffie said...

Jeanne -- glad you got a kick out of my 15 minutes of alone time! That is basically the only time I get. And I have even found myself turning the radio off so that it will be silence in the car. Do you think that is a sign of old age!!???!!??

Claudia Dain said...

I agree with you completely and have only one thing to say.

*That's* what the floor of the lobby looked like?

Keira Soleore said...

A quick comment here before I run off to chores and such. Rooming with Cassondra was easy. She's the most considerate roomie I've come across. And that big bash she threw? What fun!! I enjoyed meeting all the Banditas, drinking Cassondra's delish punch (we have to wrest the recipe from her), and having the room set up and rest in the space of an afternoon. Cassondra's the gal you always want as your roomie. Thought for future conferences.

Hey, Rooster. Glad you're in the PNW, but how about coming further north to Seattle???

Be back in the afternoon...

jo robertson said...

As always, Cassondra, beautiful, beautiful post.

Oh my is right, Kirsten; how'd you manage that?? The GR got a taste of the coastal weather and wanted to return to all that lush greenery!

I was thinking along the same lines of personal space, Cassondra. I'm usually quite protective of my space, but I noticed with the Banditas it felt so right to be huddled together and sharing our energies.

There was a moment in the elevator filled with Banditas, jamed in like sardines, when Jeanne rested her hand on my shoulder and patted me in a really protective gesture (hey, I'm a writer so I notice these things). In that moment I felt I'd really earned my handle of JoMama. Soooo sweet!

Pat Cochran said...

Congratulations, Kirsten!

Great post, Ms. Cassondra! Very
introspective, you've given us much
to think about!

Pat Cochran

Cassondra said...

Hey everyone!

So sorry I'm late back to the party,but I just got up. Slept for a LONG time, and that was really good.

Kirsten said:

It's just that as an introvert, it sucks energy out of me to socialize that much. I hear that you extroverts out there recharge your batteries by this sort of interaction (though even our resident extrovert Jeanne was tired by the end of it!). But for us introverts, being social takes lots of energy. And five or six straight days of social is exhausting to the point of coma-inducing.

Well, what's interesting is that it reaches a point of that for me too. If I take an extrovert/introvet test, I always fall right smack in the middle. I'm an attention whore and though I try to reel it in, it's difficult to shut it down. I think it's left over from my days on the stage, performing. I have no fear of that. And I LOVE close, tight interractions with people I really enjoy and care for, like the Banditas and our friends.

But it seems that the space issues and the CROWDS milling about take more than they give. After a certain period, it's like there's no more left. The well is empty. And if it's mid-conference and you have to keep going, it can get really bad. I think I'd reached that point and I think I know when I reached it.

Friday night I was saying "I don't want to go home!" Saturday afternoon I was saying, "I'm ready to go home." Somewhere in there was the turning point. The well got completely empty. Sunday I was just dreading 12 hours of travel, and by the time it was over, there was nothing left. Ugh.

Cassondra said...

Nancy said:

I'm okay in NYC except around Times Square or in Chinatown because those areas are just too congested. I can deal with the subway or bus at rush hour if I'm not going far, but I try not to need to.

I actually LOVE NYC! The energy of that city vibrates through me when I go there. I joke that I've lived there in a past life because the first time I went I knew my way around and was the navigator for everyone, including the people who had been there before.

But I also don't like Times Square. It's too "touristy" for me. Those aren't the areas I enjoy.

And I too hate the cattle being herded behaviors. And you're right, we Americans don't do lines well, do we? Perhaps it's the days from elementary school...LINE UP. STAND STILL. BE QUIET. MARCH HERE. SIT DOWN. DO THIS. NOW LINE UP AGAIN. STAND STILL. BE QUIET.....

Don't like being herded.

I think that's why I hate the conference editor/agent appointment process so much. Don't get me wrong. They handle it efficiently and I can't see a better way to do it, but I do feel like I'm part of a herd of cattle. It feels icky. Kind of depersonalizing and...well...dehumanizing in some ways.

MsHellion said...

Great blog! Yes, I hate my personal space invaded. So much so I made a scene at a bar once. Or twice. Not that it made the offender quit bothering me. Apparently no one takes my tantrums seriously.

I'm not sure if I feel like I know someone after I read their books. I'd like to think I could plop down for coffee with JK Rowling like we were buddies...but I'm not sure.

And crowds drain me. I have to be given space to recoup. I feel like I have to be "ON" and I need time to be "OFF" and antisocial.

Christie Kelley said...

Great post, Cassondra. I come from a big family so you'd think I wouldn't have trouble with lack of personal space. Well, I'm just the opposite. I desperately need my space.

Saturday I leave with my hubby and kids for Orlando and Disneyworld. So I have to hop on a plane for two hours. Like you, Cassondra, I hate flying (and no, I'm not afraid to fly either). And this is the Disney flight meaning it will be nothing but families with little screaming kids. Thank God, it's only a two hour flight.

But then it's seven days in a cramped hotel room and six days in the crowded parks. I'm already feeling a little nuts just thinking about it.

Cassondra said...

Jeanne said:

Anyone remember the line from Dirty Dancing? This is MY dance space, this is YOUR dance space... illustrated by the arc of the arms outspread.

You know, I'd forgotten that little bit. Interesting though, that the title of the movie, and the whole thing starting, is based on dancing "in the other person's space" pretty much. Interesting. A completely different way of dancing when they were "on" and in public, than they danced with one another "offstage".

A nice metaphor for a lot of life.

Oooo. I don't think I'll win any awards if I start analyzing Dirty Dancing as though it were a deep work, do y'all?

Cassondra said...

Tawny said:

Talking, being "on" so much is wearing. In my real life, I talk to people outside my family maybe a couple times a week. Like I said in KJ's post, I'm not shy, but I am definitely introverted

Tawny you are a case study in not being what you appear. Maybe it's because of the line you write for, and how bold your heroines tend to be in going after what they want. It's hard to picture the author of those heroines being an introvert.

I never pictured you as being introverted at all. Maybe it's because you're NOT shy? A lot of introverted people tend to be shy I think. It's interesting that you break that stereotype. And maybe it's a stereotype that isn't deserved. In fact, it may be an automatic assumption for me that to be shy means one is introverted and to be introverted means a person would tend toward shyness.

Hmmm. Okay now you've got me wondering if I am, indeed, introverted, but just not shy at all....hmmm...

Cassondra said...

amy andrews said:

I worked in a psych ward. There you notice it big time beause by and large, psych pt's have no notion of personal space. It's like that bit of their personality never got developed. I guess there are those who find that interesting, frankly I found it unnerving!

Wow. I might indeed find it fascinating--IF I observed it from a distance. Having to work up close with it--No. I would want to run very fast in the other direction.

Normally I find myself in a situation where I might meet ONE person who has no personal boundaries. Working in the midst of an entire group like that? Not for me. That would be scary.

And I agree, it was WONDERFUL getting to meet you and Jennifer and Keira and all the Bandita Buddies--and some of the Banditas themselves that I hadn't actually met.

Cassondra said...

Jane said:

NY in general is crowded. It can get uncomfortable being packed in a crowded train or bus, but you kind of get used to it.

You're right. I do get used to it. And I expect it and plan for it, so I'm okay when I'm there. But usually I'm not on the train or bus for hours and hours as I am on a cross-country flight. It's those LONG hours that are the killer for me.

I seem to be able to pull in my energy and personal space bubble fairly easily for the span of a train or subway ride. But when I have to keep it pulled in for an entire day...that kicks me in the butt energetically.

Cassondra said...

Helen said:

I feel that everyone here is my friend so I would have loved to have been in SF with you all.

Oh, we feel that way about you too, Helen. In fact I remember last week I turned and commented to somebody, "I'd really love to meet Helen. I wish all the Bandita Buddies could be here."

If we go to a football game or out somewhere where there are large crowds by the time I get home I too am exausted and just want to sit in my chair and read for a while then I get back to normal.

Yup. Going to stadiums for stuff does that to me. Any large auditorium. It's kind of offset if it's a great concert because the music really feeds me energetically, and in some instances the crowd sort of becomes "one" but those instances are rare. Usually a big crowd just wears me out.

Interesting that you read to regroup, Helen. That's very cool.

Cassondra said...

Christine said:

Thinking about that couple's intimacy on the Guess ad reminds me of the way the hero in North and South cradles the heroine's head in his hands as he kisses her--wildly romantic! I hadn't connected the trust involved before, but undoubtedly that's the underlying reason.

When you think about it, there's a good reason for it. Especially when it's a male touching the head of a female. It's a very vulnerable position. A person's neck is delicate, and for me to allow someone to touch my head means I trust him to not harm me. It's the same both ways--men don't like for their heads to be touched by others if it's not intimate either, but for the woman, it's even more a symbol of trust because the man is usually so much stronger, physically.

Allowing a person who is much stronger to be close physically, and to touch--and even cradle--your head--is about as vulnerable as you're going to get. I think we instinctively recognize that openness as intimacy even if we don't put it into words.

Cassondra said...

hrdwrkdmom aka dianna said:

By the time the night was over and we came home I was actually showing symptoms of shock.

This actually doesn't surprise me Dianna, but I'm really glad you're okay now. When you're forced into a situation where your "personal bubble" is penetrated like that, especially by a lot of people--and being so close to the dance floor, even people you didn't know--it's traumatizing. You're not the first person I've heard say they had shock symptoms from this kind of interraction.

I can absolutely see why you'd want to avoid situations like this. I think I'd have to leave. I don't think I could take that if I felt...well...infringed upon I guess is the only way to say it. Not to that extent anyhow!

Cassondra said...

buffie said:

I am a person who needs my space. I need time by myself every single day, even if it is only 15 minutes in the car on the way to get my boys from school.

Me too, Buffie. I don't have the "boys" to pick up from school, but I use my time in the car as my alone time. I think a lot of people do that. Sometimes it's the only space you can control and use to get alone in the span of a day. And unless the traffic is bad, you can drive with part of your mind but the rest can actually have some down time. I find I can even be creative in the car.

Cassondra said...

louisa cornell said:

We musicians tend to want to withdraw at times and we get kind of grouchy when people don't allow us to do so.

Yes, that's me. Have you ever noticed that back stage before a performance, the people who KNOW leave the performer alone? At least they do in the commercial music biz. It used to be part of my job to shield the performer from too much interaction right before he/she had to go on stage, and when I was performing, I needed that shield also. It's like you're gathering into yourself--going into that space where you prepare to perform--to give to the audience ALL OF YOU from the well, and you have to tap into that well. You need space to do that. When I was standing back stage, if somebody came up to me and said something I would look at them like they were aliens. I had to "come back" from the zone to answer the question and I hated that.

I firmly believe we need space to tap into the well to create anything. So creative people, on the one hand, spend all this time alone and some of us crave outside interaction at times. But at other times, we have to defend that space we need to create.

All very interesting.

And I would love to see the "diva stare"! I may have my own version of it, though I have no experience with European male opera singers. Damn. What a shame. I think I might like to have had some of that experience. Seems I've missed out. Hmmm...

Cassondra said...

gannon carr said:

I'm not too defensive about my personal space with people I know and like, but if it's a stranger, particularly an obnoxious one.....back off!

Yup. That's me. Don't like people I don't know in my space. Don't like some people I DO know in my space. I didn't encounter any of them this past week though. I think maybe that's why the flights were so much more draining for me than the conference itself. Once I left Nancy at the airport I was with complete strangers for the next 12 hours. And it's funny. I left Nancy at her USAir curb check station at SFO, I hugged her and went down the curb to the Northwest luggage check counter and I felt this loss--suddenly I had to pull in--be completely responsible for myself for the first time since I arrived at the hotel--well, ACTUALLY for the first time since I got to the shuttle the Monday before.

The Monday before, when I arrived at the Super Shuttle check-in area, I met Deb Marlowe, who recognized me from the picture on the blog. And you know what? As soon as I was with her, I felt my bubble expand a little. I felt a bit "safer" because knowing her through this blog and through Caren, I knew that we sort of had each other's backs a bit. I was really glad to connect with somebody I knew after the day spent with strangers, and it's interesting to me how even this connection was uplifting for me. When you're surrounded by people you trust, it makes the difficulties of travel a lot easier I think.

flchen1 said...

Ooh, very very interesting, Cassondra! That was a very thoughtful post, and I do think I like my personal space--the thought of being jammed in with thousands of people sends me hyperventilating... And it makes sense that the better you know someone, the smaller the bubble you might need/want--increased intimacy and all.

Congrats on the GR, Kirsten!!

Cassondra said...

And speaking of Deb Marlowe, she said

And though I'm a "I need my alone time" kind of girl, I was thrilled to meet you and so many of the banditas at last! After sharing so much of ourselves, it felt like meeting up with some of my best girlfriends--and that's the best sort of situation for restoring my energy--girl talk and lots of it!

EXACTLY! That's how it felt for me too. The conference was draining, but the time spent with the Bandits was nurturing--energizing. I found I needed it, and I see, now, why so many people come to conference and hang in groups. It's a way to preserve your energy if you have a bunch of folks who are sort of "with" you emotionally and energetically.

It was really cool to meet somebody as soon as I got out of the airport. I was actually hoping I'd end up with somebody on the plane with me, but it didn't happen. Apparantly I was the only romance writer flying to and from San Francisco out of Nashville and then Memphis at that time.

Cassondra said...

Buffie said:

And I have even found myself turning the radio off so that it will be silence in the car. Do you think that is a sign of old age!!???!!??

I think it's a sign of sanity actually...but then...I'm getting old so it could be....

Cassondra said...

Claudia Dain said:

*That's* what the floor of the lobby looked like?

Actually no. That's another Marriott. I couldn't find a pic of the San Fran Marriott lobby and I was not up to fighting with google any longer. (grin)

But it has that same big, open, lotso space feeling--until you fill it with PEOPLE. (grin)

Cassondra said...

The interesting thing though (among all these interesting things) is how different this conference was from others that I've seen and/or coordinated (NOT writers or RWA related).

I got in on Monday, mid-day, and met up with Jeanne and Kate and had lunch. Then I sat and guarded bags in the lobby while Jeanne checked in. By then there were a bunch more ladies arriving. And they'd walk in the door from the drop-off, and they'd head for check-in and you'd hear a little squeal and somebody would come running over to hug them, and within the span of half an hour, the lobby got half full of squealing, delighted women hugging other squealing, delighted women, while the accomanying men (not too many) stood by and just sort of gawked. It's that so many of us know so many others of "us."

I'm thinkin most conferences do not get underway in exactly this fashion.

Cassondra said...

Keira said:

Cassondra's the gal you always want as your roomie.

Awwwww. That's so sweet.

I thought I scared you.

No, really!

Cassondra said...

JoMamma said:

I'm usually quite protective of my space, but I noticed with the Banditas it felt so right to be huddled together and sharing our energies.

It DID feel right didn't it? It's crazy really--this group of women who all met online have come to care so much for one another--and for the friends we've met through the blog. Crazy, but I'm SO glad it happened. Without this group I would likely not be writing right now, and would not have gone to the conference or pitched the books.

terrio said...

I usually get energy from crowds but even I was peopled out by Saturday. I loved meeting all the Banditas in person, though I missed one or two. It was just so crazy that I realized after it was over I missed a ton of people I wanted to catch.

I'm not an overly touchy/feely person so I like my space. But that space nearly disappeared at the conference. I remember being surprised when people just kept piling in the elevator even though there was almost no more room.

I know what you mean about leaving my friends and being on my own again. Each time I left another roommate, I felt as if I had this litter of puppies and I was giving them all away to new homes. That probably doesn't sound like the most flattering analogy, but it's how I felt.

I put one in a cab, then left another at the airport, then the last in the Atlanta airport. After not having been alone for four days, it felt strange to be on my own again.

Thank you again to all of you. The party was great! As soon as I came off the elevator I heard the wonderful chatter hovering in the hall. Then it was one hug after the other and lots of laughter!

Cassondra said...

Pat said:

Great post, Ms. Cassondra! Very
introspective, you've given us much
to think about!


Thanks Pat. Long and rambling. You can tell I'm tired if you know me, just from reading it. I tend to ramble when I'm tired. ;0)

Cassondra said...

mshellion said:

crowds drain me. I have to be given space to recoup. I feel like I have to be "ON" and I need time to be "OFF" and antisocial.

Me too. Exactly.

I made a scene at a bar once. Or twice. Not that it made the offender quit bothering me. Apparently no one takes my tantrums seriously.

Ah. You and I have to talk. There are ways. And you're right. Tantrums don't usually do it. A hard, cold stare is much more effective, along with lowered voice that says, "You are stalking me and I feel threatened. If you're not gone in thirty seconds I'm calling the police." Then do it. It's the follow-up that's important. No second chances. Gone or police. He chooses.

Cassondra said...

Christie said:

But then it's seven days in a cramped hotel room and six days in the crowded parks. I'm already feeling a little nuts just thinking about it.

Christie, NOOOOOOO! Come back to the light!!!!!

Seriously. My husband's brother took his family on a Disney cruise. They LOVED IT!! They have got that system flat worked out. Parents get time, kids have a ball. Parents and kids get to be together as much or as little as they want.

Disney World? I haven't been. For all the reasons you listed.

Cassondra said...

flchen1 said:

the thought of being jammed in with thousands of people sends me hyperventilating..

It's not fun. Of course, conferences are really cool. And you can go up to your room any time you want. But still...no grass or flowers to walk around in to decompress--no crickets chirping, no frogs on the pond out back--I realized a few years ago that I NEED all this stuff to stay sane. Without it I turn into a shrew.
By Saturday night I was approaching shrew-ness.

limecello said...

Cassondra - I am HUGE on personal space. I need it. Of course I don't have as much space as you do - a few hundred feet in front of my house is a highway/state route. Still - standing wise, I expect a radius of 2', generally. If it's like some super hot concert, or ... I can't imagine what - maybe trying to squeeze on to the metro during rush hour, 6" would be acceptable.
I don't know if other people experience this, but a lot of the time I feel invisible. I'll say "excuse me" about 5 times before someone glance at me and moves. Or stops walking backward. Maybe it's just a lot of people are a lot less aware of space. I don't know - but I've had a lot of people back into me, bump into me - when there's a lot of space around me. I hate it.
I generally keep the space myself - the 200 lb guy who CONTINUES to step backwards towards me even though I've said excuse me 6 times... I'll step back.
It seems at the library and other times, people invade my space, breathing down my neck. Why? There's no real shortage of space... what's the point?

I don't know about crowds - it depends, they're ok. But ... sometimes it can get claustrophobic.

Cassondra said...

terrio said:

I felt as if I had this litter of puppies and I was giving them all away to new homes. That probably doesn't sound like the most flattering analogy, but it's how I felt.

No, that's exactly it! And it felt as though I was leaving a little of myself behind as well. I guess I was thinking there would be more times when we could all end up together at the conference but it never happened. Everybody has commitments and places they have to be and people they have to connect with and we all were scattered once the bash was over.

I'm glad we had that time when we could be together and meet all of you who were there! And I'm glad the party turned out good, though I didn't want to keep the other hotel guests awake either...eeek.

p226 said...

Having one person touch the other person's head. It is, perhaps, one of the most intimate gestures available to the human. Allowing another person to touch your head is a gesture of complete trust. And we don't give it automatically.

I cracked up when I read this. I was reminded of an instance when an acquaintance reached to knock a moth off my my hat. He complained that the block I threw nearly broke his wrist. I swear I did NOT think. It just happened. I'd never considered that "touching the head" thing.

The idea of personal space for me is a very real concept. And I can defend my personal space either tactfully (a subtle step this way or that) or aggressively (as you did at the supermarket) or even violently under the right (or wrong) conditions.

I don't like crowds. I've gotten a free pass on "going shopping with The Missus" because of this. She badgered me for years. "Why do you get so grouchy at the mall?" Or, "why are you so grouchy at this public music event?" At the time, when asked, I answered honestly. "I don't know." She got pretty mad at me about my grouchiness while christmas shopping at the mall once, and I bothered to put some thought into why I was so grouchy. The conclusion weirded me out a little bit. I realized that I was doing a sort of "threat assessment" on everyone I saw. I was analyzing movement angles, analyzing posture, analyzing eyes for thier motives, looking to see what everyone had in their hands, and a hundred other things for - Every. Single. Person. I. Saw. It was causing me a sort of information overload, and making me grouchy as I tried to keep up with EVERYONE. And then I, well.... I started wondering if I was paranoid, or simply observant. I hope it's the latter. And I have some experiences from my youth that both justify my thoughts as "observant" and bear responsibility for making me that way.

But, this "personal space" angle is one I hadn't considered. I REALLY don't like having my space invaded. Especially by strangers. And crowds encroach heavily upon that space. We're all more forgiving with people we know. Our families. People we work with. If my wife had reached to knock that moth off my hat, she would've done it with impunity.

Cassondra said...

limecello said:

I generally keep the space myself - the 200 lb guy who CONTINUES to step backwards towards me even though I've said excuse me 6 times... I'll step back.

See, now I don't do this. I don't step back. So I think it's a difference in approach. I won't let him run over me, but I'll stick my hand out so he hits it and say, "Excuse me," really loud right when he runs into my hand. A couple of feet before he gets to the rest of me.

I've had people treat me as though I were invisible before, and I've decided that my best choice is to make myself visible, one way or another. It that means making myself noticed by letting him run into my outstretched hand or making him hear me, I'll do it.

That's just my choice, and it's no better than any other, but somehow it feels as though I allow myself to be lessened if I don't. Kind of a "This is my space and I have a right to it, so don't invade it, trample on it, or use it for yourself" sort of thing.

But this wasn't natural for me. I developed it in self-defense. I don't know if it's because I'm small or if some people are just oblivious to anything that isn't six feet tall, or what. It's only in certain situations, with certain people, that I have this trouble, and I've actually chosen to avoid those when I can.

Usually when they do notice that I'm there, they're kind of embarrassed. Not always. Some people are just mean.

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

I realized that I was doing a sort of "threat assessment" on everyone I saw.

Steve does this. And he and I have had some major fights about his being grumpy in crowds. He often responds to me as if he were responding to the person he's observing and perceives as a threat. You can imagine how well that goes over...NOT.

He's getting better about it though.

I have intuition for that. I usually know if I'm okay and I know if there's somebody around who isn't behaving properly. I can feel it. I do a subtle check of my surroundings when I walk into a place, and my radar goes off if something isn't right. I don't have to physically do it. If I did, I couldn't shop for groceries. Steve does it physically. He checks everything out.

It would be difficult to go out and enjoy any sort of social situation if I didn't have this radar. I've learned to trust it as it's never let me down.

Except for once.

I was extremely tired from running an event, and I was parked in what was a borderline not-so-great section of Nashville to enter a building for the next phase of the event--my most difficult job of the day. I got into the back of my SUV to get my gear to take inside, and I wasn't watching.

And a guy sneaked up behind me.

He started talking to me, standing just inside the edge of my SUV's rear doors, while my back was turned. I startle easily and I was completely focused on what I was doing, so I nearly screamed.

I whirled on him and got in his face and said, "BACK OFF. WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING SNEAKING UP ON ME LIKE THAT!" He backed off but not far enough.

He was one of those homeless guys who has some purpose that I can't quite grasp for bothering people. He scared me on purpose to set me off guard. I knew it instantly.

He said, "What's your name?" I slammed the SUV door and said, "My name isn't important and you don't need to know it. But I'm going inside and telling the manager that you're out here harrassing people."

It was a power trip for him. He turned and walked away, but really slowly to let me know he wasn't actually scared. Made me mad.

Also made me aware than when I'm very focused on something, and very tired, I'm vulnerable because my radar isn't as good as usual.

That's bad.

p226 said...

He often responds to me as if he were responding to the person he's observing and perceives as a threat. You can imagine how well that goes over...NOT.

Ewps.

I'm laughing pretty hard as I type this... because... well, Steve wasn't responding to you as if you were the person perceived as a threat. Hahahah. He was responding to you like you were the FNG that keeps loudly swatting mosquitos on patrol.

Ahahah, ask me how I know this?

Oh man, if my wife reads this I'm in so much trouble....

Cassondra said...

P226 said:

Steve wasn't responding to you as if you were the person perceived as a threat.

I dunno. He can get pretty mean, and I've seen him respond to threats before--not physically, but in every other way. It wasn't pretty. He scares people just by looking at them. But I've gotten, very nearly, the "look" before. I think he can't turn it completely off--it doesn't switch off if he's still watching one person, or thinking about that person, but he's responding to something I've said. He's still in "threat mode."

Not nice.

I dunno about the mosquito-swatting. He would probably be mean to him too.

Terry Odell said...

I'm going to admit to be barely recovered from RWA exhaustion, and I ducked out of a LOT of places that were too noisy or crowded (having DH along helped with excuses!)

I'm merely dropping by to say HI to all the Banditas I met who made me feel like a part of the group.

I'm in Oregon with some of dh's family and TOTALLY enjoying being ALONE! (not counting the parrot & 2 cats) while Sister-in-law is at work and the guys are off fishing.

I'm reading some of the books I brought home, and have posted some "non-RWA" type pictures of our sightseeing on my blog. I believe there's a Bandita who sneaked into one shot, although she's upstaged by "Duffy".

And my congrats to the GH and Daphne winners!

Helen said...

Thanks Cassondra that is one of my true wishes to meet all of the Bandits and Bandita Buddies what an awesome time we would all have together

Have Fun
Helen

Cassondra said...

Terry O'Dell said"

I'm going to admit to be barely recovered from RWA exhaustion, and I ducked out of a LOT of places that were too noisy or crowded

I did some of that too, and still I'm tired. STill have that "underwater" feeling--like I'm not completely back in my body. It's growing fainter, but it's still there.

And we LOVED having you there.

Your Oregon trip sounds great though. I would, however, probably be fishing with the guys. I've been wanting to go fishing for two or three years now, and can't seem to make it happen. :0/

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Gannon! While I was off in SF, you were in my town! Sorry I wasn't in DC to give you a proper Bandita hello. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Buffie, I frequently turn the radio, CDs and so forth off so I can actually just THINK sometimes! ha!

Joan said...

Conference was exhausting but a wonderful kind of exhausting, ya know?

I'm generally ok with people up to about 12 inches unless they are exhibiting aggressive or irritating behavior. But I also instinctively reach out with a touch to comfort, reassure. JoMama's recounting of Jeanne's protective hand pat made me realize that I was doing that often too...

We really can't explain what it was like for all of us Banditas to be together. It was surreal, phenomenal, amazing and wonderful. It truly felt as if we'd known each other forever!

Everywhere we went, we'd run into each other and immediately congregate even if we'd only seen each other an hour before. I mean I had 19 women who had my back, who were ready with a bkfst invite, a bar invite and willing to rescue me from "Garlic World".

You can't buy that type of friendship/bonding. I don't think you could even conciously pull it together. (Is Madame, sniffing?)

Now that aside I did have a strange invasion of my personal space.

We arrived Saturday morning in the midst of the power outage. I was zoned from getting up early and decided to wait in the hotel lobby until we could register.

Fell asleep with my mouth hanging open only to awaken in the midst of the Brazilian Soccer Team!

Somewhere in Brazil there is a picture of an American chick drooling.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

P226, I was LOL about the knock-the-moth-wrist block. Heehee. I cannot tell you how often I've done this. My brothers, grrrrr, liked to pull tricks of feint-for-the-face when we were kids. Anyone wear glasses? Hate that kind of maneuver? Mmm-hmmm. Good thing for them I didn't take martial arts till much later. That instinct they started got honed reeeeeeeaaaaalll well. *VEG*

Also laughed about you being on threat watch in the mall. My Sensei and I were just talking about this last night, the assessing and watching. :) I love the holidays but have to do all the shopping in of peak times, with just an hour or so of the merry crowds to give a taste of tinsel and ribbon. Otherwise I go into overdrive. Not pretty. Ha!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

JT you just crack me up. Milling Brazilians and you conk out? I'd'a been takin' pictures. Snork!

That said, I was so tired when I got home, I might have told even Hugh Jackman to give me a rain check....wait...what am I saying? Sorry, I must be still pretty tired to write THAT! Ha!

Keira Soleore said...

I love National. That squealing as you meet people you know and chat with all year long, getting to know them better, meeting new people, new adventures, learning and learning some more -- all of it makes my heart full and happy. But above all, it's the experience of being with people who "get" you, you understand you completely, who value what you do because they do it themselves, the kindness and graciousness minus the diva-ness, and the laughter. I wish conference came around twice a year instead of once.

All of that said, I did like those times when I sat in the lobby bar by myself with my laptop, in the midst of all the fun, but not actively participating. That centered me and gave me a moment to gather myself.