Mistakes & Silver Linings
I still remember the first CAEOP conference I attended. I was working as a Library Clerk at an elementary school. Kim J., the school's Secretary, suggested that I go with her (Mistake 1.) It was in Newport Beach that year, which was convenient because my parents lived nearby. I wouldn't even have to get a hotel room (Mistake 2.) Practically all the meals were pre-paid so I only brought a few dollars (Mistake 3.) So, I threw some comfy clothes (Mistake 4) into a bag and drove up from San Diego.
Why were these mistakes? ... and where exactly were the silver linings?
1. Kim J. didn't even actually go that year - she canceled out after I'd already registered and made plans. When I got to the conference I didn't know a single person! I scanned the room for the table with a tent sign that had my district's name on it. When I left the conference I had a dozen new friends! The conference attendees were mostly longtime CAEOP members that welcomed me and made me a part of the group from the start. I met Library Clerks from other districts, too. Lesson for me: Finding others that do the same kind of work reduces isolation and creates a network of resources for the future. It is okay, and even wonderful, to come alone - believe me you'll leave with a bunch of new friends. As the conference scout, I am ready to befriend each and every newcomer - so I'll be looking for you!
2. Even though I saved money by staying with my folks, I wished that I'd been able to stay at the hotel. Some of the nights can run late (especially if you stay up in the lobby talking and talking...), and those morning meetings are starting before you know it. It is also nice to be able to run up to your room and rest, use the bathroom and spiffy up, or change clothes between events (more about that later.) Since I didn't have a room, my new friends invited me up to their room between events and even gave me a mini-makeover before the Installation dinner (thanks Sandie C. and Vicki B.) Lesson for me: I get a room. Over the years I've had four different roommates! Each and every time we stayed up half the night talking and laughing (remember Carol P., Andi L., Gail S., Kathy C.?) This year...Teri C. (our fabulous decorations chair) will be my roomie - look for the bleary eyes and happy faces...that'll be us!
3. Yes, the meals are pre-paid, but I only brought a few dollars and there were remarkable things at the vendor/craft fair that I ended up wanting to buy! There was jewelry and art and handbags and scarfs and ... so many other things. My new friends loaned me $5 to buy some raffle tickets - and I won! Lesson for me: Bring some extra cash. Not only do I want to be able to buy things from the vendors if I see something I like, the raffles are great fun. Also, Friday night is "on your own" and you'll want to go to a fun restaurant...scroll down to the first posting for a list of local recommendations.
4. Finally, throwing a few comfy things in a bag? What was I thinking? I was not prepared for the dress code at the conference! I walked in with a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, and I was surrounded by elegant women in slacks and blouses or skirts and sweaters! I was clearly underdressed. And remember, I had not brought much money. I asked my new friends to tell me about the rest of the weekend and I counted 6 (yes, 6!) clothing changes would be needed. I jumped in my car, drove to the nearest thrift store, and bought 6 outfits. Lesson for me: Bring lots of clothes. While there is no official dress code, the word Professional is part of our group's name! The Installation Dinner, in particular, is very dressy AND there is a photographer there that takes a picture.
Watch for a future posting with a suggested packing list for conference!
~ Respectfully, your conference scout