Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Exquisite Poise

Yesterday I flew to St. Louis, MO for an industry trade organization annual conference. Believe it or not, it is almost as exciting as it sounds. It's cold here, and snowing- a nice change from the pseudo-winter we've been having in Texas. I walked a few blocks yesterday from the hotel to the closest Starbucks with swirly flakes landing lightly on my hair and shoulders. I can see how the snow and the cold and the ice get old and become a pain to those who experience them several months out of the year, but for me it's pure magic. I love it!

This morning was the first big general session for the conference. I dressed carefully (I always obsess a little about what to wear at these things, you know?) and made it down to breakfast ahead of my group. Feeling a little lost, but loathe to look like it, I poured a cup of coffee, snagged a sausage biscuit and decided I would just perch at the end of one of the back rows to eat while I waited for familiar faces to appear. I was fighting the self- consciousness that always comes with being the only woman in sight in a room full of strange men in suits and ties, but determined to overcome it. I would project poise. I would project confidence. It would be clear that I was completely comfortable, that I was assured of my place, my belonging here.

So I blithely set my coffee mug and my breakfast plate on the table and proceeded to take my seat. Of course, as soon as I sat down, at the end seat of the long back row of tables, I bumped right into the rickety table leg, sloshing a cascade of coffee over the rim of my cup and across the tablecloth in all directions. I also sent several preset water bottles rolling to the floor in the process. And really, in that kind of situation what can you do but laugh? I glanced around, catching the eye of several gentlemen who were smirking (good-naturedly) in my direction, grinned, and deadpanned something about how I am clearly grace personified. They all chuckled, several introduced themselves, and one of them even got up to help me retrieve the still spinning water bottles. It turns out I made a few new friends through my impromptu collision.

And then I made another friend when I had to track down Nico, a burly hotel staffer, and ask him to change out the irreparably soiled tablecloth. I may even get a few extra pillow mints out of it. Brooke's exquisite poise (or lack thereof): connecting thousands since 1981.

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