Once upon a time, when I attended conferences for work, I actually went to the classes. Even if I had family or friends traveling with me, they would go have fun while I attempted to learn something new. I say “attempted” because even if I wouldn’t skip the sessions, I couldn’t always concentrate on the topic being discussed. I took notes, but I confess to being a doodler. As an example of how my mind wandered, here are the notes I took during one particularly long continuing education day.
“I don’t know why I’m here. I’m sure the speaker knows what he is talking about but it just isn’t relevant to me and what I do at work.”
“Am I the only one here who doesn’t have a clue what he is referring to?”
Sometimes I can fake rapt attention, but only if the speaker inspires a fantasy. “This guy is not bad looking and if I leave my glasses off, I can see tall, dark, and ….” My imagination can fill in the rest. I can usually kill an hour just making up stories about the speaker in my mind. This doesn’t work in situations where laughter, or drooling for that matter, would be totally out of place. You don’t want anybody questioning your mental health, or to be mistaken for a rabid dog.
Is his tie growing from his neck? It looks like it has rarely been removed and there is evidence of at least three buffets on it.
“He has a good power point presentation, but he keeps scribbling on the screen with his laser pointer. He makes his point with large, back and forth arcs that I will be seeing in my sleep tonight. Maybe I can blame my lack of attentiveness on hypnosis.”
“He just tried to make a joke. Nobody laughed except him, and he guffawed. For crying out loud, the man just brayed!”
“I was worried about staying awake but it is so cold in here my nose is running. There is no chance of falling asleep.”
“I am starting to feel sorry for the speaker. He was brought in to do the conference because he is a recognized expert in the field, but there is one guy in the audience who appears to know more than the speaker. He keeps interrupting to tell us so.”
“I’ve survived speaker number one. The next guy is older and very enthusiastic. The audience expert has already interrupted. It’s almost ten-thirty and we finally have a speaker who is dynamic enough to wake up the crowd. We just had a break so I have a cup of hot coffee. I don’t really want to drink it but it has thawed my fingers. Oh, man! I need to pee again!”
“I am actually enjoying this speaker! He’s not only knowledgeable, he’s also funny. The topic is applicable to the real world, not just to the world of academia!”
I sometimes think that it’s a miracle that I graduated from college. My attention span is more than a few steps shy of normal!
One thought on “Notes from a conference”
Love it! I used to “doodle” all around my high school notebooks. In fact, one biology class had its own neon-illustrated parts of related diagrams that went with my regular notes. (It was actually more helpful than our book.) Some friends and my sister passed it around until the teacher noticed it, and decided to keep it until the end of the year, and she finally returned it. College and work pretty much destroyed any “creative doodling” after that!
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