Saturday, February 23, 2013

We Meet Again, Event-That-Tries-To-Kill-Me

I somehow allowed myself to plan a giant event thingy for work again this year. While I'm in grad school. And taking international trips and running races and doing charity. And having the nerve to still try to eat and sleep occasionally. And still do the rest of my job. 

someone. help. me.....

So I figured I'd repost the story after last year's event for you to enjoy while I disappear for days again. Wish me luck!

Originally posted March 2, 2012.

That One Time, When One Of The World's Richest Men Snapped At Me

Hello Internet! I am finally resurfacing after the big event thingy I've poured my blood, sweat and tears into the last six months. The event is now over: multi-day event, thousands of attendess, over 100 folks from the media, nearly 100 speakers, and about half a dozen Congressman, a handful of the most powerful CEOs in the world, a Cabinet member, one of the richest men in the world, the President of one of the nerdiest/smartest universities in the world, AND

a Former U.S. President.

Thrown in for extra measure. Because I wasn't sweating enough as it was.

I was the lead planner, so it all sort of hung over my head -- A LITTLE STRESSFUL -- and PRAISE THE LORD it was a huge success. But that wasn't because of me, that was seriously because God provided multiple miracles and an army of people making me look good. I often feel like Forest Gump in my life, continually plopped down in places I have no business being in, but I have to say I love the adventure and you'll be happy to know - I have several new fun stories to share.

I'm probably already repressing some that will come out later but here are just a few highlights:

-I logged my first 17 hour day with my current company. I literally sent a note to my time card approver that basically just said "don't judge."

- I finally completely understood the Cheryl Crow line "I've been living on coffee and nicotine" except I don't smoke so I was literally just living on -- coffee. Adrenaline has a funny way of making you feel full. Good to know if I'm ever stranded on a desert island, I can apparently just get really hyper and stressed and I'll be good without food for at least 4 days.

- I heard my staff utter things like "I'm going to treat myself and actually use the restroom now...."

-I found myself at the end of one day sitting in my car, forgetting to start the ignition because I was furiously typing away on my blackberry. Then driving a little ways to stop for gas -- and forgetting to start my car again....then driving a little further to my apartment and forgetting to get out of my car.  On the way there, I also turned my lights off and turned my blinker on in my confused effort to get my windshield wipers to stop....

The Roles We Played:
Let me set the scene: At several points during the event, I was attached to a cell phone, a blackberry, and a radio/ear piece - simultaneously answering all three, plus questions from actual humans who would approach me every! single! second! (ahem, not that I got flustered at all. ever.) for items ranging from free tickets for their spouse to extra pens for a breakout session, to asking me to find a Senator that had wandered off and was needed on stage.

I will be a KILLER mother one day -- multi-task Black Belt now, I tell ya.

So here are just a few places I found myself:
-practically shoving members of Congress into tiny dressing rooms in an effort to keep everyone straight because of course everyone showed up earlier than expected, or their Security details showed up, and at one point I was juggling two CEOs of major corporations, a Senator and a very powerful member of the House, a cabinet Secretary, and

One of the world's richest men.

Who snapped at me when he lost his aide and didn't know how to get back to his holding room.

Yes. Holding. Room. I soon began to see all these titans of industry and power as a string of really really important pets who needed to be cornered, cared for and fed.

I had to get one of the richest men in the world a HAIR. BRUSH. people. You can't make this stuff up.

I got to where I wasn't even introducing myself to all these high profile people. I just started immediately telling them where to go or grabbing someone else to lead them somewhere. Oh hello, One Of The Brightest Minds On Earth, we are so glad you are here -- could you just go with Sally here while I go pick up the former leader of the free world? K thanks. Ya look great. Don't even need a hairbrush.

At one point I told my Deer-In-Headlights looking assistant to go in and ask Mr. Richest Man, a former White House Chief of Staff, and a cabinet-level Secretary which side of their face they wanted their wireless mic.

That moment will now be known as The Point At Which I Broke My Assistant.

She couldn't go through with it. I had to do it, while pushing off the security detail of the Deputy Secretary of another major federal department.

-At one point during the week, someone casually mentions that there is a substance that someone will be looking at later that is being stored under a table in one of our rooms.

I was then told that substance was the only one of its kind in the world and was worth about a million dollars.

And it was being stored.

In one of my rooms.

Under a table.

By that point, my brain had melted and I couldn't even suggest logical alternate locations. That container filled with a million dollars just lived there for a day.

-At another point, I was asked to get a name tag for a Nobel Prize winner because he was disappointed he did not have one (he did not need one, but we got him one anyway). Of course.

-The event was rounded off by me instinctively throwing my arms around my assistant on my left, and a former President on my right, while taking a photo. Then I realize in horror that no one else is doing the whole We Are All Camp Buddies pose like myself so I start to let my arms fall a bit during the photo and I'm now convinced there's a picture out there somewhere of me and a former President with my arms spread out inexplicably like wings. Sigh.

I came home just in time for my cat to pee on my bed one last time, and me to fall into a 13 hour coma.

Just another week in this city.....

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Japan Part Six - Ski Bunnies and Snow Monkeys

We're almost done with the Japan posts and as I think back on this trip, I realize a lot of what sticks out in my mind is what ends up sticking out after most adventures -the random moments. Like doing the Cupid Shuffle in the middle of a train station, or singing Disney Show Tunes at the top of my lungs with Sarah on the ski lifts, or watching Sarah bound into her first ever Karaoke performance, take the mic, and start dancing like she was on fire. 

(Karaoke there is different from karaoke in the U.S. You get your own private room with a waiter and you sing in front of just your friends around a table rather than getting up in front of an entire place full of rowdy strangers. We definitely had fun but it got better when the aussies who worked at our lodge showed up unanounced and joined us (while telling each other "I love them!" as they watched in amazement at us all hopping around like grasshoppers on speed.)

Another moment I remember was in the middle of our crazy luggage dragging fiasco through the snow and the crowded train station when Adrian came back to the group all relaxed and stated "I know this will sound sissy-like, but you all should walk out into the middle of the crowds hurrying to their trains -- and just...be...."

So I did. I left the group and stood right in the middle of the station and let all the people rush around me like I was a rock in the middle of a raging river. It was zen. ...and it was sissy-like. But I think that moment will stick with me too. Kind of like the moment I had in Morocco after 10 days of being stuck in a group on a set itinerary where we were finally let loose in a giant market (souk) on our own, and I let all time and space go and allowed myself to just get lost in that souk, meandering with no sense of direction until it was time to leave. I think I need to do that in D.C. more often. Maybe stand in the middle of Pennsylvania Ave and let the tourists and protesters just swarm around me...until Secret Service gets suspicious and asks me what the heck I'm doing....

Ahem.Back to Japan.

I'm trying to figure out how to synthesize my snowy experience into a short post. So here are more highlights, rapid fire:

-We skiied on the same mountain as the 1998 Olympics.
Sarah and Adrian looking very Olympic

-We skied in a cloud, we were that high up.
This was taken right before one of those guys pumped his fist in the air, smiled at us, and  headed over the crest to ski in the cloud. Magic.

-Japanese lift tickets are electronic, which left us having to awkwardly molest the scanner with whatever pocket we stuck the lift ticket in:
Lindsay getting up close and personal
-My fear of exiting chair lifts was reinforced.
So, the chair lift has always been what I get anxious about when I'm skiing. It probably stems from the time my friend knocked me over while we were getting off of one and I fell on my butt so hard that my legs went numb and I had to be dragged, half-laughing, half-tearing up off the ground before someone else came off the lift on top of me.
Sarah knocked me off the lift in Hakuba. Sigh. Looks like that fear isn't going anywhere...

-I had ski malfunctions. Of course.

I realized after we were on the slopes that once I took my left ski off -- I really couldn't get it back on. I got so afraid of it that I refused to unclip that side, even when I needed to walk up hills. Which left me hobbling, one boot in a ski, one not, using my pole like a cane trying to get over to a lift we needed.

Hot, right? What made it even more humorous was that there is music playing all over the slopes there, which I captured on video once while I was slowing inching along waiting for Sarah on one run. That video is below. So picture the scene above, with the music here:

And you get a better picture of what Sarah got to enjoy walking behind me.

-And when we finally got back from the last day of skiing that I did, I started to take my boots off -

...and couldn't.

Somehow, one of the buckles had shoved itself in the wrong way and I was left helplessly tugging until Sarah found me and joined in and finally one of the Aussies had to join in and I finally force the thing back in place so I could finally get my foot back.

So. Typical.

Anyway, after the skiing adventures ended, we took a trip to visit  -SNOW MONKEYS!

On the way there, we rode in a bus along snowy roads, and Rebecca and I entertained ourselves by giggling at the signs we didn't understand. Like:
So...we veer left....etc.?

We also saw signs before tunnels that had the word Nishi on the end, making it appear that the signs were pointing the way toward the "Tunnel...ish."

It entertained Rebecca and I at least.

The other thing that entertained us was my cobbling together a solution to my lack of water-proof footwear, which I realized too late that we needed for the monkey tour. I came up with this:

It worked. So judge all you want.

We continued on the bus, with our tour guide who looked just like Abe Lincoln:

Right? Then we finally arrived at the snow monkeys' natural habitat -- the hot springs they took over years ago.

When in Nagano....

My heart strings just snapped into pieces

The monkeys were magical. They were everywhere, running past us, jumping in and out of their own personal hot tub, stealing hand warmers out of our friend's pockets. Adorable.

After the hot springs, we went on a tour of a large Buddhist shrine complete with a pitch-black, underground passage where people were supposed to have enlightening experiences.

I of course had to try it.

No one would go with me because it cost money and because, well, it was a pitch black underground tunnel. 

I went for it anyway.

And couldn't complete the mission. Sigh.

It really was pitch black and I had been told to just keep following the tunnel, my right hand placed at a specific height on the wall to be my guide. There was no one else anywhere around and as I got to the point where I absolutely couldn't see in any direction -- I bolted back out the way I came.

And I felt no more enlightened than when I went in. What a waste of Yen.

But the shrine was pretty anyway.

 Next stop -- Kyoto!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Japan Part Five - Nagano

Ok, back to Japan stories.

I think we left off where we were finally ready to head out to our ski village Hakuba in Nagano.

But I forgot to tell you two other things that happened in Tokyo before we left.

1. This:

That is what we ended up with after four of us jumped into what we thought was a photo booth.

After cramming into the machine in a ridiculous manner, then watching in horror as the screen cropped us to within inches of our lives (actually Rebecca got cropped completely out), we finally realized that

We can't read Japanese.

And it was actually a passport picture creator.

Silly Americans....

2. Right before we left for the ski portion of our trip, I realized

I forgot my ski cap.

So I bought a terrible one at 7/11 and we headed out, just in time for there to be a freak snow storm in Tokyo. "This is rare!" we heard as we dragged our luggage through the snow trying to find our train. My travelling companions of course blamed me for the freak incident. What can I say, chaos follows me.

So we walked inside, outside, up stairs, downstairs, back outside, back downstairs, back upstairs....

and finally we found our train. And I realized my feet were wet because I had also neglected to bring water proof boots on this trip.

So I changed into dry socks and my running shoes, which looked terrible with the skinny jeans I had on, but I no longer cared. I was so cold and tired that I plopped myself inside a group of our luggage and relaxed in my suitcase fort while otherwise foraged for snacks.

The time finally came for us head down to our train platform. And wait. And wait. And wait...in the cold... so finally me, Rebecca and Sarah started to doing the Cupid Shuffle to keep warm. By this point, I was wearing my hideous outfit of terrible shoes, terrible ski cap, and my scarf was wrapped haphazardly around me during my freezing suitcase struggles. In other words, I looked amazing:

It was about this time when we remembered that delirium is just a couple steps away from hypothermia. I'm blaming my outfit and behavior on that.

Shortly after that, we found out that because of the freak snow, the train we need has been delayed (allll the other trains were running, mind you. Just not the one we needed. Yes, this was likely somehow my fault.)

So now we have some more time to kill, so some of the group heads back upstairs to warm up.

...And then the train comes. And only 3 of us are on the platform.


Thankfully we finally gathered up the entire group in time to jump on and head out to the slopes.

...with all our luggage. This is how Rebecca rode:

On the way, we entertained ourselves by looking through magazines we couldn't read and trying strange food. I had a box of bears

that each had some different thing on them -- one had an M, one was dressed as a sailor. You know, normal stuff:

like ...Ghana.

We finally get to Hakuba, and are greeted with this:

Cute, right? Our lodge owner picked us up (and remained our personal chauffeur for the duration of our trip. Snowlines Lodge -- STAY THERE if you ever visit Hakuba. It's owned by the coolest couple, Aussie husband, Japanese wife - they met teaching each other their languages online. I heart them.). He then  introduced us to our home for the next few days.

When you enter the lodge, you immediately take your shoes off and put on slippers. 

Japan loves their slippers. You even take off your slippers to put on different slippers in the bathroom:

Seriously. (but I kinda love it)

We are taken to see the rest of the lodge. There's a bar/lounge (where the constant revolving door of visiting Australians hang out) 

The lounge has couches, games, a heated blanket for everyone to get under beneath a table, a calf massager, stuffed animals....

I want to live here forever.

We were shown our rooms (this place was so awesome, we never had to lock our doors. Everyone's happy and crime-free in magic snow land! It felt like living with family, if, you know, your family was made up of strangers from all over the world and all they do is ski.) We were also shown - the onsen (I'll explain more later). 

and the showers.....

Note - The Buckets. Yes. We were supposed to sit naked on those, where countless people have sat naked before us. I know they clean them daily but I still couldn't bring myself to use one until I rubbed hand sanitizer all over it first. Thankfully I was alone in the room

that time.

Another day when I desperately wanted to shower, two british ladies were soaking in the onsen -- in full bathing suits.

Great, now I feel like a crazy person prancing in here sans clothes. And I had to bathe in front of them, which wasn't quite so awkward when they were chatting away. But I got very paranoid when they just stopped talking.

That wouldn't be the last time I ended up naked in front of other people on this trip. But that's for a later post...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Buried Again

I'm taking a little break from telling Japan stories because:

A. I got overwhelmed with all my photos, videos and memories and I shut down mentally.
B. School has started again...so I've shut down mentally.
C. I'm planning a giant event thingy for work again, on top of leading a communications team, so things have gotten a little nutty...er than normal. So I've shut down mentally.

So instead, I'm reposting the top ten list I posted a year ago when I was in almost the exact same position.

Top Ten Ways to Know You (and the poor souls working for you) Might Be Overwhelmed

(Originally post February 21, 2012 but sadly, is applicable again)

10. You seriously utter phrases in the office like "I'll reply to your email about 10pm if that works for you."

9. You only leave your office because the lights and computers shut off automatically at a certain point late in the night.

8. You have so many tasks to get through that you shut down mentally and just start counting all the new emails in your inbox instead (and someone might even catch you doing it. Not saying that happened to me or anything....)

7. Your staff admit they've been having dreams that take place inside the software you are using for presentations

6. One of your staff keeps emailing you blank emails with just the subject line: "Let My People Go"

5. Your staff start booking appointments in their personal lives for after 11:00 pm

4. Your client's spouses start sending you baked goods

3. You continue to tell friends you'll "talk to them in March"

2.Your staff ask if they can help with anything because "they don't want you to die"

1. The time card approver of one of your staff sees how many hours he's logged and sends him an email that just says: ARE YOU OKAY?!