Monday, February 25, 2008
It’s Monday morning and I’m preparing to leave Toledo. I’m here for an annual geek gathering I’ve attended for at least the past five years. It’s a small event, about 30-40 people, who write books and articles and make presentations at conferences all over the world. These are the movers and shakers who inhabit the computer niche I’m most familiar with. Many of us are independent software developers who initially sought out technical camaraderie online and quickly became the online go-to group for peer technical support. We have since met at conferences and other events, and established important friendships in the real world.
As usual, it’s been great getting together with people I have a long history with and with whom I share an esoteric interest in software technologies. This mixed group of Visual FoxPro specialists recognizes accomplishment above most other characteristics. As a woman, I encountered some subtle gender bias in the business community at large that I never experienced in this group. Here, we recognize each other’s capabilities and contributions, and tend to ignore those characteristics that can’t be changed.
Much as I anticipated this event and the invaluable networking opportunities it provides, getting here and being away from home for four days is still not that easy for me. I don’t have a lot of energy to spare and travelling quickly eats it up. I feel like I’m not contributing my fair share, and in fact can’t think what that contribution might be; it just doesn’t come naturally, as it has in the past. In short, I feel guilty about imposing my low energy on the group. I mentioned this to one of my friends. “It’s not noticeable,” she said. “It’s inside you. People are just glad to have you here.”
But then she remembered from her own course of chemotherapy several years ago, “What’s even worse than the low energy is the low emotional energy, the feeling of detachment.”
So maybe it’s not noticeable, but it certainly is real. I was surprised to hear her say that, and relieved in a way. I don’t like feeling this way. It helps to know that it’s related to the drugs and that there’s hope I may recapture my zest and sense of belonging at some point.
Bottom line for me right now is that I’ve been away from home since last Thursday and I’m ready to be back in familiar surroundings.