Sunday, February 10, 2013

Designer Imposter.

Last week I went to San Antonio to present at a conference. Before I left town I was telling Mu about my presentation topic and apparently she didn't  hear me correctly because the conversation that followed went down something like this...

Mu: "Iced tea? You're going to Texas to talk about iced tea?"
HP: "No Mu...IT. Like working with Information Technology in university Admissions Offices."
Mu: "Well what do you know about that?"

Great question, Mu. Truthfully I'm probably better qualified to give an hour long presentation on both iced tea and Ice T, as in the one who loves Coco. I didn't pick the topic. Honestly I didn't want to give the presentation at all. I will chalk it up to one of those "other duties as assigned" they always tell us about but somewhere in the back of our naive thick skulls, we never really think they are serious. Until they are. True to form I waited until the eleventh and a half hour before I even started thinking about it. My phantom co-presenter from Oklahoma materialized literally the week before show time after I had written her off as any help back in, oh July, after countless attempts to make contact with her.

I got to San Antonio on Sunday, paid a cab fare equal to my entire retirement fund, checked into the conference and quickly discovered that 1. my job title and name of school were both wrong, 2. my middle name was included in everything so suddenly I appeared like one of those women who decided to start going by a double name once it became trendy in the 2000s to name babies double names, and 3. my session description wasn't included in the conference agenda. Fantastic. A handful of hours contemplating the subject matter and 2 hours of actual work down the drain because who in their right mind was going to show up to a session in which the topic was a complete and total mystery? Let's not even mention the 3 hours I had spent shopping for the perfect presentation outfit.

Tuesday morning finally rolled around way too early and much to my surprise the room was full. I should have been nervous about this fact because hello, you mention java and I think of coffee and you speak of code and I think of either Morse or DaVinci. Had I learned 5 minutes into the presentation what I did 55 minutes into the presentation (that 3 staff members from UT Austin's IT department were in the audience) I would have been mortified and stumbled over every other word. Mortification actually set in approximately 5 minutes after the presentation was over when I checked a mirror and discovered part of a blueberry from breakfast holding on for dear life in my teeth.

As my "reward" for a job well done, I ventured over to the local Target at The Rim afterwards. Confession: I was looking for Big Mama. Sans blueberry tooth and with a fresh coat of lipstick and cute outfit, I set out on my way. Sure, this sounds absolutely stalkerish to the Nth degree. What would I have said had I actually spotted this woman simply going about her business of buying Method hand soap and Merona clothing? Probably something as brilliant and eloquent as Baby did when she mumbled "I carried a watermelon" upon coming face to face with Johnny at the staff party at Kellerman's.

I discovered the Big Mama blog around 2009ish when I started loosely calling myself a blogger. Her blog makes me laugh on a regular basis. I think the reason why she's so good at what she does is because she shares parts of her own story that her readers can identify with whether it be her role as a mother, wife, friend or combination of all three. When I read last year that she was writing a book, I determined that I had to have my own copy. When it became available for pre-order back in December, I hopped over to the book page for "Sparkly Green Earrings" and was admittedly a little deflated. What business did I have pre-ordering a book about motherhood when I haven't even managed to meet my babies' daddy yet? So instead I pre-ordered a copy for a dear sweet friend who is about to embark upon on her own adventure in mommyland.

Fast forward to my Tuesday outing. You see, Melanie lives in San Antonio. It wasn't that I just got in my mind that she might by some weird  twist of fate be strolling the aisles of a Target that I happened to be close to. I have no way of knowing if it's actually the Target that's an extra 7 stoplights away that she references in her blog on a regular basis but what do we have if we don't have hope? Besides I needed some cash and I refused to pay the extra fees at the hotel ATM so it wasn't like it was a completely wasted trip. I bought my very own copy of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking and got my $40 pesos in cash back. Let's just consider the chances of me actually saying something to Big Mama had I actually spotted her in Target given the book I was buying. Slim to none and slim left town. Then I realized I was close to a LifeWay bookstore so I meandered over to that part of the shopping center because while her book wasn't officially released until the 8th, I had read on her blog that it was out in some stores. Did I mention it was 76 degrees and sunny during this meandering? In February. At 11:45 a.m. I might have been pouring buckets of sweat by the time my walk finally ended at my lunch destination. So I walked into LifeWay, scouted the aisles and lo and behold, there it was:

I was too close now not to buy my own copy. Besides, it wasn't like the clerk was going to ask to see a photo of my children as evidence that I was qualified to make the purchase. I started reading it on the plane on my way back to Atlanta. Fortunately the  middle seat was empty in my row, but I knew that my row mate wouldn't be too judgmental if she looked over at any point to see me either laughing or my eyes welling up with tears. She was engaged in an intense Farmville-type activity on her iPad when I boarded the plane and she was reading "The Five Love Languages". Nothing screams loving person like a person who reads about the love languages and cares for the well-being of animated pigs in a virtual farm, right? I wouldn't know since I've never actually read the book nor fallen into the Farmville trap, but I was certain she would know to give me some words of affirmation had my tears become noticeable.

The truth is, there were times on that flight home when the stories she had written made me both laugh and cry. Through her book I was reminded that God uses different events in our lives to continuously shape us into the people he created us to be. Whether it be motherhood forever or moving back into your own mother's home for a stint. [Maybe my book will be about that.] Yes, she is a mother, and no, I am not. But we are both children of God. Her story speaks of grace and redemption of a loving God and sacrifice and surrender to a plan that is far greater than any plan we can fabricate even in our most vivid imaginations or wildest dreams. At this particular point in my own story I really needed to be reminded of this. I'm thankful that the God who loves me beyond measure speaks truth in a much louder voice than the Enemy who works so hard to convince me that I'm a designer imposter [Do y'all remember that line of perfume that was sold at KMart in the 80s?] who has no business giving presentations on things that are IT in nature when I don't have a degree in something brilliant or reading books about motherhood when I'm only responsible for making my own peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch each day.

 Yesterday I had to take Micah to karate and I saw this on the mirror in the waiting area:
[Yes, I still love my fancy camera.] This is a verse from Nehemiah (6:3, actually). What a great response the next time the devil himself tries to convince me otherwise. While my current work may not be exactly - or anything - like I always imagined it to be, clearly it's a work that I've been created to do for now.
Time to make the donuts.