Four 3-day trips in four weeks:
- Apr 2-4, Orlando, to present 3 hours of sessions at Exchange Connections.
- Apr 8-10, Denver, to be the main speaker at the Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging Roadshow.
- Apr 18-20, Anaheim, to be the main speaker at the Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging Roadshow.
- Apr 23-25, Dallas, to be the main speaker at the Exchange 2007 Unified Messaging Roadshow.
For those of you keeping score at home, yes, it’s why my blogging has been very sporadic of late. And I’m particularly annoyed about the timing of the current trip; turns out John Scalzi was doing a signing in Seattle yesterday, and that would have been something I would have gone to had my travel schedule not prevented it.
Needless to say, I’m a bit burnt out. Travel always screws me up to begin with; this series has been particularly hard, because the last time I did this kind of back-to-back travel was several jobs ago (not that I cared for it then, either). And I’m not done yet: I still have one more Exchange 2007 roadshow date in Phoenix May 14-16, although at least for that one I’m flying into Tucson a couple of days early and meeting up with my parents and sister for the weekend.
Travel screws up my sleep schedule, big time. I finally got a decent night of sleep last night — I’m not sure how — but my body is repaying me now big time with massive insomnia. Partly it’s being away from home in a strange place and bed, partly it’s that the hotel beds are never quite right no matter how comfortable they may be (and since the roadshow has been putting me up in decent hotels, bed quality is actually pretty good). It screws up my eating, especially when I’m speaking — I hardly ever can eat lunch on a day I’m speaking, because I’m just too damn busy/nervous; even if I did find the time to eat and could find something suitable in whatever catered options we have at the events, I’d probably just throw it back up. It doesn’t help that I’ve made some recent big changes to my normal routine, and I’m trying to keep those changes in place and going even while traveling.
Plus, since I’m outside of my routines, I’m an insecure nervous wreck. I’ll take 15 minutes to lay out my clothes and various articles for the next day, then re-check them six times before I go to bed. I’m very precise about how I unpack and where I put stuff. I maintain a level of worry just below “freak out” over things like getting to the venue/airport on time, and obsessively check and verify addresses and route maps. Not that this level of preparation is a bad thing, mind you; I hardly ever have to hurry in the morning (which is good because I’m usually groggier than crap), I hardly ever forget to take stuff along that I need, and I’ve been able to just hand our taxi driver a post-it note with the address of the venue the last two cities. But this level of obsessiveness takes it too far, and dumps me right in the middle of awkward, paranoia mode, which is so not helpful. If I’m chatting with one of my co-presenters and there’s a lull in the conversation, I’m immediately worrying that it’s a direct result of something I’ve done or said; if I don’t get included in a casual conversation, I spend minutes trying to figure out why. Take me out of my routine, and my Asperger’s isn’t at all far underneath the surface, no matter how well people tell me I conceal it.
The funny part is, I really love speaking — and the bigger the audience, the better. Smaller audiences require me to deal with a collection of individuals, which taxes my social skills to the limit. I find smaller audiences usually tend to be “flatter” — they don’t react as well to the jokes I make, they don’t tend to ask questions of the same intensity, and I just don’t seem to “click” as well with them. This is disappointing; I want my audiences to feel like they’re getting not just the technical information they paid for, but I want them to be entertained. I want them to feel like I’ve helped them. Hardly anyone who comes up to me afterwards and asks a good, hard question ever takes me up on my offer to email me so I can research and give them an answer. I tend to get good marks and comments on my feedback sheets, so if the people listening feel like I’m doing them a disservice, they’re not complaining about it, but I just can’t read them.
Give me an audience of 150+ people, though, and I start to have fun. I’m only nervous for a few seconds, and then something clicks and I turn on. The few times I’ve talked in front of a really large audience, I had great sessions — lots of fun, lots of laughter, and lots of good questions.
Having said all that, for being a smallish group today, the crowd here in Dallas was just plain fun. At the other venues, I’ve left my cowboy hat off when I got on stage; I left it on here and was able to get a laugh from it (at Anaheim’s expense; sorry, SoCal!) My post-lunchbreak observation that bringing in 100% clouds and rain to make the Seattle boy feel more at home was probably overkill got another good laugh. Thanks to everyone who showed up and had a kind word or question for me; y’all were great.
Now to see if I can get an hour or two of sleep before the wake-up call drags me out of bed. Have to get to the airport early enough to be sure to get on my flight home, since I’m not sure what kind of crowding has resulted from last night’s weather-related ground stop. I’d be more than mildly stressed at this point if I didn’t make it home tomorrow reasonably on-time.