So thrilled to be chugging through this conference. Besides covering the world’s driest subject matter with exuberance and joy and getting people up out of their chairs for different group tasks, it is literally exhausting to speak for 8 or 9 hours in a row for 3 days straight. I had a wild idea and went with it – to offset the pain, and I am not the only one presenting this year. After all, I do not know what these smart people know, and the point is to meet with each other, share and learn. Rolling out policies and processes is rough, but when everyone participates, it is more creative - not a snorefest.
It is worth note that timing a group activity after lunch, when all those carbs are settling everyone’s brains into a coma, is the best way to reinvigorate the group. Let everyone lead a section, synthesize that information in their own way, engage people with meaningful activities, provide structure and process, and then take everyone out to play at Top Golf for the evening =happy team.
And they are still out roaming the streets together, and good for them!
I took 3 people back to their hotels after we finished our event this evening.
The first hotel was a Ramada Inn, $50/night. Nope. Women do not belong in hotel rooms opening onto the parking lot or out into a courtyard. The next guy was just down the road at an equally sketchy location - one where it looked possible to accidentally interrupt a human-trafficking situation while on the way to the snack machine. Just yikes.
Safely back at my hotel, a much-less riskier situation located near ASU (a campus which is epic in its size), I was reading about the recent measles outbreak. 40 people so far, and counting. There were 349 individual cases in 2018 – a lot since they all but eradicated it from the people in the year 2000. The anti-vaxxers are doing their part to bypass getting their kids the their measles shots, even though it can mean a near-full life minus the disease. The mounting number of cases is disturbing. Have you ever googled what measles looks like? Don’t bother. It looks like the inside of my body after I drank that wheat germ last night. Just ow.
2014 wasn’t a great year either. If you click the link, you can read the stats yourself.
It reminds me of AIDS. It reminds me of And the band played on... and Gaetan Dugas. I had never read this article about him, but maybe you will find this one interesting, too.
Growing up in the 80’s, I have read a lot about the AIDS epidemic.
In 1987, I made my very first book purchase with my own money. It was Heroin, AIDS and Society (if further proof of what a handful I was at age 15 is required). My parents were horrified. They were beginning to get a feel that I was not going to go quietly like some doe-eyed swan bowing deeply in the presence of authority. My brother scoffed at my suggestion that he use condoms when engaging in sex, with men or women. My parents did not feel it was appropriate that I use the word condom at the dinner table, whether or not it was related to a growing epidemic and why did I care about the gays anyway?
While you might be able to live with an HIV diagnosis these days, that shit was seriously deadly when I was a kid in the 80’s, and why I cared about the gays was revealed soon enough to the added horrification of my mother, in particular, who could not understand why I was willing to pack myself off to hell all for what? What do lesbians even do in bed?!! No way I was going to cover that one. Hell, I didn't even know at 15.
Heroin was the drug of choice when I was in high school. No one smoked weed. They went straight to H. Share those needles. How about some heptatis with your HIV?
When I returned to the US, I signed up to volunteer at an AIDS organization and began woman-ing the hot line on weeknights. I provided a lot of input to the people who called to find a dentist who would see a patient with HIV. These days, healthcare professionals treat everyone as though they could have a blood-borne disease so they do not have to single out people by their diseases before taking precautions to keep themselves safe. But back in the day, it was way less advanced and everyone was still dragging their knuckles around on the ground about this stuff. It was a gay disease and a lot of gay people were dying of it, as if to reinforce that myth. Until the not-gays started dying, no one realized it had nothing to do with morality. I can hear you scoff, but seriously, if you put aside your moral indignation, sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of, whether you're knocking it out yourself, or otherwise.
We are so hung up on our Puritan shit in the United States. God forbid we are suddenly naked in front of each other, as an example. For shame! Like everyone is not some incarnation of the other. There is not much separating our bodies really. Some are stronger, leaner, fatter, or thinner, and that’s about it. Big deal.
But back in the 80’s everyone was really making sure they were keeping life super godly and missionary position. Propagate the species and move on. Your satisfaction not guaranteed, ladies. I mean, granted, the sexually active people of the 1980s were coming off of the crazy excesses of the 60s and 70s when cocaine and disco were inexplicably linked to the births of people like me, mistakes that could not be undone, except for ratcheting back super hard for the sake of retaining some semblance of our purity.
Return to Christ, and let’s not get so physical.
Except gay men. They were still rolling and HIV could be transmitted as such.
Back to Gaetan Dugas.
Kind of ended up being branded Patient Zero – a stereotype so hard to undo that I still reference him when I think How did this all begin? I think it began when people in far off lands consumed infected monkeys for dinner. And maybe my fact checker could kindly return to the desk and check my head before I press Publish!
I’m sure there’s an epidemiology a mile long that is right at the end of your fingertips on the interwebs – that is not my point. My point is, disease spreads like crazy and it is tough to break through the superstition to keep the general public healthy. I appreciate the keepers of our health out there. Every time I brush with sickness again, I am reminded of the kindness of healthcare providers and how their advice can sometimes almost kill you, but mostly, they are trying to help. So, keep your head on a swivel. That is the advice for the day.
II. And, Scene.
I am so glad to be finished with the 3 days of this conference and happy it did not waste the time of anyone attending, yielded a lot of good direction, process improvements, and reinforced my belief in the strength of the team. 23 people attended. 5 new managers. We answer these questions about the culture periodically and I can say with certainty that I am proud to be a part of this team.
My boss flew in for the last part of the day. I always joke that we do my 1:1’s in the strangest of places, all over the country, but in the limited time I get with him, he always makes it count.
Afterwards, a group of us walked the mile and a half back to the hotel and I went out to get some coffee alone to reattach my calm.
Dutch Bros. coffee is pretty tasty. I had the banana cream pie latte, which is as good as it sounds. I am sitting outside on my balcony, even though it’s in the mid 50’s I’m in shorts and a t-shirt, because it feels tropical compared to the normal day to day temps of winter - which I am so over right now that I want to leave it behind forever. By March 1, if we do not have a late snow, I will be fine with my life in my city again, but I hate this part of the year the most.
I am all packed up and ready to return to the ultra-chill of the Midwest. I did not miss the -4 degree weather this week, but I missed everything else.