Mar. 20th, 2015

rivka: (her majesty)
I am alone in a hotel room. Except for the steady hiss of the climate control and the hum of the mini fridge, it's very quiet.

The last time I was alone in a hotel room, it was part of a last-ditch effort to feel like an academic career was meaningful. I went to an HIV conference in Miami Beach. On the one hand, it was stimulating; on the other hand, I felt like a poseur. I had not been working well, or connecting with academic life well, for a long time by then. In my hotel room, in the evenings, I felt scared.

Now I am just bone tired. I drove from Baltimore to Richmond VA today, in weather that progressed from "wintery mix" to driving rain as I headed southward. I was late. So I arrived with not a single particle of transition time, changed into business clothes in a stall of the ladies' room, and then stood at a table promoting myself for six hours straight.

I'm here for the VA Homeschoolers convention, which draws about a thousand homeschoolers from Virginia, DC, and Maryland. I have a vendor table for my homeschool-focused psychology practice. This weekend, about a hundred of them will come up to my table and listen to my pitch:
"As far as I know, I'm the only psychologist in the country who focuses on homeschooling families. I do that because I homeschool my own kids, and I know that for homeschoolers, when you feel that something is not quite right about your child, it can be very uncomfortable to go to a mainstream professional. Because you don't even know if they're going to get it."
Sixty or so people will take my brochure or my card. Thirty will tell me a story about their kid or ask me questions. Perhaps twenty will fill out a consultation card asking me to call or e-mail them after the conference. I need to eventually book three hours of work to break even. (I paid a table fee, rented a car and a hotel room, bought gas and food, and hired a babysitter.) Three hours of work equals one IQ test for giftedness and one consultation, or 30% of a learning disability evaluation.

At 7:00 this evening, twelve hours after my day started, vendors were allowed to leave the exhibit hall. I found my hotel. I had a couple of tasty enchiladas verdes and a couple of Negro Modelos at the Mexican restaurant next door. I walked back to my room. Now I have about twelve hours to be quiet and alone before another eight hours of solid self-promotion.

I often fantasize about staying alone in a hotel, actually - the quiet, the cleanliness, the lack of responsibilities to other people. In my fantasies, though, I don't start out this depleted.

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