Saturday, March 3, 2012

Some Lessons You Learn the Hard Way (Or, Sometimes it's the wrong Salvation Armies)

I used to think I don't make the same mistakes twice. It turns out, it's possible.

March 1st, 2012 will always be a day I hold dear. We WomenNC fellows presented our research, and the way our audience received us was overwhelmingly supportive. Still, there's nothing like waking up on the day you know you'll remember forever. Some people have butterflies in their stomachs. I had jackhammers.

I thought I could restore my zen by taking a trip to the Salvation Army to take in some NGO sessions that were being held there that morning. They were related to some pretty unusual topics - I hadn't been to any quite like their descriptions entailed.

I tried to hail a cab to take me to the Salvation Army. It was then, when I was standing on the side of the road with my hand in the air a la Serena Van der Woodsen, that I realized: I have no idea how to hail a cab. I have no idea which side of the road I need to be on (though, presumably, it's the right side). I have no idea if cabs are occupied with other passengers or not. I didn't even know how much to tip the driver. For goodness sake. What on earth was I doing, anyway?

I managed to awkwardly hail a cab in front of our hotel. The driver took my address and zoomed over to the Salvation Army building, where all the NGOs had met for our consultation day.

Except that it was deserted. The golden gates were boarded up and every office was locked. When an employee did arrive to unlock the door, her expression made it clear: she had no idea what a CSW NGO session was.

At this point, I'm having a flashback to downtown Raleigh, when I showed up at the Historic Oak district looking for Lillian's List when I really should have been somewhere in North Raleigh. Google got it wrong. Now Anuja did too.

It was clear that, wherever the sessions were being held, I was missing them. I felt guilty, like I had skipped class or something. Add this fact to the reminder that I would be presenting my research later that day and just like that, the jackhammers in my stomach were back.

I learned to calm myself down that day. I found a charming cafe not far from the Salvation Army, and bought a latte and a cookie and forced myself to calm down. I even called my friend Erica in Raleigh and we chatted a while, which helped with the jackhammers more than anything.

When I was ready, I awkwardly hailed another cab back to the hotel. No harm, no worry.

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