The Truth About Last Night

Sometimes F̶a̶c̶e̶b̶r̶a̶g̶ Facebook makes us feel like everyone else's lives are more fabulous than our own. My recent posts about a speaking gig might give that impression. I had a great night, but it wasn't all amazing. After my presentation, I sent this email to a small circle of friends. They encouraged me to publish it. 

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October 3, 2017 –

Hello confidants. What a whirlwind two days in the Bay Area. It was quite eventful, and I want to share the details with you — my inner circle of advisors. 

The trip didn’t start well. We all woke up on Monday morning with the horrifying news about Vegas. My first fear was that the killer(s) were still on the loose. My second concern was for the victims. My third (selfish) concern was that the shooter was Muslim…and I, a brown person, would be flying a few hours later. I thought I would feel better when the world learned that the shooter wasn’t Muslim. But the images coming out of Vegas were too tragic to feel better. 

It was my first trip without my two-year-old. I thought she and I were ready. But she left for school clinging to my leg, screaming “No airplane mommy!” I cried twice at LAX like a crazy person when I saw a mom and toddler traveling together. I seriously thought about ditching the whole thing and going back home. Steve (my husband) told me not to do that. 

Once I arrived in Sunnyvale, my Airbnb host never showed up. I stood outside the apartment for two hours on the phone with Airbnb corporate. Before becoming a mom, I was a road warrior. But on Monday, I was sorely out of practice, and the burden of a heavy suitcase, high heels, and 10% phone battery were not a good mix with my empty stomach. At a minimum, I carry 5 snacks for my daughter at all times. Somehow, I didn’t think to do that for myself. 

I decided to go to the convention center while I waited for Airbnb to get back to me. The conference was in full swing. Reminder, this was Monday, and my presentation was on Tuesday. But I quickly learned that the location of my table in the exhibit hall was out of sight next to the catering staff. Leading up to the conference, I confirmed with the director that my booth would be the first one attendees would see. The person I spoke to is the main organizer for the event. She was nowhere to be found, and probably dealing with much bigger issues. It felt out of reach to ask her about my table. I felt small, and totally out of my league. I called Steve crying. “I’m a big fat nobody, and I’m going to make a fool of myself.”

Steve helped me book a hotel room. I was supposed to be away for two nights, Monday, and Tuesday. Instead, Steve booked me a one-night stay, and changed my return flight to 10PM Tuesday night (last night). It was cheaper than staying in a hotel for two nights, and my wise husband knew I would feel better being home when our daughter woke up on Wednesday morning. Steve also looked at the hotel restaurant menu and sent me an email with the vegetarian items, and confirmed they served Merlot. True love.

With some semblance of control back in my hands, I marched back into the exhibit hall. I got two catering staffers to move my table to the front of the exhibit hall. No one stopped me so I set up my stuff. The room was buzzing with people, so I decided to stay. I had planned to go to the hotel and have that Merlot! Instead, I followed a conference volunteer into their designated volunteer area that was stocked with boxed lunches. I ate an entire wrap in three bites. I freshened up in the bathroom and literally practiced smiling. I marched out of the bathroom and ended up selling 10 books that night. That’s a lot for me based on past events. 

The next morning, I got my hair and makeup done before heading to the conference. At the conference, I met some interesting people, and I was hit on by two older men. But then, a very handsome, more-my-age doctor approached me. He was very sweet to back away after he saw my wedding ring. But he was still eager to learn about organ trafficking. He even connected me to his colleague who is a high profile person working in human trafficking. He also mentioned that he’s single and asked if I know any nice women. I’m going to think about who I can introduce him to. He’s in the Bay Area, if you know any cool single women? He’s open to meeting women in LA, too! Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve been hit on? It was flattering, and funny to text Steve each time it happened. :) 

Fast forward to that evening, it was time for my presentation. My heart was pounding so hard, I thought others could see my chest puffing in and out. Steve and I are teaching our daughter to self soothe by chanting “om” so I did the same thing. It helped, but I still felt like a drop or two of pee might fall right before I went on stage. Sorry TMI, but it’s the ugly, behind the scenes truth. I nailed my presentation. I suddenly felt comfortable after I got through the first 10-15 seconds. Dozens of people came to me afterward and expressed how moved they were by my talk. They wanted to know how they could help. A couple people said I was the best speaker at the conference. That was big for me. 

My books started flying off the shelves. One man gave me his card and said he works in entertainment and wants to connect me to some filmmakers. I got requests for blog, podcast interviews, and other speaking gigs. One woman was crying as she approached me. She was in her mid 80s and was in early stage kidney failure. She is terrified of dialysis. I held her hand and tried my best to comfort her. Steve and our daughter tried to FaceTime me twice but I couldn’t get away from my booth :(

I packed up my booth and headed for the airport on a total high. As I settled into the backseat of the Uber, I read a text from Steve that the conference was streaming live, and both he and my daughter watched my presentation! Steve said I “ROCKED IT” and he said our daughter watched intently and kept saying “Mommy!” But then she got upset and said “I want mommy!” Steve turned on Dudamel conducting the LA Philharmonic to distract her, so he could watch the rest of my speech. 

I had a burrito and a glass of Cab at the airport. Then I indulged in not one, but two cookies. It felt really good. When I got home, our daughter was fast asleep but Steve was still awake. He kept asking me about the trip, but I demanded to know what he and our daughter ate that day, and how was her day with my mom? How does mom mode just turn on? It’s an involuntary reaction. I tried to turn it off, but I couldn’t. I mean I really couldn’t. I had to use three makeup remover wipes to wash my face in its entirety. It felt sooooo good to take off my high heels. I’m not wearing heels for three weeks minimum. 

Today, my social media is blowing up (mostly from my own posts, but some from conference attendees too). In the end, it turned out to be a great opportunity. It’s a continuous struggle for me to face my insecurities and believe in myself. Work in progress. 

I couldn’t have been successful without you. I incorporated so much of your feedback into my presentation. Someone at the conference asked me to do a TED talk. I don’t think I would have been asked that if I hadn’t made the changes you suggested. 

Sorry for the long email and thanks for sticking with me. 

Mamta