Highlights of the retreat at a beach resort.
Friday, 07/10/09 - 11:05 pm.

Hello, diary. I am back from the retreat, as you can see. Or, more precisely, read. It was awesome. I complained that three days was too much, but it was the exact amount of time needed. Two days would have been too little.

The meetings for the five-year strategic plan, and action plan and budget and all that jazz weren't so bad. Kinda long sometimes, but not as disastrous as I expected. The snacks were great and I could always count on wrapping up earlier than scheduled, to hang out at the hotel and go to the beach.

My roomate was the only female outreach worker. She loved my tattoo and spent most of our time in the room there hopping on one leg. I thought that was cool, in a way. Her prosthesis remained on a corner and she used these cool crutches to walk around. Losing a limb is no fun, but the OWs are great role models on how to live life to the fullest after that. She was a cool roommate.

The place itself was just unbelievable. Beautiful (and eco-unfriendly, I suppose). The food was endless and exotic. I'd never been to a beach resort before. You pay to get in and, with some exceptions, everything is included. For most of the staff, this meant sitting at the bar getting drunk. But there shows at night and a disco, too.

The hightlight for me, though, was meeting and hanging out with the delegate from the Washington office. Ever since I started working there, I kept hearing the name Ahmed like he was the patron saint and everybody's best friend. I addressed him very briefly and formally through emails, when I sent the monthly reports and clear doubts, or when he called and I picked up the phone. Sometimes I'd hear his voice through a speaker when my boss was talking to him on Skype. I liked his voice. From where I was, it sounded like he was a very important man from the NASA.

So I finally put a face to the voice when he arrived from DC on monday. He did seem like a great guy. We didn't interact much but I quickly understood why everybody liked him and were expecting him.

At the retreat, we started to hang out and talk. He was such a sweetheart, lending me his camera from the moment we arrived to the place, so I could take all the pictures. I mean, I'd hardly trust someone I just met with my camera. But he did. We'd started talking on the bus, about how much he knows and loves my country. He lived here for a couple of years and knows everything about it, in terms of geography, language, news, importante people, etc.

We had quite a few opportunities to be alone and talk. He's the kind of person you want to talk to for hours. I got the feeling we always left one, two, three subjects lingering in the air, because we either skipped to another one or someone would come and interrupt. Last night we walked around the resort and this morning we had brekfast by the seashore. We ate most of the meals together, but along with the staff. I always tried to sit by his side, to hear his stories in a puerto rican spanish with a strong american accent.

When we were alone, we discussed our impressions on the foundation, psychology stuff and even personal stuff. His work, his wife's work (one might think, perhaps correctly, that they've been around the globe), my plans of continuing studying, even my old self-mutilation -though that was just a brief reference, since he noticed the scars on my arm- and my old self. I laughed when he told me, in reply to the description of the old me, that I was such a loser. It's very easy to open up to him, and I wish we'd had more time to talk.

He jumped on a plane this morning. I felt sad to see him go and I missed him for the rest of my stay at the hotel (he left at 9, we checked out at 2). He's a charming man, and just 9 years older than me. We shook hands when we met and we hugged when we said goodbye. We'll stay in touch, for sure. He told me, "don't be so horrible, write me back". I was next to him when he sent me an email, and I'm about to reply. The email contains links to "authors you should have read by now!", regarding gender studies. 'Cause he knows about that, too. Isn't he neat?

At noon, I had lunch with the Finance Manager. I feel protected with him, because he's very critical of our bosses and is always looking out for me. Truth is, nobody is very happy with the way those two handle the issues. The FM and I have grown fond of each other. His son, by the way, is the patient I see tomorrow, the one that pays me. Perhaps that's why Mr FM has started to bring green apples from time to time. He has also opened up to me about some personal problems and things he sees in the office. He knows I'm trustworthy.

It's pretty cool when he tells me he knows that I'm very smart. I learned from him that Ahmed liked me very much and thought the same about me being smart, "it's a shame that she is where she is", they both agreed. Meaning, I'm just a secretary, when I could be exploiting my potential in something more related to my career. "So we'll help her get out of there". I'd told Ahmed about my vision of getting a master's and doctorate degree (and staying where I am for the time being, to save and learn). He'll connect me with someone, I think. It's a very remote contact, but it may be of some help.

Both men were very supportive regarding a comment one of the bosses did during a discussion. Something about a certain task, "for you to do instead of reading and downloading music". I replied I don't download it, I bring it from home. It's not the first time he implies I lose time. I'll have you know, I have my music on all the time, and I read only when I'm done with my tasks. Both Ahmed and the FM were concerned about the way I was treated, although that's not new in the office, or just exclusive for me. My bosses look at me with a strange mixture of respect and disdain. They lack sensitivity, to put it in a few words.

Anyway! On related news, two coworkers left their purses in the convention room and their cash was stolen while we went to get our room keys. My roommate found out someone stole a skin cream from OUR room. On both cases, we know it was the staff but we can't prove it. Ahmed found a staple in his dinner and a dead fly in his lunch the day after (staple and fly had some meanings according to a set of beliefs, we discussed that at lenght last night). In turn, I broke some stuff in my room, because all rock starts trash their hotel rooms. Ok, not really. My toilet's chain broke and when I tried to fix it, I put the toilet lid against a wall, it slid and it broke in three. No charges were made, though.

After I came home this afternoon, I took a bath and headed for my clinic to see my friday patient. I'm a very lazy person, but perhaps because I'd already set my mind on going, I wasn't whiny at all about seeing him, and I wasn't even tired. In fact, I was excited. And the session was unbelievable, complete with somatizations. Yum.

All in all, it was a great trip. But now, I should get some rest.

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