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Monday, April 26, 2010

A Weekend to Remember... er, Forget?

I went to Branson this past weekend to attend a women's conference. The motivating factor for me to go was just to get a break from everyone and everything here. But ever since I signed up to go, I was starting to feel anxious about leaving my kids. I knew I would miss them but I also needed a break. So on Friday after I dropped Jackie off at school and did a little bit of housecleaning, Tim dropped me off at the church where most of the other women were meeting to ride together. I was assigned to ride with 3 ladies with C being the driver. I have to admit that I was somewhat nervous to ride with C but all was well... at first. The trouble started about 45 minutes after we got onto the highway toward Branson. Just east of Six Flags in Eureka, traffic suddenly slowed down. I figured it was either construction or accident traffic ahead. Then just a few moments later, traffic picked up speed again. Then just as suddenly as we began picking up speed, C pulls over to the side of the interstate, unbuckles her seatbelt, and opened her door as she was saying "Sorry guys, but I have to do this." It happened so quickly that none of us had any time to say anything to or ask her anything. It left me bewildered for a moment until I looked toward the back and there C is, walking toward a car that was pulled over on the side of the highway. I didn't know what to think as I watched C walking toward the car. Then I watched as C started to talk to whoever was in the vehicle then I watched as C reached through this person's car window 3 times. Then finally C walked back to the van where the rest of us were waiting, gets back into the van, and then says "She's so beautiful and I just don't want anything to happen to her." Apparently the previous traffic hold-up was due to this person having a flat tire. C then went on to explain how she was telling this person that she needed to lock all her doors and roll up the windows. C kept reaching through this person's window to show that she can still reach in and that they needed to be rolled up further. I was incredulous. If I had seen somebody walking toward me the way C did and reach into my window, I think I would have called 911. Just a weird situation. Not only did C put our lives in danger, she put her life in danger. So we got back on the road where C kept driving out of the lane and onto the warning bumps that are on the side of the road. At one point, I thought for certain that I was never going to see my children again when C did not yield to a truck coming onto the highway and this truck was literally got up on C's van bumper. C also consistently drove 10 miles UNDER the speed limit in an effort to impress us with her safe driving. Ha! About 1 1/2 after leaving the church for our destination, C asks if anybody would like to stop for something to eat. So, C stops at a KFC where she and one of the other ladies proceed to order and sit down to eat. Meanwhile, I found B outside where she and I discuss whether she or I should take over the driving. B ultimately decided to take over and I suggested (or maybe I ordered her) to pick up the speed. C was fine with our plans but she did suggest letting her drive if it rains. What?! No way! It rained but B got us to Branson safely.
We got checked in and I was assigned to a room with 3 ladies, 2 of whom I rode with in the van, C & B. I got my stuff into my room and proceeded downstairs where I found R, who coordinated everything, and told her that I needed to find another way home because I was not putting my life at risk again. The ride down was a bit stressful.
The first night at the conference was nice. Candace Cameron Bure was the guest speaker and she has quite a story to tell. I enjoyed it. That night back at the hotel, I slept okay. Saturday morning, it was back to the conference where we listened to some more music, Anita Renfroe, and Kay Arthur. I really enjoyed Anita. She is a comedienne whose husband is a retired pastor. She is hilarious and her acts are based on real life.
After the morning portion was finished, our group of women met at a restaurant next to our hotel for lunch. From there, several of us went shopping at the local outlet mall. I ended up with a couple of awesome deals from Coach and a few deals from the Disney store.
That Saturday evening, we were all treated to a wonderful concert by Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W Smith. I really enjoyed listening to Steven. Not only did he sing beautiful but he poured out his heart as he shared the story of the loss of his precious daughter, Maria. Steven and his wife already had 3 biological children when they adopted 3 beautiful girls from China. Unfortunately 2 years ago, tragedy struck and Maria was accidentally killed by her brother when she ran out in front of his vehicle. Steven shared how their faith has helped his family to cope with their loss of Maria. I hope that I never have to experience an ordeal such as that. I just cannot fathom the pain.
My Saturday almost ended as a completely happy day for me until the lack of common sense from another group of women caused me to end my day on a bad note. At this particular hotel where we stayed, there were several other groups of women from other churches who attended the same conference. Anyway, after arriving back at the hotel after the concert, I proceeded to head toward the elevator. As I arrived at the elevator, another group of women had just finished taking group pictures and were all heading back to their rooms. The elevator door opened up and as I stepped onto the elevator, I heard one of the older ladies from this other group yell out, "you younger ones take the stares, us old ones will take the elevator." At first, I thought, "is she talking to me, too?" Certainly not, I thought, and plus, I've been having ankle problems and I just did not feel like taking the stairs. My feet were hurting enough after having been standing on concrete for the last 2+ hours. Then suddenly I heard it "Hey you, you're young, take the stairs." Surely, she's not talking to me, I thought. I looked up and surely she was talking to me. I just looked at her matter of factly and told her that I have foot problems and that I was taking the elevator. Well, the women from this group continued to pile into the elevator and this group of supposed Christian ladies showed their rudeness and I was pushed, literally, into the back corner of the elevator. The women kept piling on which made me start getting nervous. For a moment, I thought that maybe I should get off and let these PITAs have their way and I would wait for the next elevator. But before I could get out, the door closed. This was not looking good. The elevator did not budge. Nor did the doors open. And none of the buttons that open the door were working. Then those ladies started to laugh and say, "we're stuck". No S&%@, we really were stuck. Suddenly I started to sweat and I could feel a panic attack coming on. Oh no, this most certainly was not good. Somehow, I pushed 10,000 pounds of estrogen out of my way and got to phone to call for help. Gee, those ladies were just standing there and laughing about their predicament. Not funny in my book. I started to cry and I was in the midst of a severe panic attack. I'm sure those dumb ladies thought I was going off my rocker. Finally the door opened. I honestly do not remember how I stumbled out of there. I do remember being unable to catch my breath, crying, and feeling like I was going to collapse. I made my way to the stairs. Pain or no pain, no more elevators for me, especially with people who lack common sense. I made my way to the floor where my room was located. Just one of those other ladies followed me and showed real concern about me and she walked me to my room. This kind lady tried to reassure me that she understood me because she has panic disorder, too. I hate having panic disorder. It causes me shame and embarrassment. By the time I got to my room, I was having difficulty breathing, my face was tingling, and I was trembling uncontrollably. I'm certain my pulse was high enough to put me at risk for stroke. It probably took about a half hour before I could really breathe okay again. I got a shower hoping that it would help me relax after which I packed my suitcase and got ready for bed. I had hoped for a decent night sleep but alas, it was not to be. C wasted no time starting to snore. She was also making these weird noises periodically. Ugh. I tried to get to sleep despite it but I just could not. So, I went downstairs and sat for awhile until I could no longer keep my eyelids open. I asked the front desk for an extra blanket and sheet. I went back to the room where C was still snoring so I laid the blanket on the floor in the changing area of the room and tried to sleep there. I was not comfortable in the least. However, I did fall asleep until I started to feel the pain of the hard floor. I crawled back into the bed and just held my pillow tight against my ear to muffle the snoring. I probably got about 4 hours of sleep that night. Not good when you have to be up before 7 o'clock in order to finish packing your stuff, get ready and dressed for the remainder of the conference, get the suitcase down to the church van, eat breakfast, and get to the conference center by 8:30. I was really looking forward to 11:00 so we could finally head home. I will be going next year and I am hoping that it will be a better experience. Actually, it will be because Brooke and I will be going together and we'll have our own transportation.
Now I have to laugh about my experience riding with C to Branson. After rooming with her at the hotel, I can see that she has a big heart. She does have issues such as BiPolar disorder, OCD, and other disorders. I am certain that the combination of these disorders can cause such behavior as what I witnessed on Friday. I need to be more compassionate toward her but my fear is that she will try to become close to me. Persons like C do deserve respect and compassion just like any other person who is fighting an illness such as cancer, diabetes, etc. I really want to show C that I think she is a good person with a great heart. My first impressions of her were not the best and that affected how I felt about her even before the trip. But I'm going to try to show compassion to C from here on.
This certainly was a most unforgettable weekend.

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