Invisible Ink

I could tell you…
but then I’d have to kill you.

On March 27, I had the honor of being invited to speak at CIA Langley with Mary SanGiovanni and Livia Llewellyn by Scott M Baker—the president of Invisible Ink, the agency’s writers’ group (established in 2000 by Bob Kresge). It was quite an honor, on several counts. We were the first female authors to ever speak to the group. We had a great attendance (made up of Invisible Ink agents as well as several from a women’s group), went long, and were told we were one of the best groups they’d ever had (win!).

The talk went very well and the three of us enjoyed it immensely, stating we would come back any time and receiving an open invitation in response. Oh yes, I’m going back. You can bank on that! The attendees were full of great questions, to which we gave  equally awesome answers and hopefully helped them with their direction, desires and dreams.

And none of us got in any trouble. (Note how I said none of us to try and pretend everyone involved, or in the know, didn’t fully expect that “us” to really just be “me”)

Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t try. I mean, I wasn’t trying to get restrained, arrested, or otherwise taken down by any of the large men toting weapons or anything, but you know me. I’m twelve. I’m full of questions. And even though I hated history class, I know just enough that I wanted answers to certain things. I didn’t get a whole lot, but I got one tidbit that I’ll giggle about with an “I knew it!” attitude for years to come.

Upon arrival, the first thing I did was take a picture of the huge sign that says “no taking pictures”—of course. Then we went the wrong way on the directions (for which we completely blamed Scott later) and ended up face-to-face with a very large man holding a weapon bigger than him. Upon approaching, I told Mary to roll her window down and yelled from far, far away “lost visitors!” so he would not to shoot us. He sternly turned us around and sent us the proper way to the visitor’s center for our badges.

Once we were past the “you are now being recorded” line, Mary started clarifying everything I said by talking into the air and directly addressing whomever was listening to the recorded conversations. “And by that she means…” became her mantra for a while. To which, of course, I had to play along and introduce myself and my narrator to the invisible listeners. We turned off our phones and left them in the car—required behavior. But being me, I pouted about not having a camera (and even twitter occasionally) throughout the day…

First and foremost at the great seal.

The image above was stolen from google and then graffiti signed in photoshop. Why? Because no cameras, phones, or other recording devices are allowed inside. At all. Period. Ever. And before we were past this main entrance I was already showing my 12-year-old off.

If you look at the top right of the picture, you can almost make out the security desk where three lovely (read as “large, well-armed”) men were in charge of who could pass. These SPOs (security protection officers) were probably not expecting someone like me when they left for work that morning. After Scott explained who we were and we were all put through the check point, I walked over to the rope dividing us from them and harassed begged asked a very large man to grab a screenshot of me standing in the great seal off the security tape and email it to me. We went back and forth on how this would be cool (me) and just not going to happen (him). I gave him my business card and pushed the topic with a smile while he stood tall (dude was like a freaking wall) and repeatedly said “that’s not going to happen.” I finally stood on my tippy toes and put my finger to his nose and told him to repeat “I’ll see what I can do ma’am.” To which he did, but then tried to add more (which was absolutely going to be another version of “no”) and I made the “zip it” motion with my hand and told him not to pop my bubble and just let me walk away thinking he might do this. He did. Scott shook his head. The girls were convinced I was going to be detained and miss the meeting with Invisible Ink. I smiled that gypsy smile, said thanks, and skipped up the steps. Yep. Twelve. And none of you are shocked.

Outside of that, we saw a piece of the Berlin Wall, the Kryptos sculpture (which none of us even attempted to crack), the museums (ohhhh dragonfly spy technology), and emptied our wallets in the gift shop (I came, I saw, I haz coffee cup! Hippie has a t-shirt to wear during his runs to mess with the minds of the neighborhood… which will go perfectly with my coroner jacket he’s highjacked adopted.) Scott was a great tour guide and very charming host (<– there ya go, Scott!). The day was packed with interesting tidbits and wonderful sights. Again, it was a great honor, and a memory I’ll hold dear for many reasons.

On our way out the door, I went back to the SPOs station—feeling sorta, kinda, not really, bad about putting my finger in the large guard’s face—and gave him a free book for putting up with me. I’m still waiting for that screenshot… but if I ever do receive one in the email, I’ll never tell any of you about it.

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