Friday, December 28, 2007

Random Bullets of Conferencing, MLA Edition

  • It's snowing. (It wasn't yesterday, and hope to god that it won't be when I need to fly out.)
  • I had to buy a hat. It is fuzzy. This was my first time in an H&M (lots of couture and handmade originals right by where I live, not much access to stylish and cheap --- an hour's drive to a Target, for example.). The H&M deserves a whole post of its own, later. Much to say about it.
  • Yesterday I touristed around town, seeing The Bean and walking by the Art Institute (pictures to come). The line for the Institute was around the block though, so I went shopping at all the little art-gallery gift shop thingies across the street instead.
  • Cheap hotel: it's not the Westin, but it's clean and has internet access that is still currently free.
  • I love being here at the conference! Not, um, that I've gone to any panels or anything academic or anything, but so far I have touristed and met many people and gone drinking with them. Tonight all the people from my U are getting together for a big party. Why we don't, you know, just have parties back home since we are all there every day, I don't know. Oh wait, I do know ---- we don't live in Chicago, and Chicago makes all parties seem more fun.
  • I'm also glad I went and saw the job circus, because it seems so much less circus-y now. It's harder to demonize search committees and the job process when you know that everyone looks like normal live people and seem like they are trying in good faith to find the best candidate. The "pit" also looks nothing like my Kafkaesque fantasies --- here, at least, the tables are curtained off from each other and it looks like a nice, if anonymous, conference hotel room (I peeked, but didn't go in) ---- like a big workshop or something. It doesn't look like you have to see everyone else interviewing or can really hear them. I was picturing something much uglier and more like a giant, bad, cafeteria set up with 6th grade science experiments. I'm sure it's stressful, but doesn't seem that bad.
  • The main lobby and bar of the hotel is a bit circus-y though. It looks like this:

  • It is also hard to find people at a big crowded bar when you don't know what they look like.
  • The panels are set up stupidly here. By this, I mean that there are four panels I need to go to later today, all at the same time, and nothing that looks interesting before then. I'm slowly working up the energy to get out of my hotel.
  • I already missed Dr. Hospitality and Dr. Herr Professor Doktor Doktor's panels, which were early. I need to go re-connect up with them somehow. Dr. H., despite having just gotten his job last year, and not really being in my field, did more to mentor me at my last conference than my advisor has done in 8 years ---- actually taking me around and introducing me to every prof, colleague, or grad student he'd paneled with before that he knew. He also saw me eating lunch alone and brought me along to the business lunch for his field at the conference (and introduced me, very nicely, to everyone there too). So I have nothing but appreciation for him and his sarcasm and dark humor and non-cloying brand of hospitality (tho' the fact that he got in and out of grad school and into a t-t much faster than me rankles at odd moments --- ah well.). I wish my advisor were not shy and hated going to conferences. Ah, can't be helped at this point.
  • I forgot to take pictures of everyone's feet at the blogger meet-up for posterity. Or any conf. pics so far --- must remedy that!
  • And people read my blog! And like it! How cool is that!?!? Heh. I have fans! (well ok, not really, but I have readers)! If only my academic work were so popular. But, on the other hand, people pointed out that academia is much slower than blogging and it will take time for people to love (or even, indeed, see) my academic work. So I just need to be Zen about that too.
  • Meeting people was fun and I will think more about how that changes how I read them, and all the weird little disconnects of my mental pictures and peoples' real appearances and voices and all that. The meet-ups started out, as someone mentioned, like a very awkward first date ---- but a first date where you couldn't really make small talk, as odious as small talk is, because you already knew a heck of a lot about the person already.
  • The liberal application of beer made the previously mentioned point moot after a short while.
Ok, what now? I need to venture out into the snow, I think, and see the book exhibit and get the grad travel money and eat lunch, and then hit up some panels I guess. I'm off!


k8 said...

I'm sorry I missed the blogger meet up! I was just too frazzled about my car incident to be social.

heu mihi said...

Spot on about the Hyatt. Have you seen the Embassy? The lobby's at the bottom of this giant atrium, and all of the rooms have little glassed-in balconies looking out into it. So you can sit down there for an hour, like I did, watching the job candidates fret outside their interview rooms checking their watches every 15 seconds until it's time to knock on the doors and go in. It's a marvelous tonic for the nerves. Really.

Horace said...

How did you find that wonderful etching of the bar? :)

I did the blogger meet-up last year, and the people I met then I read with a much greater sense of, how shall we say, fondness. So when I met up with Dr. C and Flavia this year, it was totally like old friends, who I'd only really met, like one time. So I'll be extra stoked to meet you next year, or whenever, when we can say, "Oh, we go way back!"

If I don't see you around, have a great rest-of-conference!

Oh, and by the way, I haven't seen the pit this year, but the two years I had pit interviews, there were no lovely curtain dividers, so all you could see was a sea of interviewing. Once I got to the tables, everything was fine, but before that, pretty crazy.