This past weekend was my first experience chairing (in Coyotebanjo's stead) at a professional conference. It was an invaluable experience because I and my good friend (Musicology Cohort, and while she still thinks of herself as an undergrad, everyone else knows she operates at a higher level than most of us) who also chaired were lead through the entire process step by step. Even though the technological west is all about newer, shinier pedagogical models, I still find the traditional "Demonstrate, Imitate, Critique" model to be just about the best out there. So we got lead through the process of getting submissions, reading the abstracts, putting together the panels, and were talked through the chairing responsibilities and left to our own devices at the conference.
So we both took individual cars, as I was planning on trying to find a session on Friday night and MC was planning on driving home for the rest of the weekend. A fairly nice drive, except for the fact that I missed my turnoff for the real highway and ended up adding about 45 minutes of driving out in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, we both got to the hotel, dropped our stuff, and headed out for real food. Unfortunately.....for the life of me I can't remember where we went. It's been a long time since Wednesday night.
Woke up at 7:30am and didn't have a panel until 12:45. Both MC and I are used to having every second of every day spoken for, and it threw us a bit to not have to be anywhere. Had free breakfast at our hotel and basically just hung around until we needed to leave to check-in. MC had minor issues at the registration desk with one of administrators who got more than a little possessive about her "Chair" ribbons. Coffee in the Starbucks in the building the convention was located in, and had a great discussion with MC about life choices, grad school, and deciding to change the "plan" we each had for our lives before we got to Flat Place U. I offer to have conversations in dark alleys with anyone who is discouraging or jerky to MC about said decision.
Aside: The inside joke with my friends is "Low, low price of free." My first year here, one of my good friends broke up with her then boyfriend of 5/6 years. He was acting like a jackass, being antagonistic and slightly stalkerish........and to cheer her up, I said I would "make him an offer he couldn't refuse for the low, low price of free." So now, whenever one of my friends runs into someone (usually male) who is acting threatening, antagonistic, or in any other way behaving like a jackass, all I have to say to cheer them up is, "Low, low price of free."
Off to MC's panel which started at 12:45, where all of the presenters were cordial, professional, and on-time. Three good presentations, with some interesting questions from the peanut gallery (namely MC and myself, since no one else seemed inclined to talk).
Break from 2:30-4:15, so we headed off to find lunch. MC shows us a great little Mediterranean food place, and I get a veggie plate. We see a chocolate shop on the way back to the conference, and stop and buy dark chocolate covered strawberries (a severe weakness for a kid from the deep south who has an affinity for dark chocolate :) ).
Get to my panel early, and have to almost throw out the panel right before ours......they decided they would camp out until the last possible second. Two of my panelists were on time and prepared, including the poor guy from Southern State who had almost completely lost his voice and was basically screaming at the top of his lungs to deliver his paper.
The third panelist arrives about 30 seconds before the panel is supposed to start and makes a big deal about technology issues. As I am in the process of trying to get her to back off and let me fix them for her, she sends one of her entourage to get one of the tech guys to come and fix it, but by the time the guy gets back I have fixed said technology issue and we are starting. Panelist gives paper......and gives paper......and gives paper, until I have to tell her we're moving on.......at which point she looks at me as if I've done something horrible to her, as does the rest of her entourage. We take questions for about two minutes, and her entourage is offended when I cut them off to move to the next panelist.
As Dharmonia points out, there's probably nothing that brings out my inner Angry Redneck more than a pretentious, blue-blooded, counter-culture wannabe of a yankee (no offense to reasonable people above the Mason-Dixon).
The middle panelist is by far the best of the three. Timed perfectly, when we give her the x minutes left card, she starts to edit her paper on the fly. Methodologically sound, well written, and expressed in a language that wasn't her primary language. She's a PhD candidate in the middle of fieldwork in the US. It's great to get to see what other grad students at other institutions are doing, because you can measure where you are, and how far you need to go to get where you want to professionally.
End panel, and MC and I head back to the hotel to change into comfortable clothing. Off to awesome sushi restaurant, where we order our weight in sushi including a super spicy roll with yellow fin and tuna. Back to the hotel where I do some thesis reading until about 12am (which feels like 1 am because of the time difference).
Wake up at 7:30am.....again. I remark to MC that waking up before we have to is a Grad School induced sickness. Get up and out of the hotel......have a remarkable breakfast at one of the local places. Massive breakfast burrito smothered in green chili sauce. Back to the hotel for MC to pack up her stuff and head home. I wait around the hotel and free wifi to see if a session forms up.....about 1:30 get a call from Regional Banjo Player, and unfortunately nothing is forming (the more you play vernacular music, the more you realize that you just have to play things by ear.....sometimes sessions happen and sometimes they don't........musical karma, it'll just come at a later date). RBP does however, give me the lead on several fabulous used bookstores. So I set out to find them and the local Borders Bookstore.
Have food at a great place with pastries, coffee, and food. Stay and read thesis stuff for an hour or so....and then head out to my car. Find a note on my car that says: Flat tire on other side. Walk over to front right side, and sure enough, the tire is dead flat. Ok.....no problem. I can change a tire, and if I call AAA it'll take them 45 min to get there whereas it'll take me all of 15 min to change the darn thing. Get spare out of trunk and realize that even though every other Saturn I've ever bought came with a jack and a tire iron, my current one evidently didn't (my mechanic of a grandfather would not have been impressed that I hadn't checked it for one). Well, no matter how much I can wing-it....I can't change a tire without a jack or a tire iron. Call AAA, read in the car while waiting for the guy to change it. Stroke of luck: I didn't drive on the tire at all, caught a nail in the tread, so the tire only has to be repaired, not replaced. Get tire fixed......head off to bookstore!
I should never ever be allowed in another Borders again. You see, with my bibliophilia I have somehow missed the Borders experience. So I browsed, and bought......I bought a lot of books. Mostly history/fiction/poetry, but all books that I couldn't get at home without paying shipping fees. I then proceed to sit with my purchases in the bookstore until it closes.......and then go back to the hotel, eat my Pain du Chocolate and read until 3am.
Wake up at 8:30am and prepare to leave for FPU, until I check the weather and realize that one of the roads I take is closed due to snow. Get the room for another night and grumble to my Dad on the phone about having to stay and pay for another night at the hotel. Go get another breakfast burrito and bottomless cup of coffee and read for 4 hours. Get up and go to mall, where one of the stores is having a serious sale on dress clothing. Leave for Whole Foods and Borders. Pizza and Tiramisu, and then more books. Back to hotel.....read some more.
Wake up, check out. Bagels and coffee and start to drive back. I manage to find the right roads this time, so no 45 minute detour. Home for Roomie's belated b-day party and then small ensemble coaching with Coyotebanjo. Home and Dorothy L Sayers BBC mysteries with Roomie until we both collapse around midnight.
Overall, good, but hectic week(end). For your playlist viewing pleasure, my 2.5 hour playlist for the drive this weekend:
Three Dog Night:
- Joy to the World
- Learning how to Bend
- Watching Airplanes
- Cleaning this Gun
- Into Yesterday
- All-American Girl
- She F***ing Hate Me
- The Dark of the Matinee
- All That's Known
- The Bitch of Living
- Touch Me
- Totally F***ed
- One Blue Sky
- Show the Way
- Someday Soon
- She's Saving Me
- You Turn Me On I'm A Radio
- Fool Out of Me
- Heart on my Sleeve
- Love Song for No One
- Heroes and Friends
- I've Loved you Before
- I Wanna Be in Love
- I'm the Only One
- This Moment
- Kiss Me
- Meet me in the Dark