Thursday, January 10, 2008

2008: so far, so good

The main event of the year so far was the Big Conference in Our Nation's Capital. I had two particular commitments to this conference (one panel I organized, another I presented on) which is more involved than I usually am, but at the same time I came more determined to disconnect from the academic side a little and play tourist in what has become one of my favorite cities. (In this I had the full support of the LWI, who goes to conferences only as an excuse to goof off in interesting places.)

The academic side worked out to my overall satisfaction. The panel I organized went exceptionally well: the room was packed, all the presenters and the commentator performed beautifully, there were interesting questions, and several folks stayed around afterwards to chat. This bodes very well for the edited volume to which all the panelists will be contributing (of which I am one of the editors, thus my reason for organizing the panel). The panel I was on was a little half-assed to start with, and got sort of half-assed attendance, but I ended up feeling more confident about my presentation than I'd expected, and got a nice response.

The social side worked out to my immense satisfaction. Friday night we met up with ADM and had the greatest evening - easy warm conversation, excellent food, perfect atmosphere. Couldn't have asked for a better evening; ADM's somebody I really wish I got to see more often. Saturday the LWI and I headed to the Library of Congress in the morning, did conference-y stuff all the rest of the day, and gave up on being social in the evening - just got takeout and sacked out in the hotel room for some much-needed rest. Sunday morning we hit the Smithsonian (Air & Space), one of my favorite collections ever, which always makes me wish I'd gone into aeronautical engineering. Bit too late to switch, I guess. After that, one of the highlights of the weekend: I got to meet the fabulous Rana for the first time! She and D. joined us for lunch with an old grad school friend of mine and his wife... a good time was had by all, but it was far too short. I had a million things I wanted to talk about with all of them, but didn't have a chance to do more than scratch the surface. Given the alternative, though, that's the kind of get-together I like best, one that leaves you looking forward to the next. That evening we got to see another old grad school friend who lives in the vicinity, and had an excellent Indian dinner with her, enjoying a few hours of catching up. I hadn't been in touch with her for years, and it was wonderfully easy to be with her again.

Monday (we stayed a couple of extra days for fun) we hit the National Gallery and soaked up all the Titians and Grecos and Van Goghs and Hoppers our little brains could stand. That evening we rejoined the first old grad school friend (who hereafter I believe I shall call the Gentleman; the LWI refers to his wife as the Viper, which if you know him is particularly funny, because he's only the teensiest bit mean to people about once every two years. I think I'm just going to dub her Control Freak, because she's really not all that bad, just Very Decisive about Everything.) The Gentleman and Control Freak joined us for dinner at a wonderfully charming Spanish place that made the LWI the happiest I've seen him in weeks... he delights in food, and this place had all his favorites, well prepared and beautifully presented. It's a shame about the CF, because we both love the Gentleman to pieces and would have been delighted to have more time in his company, but she wears us out a little.

So that all felt like a whirlwind of culture and social events, especially for us slow-paced folks who usually delight in evenings at home. I loved it all, and it was a great way to kick off the new year, with my resolution to be a little more gregarious. I've recovered from feeling totally overwhelmed by last semester, and am feeling fairly positive about tackling the new one starting Monday. Here goes.