Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry MLA!

Yes, yes: Christmas came and went and it was lovely, as it always is. Almost everyone who has ever met my family has remarked on how fun they are. . . and though things are never quite as simple from the inside, I kind of have to agree: my relatives are a strikingly good-natured and appealing set of people.

The downside of that? Well! It means that I miss out, year after year, on the True Meaning of Christmas, with all its hysteria and dysfunctionality, and to compensate I'm running off tomorrow for MLA. I've admitted before how much I love MLA, and with each day nearer it draws, each additional email I send and receive, and the more numbers I punch into my cell phone, the more excited I get. My conference program is now a mass of sticky notes and scrawled reminders of whom I'm meeting when and where for coffee or lunch or dinner or drinks. If I lose that thing, I'm in serious trouble.

I'm looking forward to seeing grad school, blogging, and professional friends. I'm eager for the book exhibit. And I'm genuinely interested in a number of panels. But despite all that, I also appear to be anxious about something: I've been having a series of disquieting dreams, many of them involving email (ever since this summer I've had a lot of dreams that feature the receipt of weird-ass email messages). Just this morning I awoke from a dream in which I'd received a five-page email message from a minor professional acquaintance. In addition to its absurd length and the fact that I don't really know this person, the message featured a reference to a one-legged pygmy. (In the complicated context of my dream this detail wasn't hilarious, but fairly upsetting.)

I've also been having back trouble. I have what is sometimes characterized as a "bad back," although it's been fine for years: my back went out a month before I started grad school, and then about a month after I started grad school (the worst but by no means the only psychosomatic ailment of those first two years). The recovery was slow, but for the past seven or eight years the worst I've experienced are warning twinges when it's been too many weeks since I've remembered to do my stretches. Several days after arriving in Northwest City, though, my back was doing more than twinging. Worried, I took a ton of ibuprofen, stretched every few hours, and now it seems back to normal.

But I have to ask: what am I anxious about? I'm not conscious of any unusual stress. Yes, I'm giving a paper. And yes, I have a certain amount of social anxiety, always, despite the amount of socializing that I do and the great enjoyment I derive from it. And yes, there are people I'll likely see at MLA whom I'd prefer not to. But. . . those things are true of all conferences, and much less so of this one.

So I've decided to ignore the messages that I'm receiving from my subconsciousness--if it wants to talk to me, it can damn well send clearer messages--and just have a really fucking good time.

Watch this space for updates.


meg said...

Could you be tweaking about losing your program? I know I would -- but I'm a belt-and-suspenders girl when it comes to tracking appointments.

A White Bear said...

Oh, Flavia! I saw your name in the program and was disappointed that I am leaving before you give your paper, which sounds excellent. If you are available for lunch, coffee, or drinks sometime, shoot me an email!