Okay, so I'm back home now and trying to remember--through the haze of too little sleep and too many meals consisting of $2.00 Nutrigrain bars purchased in a rush in the hotel lobby--exactly what else I wanted to blog about. The panels? Oh yes: maybe the panels.
I went to an agreeable number of these, never more than three in a day, managing to learn some new things and never once feeling tempted to stab myself in the eye with my pen; the academic portion of the conference would therefore seem to have been a success.
There were, however, an unusual number of panel casualties: three of the panels I attended had chairs who wound up reading one of their panelists' papers, due to sickness, snowbound flights, and the like, and I heard about (but regrettably did not see) another panelist who passed out while actually delivering her paper. Most amusing was the chair who, as a result of one such casualty, straight-facedly had to read a paper in which she herself was quoted at length and lavished with praise.
I also tried, and failed, to master the art of reading my fellow audience members' attitudes toward papers based on their body language. During one paper that I thought rather thin, but that for various reasons I couldn't follow fully, I reassured myself about its weakness by noting the behavior of the well-known scholar seated next to me: he was sighing, shifting loudly in his seat, tossing his head, and staring out the window. But at the end he leaned over and announced, with what sounded like pride, his professional relationship with the panelist. (Hmm. Maybe I'm the only person convinced she's as much on stage when seated in the audience as when stationed up front?)
And speaking of being on stage: my own paper went well. I don't fear presenting papers--I'm a very good presenter, though I sez it myself--but I do fear the Q&A, especially when I'm presenting fairly new material (see "Conference Terrorism," infra, and "Social Anxiety," passim, all the damn place). Luckily, although my paper got numerous questions, all of them were pleasantly conversational and allowed me to be funny and expansive before my small audience.
And when I wasn't at panels? Well! I was socializing. I had some fine food and drink and saw some fine people--not as many as I wished to, or as often, for which I issue a blanket apology--and I gossiped up a storm and had an oppressive 20-hour headache and made some nice scores at the book exhibit (especially at noon today, when everything was discounted) and burst unexpectedly into tears while chatting with one grad school friend and scarcely even saw the city surrounding me.
You know: it was your basic MLA.