Saturday, December 30, 2006

Mind-melting exhaustion (MLA Day 3)

. . . and that was even before I'd left my hotel room this morning. Through some horrible cosmic convergence I wound up with an 8.30 a.m. panel that I needed or really wanted to attend every single day of the conference. Bearing in mind that this was the week that also included Christmas and two very early, very long days of travel (and a three-hour time change), and further bearing in mind that my natural bedtime is between 1 and 2 a.m. and that I really need eight and a half or nine hours of sleep to be fully functional, you can perhaps imagine what a haggard, brittle shell of a person I've been for the past couple of days

But it was worth it. Like Mel and Hieronimo, I have to confess that I really do like MLA. I liked it even my first time around, when I was a rather nervous first-time job candidate, and I liked it still better on this my third visit. Among the pleasures of not being a candidate was being able to eat whenever and whatever I wanted without fretting that it might make me sick (I think that all I ate last year were crackers and granola bars, and even those I had to force down).

So today I dragged my sorry ass to the morning blogger panel (which had relocated to a larger room but was still standing-room-only by the time the thing started), and then to the truly fantastic panel on Milton in the 1670s. I have to admit that I know shamefully little about the last years of Milton's life, so I took what was probably an excessive number of notes (mispelling every fifth word, I was so punchy). Then I went to a third panel, during the last paper of which I think I was having actual dreams each time my eyes fluttered shut.

Since GWB and I are in very different fields, we didn't attend any of the same panels; this means that we were able to collect twice the gossip and experience twice the fun or twice the weirdness that the conference had to offer. I wish I could claim that the fag-hag paper I heard was the worst thing that we saw between us, but GWB attended a panel where not one, but two of the four panelists incorporated dance routines into their papers: the one panelist had two interpretive dancers performing during the first five minutes of her paper, and the other--who had brought her own rolled-up dance floor with her on the plane--did a tap routine.

But damn. I do love these people, even the crazy ones.


Hieronimo said...

I'm sorry, did you say dance routines? Whoa. The only thing that could make that work is if the presenter brought his own broken-down cardboard box, unfolded it, placed it on the floor, and started to do some old-skool breakdancing.

Courtney said...

And I thought the AHA was insane! Ah, the glories of the academic conference. Give me the Southern Historical Association annual shindig anytime.... code name: the hardest drinkin' conference in academia!

Professing Mama said...

Oh. My. GAWD. Tap-dancing? At MLA?

Now I almost wish I'd gone, just to witness that insanity.

But not quite. :)

Mel said...

You have gained many good karma points for going to 3 panels on the last day. And to have one of them actually be note-takingly useful, is really a plus.

It was great meeting you!

medieval woman said...

Happy New Year!

I wish people would tap dace at our sessions!

Anonymous said...

Dagnabit, I'd given up on MLA as ever being at all interesting, and now it turns out that all this time I'd just been missing the sessions with dancing! Do they mark those especially in the program so that they're easier to find and attend?