This blog will comprise a collection of ephemera, mess and miscellaneous artifacts reflecting on the writer's life.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I have forgotten

how much I hate conferences.
Vic reminded me this morning.
I hate them for these reasons:
1. The Wrong Choice. I am always the one listening to the graduate student talk about her innermost experiences of fieldwork.
Brian meanwhile goes to hear Deborah Brandt and Katie Clinton and we talk about their paper for the next two years.
2. Lack of focus. I was the person who missed Jean Lave at this conference because I decided to go to bed early.
Another ground-breaking experienced missed. (Brian was there).
As Jennifer and I sat down to hear Luis Moll and Elizabeth Moje we suddenly decided to buy tights and missed the whole session.
3. My networking skills are crap.
I am always the person who fails to recognise who people are so I end up spending the whole conference with someone from Lancaster, England, rather than Lancaster, Philadelphia and gossiping madly rather than exchanging cards seriously.
When a big East coast Professor does say hello I shriek and tell them inappropriately about my tights disaster and then disappear giggling with my new best friend (the graduate student whose fieldwork experiences were so compelling and has followed me around limpet-like ever since).
4. The crap session is always mine. Only 3 people go and 2 are my best friends (one is the new bf) and the other person immediately wishes they had gone to James Gee who is on next door.
30 copies of my paper go in the bin.
5. Clothes. At conferences I suddenly realise that only the New Yorkers look any good (they wear gray pencil skirts and look fabulous).
Everyone else looks terrible especially me, as my Yorkshire retro-feminist Emily Bronte bustle skirt and brogues look doesn't have any impact on the West Coast and is too hot for California.
Also my jet lag plus pale lipstick makes me look washed out.
The whole experience is like the seventh circle of hell, walking around with horrible badges, clutching the conference programme which I failed to read, and then, when I finally do go to James Paul Gee at 8 in the morning on the last day I fall asleep.
On the flight back home I lose all the cards people gave me plus the hotel receipt so I cannot even claim back the money I spent.
When I get back,my account is overdrawn and my family has forgotten I exist.
San Francisco anyone?


Victoria Carrington said...

Fabulous, insightful Dr Kate - you are an absolute guru!!

We have had many serious discussions about our crap conferencing skills and experiences, mostly if i recall correctly, sitting together in the sad loser corner of a whatever conference we happen to be at.

Will we ever get it right? Will we ever stop caring?? Will i ever get my conference outfit right? I am sure that if i could only get 'the look' right, all else will fall into place.

We need to form a secret conference support society so that none of us have to face another one alone and unprotected. If all else fails, at least there will be someone nice to go shopping with!

Joolz said...

OMG I laughed so much at this post - of course because I am like Vic and see myself here.
But you will be fabulous. And I see from Vic's blog and from Clare's and from flaneur (see Myvedana for the links) that they also are in writing hell. God I wish I could bloody START at least. OK cup of coffee then I really will write something.

Scott said...

ah, well, rest assured ladies, there is always a bigger loser somewhere (have you all forgotten your student days?)

i'm sure the support group will go well ... ;P

Kate said...

I am definitely going to join the group. If only you knew Vic how much you cheered me up at one of these dreadful events by confessing you hated it all too...
I realised I had finally found a soulmate.

Digigran said...

Kate- I have been at conferences with you and once you get going on your presentation you are unstoppable- and tremendous.
Also you have a wardrobe stuffed with exciting skirts and wonderful tops, as yet unseen in America so I am sure all will be well.
My strategy when I find myself in the wrong session with no hope of getting to the one I really need to be at is to creep out and wander off to an art gallery or new shop.
Breakfast is a good time to meet the interesting folk and meals out in special restaurants. Jackie , Julie and i had a wonderful time in a fish restaurant in Chicago. Guy loves driving 4x4 s and so is a good bet for a real escape into the surrounding big country- add some good casuals and walking shoes to packing.
So get that suitcase organised, add some very large jewellery and enjoy!

Kate said...

THank you digigran you have really cheered me up!