If you see a whole thing - it seems that it's always beautiful. Planets, lives... But up close a world's all dirt and rocks. And day to day, life's a hard job, you get tired, you lose the pattern. - Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, November 9, 2009

Conference Life: Part I

I've gone to a fair number of conferences over the years and for the majority of them I've gone alone. Many many years ago I used to travel with Angel and my mother. Mom would take Angel sightseeing during the day and then we would have the evenings together. It worked but was a fairly schizophrenic experience for me. I've been to conferences with colleagues before and the conference I am attending now has always been done with my BFFs. However I have never had such a wide assortment of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances at one conference with me before.

I arrived in the City of Brotherly Love Saturday evening. It took as long to get out of the airport and to my hotel as it took to fly from SouthLite. Our department was hosting a "social" in a nearby restaurant and a friend called when I hadn't shown up in the first half hour. So it was a very quick change of clothes and I was on my way. The event was fairly well attended and I entertained/was entertained by a small gaggle of students for most of the evening. I then got into a deep conversation with one of my favorite colleagues--our ex-department head and the main reason I ended up in SouthLite. I ended up leaving with the friend who had originally called requesting my presence and we stood on a street corner (we were staying at different hotels) and talked for over an hour. It was a pleasant evening--a mixture of office gossip/politics, jokes and booze (the free drink tickets were flowing freely). I do love my colleagues and our family-like environment.

I had my hotel room to myself on Saturday night. The internet is incredibly slow but other than that it is a fairly pleasant stay. I woke early, with the sun, Sunday morning and went out for a run. Currently I'm holding steady at 3 miles so that felt good. I managed to get a little writing done and started reading student papers that are due back the day I'm due back (ugh). Leaningtowardsthesun (LTTS) called to say she and her beau had arrived. We all met for coffee. I had met "Beau" before but only briefly. I liked him when I met him and have liked everything I've heard about him but was still pleasantly surprised to find him so charming, sweet, and sincere. He's the kind of person I would hang with even if he wasn't my friend's boyfriend and that is a good thing.

LTTS and I had a poster to present so we headed over the convention center. The presentation went well--almost every colleague or student of mine came over to see LTTS (she graduated from our program in 2008) because they either missed her or wanted to meet her (she has a reputation in the program for being such a superstar). We also had a fair amount of interest in our study and lots of questions. I found a poster that was presenting a study/findings that perfectly complimented and enhanced a study I'm presenting on Wednesday. The PI was not at the conference but is just a city or two away from SouthLite so that will be a cool contact to follow up.

The Expo at this conference is none for its freebies and give-aways. LTTS and I enjoy perusing the booths and collecting pens and chocolates. This year I also got a cool pedometer, a mug, a water bottle and several bags. As we were walking, talking, and collecting stuff Sparkle called. She had just arrived and was wandering the Expo as well. We managed to find each other and the LoveFest officially began. Today A-girl arrives and it should be through the roof.

We spent several hours in the Expo, walking around, running into people and seeing poster presentations of students and friends. Plans were made to meet up with some of my favorite students for drinks and a small group of us headed back to my hotel room. I'm sharing my room with one of my undergrads and she showed up and joined the party. Back at the hotel we met up with Beau and realized we were all too hungry to just drink (yes I am really feeling my age at this conference--particularly with the number of undergrads I have here). After much discussion we settled on Chinatown and headed over to pick up my favorite doctoral students.

By the time we reached the restaurant we were a party of 10. The food was divine as was the company and the evening went by very quickly. At the end of dinner it was clearly bedtime for many of us but my roommate and the other undergrads decided to find a club or clubs. I was too tired to pay much attention. By the time I arrived back at the hotel I had logged 24,000 steps on my pedometer and was feeling every one.


Drax said...

Sounds wicked fun. Color me green.

Annie said...

It sounds like a perfect mix of conference, good friends, and fun.

Julie said...

I'm green, too! This sounds like fun and sure beats what I'm doing this week. But I'm glad you have the opportunity:) I hope the rest of your trip is great.