A woman playing an enormous mobile carillon mounted on the back of a truck, at the Christmas market in Old Town Square. This wasn’t the best thing she played — there was some really intricate stuff, with fists and hair flying — but it gives a sense of what it felt like. Just breathtaking.
Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?
Ooh, this is timely. I’m writing from the executive lounge of the Prague Marriott hotel, where R. and I are enjoying another of our vaunted working vacations. I know they make some people I know crazy — we should be out, doing touristy things! But neither of us is big on the touristy stuff, and given that this is our third trip to Prague, we’ve seen most of what we wanted to see. Mostly what we want to do on these trips is be elsewhere, to settle into the sounds and flavors of another culture in the way that we would if we lived there. (Okay, if we lived there in a fancy schmancy hotel with no real responsibilities.)
It’s my favorite way to travel: go somewhere, settle in, drink lots of coffee, write like a fiend.
But this year’s travel has also included a fair number of conferences and an exciting bunch of lecture trips to amazing places:
January: Resting up for what was to come, apparently.
February: A talk at the University of Michigan; the Digital Media + Learning conference at UCSD.
March: SCMS in Los Angeles (not exactly travelly, but I did stay in a hotel downtown); keynoting the NITLE Summit in New Orleans.
April: Speaking at a one-day conference on the digital university at CUNY.
May: The beginning of travel insanity, including an MLA Program Committee meeting in New York; a one-day conference at Dartmouth; and THATCamp at George Mason, followed by a two-day meeting in DC (interrupted by a very nasty stomach virus which I will not consider further).
June: An astonishing trip to Istanbul for an ESF-COST workshop on digital textuality, followed immediately by the cognitive dissonance of the Association of American University Presses meeting in Salt Lake City, followed immediately by the Association of Departments of English West summer seminar in Claremont.
July: A trip through New York in preparation for my fall sabbatical, followed by a trip to London for DH2010, followed by a brief return through New York on my way to Charlottesville for the Scholarly Communications Institute (where I mostly became famous for having lost my suitcase).
August: No travel per se, just a little moving-to-New-York thing.
September: Only a quick visit to see folks in Louisiana, which surprises me in retrospect, because…
October: Included a return to George Mason for the Archiving Social Media workshop; a lecture at the Rochester Institute of Technology, followed immediately by a Hudson River Valley retreat with the NYU Humanities Initiative, followed immediately by a trip to Gothenburg, Sweden for IR11; and a two-day trip to speak at Boston University.
November: Happily a more restful month, taking me only to Rutgers for a seminar at the Center for Cultural Analysis; followed by a trip to Haverford to keynote the undergraduate DH conference, Re:Humanities; followed by a one-day DC venture on college business.
December: Only the current trip, which began on the 15th with a holiday visit to Baton Rouge, has now taken me to Prague, will send me to Dublin in a few days, and then, in the first days of the next year, will find me in Los Angeles for the MLA.
The 2011 lineup already includes:
January: The aforementioned MLA, plus a three-day symposium in New York the following week.
February: Lectures at the University of Kansas and Duke University.
March: A talk at UIUC, SCMS in New Orleans, and, if I’m very lucky, a quick trip to SXSWi.
April: A talk at Vassar, and possibly one more awesome European adventure, if the planning works out.
Happily, being on sabbatical, I’ve been able to accept almost all the offers that have come my way, but it’s clear that I won’t be able to keep up this pace once my leave is over. So once I move back to Claremont — probably in early June — the travel should slow a bit. But I’m hoping to get one more good writing vacation in over the summer.
It’s been an eventful couple of months. A travelful couple of months, even. If you were able to see my Google Calendar, you’d see a whole lot of teal striping on it; that’s my travel calendar, which reminds me that since the beginning of May, I’ve been in
New York for three days, for an MLA committee meeting;
Hanover, NH, for just slightly over a day (with about a day of traveling on either side), for a workshop on the digital humanities;
the greater Washington DC area for five days, first for THATCamp and then for a journal startup meeting (culminating in what appeared to be a genuinely nasty bout of food poisoning or viral ick);
Istanbul for five days (with a day-plus of traveling on each end), for a workshop on electronic textuality;
followed immediately by three days in Salt Lake City for the AAUP (presses, not professors);
followed immediately by the ADE West meeting. This one is sort of cheating, as it was in Claremont and so only involved walking, but I did give a talk and lead a breakout session, so I’m counting it;
and now the last five days in New York, apartment hunting for the sabbatical I’ll be spending here starting next month.
But wait! There’s more!
I’m taking off from New York today, headed to London for DH2010;
after which I’ll come back to New York for two days, which I partly booked as an apartment-hunting failsafe, but also partly because it made no sense to go all the way back to the west coast for two days, when immediately after I’m headed to
The good news is that I’ve gotten my exercise today: after dragging the suitcase to the train station, and up and down the various flights of stairs between its entrance and the entrance to the airport, I was sent by the monitors to the far end of the airport to check in, only to find that in fact I needed the near end of the airport after all. And then, after the appointed wait, I walked the half-mile to the gate, only to find that my flight’s been delayed by an hour and a half, so I’ve now walked the half-mile back to the lounge.
The other good news is that my 4.5 hour layover in Houston is now something more like a 3 hour layover. (Though bizarrely the Continental website is saying we’ll only be 15 minutes late, which will be something of a feat!) And the other other good news is that I’ve still got room to spare, in the event of further delays.
And there’s plenty of coffee, and hot and cold running internet. So I guess it’s all good news from here.
I’m standing in the airport, after the usual delirious experience of waking up at 3.30 am to be ready for my 4.30 am cab. The flight I’m about to board, as usual, will take me to Houston, but then from there, I’m on first to Amsterdam and then to Trondheim, Norway, where I’m serving as first opponent on a dissertation defense. Last night, I went back into Jill’s archives to remind myself of what this process is like; it sounds like it ought to be a fascinating experience.
And that’s aside from the fact that it’s taking place in Norway. Unfortunately, given the time and the distance, I won’t be able to pop in on folks I know there, but I hope to see a little bit of the place.
And to relax some. Given that I just wrapped the draft of the book up on Friday, this trip is pretty much what constitutes my summer vacation, and I intend to make the most of it. I have a tiny bit of work with me, but 80% of the reading I have with me is for nothing but fun.
It’s been a heck of a week: long flight into Boston on Monday, followed by looooong cab ride out to Norwood just after midnight Tuesday morning; phenomenal symposium on the future of everything Tuesday; train back up to Boston, followed by lunch with an editor, a glass of wine with a colleague, and dinner with a former student on Wednesday; the American Literature Association (which I’d link to, but man, they really need a new website, as this one doesn’t so much load as download — literally, it’s a bunch of Word documents) starting Thursday, including my own panel yesterday, sponsored by the Digital Americanists, on the peer review of digital scholarship. And, of course, a round of dinners and such with old friends.
It’s been amazing, but I’m exhausted, and looking forward to today’s long flights home, during which I hope to get the summer started, for real. Here’s wishing all of you a lovely Memorial Day weekend, and hoping that your summers begin well, as well…
Today marks the first time I’ve sat in the terminal waiting two and a half hours for the sun to melt the ice off the wings of my airplane, because my Southern California airport doesn’t need de-icing equipment.
I offered to go out there with a hairdryer, but they wouldn’t take me up on it.
And, of course, by the time we landed I had nine minutes to make my connection. On which the gate agent closed the door just as I ran up, and wouldn’t reopen it.
So now I’m in Houston, waiting for the next flight, which thank god and Fiorello LaGuardia is only an hour and a half later.
The whole thing makes me super happy that I woke R. up at 4 am to make sure I got to the airport on time.
Our twelve weeks in Paris have slid by alarmingly fast, and we’re deep in the thick of packing up for Thursday’s trip back to California. I’ve gotten myself past the initial dread, which was mostly about not wanting the utter freedom of being here to end, and am now really looking forward to a bunch of things about being home.
The process of getting there, perhaps, not so much. We’ve got a couple of days of packing and rearranging stuff to do here, followed by the usual joys of the trip itself. But on the other end of it, there will be our wonderful apartment, and our great friends, and space, and light.
And two pretty cool classes, I think. The start of the fall semester is likely to be pretty crazy — it usually is, and this year’s further crazified by a major committee I’m serving on, all of whose work needs to be done by mid-October (god help us) — so I’m hoping to get as much set up in the next couple of weeks as I can. Which means, to some extent, walking away from my project. But I’m hoping to arrange my schedule for the fall such that I touch base with it for at least a few minutes each day, just to remember where I am in it and what I’m up to.
For now, though, there’s just packing stuff, hauling stuff, saying our various goodbyes, and getting on the road. I’ll hope that there’s nothing of interest to report until we’re safely in California.
There are some things that I’m just not getting used to negotiating in French. The telephone, for instance, still gives me shivers when it rings, and not (or not just) due to my usual phonaphobia; without the visual cues of face-to-face conversation, it’s not only a lot harder for me to be sure I’m understanding what’s being said, but I’m also more certain that I sound like a dolt in the lulls when I try to remember the word I’m looking for.
But I just ran into a new, pretty unexpected one at the gym. R. and I joined a small gym a block and a half from here, determined to go home in better shape than we arrived (which, given the utter slugliness of my spring, wouldn’t be that hard). And we’ve been going quite regularly, which has been great both for sleep and for general morale.
Today, I climbed up onto the elliptical machine, and rather than just starting and letting the calorie calculator assume I’m whatever average weight is programmed into it, I thought I’d actually set up a program, so that the calorie count might be something a little closer to accurate. And though the machine is a brand that I haven’t used much, all was going well — up until the moment at which it asked me to input my weight in kilograms.
Suffice it to say that my dividing-by-2.2 skillz aren’t what they should be; I checked what I’d keyed into the machine once I got home, only to discover that I’d input a number that I haven’t seen on the scale since at least my mid-twenties, a number that falls entirely outside the realm of wishful thinking, bordering instead on downright unhealthy. I wish the machine had taken the opportunity to encourage me to go get a baguette or something.
I do like, however, that it asked me to enter the “puissance” with which I wanted to proceed.
The most amazing thing thus far about our return to Paris is the immediacy of our immersion; having landed yesterday at CDG, taxied to the apartment we’re renting this summer, unpacked, and ventured out for our first bière, we both felt as if the nine months since we were last here had simply evaporated. We’ve always been here. We never really left.
That said, we’re both a bit groggy with jet lag and general exhaustion. It’s now 3.12 am in California, and I’m not at all sure where my brain is. I’m trying to get back into the chapter that I spent the early part of the spring drafting, but I’m having a hard time right now telling whether the sentences make any sense.
The apartment, however, is fantastic, and the neighborhood amazing, and the arm and/or leg that it’s costing for us to be here will no doubt be worth it.