Monday, August 15, 2005

Conference highlights

It's just about heaven. Sitting a cobblestone alley in Philadelphia, hooked up to free wifi and drinking iced tea after a long day of unproductive conferencing. The weather broke last night and it's breezy and mild. Lovely.

Some conference highlights:

Hearing, "You haven't changed a bit--you look exactly the same!" From a fellow I haven't seen in six years. He stared at me. The friend with him said, "You do look the same--we hate that." Puzzling, because I'm sure I've changed--but it's nice to know the exterior is holding up well.

Almost getting a pick up at one of the evening receptions. It's exceedingly hard to meet new people at conferences. You hang out with friends or your advisor introduces you to people. Since I'm not in academia and I don't have an advisor (she died, but even if she were here, I wouldn't need to be introduced around), I mostly meet friends. I do meet people through my friends, sometimes at sessions and during section activities, but I don't meet random strangers. Except, one night I found myself standing next to a very tall man who smiled at me and I smiled at him. My friend was talking to someone and so was his friend. He took the bold step to introduce himself and shake my hand. I was getting the vibe. My friend left, I stayed, but the man she had been talking to wanted to pick my brain about my government job and the tall guy went back to his friends. I could have stuck around and tried to get his attention, but I went back to my room instead and hung out with JenA.

Getting stuck on an elevator with the doors open. Getting on another elevator with a guy who had also gotten stuck (he had been actually stuck in the first elevator for a while earlier on). He told people to stop getting into our car and said he'd been trying to get upstairs for 20 minutes. I laughed a little and shook my head. He said, "What could possibly be funny about this?"
"It's absurd."
"No it's not."
"You can laugh or you can cry." I got off at my floor and was happy not to be stuck on an elevator with him.

Being taken seriously on my committee of high-powered academic types. My election to this committee was something of a fluke, but I'm excited to be part of it. The committee's role is to "oversee" the operations of a peer-reviewed journal published by our section. (The association has many thousands of members and creates "sections" for sub-specialties. I've become relatively active in my section--I co-edit our twice-a-year email newsletter and now I'm on this committee.) A fellow that used to be my boss (he is my age and was a political appointee at my government agency--he hired me to be a summer intern--he's teaching now) is on the committee as well as two very big cheeses in our world. My ex-boss made a suggestion, "Let's have a special issue once a year where we invite articles."
Big cheese #1 said, "Our editor has been resistant to that, but I think it's a good idea."
I said, "I think once a year is too often and could cause us to be taken less seriously. I think every other year is a good idea." In the end they agreed with me. Big cheese #1 said, "Jamy made a persuasive case for every other year." Ex-boss nodded along. Color me proud. I could see big cheese #1 taking me more seriously as the meeting continued. I'm an unknown, I don't have loads of publications but I'm a good administrator, clear thinker and a problem solver. They can use me.

Grateful for: enjoying the conference.

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