November 14, 2005

Began with vomit and ended with music

My conference trip began the way so many of my conferences begin - with a migraine. Usually the migraine is triggered by air travel, but in a surprise move, this time I had the migraine the night before I left. A pleasant change of place. It is much nicer, really, to vomit at home. After a night of vomiting and dizzyness and no sleep at all, I caught an early flight to Midwestern City. Dramamine took away the nausea, and I fell asleep on the plane. For the very first time in my life, I felt better getting off a plane than I did getting on.

The nice people at the conference hotel took pity on me and let me check in early so by midmorning, I was fast asleep in a hotel bed. By late afternoon, I felt recovered enough to attend the opening sessions. And to be honest, I fit right in with my academic friends, most of whom tend to look tired and kind of sick this time of the semester.

Conference days are crowded with ideas and people. I spent my mornings going to sessions, hearing papers on all kinds of topics. Because this was an interdisciplinary conference, I was able to meet literature professors, scientists, and artists - many of them doing fascinating research. I especially loved the amazing art I was exposed to. Growing up, my idea of art was limited to paintings hanging in museums; I could feel my brain expanding as I looked at power point presentations of all kinds of experimental art.

The other cool part of the conference was getting to spend time with friends and explore the city. We walked miles every day, admiring the architecture, strolling through parks, and finding cozy restaurants and bars where we could eat and talk. At sunset on Friday, we stood at the observation deck atop VeryTallBuilding, watching the pinkish glow light up all the buildings, the street lights outlining all the roadways of the city. Saturday afternoon, ArtistFriend and I went with WomanFromLondon to see the Minatures at the art institute. She had never seen them before. It's always exciting to be with someone who is seeing these lovely little period pieces for the very first time.

Saturday morning, just before my session, a beautiful young woman walked up and introduced herself to me. A blogger meet-up! We didn't have too much time to talk because we had to present at conflicting sessions, but I was delighted to see the real person behind a blog I've read and see that she was as friendly and nice in person as she is on her blog.

Listening to plenary speakers and attending sessions is always a worthwhile part of any conference, but all the hours I spend sitting in restaurants and bars is pretty valuable too. You, know, I'd like to think that I choose my friends for noble qualities - honesty, integrity, intelligence - but when it comes right down to it, the main thing my conference friends have in common is that they are all damned funny. Perhaps it's that literature professors love language and are quick with comebacks. We had serious discussions too - when you are with friends you only see once each year, you learn to bare your soul quickly - and I stayed up far too late every night. On the last night of the conference, we sat at a bar that had comfy furniture - I claimed one end of a couch - and we stayed for hours, talking and laughing, feeling completely relaxed.

One of the nicest moments came at the very end of my trip when ArtistFriend and I were taking a train to the airport. We were standing in the tunnel, our suitcases next to us, with tired-looking people standing about, all of them looking at the floor and not each other in the way that people do in the city. I was feeling sad about saying goodbye to ArtistFriend, whom I won't see for another year. I hate saying goodbye. I was trying to find words to explain what I was feeling when a street musician, who was remarkably talented, began playing Pachelbel's Canon in D, a song that I've always found hauntingly sad. A lovely way to end the trip.

17 comments:

Lilian said...

That was a lovely trip! I wish I could go with my husband next Saturday, as he flies to the same big city of a conference. Years ago (1997) I visited the Art Institute on my birthday, it was lovely! it was my first encounter with Chuck Close which later became one of my favorite contemporary American artists. I remember the miniatures fondly too. Hopefully I'll go back someday (when the boys are older and I can leisurely enjoy museums again :)

peripateticpolarbear said...

It sounds like a great trip (except for the migraines)

Phantom Scribbler said...

Glad that you had a good time. And glad that you're back!

Not Scott said...

Envious, very envious.

Lisa V said...

I had Pacelbel's Canon played instead of the wedding march at my wedding. It's lovely isn't it? I am hoping my kids will do the same.

Lina said...

somehow, it IS always nicer to vom at home.

Friday Mom said...

Glad you're back! Sounds like a good trip, especially since you got the migraine out of the way before you left.

Bad Alice said...

Oooo--the miniatures--did you get to see the Thorne rooms? I love those. I am soooo jealous. And the Cornell boxes. I could spend all day looking at those two exhibits.

jo(e) said...

Bad Alice: Yes, those are the minatures I was talking about. I just love them. We spent hours looking at them -- got totally absorbed.

Julie said...

Heh heh, the Thorne rooms! I know what big city you were in! I love them too.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

A Midwestern City with a VeryTallBuilding?

Now you're just using psudonyms to amuse us.

I am no longer able to listen to the Pachelbel Canon because I started to write a song for my old band called the "Taco Bell Canon" which had the same repeating baseline and lyrics that went "Taco Bell, Taco Bell, I'm in Hell/ Taco Bell, Taco Bell, I'm in Hell"

jo(e) said...

Rob: I use pseudonyms to amuse myself.

Dr.K said...

Sounds like a great time; I've seen those miniatures too, and they're just wonderful. What instrument was the musician playing Pachelbel's Canon on?

halloweenlover said...

Jo(e), those migraines sound terrible. I occasionally get them, and only a nap will resolve the pain, but I've never thrown up. You poor thing.

Sounds like a fabulous time! And a Blogger Meetup too! Don't you have any conferences in Boston?

jo(e) said...

Dr. K: Well, I think you ought to guess. What instruments would you least likely to expect?

Halloweenlover: Yeah, migraines suck, but I am otherwise healthy so I can't really complain too much. And I'm sure I'll come to Boston eventually ....

Hey, my word verification today is guyrly. I think that's what happens when guys try to act girly.

I am a Milliner's Dream, a woman of many "hats"... said...

Ditto, Lisa V...I also use the P.Canon in D. instead of something more traditional for our wedding.

Glad you are home safely, and so sorry it started off so nauseously.

Hh

BrightStar said...

ugh... I always get the conference migraine, too, and it frustrates the heck out of me, because it comes at a time when I am SO EXCITED to be reunited with friends. Come to think of it, I wonder if all of that excitement is part of what brings the headache on? Interesting... anyhow, I'm thrilled for you that it was mostly gone by the start of the conference.

I love the image of talking and laughing with conference friends late into the night and saying goodbye without words. Beautiful.