June 10, 2009

Naked photos, ecocriticism, and so many rabbits

I'm staying out on the west coast for another two weeks, and I don't have my conputer with me. But I've borrowed a friend's computer for a few minutes to blog the Friendly Green Conference. If community theater groups can perform the Complete Works of Shakespeare in an hour,surely I can blog the Friendly Green Conference in five minutes or less. Here goes.

I got pretty Canadian money. I got the key to my dorm suite. I saw rabbits.

I did yoga with my roommates. I went to a day-long meeting. I asked Conference Host, "WTF is up with these rabbits?"

Ecowoman arrived by bicycle, carrying luggage and a plant. We got Friendly Green tote bags. And hats! Complete with a funny story about how the editor bringing the hats had been stopped at the border. Because giving free hats away at a conference is clearly some kind of terrorist activity.

I walked through petals -- red, pink, white. I chaired a panel. I went to sessions. I wrote profound thoughts in the margin of my program. I hugged everyone I knew. I hugged people I didn't know. I saw kelp.

Women kept asking about the naked photo tradition, and then pulling me aside to tell me their stories. I felt honored.

Native people in ceremonial dress sang and danced and welcomed us, giving the Friendly Green Folk permission to hold our gathering on their traditional lands.

I met the guy from Terrain.org who was blogging the conference. He was wearing the first tie I've ever seen at this conference. It was covered in Muppets.

At dawn, I walked a trail through a forest that looked primeval. I took photos of morning light coming through the trees. Then I took a photo of my roommate. Naked.

I ate lunch with a bunch of bloggers. We made so much noise laughing that we almost got kicked out of the dining hall. Then I went to more sessions. And another plenary. The doorway was crowded with folks coming back from dinner. Friendly Green President asked Conference Host to go to the microphone and stall for time.

So he talked about rabbits.

The Guy Who Follows Caribou talked. And showed photos. And he was so amazing and so humble and so inspiring that we stood up when we clapped. And then we went to another party. And stayed up too late listening to the musicians who were hanging out with their guitars just outside the dining hall.

Then more talking and eating. Another amazing plenary. Ecocritic Who Lives on a Boat in England said he'd forgotten how polite Canadian culture was. He saw a sign on a door that said, "Thank you for using this door."

Then I took a naked photo of a professor I'd just met the day before. He came up to me later at a plenary to give me his card. And suggest a pseudonym. Clearly, he was following the etiquette book on naked photo shoots.

Between sessions, I sat on the lawn in the shade and talked to Artist Friend. And hugged anyone who walked by. Whether I knew them or not.

And there were books! Tables full of books! Authors drinking wine. A pajama party with my roommates. And rabbits, dozens of them, staring at us from the lawn.

We climbed into ocean kayaks. We saw a bald eagle. A mother seal and her pup. Kelp! Lots of kelp! Then I went skinny dipping with the plenary speaker.

We talked about books. We talked about climate change and the extinction of species and the fate of the earth. I went to some amazing readings. I ate vegetarian samosas at a table in the sun while Warm Bearded Guy read me a poem he had just written.

People kept coming up and offering to pose naked for my blog. But only when I wasn't carrying my camera. Between sessions, we argued about whether the rabbits were cute or creepy. And we told Exhausted Conference Host funny stories about all the things that had gone wrong at other conferences.

We gathered in a big room to hear a speaker from Earth.com. And the publisher from the Press Named After the Plant That Monarchs Eat. And the Editor-in-chief of Cool Nature Magazine.

Then Henry David Thoreau called on his cell phone.

We did a roundtable about blogging. Except there was no table, not even a square one. We kept seeing rabbits. They were multiplying like crazy. "It could be worse," said Friendly Green Photographer, "at least they aren't Burmese pythons."

I saw a parent telling his child not to eat the rabbit pellets. "They're not raisinets."

And then another party! More eating and drinking. We clapped. We laughed. I drank ginger ale. Handsome Editor from Press Named After a Plant complained about his pseudonym. Then he looked at my ginger ale and said to me, in surprise: "You're sober?"

There was a banquet. With an amazing speaker. We ate food. We clapped. I hugged friends goodbye.

There was some kind of ferry boat issue. The field trip to Cool Island became a field trip to Random Places That Conference Host Thought Might be Cool. We walked around a lake. We went to a winery. We saw pigs. Talkative Animal Lover almost kidnapped a dog. We ate lunch by the sea. And bought books too heavy to carry home and cursed the Conference Host for sending us to a town with so many bookstores. What was he thinking? Then we went to the top of a mountain and took photos.

I kept meeting Friendly Green Folks from other countries. I had a bad case of Accent Envy.

People kept saying to me, "You are SUCH an extrovert." I think that's code for, "My God, you talk a lot, you obnoxious bitch, but we love you anyhow." And they kept hugging me and inviting me to visiting them in real life,wherever that may be.

That night we stood outside the dorms arguing about the validity of a study about sexual preference that involved men looking at porn while wearing sensors that attach to the penis. Brilliant Ecocritic Who Never Comes to Conferences in the States Because He's Not Allowed in the Country had a hypothesis about how American women's obsession with weight and appearance may have originally been driven by a desire to please men, but has become its own vicous cycle perpetuated by women. But he kept dodging the question about whether he would strip for my blog.

The next morning, a blogging friend picked me up and drove me to a wharf. With sailboats. And a view. And houseboats that were colorful and quirky. But the harbor seals were still sleeping. Then we ate breakfast in a cafe filled with kitchen chairs from my childhood.

Then I took a ferry boat. And saw islands! And sat at a table by the water, eating French fries. German Friend fed me chocolate. Woman from Taiwan massaged my shoulders. We analyzed the images on my obnoxious American passport. Then I hugged everyone goodbye and got into a cab.

My week was amazing and exhausting, and the best conference I've attended yet. Watching our Friendly Green President, the guy who had put together the conference, was like watching Barack Obama. Really. I am not even exaggerating. Except every day, he looked even more exhausted. And Conference Host somehow managed to stay laidback and friendly and polite even when people complained about ridiculous things like whales who did not show up at the appointed time.

Eh. Thoughtless whales. Damn those huge mammals anyhow. Who needed them? We had rabbits.

I'm blogging from a friend's computer so I can't post photos. And now I'm off to State South of Here to meet my husband for a long vacation. I promise naked photos -- and more details -- when I return.

Postscript: If you'd like to see other (possibly more serious) posts about the Friendly Green Conference, check out this post by Charming Canadian Professor Who Reads a Lot. He's compiled a list of bloggers who are writing about the conference. Leave him a comment if you wrote about the conference and would like to be added to the list.


Sandy said...

you sure pick the right kind of conferences to go to

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Well done! I can't think of anything you missed, and I'm glad that the rabbits made such an impact on everyone. (And they've turned up on the Dot Earth NYT blog!.)

Have a good time to State to the South. I'm anxiously awaiting your pictures when you get back.

lizardek said...

At least they weren't brain-eating zombie rabbits.

YourFireAnt said...

Don't give me that I can't post photos garbage. I posted photos the entire time I was away at a public computer IN A LIBRARY.

Get yer butt over there & post 'em. Now.


Anonymous said...

A wonderful summary of a most wonderful conference.

It was great to finally meet you in person.

Enjoy the rest of your trip!

Lorianne said...

I got a hat, and I didn't even go! :-)

Sorry to have missed the fun, although this actually feels like I was there eavesdropping, without the rabbits.

Anonymous said...

Which bloggers did you meet? I want the scoop.

JM said...

This 5-minute version is great -- and so true!

I would vote for Dan P to be president of anything. He WAS very Obama-ish -- I hadn't thought of that. Also, it is so wonderful to know that the people I often cite are so damn hilarious and truly nice and generally awesome.

Brigindo said...

Wow! I've obviously been going to all the wrong conferences.

Songbird said...

I totally read that as "eroticism." Which would have made sense, right?

Sue said...

I'm glad you think Canadian money is pretty. We think so too.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Why *don't* they trap and eat the rabbits? It sounds like a good solution. -- Where I live the city has been feeding birth control pills to the resident Canada geese, which is funny and sad.

And the conference sounds AWESOME!

AmpersandPrime said...

wonderful travelogue. laughing here.

purple_kangaroo said...

Hey, you're on my side of the continent! And we have rabbits. :)

Arvind said...

That Henry David Thoreau. I always knew he was a poseur.

Susan said...

But what did Henry say when he called?

Lilian said...

Thanks for that great post! I hope you have a lovely vacation and I can't wait to see the photos. And thanks for the link, Queen of West Procrastinator!

Lilian said...

I mean, Procrastination ;-)

Cinnamon said...

I appreciate this post a lot and in fact have shared this to a few close friends. I like how you appreciate things in life that are not at all considered by some! Thanks for this!

RP said...

Your post made miss my friends more!

Viagra said...

This about Naked photos reminded me that I'm a photographer and I take a lot of naked photos because that's my profession besides it's so artistic.