I really don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to professional organizations and their associated conferences. Over the years, I’ve learned the basics (ie. you need to pace yourself during those hourly coffee breaks and you should never sleep in the nude if there’s even the slightest chance of a fire drill) but I’m still trying to come to grips with academia—hence my constant dithering over whether to focus on writing or going back to school for my PhD.
Despite last month’s post about how uninspiring I tend to find academic conferences, I know they comprise a necessary evil on the path to scholastic success. Plus, they can be fun, especially if the hotel has a make-your-own waffle station or you find a pair of German grad students with whom to hit the nightclubs.
Sometimes conferences have really good food too—I had three slices of cheesecake during the opening reception of the Society of Dance History Scholars Conference in London last summer—and scores of artistically inclined academics always make for great people watching.
Last but not least, if you’re dumb enough to spend a month’s salary on airfare, conference registration, transportation and accommodations (as I was when I attended the Congress on Research in Dance Special Topics at Florida State University this past January) there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself able to:
- Spend fifteen minutes jumping on your very own king-sized bed
- Eat ice cream for dinner
- Drink five cups of coffee before lunch
- And finally—last but not least—make your own waffle (clearly the make-your-own-waffle station left a great impression on me; I think all conferences should have make-your-own waffle stations—imagine what we could accomplish if everyone started the day with a pecan-infused, chocolate-topped, custom-built DIY waffle!)
Unfortunately, you can also do some really un-cool stuff at conferences. Waking up at 4:00am to catch a taxi to the airport and presenting a condensed version of your MA thesis to a room full of strangers only to spend the next fifteen minutes trying to defend yourself against an old timer with a bug up his *ss are amongst my personal favorites.
But I’m a glutton for punishment. And even though I keep telling myself I need to cut down on all of the superfluous distractions in my life (ie. going back to school for my PhD) something prompted me to submit another abstract.
So I did—three paragraphs on the social history of rhythm tap and its implications for tap pedagogy (and if that’s not boring enough, the conference in question is being co-sponsored by the Congress on Research in Dance and the Society for Ethnomusicology… I happen to find this stuff fascinating but I understand if the majority of you have fallen asleep by now—no hard feelings).
I thought my proposal was solid, but then six months went by and I didn’t hear anything so I figured, “Okay—this is a sign. Stop messing around in dance research and finish writing that damn book that everyone’s been telling you to write!”
But then I got an email from the conference chair: I’m in.
Fortunately the conference isn’t until November; this gives me plenty of time to stock up on coffee and you know… actually write the paper I’m supposed to present.
I hate when this happens.
And now, for today’s question:
Do you read this blog because you know me personally and you like to see what I’m up to or simply because you stumbled upon this craziness randomly and like what you found?