This morning I'm presenting a paper at a conference that's being held in my city, cosponsored by my institution and another. It started last night and so far seems to be going well -- good papers, good conversations. Even though I'm presenting today, I'm also feeling relieved -- this is the part I know how to deal with -- last night I had to make introductions and host a reception -- and I've been busy for weeks with all the little details: food and server for the reception, making sure visitors know where to park and how to find the building, dealing with people's travel arrangements. Giving a paper? talking about my ideas? that stuff I know how to do.
Although it was really nice to come home last night and collapse on the couch with my gf and the dogs, I missed the clarity of focus that you get when you travel to a conference: I didn't have the plane ride to read over the pre-circulated abstracts, and I didn't quite have all of my social and intellectual energy mustered for the event, because I was still in my real, local, life.
But it's a welcome luxury to spend a couple of days talking about ideas and texts to smart peers, rather than students. This is the best part of academia, the one I rarely get to experience.