MLA 2006

I'm one of those people who actually likes going to the MLA convention. For anyone who knows me, this might seem contradictory, since I'm not exactly an outgoing social butterfly. But socializing at MLA is not hard work -- after all, you're surrounded by thousands of people who are in your tribe. This means that you can blend in: there is no sartorial choice, behavioral tic, or neurotic anxiety that you could possibly have that no one else in the room has. It means that other people are likely to be worse at socializing than I am. And, perhaps most importantly, people from all the stages of my life are at the convention, and I can't help but run into them. Some of my favorite moments are like today's sidewalk encounter with a guy I was in grad school with, a guy who wasn't a close friend, but who lived in the same apartment building with me. I've occasionally wondered whatever happened to him, but he's not someone I would look up and email. But it was very pleasant to run into him and chat for a few minutes. There's an easy comfortableness about MLA socializing for me, probably because it's so freeform, largely unplanned, and fairly fleeting.

The other layer of MLA socializing are the planned get-togethers, the once a year lunches and coffees with old friends and new professional contacts. This year I haven't had as many of those meetings as I usually do -- I've been locked in a hotel room with my colleagues doing interviews, and Philadelphia wasn't a big draw for many of my friends I guess, so certian people who I usually hang out with aren't here. But tonight was an extra special treat as I got to meet Dr Crazy, Flavia, Nels, Horace, Dr B., and Scott! And there will be even more bloggery goodness bright and early tomorrow morning at the panel.

Here's hoping I can actually get some sleep tonight, as I haven't really been doing that the last two nights and was about to disintegrate from exhaustion over dinner. (You know, that horrid feeling when you feel like your face is going to suddenly melt and start dripping down the front of your shirt.) I can nap really well in hotel rooms, but sleeping at night is tough. It's always either too quiet or too noisy. I don't have GF and the dogs and our white noise machine to accompany me to the land of Nod. And I tend to get overstimulated by the whole MLA experience, and can't really wind down enough for bed. (Did I mention that I came up with a revised plan for my current book project this afternoon? As well as two editorial projects I'd like to do? There's something about being in the same space as all these other brains that fires up my own.)

But even if I don't sleep I should be able to get through tomorrow, since my professional responsibilties are OVER. An early panel, more bloggers to meet, and some time in the book exhibit. Then it's just hauling my ass to the airport so that I can get home and truly collapse into a post-convention fog of television watching and dog-snuggling. Word has it that the first disc of 90210 has arrived from Netflix at our house, just in time for New Years. (I didn't own a TV back in the day, so I have actually never ever seen an episode. It's about time I catch up, eh?)