post MLA post

I woke up pretty early this morning and lay there thinking "wow, I'm not as tired as I usually am after the convention. This is great! I can get up and start in on all my various New Year projects." I lay around for an hour or so, enjoying the feeling of being in my own bed surrounded by my loved ones. Ate a bowl of oatmeal, and then the true post-MLA exhaustion kicked in and I promptly fell back to sleep for 4 more hours. I think the first wake-up was just a little bit of leftover conference adrenaline.

Then we took the dogs to the dog park to run themselves silly, which was great fun for everyone. They were very unhappy when I was away -- The Boss followed GF from room to room to make sure she didn't leave too, and Speedy obsessively licked her paw. Old Girl didn't do anything in particular that I've heard about, though she did come and snuggle in the bed with us this morning for my second-stage sleep, which she usually doesn't do unless there's a thunderstorm, so I think even she missed me.

After we came back, I assumed my recovery position on the couch: lying down with the fuzzy blanket so as to stay warm and use as little energy as possible. Speedy is snoozing with her chin on my feet, and I've been checking up to see what everyone else is saying about MLA. I plan on staying on the couch for the rest of the day-- I have Special Topics in Calamity Physics to read (all of my public library hold requests came in at once -- unfortunately this book was too big to carry on my trip, and now it's overdue, so I'm going to try and read it by Tuesday), and we are celebrating New Years Eve in our usual fashion: take out food and DVDs. Which, since GF is out in the car doing errands, won't require me to leave the couch at all. So far I seem to have avoided the dread MLA Virus (I washed my hands as often as I possibly could throughout the trip) and I just need to rest and build up my energy stores.

Knowing that so many bloggers who I regularly read were at the convention (and today I've discovered that still others were there too) definitely added a little extra buzz to the people watching and nametag scoping which is so central to the MLA experience. I kind of liked the uncertainty of it all, not knowing who I might have crossed paths with in person. And I really liked meeting so many bloggers -- though "meeting" doesn't seem quite like the right word. After the blogging panel on Saturday, Horace, Dr Crazy, BitchPhd and I had coffee and talked about the dynamics of blogger meet-ups, as well as our responses to the panel. One of the questions we wondered about was how meeting each other f2f would affect our reading practices (which all remains to be seen, I suppose). But the experience wasn't at all like meeting strangers, or even professional contacts -- we already know so much about each other's lives. And what also struck me was how easily we referred to shared texts -- "do you remember when such and such happened on my blog" -- a simultaneous ease and depth of reference that's pretty unusual I think, even for text-based academics. I'd only ever had one meet-up before, so probably this is all familiar territory, but it was new to me, and thoroughly enjoyable.

The blogger panel was very interesting, but for me (and probably for most people who have been in the blogosphere for a while) it didn't really alter the way I understand my experience. I would be really interested in reading responses to the panel from nonbloggers (were there any there? I would have enjoyed a quick hands in the air survey about who was or was not). (Of course, I just read over my previous sentence and noted that I am unlikely to read such responses unless the panel creates new bloggers. Or gets written up in the Chronicle or some such venue.) I appreciated, however, that different points of view were included in the group -- there is no consensus about what "academic blogging" or "bloggers who are academics" or "the academic blogosphere" might mean, include, or require, and I'm happy with that pluralism. Certain very well-trodden points of disagreement were evident, and there's really no need to go over them again here. I blog for my own reasons which are possibly very different from some other people's reasons. Enough, fine, good. There's more than enough internet to go around.

Because of the politics of nametags at the convention, I've had very different experiences over the years: as a graduate student with Prestigious U on my badge, I got many more second glances, even a few oddly fawning elevator conversations trying to determine how well I knew certain Famous People. Once tagged with my job at Large Urban, I began passing under most people's casual radar. That was fine with me since there's so many other kinds of radar beaming through the crowds too. I share face recognition with a number of people in my field who I don't really know, so we do a kind of quick smirk of acknowledgement. There are a few Pretentious people from Prestigious U who used to make my stomach flutter nervously wondering whether we would acknowledge each other or not; this year was pleasantly free of any nerves. We're all too old to worry about all that jockeying for position any more. (Or at least I am.) I even got a "hello" from a guy I was in grad school with who has since become Most-Quoted Critic for junior candidates in several subfields (I know, since I've sat on those searches), and an eyebrow wiggle from SuperSnobby Editor at Prestigious U Press. I trigger dyke radar for those of us on the team, so there's a whole set of codes of acknowledgment we perform (ranging from smiles to cool glances in the opposite direction). And now, there are the bloggers. Perhaps next year we can invent a nametag icon that means "yes, I'm a blogger but you don't know which one I am."

Of course, when we actually met up it turned out we had various shared connections -- everyone at the MLA is only separated by two or three degrees of separation anyway, so this wasn't so surprising. Trawling the web for MLA posts today did fuel my curiosity about a few identities of people I didn't meet (especially as I discovered some new to me blogs along the way). And I stumbled upon the (nonpseudonymous) blog of one of our short-listed candidates (which I'm not going to reveal to my colleagues, but will defend if someone throws a Tribble). If that person winds up in my department the thin veil of pseudonymity might get even thinner I suppose.

All in all, it was a good MLA. I have more to say about interviewing and about vegan travel, but the magnetically soporific couch is having its effects, so that will just have to wait.