conference happiness

Since I'm basically a very shy person, it's really quite strange that I enjoy going to academic conferences. Not every conference, to be sure, but over the years I've figured out which ones are more useful for me, both in terms of networking and for actual intellectual content. Right now I'm at my favorite conference, where I get to hang out with conference buddies and talk to the 3 or 4 people in the world who actually read my published work. And hear some smart interesting papers -- as well as a few that are not so smart, and although tedious are thus somehow comforting. One doesn't want to be totally impressed all the time, and therefore feel that one's own approach is not up to par.

Biochemically, however, the conference experience is an odd one -- I'm suffering a time zone alteration which has me wide awake in the wee predawn hours, and coffee is more accessible than water. So I come back to my hotel room and chug down glass after glass. But it's the socializing that for an introvert is like speed: throughout my dreams and especially in the half-lucid pre- and post- sleep stage I find myself simply repeating the conversations I had during the day. I'm hyper on the inside of my head, if not in my outer appearance. I've had more social interaction in the past two days than in the past six months or something. I'm loving it, but I know there will be a nasty come-down sometime early next week. Pity the students whose papers I'll be grading then . . . (since I'm certainly not grading them now, even though I could/should be.)