I'm off to a conference tomorrow morning. It's in a hot place. This is exciting and also fortuitous. For the conference, you see, has very little to do with my work, ultimately. I mean, I replied to a CFP for a particular panel - which then turned into two panels - because it's very rare to see anything conference-y that is specifically on the topic I research. So it's a great forum to make my first stab at this new work, which will become a book (I still laugh when I write that). But the rest of the conference? I've looked at the program, and there's almost nothing for me; just a few panels of interest. However. I am not sad about that. Partly because this means I have excuses to swim in what is apparently a very nice outdoor pool, and sun myself while I catch up on my grading, and look around the sprawly city - if I can figure out how to manage that sans vehicle. Also, I am a major fan of hotels. So just having the luxury of a hotel room - with cable, for cableless me! - is a draw in itself.
And it's good, because I kinda hate conferences. No matter that they have been useful for making connections and have led to publications, etc...I don't like them. I don't find that listening to people read complex pieces - pieces that are meant to be read - is a very effective way to absorb or learn anything. And I hate the frantic undercurrent of competitiveness, the silent screech of everyone's nerves.
I also loathe presenting; it makes me very uncomfortable. But I note a difference this time...The last time I went to a conference was just under a year ago; it was a month before I defended my PhD. I was, as always, very wrought up - even though I wasn't even presenting, but only part of a seminar, for god's sake, for which I'd had to write and share a paper. But this time, I'm not feeling wrought up...I feel confirmed in the notion that I have something of at least a tiny bit of value to say...all because of that little old doctoral defense. It's that "will you look at that, I have some authority after all" thing, which I wrote about here as a nice post-PhD state from which to approach writing. It sure is calming to see that translate, even just a little bit, in terms of presenting, too. I won't lose sleep over my panel. And I can just be in it, for probably the first time after a dozen presentations...It's nice to get to grow into this career, if you know what I mean.