September 6, 2010

Conference (sober update)

First, my presentation went well. My co-author / advisor had told me that he wanted me to try to speak spontaneously rather than reading a script or sounding rehearsed. So I sort of had to practice sounding like I hadn't practiced. I wrote out an outline in fragments and practiced going over each point, but making new sentences each time, so that the points were rehearsed but the sentences were spontaneous.

The actual presentation wasn't as good as some of my practice presentations -- I accidentally skipped over a couple of points, and I think I sounded a little nervous. But for the most part it went smoothly. My advisor was pleased and very supportive. He knew I was nervous and he told me that it was "perfect" when it was over. Then, I had a delicious smoothie and caught up with a friend from Undergrad U... and then I headed back to my friend's apartment for an evening of drinking and dancing.

The conference was in Washington DC, and since I'm from a Southern State and went to college in Southern State, I have many friends who ended up moving to DC for work. I stayed with high school friends for the first two nights, and with college friends on the third night. Both sets of friends happen to be queer, and so we went gay clubbing on Friday and Saturday night. By the end of clubbing on Friday I could barely stand... we got home around 3 a.m. and I got a few hours of sleep before getting up for a second day of conferencing.

On the second day, I was tempted to go to Sexy Feminist Panel that had fuck all to do with my research, but I decided to be productive and go to a panel that was related to my dissertation topic. The panel was about a certain method, and two of the papers had used that method to analyze something that I need to analyze for my project. It was useful, mostly because it got my brain thinking about my options -- and I need to start thinking about this stuff so I'm glad that I went.

Also, the methods panel was a Conference First for me because I actually asked a question for the first time ever. There were only three people in the audience, including me, so I thought it might be a good opportunity to overcome my fear of asking questions at conferences. Even though I usually think of questions, I'm always worried that my question will reveal that I didn't understand the paper, especially the quantitative methodology. But I settled on a question that seemed pretty safe and potentially interesting, and raised my hand. The author said I was "absolutely right" in his response and then one of the other panelists commented in response, also saying that I was right. So I felt validated. I asked a question that wasn't stupid! After my question, the other two audience members declined to ask questions, so the panel was adjourned.

Then, on to my college friend's house. We ordered pizza, watched a movie, and then went gay clubbing. The next day we had lunch with my friend from the college newspaper, and we talked about our undergrad university and its strange culture and politics.

It was glorious to see my old friends again. I'm very jealous that so many of my high school and college friends got to maintain the community that I lost when I moved far away. They still hang out like they did in college, while I had to start over in a new city where I didn't know anyone. I have friends in my city, but we don't hang out like college friends. My grad school friends don't go clubbing or lie around watching movies. It's more "adult" and less intimate.

Also, I forgot how much I miss having gay friends. We spent a lot of time talking about feminism, gender politics, and queer politics, and I don't have to explain what I mean from the beginning because they have the same experiences. I don't mind arguing with friends who disagree with me, but especially when it comes to the politics of one's own oppression, it's a tremendous relief to talk with people who understand and empathize.

Now I'm spending another week at my parents' house in Hickville, Southern State. My cat is here with me, and I think she likes having a big house to explore. She did puke on my parents' carpet this morning... but I got most of it out.


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