Bev of the fabulous head scarves learned much at the 2009 MLA; and Flavia (who immediately mapped the two very important “b’s” (book exhibit and bar) ponders the social meet ups that are a big part of the MLA.
What did I learn?
- I learned that when one hangs out with friends from graduate school, that it’s a bit too easy to revert to the fabulousness of being 20-something. Of course, since it’s the MLA, such fabulousness is limited to drinking just a wee too much (the MLA signature drink this year, the “125”: prosecco, a splash of Canton Ginger liqeuor, and a twist of candied ginger) and enjoying some harmless flirting. But that’s it. As the old story goes, “All [MLA-ers] do is talk. Never saw so much talking, so much drinking, and so little screwing in all my life.” ***
- I learned that I definitely prefer sessions where the presenters are lively and passionate (whether or not they read from their papers is almost irrelevant), and that workshops where I can be actively engaged are very rewarding (I can’t wait for more of those next year).
- I learned that on the last day of the convention, everyone, everyone, looks damned tired. It’s not a good day to plan breakfast or lunch dates. It’s probably not a great day to have a session. It’s not at all a good day to have a craving for Starbucks [note: I did finally get my pumpkin latte around 3pm today at a Starbucks that was NOT in the Marriott).
- I learned that walking the mile to the Rodin and Philly Art Museums on a very cold, windy day feels like 5 miles. But I enjoyed my visits to both museums, despite the missing “Thinker” (seems he is being cleaned up) at the Rodin.
- I learned that I need to just plan on shipping stuff back at an MLA in a world where checking luggage is now expensive and, with a 3-plane trip ahead of me, any checked luggage may not even make it.
- Finally, I learned that I still enjoy the MLA: the trick is to find ways to make it feel more like a smaller conference (going to related sessions was very helpful since I saw some of the same people and always had someone to chat with–that’s ONE strategy) rather than the big, intimidating controlled chaos it can often feel like.
*** [The quote comes from a 2007 anonymous blogger who immediately contradicts the old story, as does a recent InsideHigherEd, blurb].