Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Conferring Luxury

Last night, while taking the kids out for ice cream, I ran into Natalia. We chatted and I mentioned I'm going to a conference--the conference I'm at now. "Ooh, fun, where is it?" asked Natalia, who set her last novel in the south of France so that she would have to take plenty of research trips. "At a small college outside of Pittsburgh," I explained, "I'm staying in the dorms and not renting a car, so pretty much all I will do is conference stuff." I was hoping this made me sound Professional, rather than simply Lame. In general, I go to conferences to see talks and to give talks. I don't even schmooze well. If I see some good talks and then go back to my dorm room to read, I count it as a day well spent.

Does that sound virtuous? Disciplined and stoic? Well, from another perspective, the next five days are all luxury and indolence. I called home after I got here. Kids were screaming, in the background as I talked to Molly. "Yeah, I've got three hours before the first talk," I said, "I could work more on my presentations, or I could just shower and take a nap."

"Oh, fuck you," Molly said. See, little Joey doesn't like to be held for more than 10 minutes by anyone besides his mother or me. He hasn't stayed in the child care co-op for more than 20 minutes yet. This means that while I'm gone, Molly must parent 24 hours a day. And she has a job due tomorrow. If she gets any time at all for the next five days, it will be thanks to the cathode ray baby sitter.

In other co-op related news, three kids from our day care co-op were interviewed by local public radio on how they beat the heat. You can hear them here. I haven't been able to listen to it yet, because the lab computer I am borrowing doesn't have speakers. We are a one computer family, and in order for molly to work, she has to have the computer. Thus I have to leach internet access on the road where I can get it. Actually finding public computers these days is not nearly has hard as finding pay phones. No one in our family is away from home long enough to merit having cell phones, so we are still dependent on pay phones when we travel. I found one in the student center here, but it wouldn't surprise me if that is the only one on campus. Pay phones are an endangered species. At the Buffy conference I couldn't find one at all.

One computer, no cell phones. What else? We are also a one car family, and for the next five days that car is at the airport in Syracuse, so Molly is restricted to places she can bike to. It is funny how, from some perspectives, we live quite modestly, while from others, we live quite luxuriously. I'm not taking my family to the south of France to research my novel--in fact, I have an alarming amount of childcare to make up for when I get home. But life is still good.

PS: I just found out that the computer access I have here doesn't include MS word or PowerPoint, which was how I was planing on working on my presentation. Shit. I also can't seem to spell check this post. Shit.

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