Wednesday, March 23, 2011

ASECS 2011: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The annual meeting of the American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies was held in Vancouver this year, and I made the very, very long trek across the world to attend and present at a roundtable. This is *the* premiere conference in my field and a good chance to see and be seen by the People that Matter in the profession. In rare occasion, my former advisor was also attending, and I hadn't seen her since my defense last April. I got very lucky early on because I was able to upgrade my economy seat on the international flight to business class--yay! So, champagne, cappuccinos, and cheese plates for me :) Easy flight over, 3-hour layover in Houston, then a 5-hour flight to Vancouver. By the time I got there, my neck hurt to the touch from sitting in the same position for so long.

Thursday morning, it was on. That is to say that this is the first conference where I've been "on"--busy chatting, having coffee, attending panels, meeting people, networking, etc.--from the time I hit the lobby until the time I hit the bed. I did a bit of shopping to get some Easter stuff for the girls and a bottle of wine for my hotel room. Then I hit the conference panels. The first panel I went to was one closely related to my dissertation area, and one of the panelists was the editor of the journal to which I'd submitted my first article in mid-October. I went with the hope that I might introduce myself afterward, and it would jog her memory that I was still waiting for an accept or reject decision from the journal. No go, as the panel ran over time. Then, I ran into my advisor early on, and we chatted for a while...very good to catch up with her. Turns out, she's friends with Journal Editor and she was her external tenure review person (small world people). So, we loitered about for a bit, and sure enough, Journal Editor appeared. My advisor introduced us, we exchanged hellos, and she announced that she had to run and tend to a family phone call.

Upon her return, she told me she'd made a call to her assistant editor and was able to give me The Good News: ACCEPTED!! Yes, indeed, I now have two publications forthcoming --woohoo! I was giddy, my advisor was proud, and I got to spend a good deal of time talking to the editor about her work, which was instrumental in my dissertation, and the general state of the job market, etc. I also got to meet several other important people in the field while we "held court" in the center of the lobby. As nervous as I was, I was also ecstatic.

That evening, my advisor, two other graduate student colleagues, and myself had a lovely tapas dinner to celebrate my good news and catch up with each other's lives and work. And I went to bed that evening completely exhausted. Not that this mattered, because my presentation was at 8:00 the next morning--ugh!

Presentation went fine, but my neck pain was still lingering. I'd been treating it with Aleve, hoping it would go away. It didn't. Since the doctor's offices were closed, I was advised to just go to the ER across the street from the hotel. Long story short, they examined me, realized my pain was legitimate, etc. The Bad News: they gave me an extremely painful shot of steroids and a shot of morphine! I immediately burst into tears after the first shot (seriously the most painful shot I've ever gotten, and I've had 3 epidurals!), then the morphine kicked in, and I got dizzy, nauseas, sweaty, and my heart was racing. I'd never had morhpine before, and it wasn't sitting well with me. Oh, and by the way, I was supposed to meet with the editors of the essay collection where my first publication was accepted in like 30 minutes! Soon, I settled back down to something like a loopy version of myself, got my prescriptions, and headed to the meeting, not realizing I had a spot of blood on my shirt and I was still wearing a hospital band on my wrist!!

For the next 20 minutes or so, I was fine...just a bit dazed. But, I managed to keep it together. By the time some colleagues and I went upstairs to the Delaware Press cash bar, where I simply drank ice water, I could feel my tumbly getting rumbly. I barely had time for The Ugly: making it to the ladies room, where I could only open and close the door before I spewed everywhere. Classy, I know.

Being optimistic, I thought this would pass. I immediately felt better, and we were off to a fancy restaurant in downtown Vancouver. Shortly after the five of us ordered the pricey Chef's Tasting Menu, I had to hit the ladies room again, though this time I made it to the toilet. This eating/vomiting cycle continued approximately three times throughout dinner. Each time, I'd feel better and think it was the last time, and each time, I'd be wrong. I didn't want to ruin everyone else's night, and they wouldn't think of letting me go back to the hotel alone. So, I just prayed for it to be over with soon.

After dinner, which managed to still be fantastic despite the vomiting after every other course, I took a cab to a pharmacy, filled my prescriptions, and nursed my upset tummy in the hotel room. The next day was my day to head back to Doha, and almost nothing went as planned. Let's just say that (almost) everything that could wrong, did go wrong. I stopped counting the number of hours I'd travelled, and I eventually got home around 1:00 a.m. Monday. I slept until 11:00 a.m., while Hubby cancelled my classes and took over with the kids. It took another day to fully recover, and I've come to the conclusion that my days of frequent international travel need to end soon. I just don't have it in me anymore.

Funny enough, I'm already booked to fly back to the U.S. on April 19th to go look at houses in New England State. Not to worry, I've already upgraded to business on both flights! Thank you Qatar Airways Privilege Club!


feMOMhist said...

the good- congratulations. that certainly is one of tthe most productive conference experienced I have heard of lately.

the bad- seriously, how much does that SUCK, finally kid free, brian time, and you become ill. I will cry if this happens to me as I return to academic travel finally.

the ugly - places I have puked, in a dean's office, just barely not in my class (both while pregnant) but thankfully never at a conference.

Good luck on the next round of international travel!

L said...

Congrats on the journal acceptance!

And it sounds like you had a good academic experience at the conference -- too bad it was so chaotic health-wise. :( I'm so sorry. I hope your trip to New England is WAY better than that! ;)