Monday, October 20, 2008

Go East, Old Radical: Home From the American Studies Association

I have spent much of my life going east, or going "out east", as they used to say in southern Idaho, a place where I spent a large part of my youth. Going East is, of course, for those of us born and/or raised in the former English colonies, a consequence of having gone West in the first place. So now I am Back East (another quaint phrase from the Mountain States), in my comfortable remodeled nineteenth century clapboard house, determined to spend the day at home after having spent the weekend working for Zenith.

This is one of the few times I have attended a convention without attending either a panel or a party. For all my careful collation of the many events where the big American Studies programs host gatherings of the interdisciplinary clan, the combination of interviewing, the time change, the thin air, and a tendency of the bodily fluids to evaporate without even becoming sweat first, caused me to be perpetually exhausted and unenthused about social life. Furthermore, the fact that the convention itself was across a faux Spanish Colonial plaza from the hotel, and not in the hotel, meant that the social space was divided. There were certain people who I wanted to run into who I did not; and of course, going to the parties meant effort -- not stepping out of common space briefly, seeing who was there, and electing to stay or go.

Friday afternoon I did zip around the book exhibit looking for wonderful new books that I have no time to read in the near future, but ordered anyway to add fresh color and style to the piles of books already in my office. One thing I learned, as I wove my way through all kinds of fabulous people I have not seen in too long, is that Harvard University Press no longer takes credit cards at conventions, as they are worried about keeping our personal information safe. As a result, upon my return, I simply ordered the Harvard books from the library consortium to which Zenith belongs, and saved about eighty dollars. Ka-ching! My advice to Harvard? If I want to be a credit card cowboy, let me! And your pals at University of Chicago and Duke, where I did spend my hard earned cash, were puzzled as to your new policy.

Friday's highlights also included drinkies with the delightful Gayprof, who has, it appears, acquired a little troll problem lately, attendant to (false) accusations that he has posted lies about the People With Balls and Sticks. A thorough look at his blog demonstrates that his assertions are true: he has not posted anything about these Fair Boys of the South. So what is that about? I made a quick pit stop at the trolls' normal home (where they are not considered trolls -- context is everything) and there is no incitement from the host of that blog either, so what gives, oh People of the Ball and Stick? I am a little worried that you found him through me, but Gayprof assures me he does not think so. New idea: maybe Joey777 thinks Gayprof is hot? Well, he would be right there, but there are better ways to get a boy's attention than peppering his blog with comments about an event he never mentioned until you started pestering him, but is -- um -- over. I mean over except for the cash damages and royalty payments.

(I am sure that my assertion that this crisis is over will launch another barrage of comments about justice delayed being justice denied, but all I can say is that if you are not one of those people regularly receiving a check from Duke, or a family member of such a person, get a life, OK???? And leave Gayprof alone: he has a blog to write and it isn't about you, Joey.)

Saturday's convention highlights included a trip to Old Town, where many purchases were made, including a straw cowboy hat that the saleswoman told me is also favored by Julia Roberts. "And," she said, taking a closer look at me, "Brad Pitt." Bingo. I bought it on the spot. My interviewing companion found just the right pair of moccasins, and I found a black cowboy shirt that will cause me to stand out in any crowd of aging East Coast lesbians.

If I did not go to any panels, I heard tell of a few: one apparently featured a paper on the work of feminist author Jane Lazarre who, by the way has a new novel out as of this month, titled Someplace Quite Unknown. Bravo: this is an incredibly complex, beautifully written book that reintroduces us to a ground-breaking writer.

So I am home again, souvenirs unpacked, laundry churning in the washer. Will this godawful semester ever end? Yes, eventually. But the travel schedule has become Radical in the Extreme, and I hope to do as much business by telephone as I can from here on out.


Clio Bluestocking said...

Wasn't a black cowboy shirt favored by Joan Crawford in "Johnny Guitar"? Johnny Cash, too, now that I'm playing word games.

I'm jealous: you met GayProf!

Susan said...

I can totally see you in the black cowboy shirt. TR raises the fashion stakes!

GayProf said...

It was a delight to have a drink (or two) with you in ABQ. In terms of my troll problem, my blog now has a case worth of D-Con hidden around the place. I am just worried that they will die in the walls and stink up the place.

gwoertendyke said...

i feel guilty for missing ASA, which i had conveniently forgotten about until your post! i'm especially sorry now that i know i missed you AND gayprof.

ditto on the troll.

Anonymous said...

it's a shame to have missed you. I hope all your money was not misspent in the tourist traps in old town instead of some of the truly wonderful places.

I didn't make it to any panels either but not because of dehydration more b/c ABQ is a beautiful place to do very little in. (somehow I remember people telling me to always carry a bottle of water or two when I arrived).