Sunday, June 19, 2011


Holler, friends and family.

I have been absent of late. Much has happened in the last six weeks, the more notable of which include the fact that I finished my first year of grad school, and I turned another year older.

I have also been traipsing around a bit this past month. Apparently I am subconsciously on a quest to fulfill the lyrics and greater meaning of Augustana's "Boston" song.  That being said, it was in fact necessary for me to go to Boston -- the city of literary greatness and adorable brick houses.


While grad school does not have many perks (apart from free Norton Critical Editions), one of the few bonuses of my work is the opportunity for research and travel grants. Meaning, I can have an all-expenses paid trip to Boston (complete with multiple Starbucks trips a day) if I want to do some literature research outside of Georgia. Not a hard decision. So, I submitted my grant proposal, convinced my grad school bf to go with me, practiced using my big girl real estate voice (in which I was told to drop my speaking voice an octave lower in order to sound more professional), bought myself a new blazer, and saddled up to attend the American Literature Conference over Memorial Day weekend.

The ALA conference is the single largest American literature conference in the United States and is crawling with literary-critic, stalk-worthy greats. And somehow, through a professor of mine, I ended up chairing a panel at this geek fest. Seeing as I had not read a single author surrounding the topic I was introducing and moderating (Post 9/11 fiction, if you're curious), I tried my best to nod intently to the presentations and field questions like I'd been there before. Immediately after the session, however, one of the presenters turned to me and said, "So how did you get roped into doing this?" To which I wanted to answer calmly and matter-of-factly, "Roped in? Do you mean selected for my wisdom and expertise?" Maybe it was because the median age at the conference was around 57, or perhaps it was the fact that I had to ask how to actually pronounce several of the authors, but she was on to my hack-job chairing skills. Next time I may try to actually read some of the literature in my panel...or just purchase a pair of fake reading glasses and nod harder.

Fortunately, Boston is also a Mecca of sorts for literature tourism where human interaction is not necessary. Apart from visiting Harvard and making a lot of Legally Blonde jokes (and crashing their graduation and eating their leftover sandwiches), I was also able to visit Thoreau's Walden Pond, complete with cabin replica:



As well as Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where some of the greats are buried, including Thoreau himself:


My beloved Louisa May Alcott:



And Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others:


I can only assume that after my chairing job at the conference, Boston may want me to be buried here as well.

Or never to return again.

Only time will tell. In the meantime, I am officially lowering my voice two octaves at all educational and professional events.

Or maybe just investing in that pair of fake glasses and avoiding talking all together. Both will make me seem smarter, I'm sure.


Jenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karyn said...

So you're going to sound like Johnny Cash? That could work.

Jenny said...

Boston misses us. I'll always have the scar on the roof of my mouth from a food cart hot dog to prove I've been there, but most importantly the memories of our mission impossible tactics, quick shoe changes, airplane bffs and $34 shuttle rides. Awesome trip.

lyndsey said...

And I will always remember slamming into a literary celeb on the elevator when my purse strap caught on the handrail and jerked me backwards. Sometimes I just ooze class.