Once upon a time when I was a girl of 24, I attended my first grown-up academic conference on my own. Now, it wasn't my first grown-up conference, but the others I'd attended with the hand-holding mentor who directed my undergraduate thesis (whom I really should contact, as without her mentoring who knows where I'd be). This was the first time I showed up at a conference totally alone, totally knowing not a soul. Oh, except for the anti-mentor (my undergraduate academic adviser, who told me that I wasn't a good enough student to get into a "real" graduate school) who was there and who pretty much ignored me, just as she'd done when I was her student.
Well, I've got a sparkling personality, and so I made new friends quickly, and I went on to have a fucking fantastic week complete with many late nights, many cocktails, and even a few smooches. (Oh, to be young and stupid, again.) At any rate, my paper was scheduled for the very last day of the conference, at like 8 AM. I was out the night before this paper until very late consuming vast quantities of wine. I seem to recall getting approximately 4 hours of sleep, and I hadn't slept much on previous nights either, so I was operating on a deficit. And so then I go to give my paper, and two things happen: 1) I had just a few sentences to go but the moderator was a nazi about the time and so interrupted me at 15 minutes on the dot. Asshole. 2) In the question and answer session, a person, whose work I admire and whom I'd cited in the longer version of the paper, asked me this crazy 3-part question that was totally complicated and serious.
Now, this is every grad student's nightmare, right? The crazy 3-part serious question? From the expert? Somehow - I don't know if it was the sleep deprivation or what - I answered that fucking question. It was my moment of glory - people came up to me afterwards to compliment me on answering The Question. It was like this unbelievable test and I'd passed.
But I just got some news today. Some horrifying, horrifying news.
You know that person, the Question-Asker? The one whom I really admire and all? The one who nearly stumped me at my first on-my-own conference?
He's set to be the respondent to the panel on which I've been accepted to present at MLA, should the MLA have the panel. What did I do to deserve this cruel twist of fate? Just what?
4 years ago