--Lots of you are headed for the AWP convention in Chicago today; unlike yesterday, you're likely to have better travelling weather. Here are some things I noted at the end of the convention last year, some tips for your travel and planning:
--Bring energy bars or nuts, snacks with fiber that will kill your hunger and fill you up; look for the kinds with high fiber and high protein. Buy these before you leave and pack them in your luggage.
--You'll likely be around a lot of sources of free water: water pitchers in the back of meeting rooms, coolers, water fountains. You may need an empty bottle or cup, so you might want to pack one.
--Caucuses are a great way to make connections.
--You'll need cash or check at the book fair; many tables won't take cash. In the last hours of the book fair, you'll get many a deal. Of course, if you have to ship the books or pay extra because of airline regulations and the weight of your suitcase, the great deals may be not so great.
--Bring business cards or something of similar weight and shape that has your contact information on it.
As I look at that list, I'm struck by how it's good information all the way around. Always have a snack, always have a water bottle, always look for ways to make connections, and you can't always count on being allowed to use a credit card.
I will not be going to the AWP convention. I waited too long and the convention hotel filled up. And there's the matter of money. And my fear of Chicago winters and Chicago airports. But I do plan to go to Boston next year. I haven't been to Boston, and so I'd love a tax-deductible way to go. Here's hoping that it all works out.
I do have a fairly full travel schedule for spring, even without AWP. In fact, we made a quick trip to the North Carolina mountains just this past week-end. The daffodils and cherry trees are in full bloom months before schedule because it's been such a warm winter. Very strange.
Yes, I am aware that the mountains are 12 driving hours away, and not exactly the right distance for a week-end trip. I like to think it keeps us young, like our gang of friends in college who would show up at Saturday breakfast or Friday dinner and say, "Hey, it's only 14 hours to Cincinatti, and we've never been. Let's go on a quest for chili!" And off they'd go, in a car you wouldn't trust to get you to the county line.
I didn't go. I was a sensible girl, with papers to write and her eye on grad school.
One of our spring trips will take us close to Andersonville, and we will stop. What does it say about me that I feel this pressing need to visit the site of one of the worst POW camps of the Civil War? The National Historic Site now also has a museum about all POWs in U.S. history.
I spent part of the 1970's with a POW bracelet on my wrist. What was a POW bracelet? It was a silver metal cuff with information about a single POW engraved on it. The idea was that we'd wear them until our prisoners were released. Did lots of people have this experience or was it just because of being part of a military community?
So, I come by my obsession with POWs honestly, perhaps.
If you're off to the AWP Convention, I hope you'll take good notes for the rest of us. I'm looking through the notes I took last year, and once again, I'm amazed at the quantity of great information at this conference. I'm particularly interested in whether or not the fear of the impending student loan crisis/bubble pop is worrying anyone else as much as it worries me. I've said it before but it bears repeating: in terms of my career, I feel like I'm a Detroit autoworker and it's 1978--or that I'm a journalist for a mid-size newspaper, and it's 2001. In other words, I can feel my industry shifting right out from under me. I suspect I'm not alone. People used to accuse me of paranoia or apocalyptic fantasies, and now they ask me how much longer I think our jobs in higher ed will last.
My advice? Don't take on new debt if you can avoid it. That's hardly a back-up plan, I know. I'm still working on that.
Safe travels, if you're travelling this week. I wish for solid creation time and rest for those of us who are staying put!