san antonio

5 04 2004

so, the grown-up stuff: i flew to san antonio to attend the 55th annual conference on college composition and communication, sponsored by their own organization and the national council of teachers of english, the parent organization, in which many thousands and thousands of english teachers participate. there were probably thousands and thousands of them there, but i never saw them all in one place at a time, and the conference center was the biggest building i’ve ever been inside in my entire life, so we were pretty scattered around. still. it smelled like coffee, and people wore grown-up clothes (okay, most of them), and it was over-air-conditioned and everyone carried folders and briefcases and things, so it LOOKED very dignified.

i gave a paper in a talk on thursday morning, on a panel with two other people, one of whom i had worked with before and one i’d just met, talking about topics we’d pre-arranged to present together, to a gathered crowd of about 12 people in a room that would have seated 50. (this was pretty typical, from the other sessions i saw. some were better attended because very famous people were speaking, but in general, there were many sessions going on at the same time ALL the time, and other things to do in town, so at any one time, only a few people were in each place.) i won’t try to explain the paper. if you’re really interested in my dorky professional life, i have copies i can distribute, and i promise (unless you’re message_2love–and maybe even then!) they won’t make a damn bit of sense. in any case, some people saw it who it was good to have see it, and susanmarie said it was smart (and she’s smart, so believe her), so that was good.

then i went to hear her talk, with a group of people from syracuse who’d done a project together, and then i went to hear a group of people i’d gone to school with at tech present, and then for the next few days i did that once or twice or three times, trying to absorb a little smarts–i even went to listen to one famous person (not in the rest-of-the-world-kind-of-famous, of course, just the my-disciplinary-field kind). but mostly i ran around.

overall, i’d characterize the whole event as being more like high school than ANYTHING i’ve done since high school. i went to a few classes, skipped a LOT of them, hung around with friends i don’t get to see very often, talked a little about school & a lot about our social lives, complained about our teachers, scampered down the halls, got lost in elevators, sat on the floor, took pictures of the same people over and over (each other, but in different combinations), talked about swordfighting, talked about sex, talked about past dating-trauma, listened to some bad music, watched stupid television, flipped channels and mocked announcers, changed hanging-out-with groups often, changed clothes, swapped good ideas for fiction to read instead of doing work, walked around outside so no one would notice that we were skipping…

yeah. it was good. πŸ™‚

i got to wear tank-tops and sandals for 5 days. eva found us mohitos. sheila drank a lot and talked more. marie told crazy stories about her aunt’s sordid (or maybe not) love affairs. i got to see mike rose in person, and could have touched him, but didn’t get to introduce myself b/c i had to run off to another talk (he’s a famous person i’m actually studying). sarah’s still the cutest thing ever, teggin’s engaged and delighted about it… i got to walk around by myself in a strange place and just be alone, without time limits or people worrying, wondering, or caring where i was. i got to meet people that people here are always talking about, pin faces to names, and make new friends/professional contacts. i got to know the wonderful divas who shared a hotel room with me much better. i got to go shopping at el mercado, and eating and drinking and talking and elevator-scampering with allen, who is apparently over hating me, and okay, yes, my priorities are as whacked as ever, but he might have been my favorite part. because i genuinely, really, honestly LIKED the guy, a lot, outside of everything that was psycho, and i was REALLY pissed that he got psycho and treated me shitty, but i was more disappointed to not get to be friends w/him like i’d hoped to be. and it looks now like taking 2 years off was a great idea and we can be professional cohorts and sometimes friends and enjoy each others’ conversation again, and i really had given up hope of that ever happening.

and also: i got to see my dad and my grandmother, who are so cool, b/c they drove up wednesday to pick me up from the airport, do some touristing at the closest mission to town, and take me to dinner, then drove back up on thursday to listen to my talk, then drove BACK up on saturday to take me home w/them for the day (my hotel girls were leaving town saturday but my plane went sunday), and then drove me BACK AGAIN to san antonio from austin sunday to go home. so i got to go to grandma’s house, and smell all the wonderful homey smells of being there again, and see her little silly dog, and get bitten by my father’s manic mutt, and my dad’s girlfriend lynn came over for dinner, and we watched mona lisa smile, which i thought at the time was a little too easy, or cheesy, or something, but it’s stuck with me, so maybe not.

oh! and i got to talk to my brother for the first time since he moved to georgia (i’ve tried since to repeat this experience, to no avail), b/c he called my dad on dad’s cell while we were wandering the riverwalk, so i got to lean over a bridge in warm texas spring weather listening to a distant mariachi band and watching the little river-barges go by, chatting w/my bubba about girls and beach trips and being unemployed again and living in the south on purpose, which both of us are finding more and more is in our blood to do, despite or perhaps insidiously because of our upbringing.

AND there were movie stars at the alamo, which is right in the middle of town (between the convention center and the conference hotel, so we walked past it often, and jonna and i actually went in and around and laughed for a good long time about all the crap in the gift shop), because the movie premier was while we were there, and apparently the movie stars were actually staying RIGHT THERE IN THE SAME HOTEL as my friends, although i never saw them, and don’t actually care one way or the other. word on the streets, or at least the word that came home, from the streets i missed, was that billy bob thornton looked like shit and was followed around by a high-pitched squealing noise made by an ever-shifting band of giddy girls, but when dennis quaid walked by, he earned dignified applause instead. nice.

it was in the 70s. i swang on swingsets at the park at 8 in the morning when no one else was around. in my tank top. >sigh< sometimes in the afternoon it was in the 80s. and the trees swayed, and the birds sang, and the baby ducks paddled up and down the channel, and the trees were full of lights, and justin's ice-cream shop serves a caramel-and-chili ice-cream (i tried it. it was wierd. kind of good, kind of gross? the taster-spoon was enough…), and teggin and i DID eventually find the starbucks, and susanmarie doesn’t snore nearly so much as she lets on. πŸ™‚

and then i was lucky enough to get to come back to my wonderful boy, who brought to the airport a bear for me to hug in the car in case i was overdue for hugging, and a banana in case i was hungry, and i was both, and it was fantastic, esp. as a counterweight to 2 extra hours of stalling in chicago watching the rain on the glass while one after another minor thing went wrong w/the airplane… but it was REALLY hard to come back to the snow, you know? yesterday and today. snow, snow, snow. just last week i was having tea on my grandmother’s porch eating a persimmon off her backyard tree…

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9 responses

6 04 2004
bluemeg

woo woo!
sounds like a wonderful time!

6 04 2004
cheshirrrecat

wow, grrl.
makes me so happy to know you had such a Marvelous time. and such a treat to read about.
have i told you recently how Amazing you are?

6 04 2004
susanmarie

Thanks, bedfellow!
And I usually snore lots more when I’m buzzed!

6 04 2004
tyra

Re: Thanks, bedfellow!
i didn’t have to shove you once. πŸ™‚ the cutest part was after i got up in the mornings and you’d sprawl out all across the bed like a little kid. (the image, of course, helped by the stylish set of pink pajamas)

7 04 2004
message_2love

small world
the “alamo” area you’re talking about is where a really good friend of mine works. He’s an old friend from high school who I got back in touch with quite serendipitously a couple of years ago, and he was a “struggling actor’ in LA for a long time, then he moved to san antonio where he’s a tour guide on those little boats on the canal (i guess it’s sorta like acting). did you see them? I was fully expecting you to continue your story with “… and there was this really goofy guy named Kevin operating our tour boat on the canal…” but alas. it’s neat to think two people who I respect and are so important to me could have so easily collided. It seems I would have felt a shift in my perceived cosmic order had that happened;)

7 04 2004
tyra

Re: small world
i saw lots of them go by. some of them were goofy indeed, and made their passengers all wave at everyone on the riverside. so i probably saw him. πŸ™‚ but i didn’t TAKE the canal-boat ride, so i didn’t have the chance to serendipitously be driven down the waterway by kevin. next time i’m down there, i’ll have to seek him out… πŸ™‚ maybe WE should just go down there and ride up and down the river with kevin. to hell with school, work, all of that! it’s all about the salsa and the mariachi bands, and the ducks on the river who get run over by the boats and come out still floating (the boats are designed that way–how cute is that?)…

7 04 2004
message_2love

Re: small world
That is SO cute! (about the duckies). If there were any boats mooning the riverside crowds, then that was definitely him! ha ha! JK. Salsa in San Antonio with you and my buddy, Kevin, sounds like a fabulous idea! Let’s go! He’s just dorky enough to want to hang with us, too;) Tee hee!
Speaking of salsa, a little El Paso story: Rachel and I were passing through on our way out West, and, in search of a Mercado, we asked a woman at a quick e mart where to find good salsa (we were in El Paso, after all). In a thick Mexican accent, she laughs and replies, “BUY salsa?! I don’t know. I only make my grandmother’s recipe.” Rachel and I had a big ‘duh’ experience at that moment. Why would this woman or anyone else in that area ever buy salsa?! HA! It’s like a Sicilian grandmother buying Prego.

7 04 2004
tyra

Re: small world
that’s awesome. it’s so funny, the things we get into thinking are so normal, and how bloody alien they have to look from perspectives that, really, it shouldn’t be that hard for us to embody for a while…

7 04 2004
message_2love

Oh yeah! and….
Hey, I’d love to read your paper from the conference! Reading about your experiences in school is so exciting for me. One, because I am proud of you because you are my dear friend, and, two, because I get to keep at least just one big toe in the academic pond:) I’m thrilled that the conference was fulfilling for you… the swinging in your tank top probably ranking tops on your memory list:) And I must say that you are quite the lucky gal not only having a teddy bear to snuggle in the car on the way home, but having a man who even thinks that you may enjoy having one! Rock on sistah!

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