Tuesday, May 30, 2006

TRAIN-SCOTTING

Stirling is so beautiful it made me vomitous every morning. Wait. That didn't come out right. Let me 'splain. I'm getting ahead of myself.

On Thursday I gave a presentation at a conference in London, which went over extremely well. Before my panel, strangers were coming up to me all morning, saying that they couldn't wait to sit in on my presentation just based on the abstract I had written for the bulky conference program. Yeehaw. At most academic/research conferences, there are multiple panels going on at once. When my panel started, there was only a small cluster of people in the room. After the first speaker, another 10 to 15 people flowed into the room. After the second speaker, another huge cluster of people gushed into the room, until every seat was taken, and people sat on the floor. This particular paper is being published as a chapter in an upcoming book - which, oh shit, I just checked my calendar, and it's due in to the publishers today. But this whole reception felt really, really good.

This particular conference was more sociology-based rather than literary-based, so there were all kinds of nationalities, ethnicities, etc. in attendance. Very late in the night, I found myself at a pub near Spitalfields, pissed beyond belief with an Austrian guy, an Italian guy, a British girl, a Mexican girl, a Dutch girl, and a German guy (who was one of those few people to whom I was so incredibly attracted, and just simply yet strangely intrigued with, that I thought I was going melt, explode, or both). What will I do when/if I return to the States and I must only associate with Yanks? I'm such a European snob now. Thank you. I'll have to join a British Ex-Pat group to remain sane. I met the coolest people all weekend; Thursday was just a start.

I am so scatterbrained and in-need of completing my lengthy To Do List today that I cannot even concentrate on reporting drunken nights out and successful work-ish things in London and Scotland. See, I'm only here one day this week - tomorrow I must hop on another train to Manchester to give yet another conference presentation, and to play with my fun Northern friends Dexter and Dunkan until Saturday (yay).

So. Yes. Stirling. Absolutely gorgeous. I was so hungover on Friday afternoon when I arrived that I was barely able to walk around the town. But the parts I did see were so breathtaking that it just did not seem real. Stirling is an adorable town smack in the middle of absolutely beautiful Scottish mountains. My conference presentation here went really well, too; I was on the last panel on Sunday, and after my presentation, the keynote speaker came up to compliment me. So, as far as work goes right now, I'm totally on a high. I was also incredibly hungover all day Sunday. Again. And then yesterday, too. I really must stop this nonsense, but when all these kooky liberal arts strangers get together for just a few days of random introductions, sometimes it's just eccentric, ecclectic madness. And because I have ADD (how else to explain it?), unlike most other people at these conferences, I have turned my entire brain and identity into a multi-interdisciplinary mess, since I've got my hands and ideas in so many different facets of conference and book publication topics. I am making myself bipolar. Or, more like quad-polar.

Sunday night, since most people had already hopped on planes or trains to leave, I ended up hanging out with one of the few people who remained. After sharing about four bottles of wine, we ended up grabbing a fifth bottle and marching up to the top of the mondo hill that features Stirling castle. It was already 10pm, but since Scotland only has like 4 hours of darkness this time of year, we watched the sunset over the spectacular view of the town and mountains. I was kicking myself for not having my camera; now I want massive blow-ups of these picturesque views hanging on my urban walls in London or New York. I also now want to see all of Scotland. I'd been to Edinburgh before, but everywhere north of Edinburgh and Glasgow seems even more beautiful.

Dude! What am I doing!? I gotta go!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:
No one in Scotland can escape from the past. It is everywhere, haunting like a ghost. - Geddes MacGregor