In no particular order:
1) If you ever want to hear every single boring, groggy, sleep-deprived, and yet strangely giddy conversation you’ve ever had acted out by a crew of your elders heading to Hawaii, I recommend hanging out at the Eppley Airport Super 8 at 4 in the morning. Good times!
2) Travel from a cold place to a warm place and back again poses an interesting packing challenge for the person who wants to travel as light as possible and refuses to check bags unless it is absolutely necessary. Layers? Whatever. There is almost no way to make that work and look good without also committing oneself to behaving like a stripper between connecting flights.
3) New fun game to play on the last leg of the trip: Spot the Academic! There’s just something *about* us — the way we dress, the books we read, the junk we take with us when we travel, that is distinctive (or at least I think so). I successfully spotted at least 4, I think. I’m sure of one, because we ended up riding to the hotel in the same shuttle. I got a few false positives, although in my defense they were engaged in suspiciously academic-looking behavior (reading papers, etc.).
4) Albuquerque really is just plunked right down on the ol’ desert. Even in winter, the browns and yellows and grays of Iowa aren’t quite as barren-seeming (or as BRIGHT) as the browns and yellows and grays here. There are a LOT of construction projects going on right now, and some of the buildings are just deliciously colorful and lively. Naturally, hotel food prices are extortionate. I shall soon be on a quest for Downtown ABQ food, aided by my brother’s helpful suggestions. I suspect I’ll end up at the nearest convenience store on my own, buying the ingredients for Coffeemaker Cuisine.
5) I haven’t felt this much like a fish out of water since I was a graduate student. I’ve never been to this conference before, and I don’t know anyone here, and most of them are not members of my particular academic species, so I’m just not quite sure how to act. I constantly feel like I failed to meet some requirement to be here, mostly because I just don’t know what the norms are for work here. Presentation times are tight (15 minutes!), and I just don’t know my audience well enough to know which things are old news and which things aren’t. I don’t know if lit/history/culture/whatever folks are as vicious about intellectual blood in the water as I’m used to at philosophy conferences. I suspect that I will blunder through my own paper to a sparse audience and then spend the rest of the sessions I attend keeping my mouth shut and observing.
6) I present at 4:30, local time. Then, I can hide for a while. I am not ready. I NEVER feel ready. Time to crawl back to my (admittedly really nice) room and practice getting a paper about Kant for non-Kant scholars boiled down to 15 minutes. I am doomed. At least I had an excuse to come to a nice, warm place and learn some new thigns, though!
Pray for me. Or not. I mean, it’s really up to you.