Bloggy socializing

I had a visit from Historiann today, who was in the area visiting family, so we arranged a meet-up. What fun! She met me at our new house (yes! we have moved in!) and so got to meet the elusive Bullock and the not so elusive Pippi, too. That also means she is the first person to have seen the new, remodeled house, too, as we’re still unpacking and haven’t yet had a chance to invite local friends over. (Plus Bullock just started his first week as chair of his department, so has had a busy week already.) Historiann brought us a lovely potted zinnia plant — how thoughtful! — which is wonderful, because other than the hanging plants I brought from the old house, I don’t have much of anything flowering around here, since the transition from one house to the other meant I didn’t have the opportunity to put annuals in here.

After some coffee in our new kitchen, Historiann and I headed off to the nearest big park/nature preserve and did some energetic walk-and-talk (how very Aaron Sorkin of us) through leafy forest, keeping out of the heat and sun. Great fun and great company!  I hope we can do this again next time she comes through the area, and maybe by then I will have gotten back in running shape again and we can go for a run together.

Besides spurring me to get running again (well, maybe), Historiann’s visit also has clearly spurred me to get blogging again.  Up next: what happens when you write a very mixed review of a seniors scholar’s work (hint: so far, nothing bad!).

But now, I have to get going, as Bullock just called and said we *finally* have a date and time for the closing on our old house (yes! we sold it!) and it’s three hours from now, and there’s stuff to do before then.

>Shhh…K’zoo paper-writing in progress

>I’m having a heckuva time concentrating on shaping my K’zoo paper. I’m now convinced it’s kind of dumb, but perhaps I’ll cycle out of that stage in a day or two. But anyway, the writing process, followed by grading jail starting on Thursday, means that you might not hear much from me this week.

By the way, if you missed, Another Damned Medievalist is the host of the blogger meet-up for this year’s K’zoo, and it was decided to do the same early morning official meet-up as last year, with some unofficial, less rigidly organized go-out-for-drinks meet-ups throughout the conference. Here’s the post where she discussed this.


And because I could use a dose of levity around here…You know how purebred show dogs all have ridiculous long names, starting with the name of the breeder (I think), and then also have a family nickname that may or may not be suggested by the formal name? Well, over the course of the last month and a half, here’s what I’ve decided Pippi’s full name is:

Longstocking’s Pippington Gertrude Cottontail McLovin, called “Pippi”

Ok, back to work I go!

>Via Chicago

>I’m coming home, I’m coming home, via Chicago.*

Actually, I’m already home, but I did get here via Chicago, after a whirlwind tour that took me from Rust Belt on December 19th to the land of Robber Baron mansions for the Pastry Pirate’s graduation from cookin’ school (detailed here, complete with pictures from my camera) and lots of fine dining, to Cowtown for a few days including Christmas Eve (which in the Virago family is the traditional time of present-opening), then to Chicago’s suburbs on Christmas day to meet up with Bullock and his family, and then into the city on the 27th by way of O’Hare to pick up my bestest grad school friend D. and to eat at Frontera Grill and catch up for a few hours before heading off for the fabulous MLA blogger meet-up (thanks Dr. Crazy for organizing it!), and then back to Rust Belt the next day — whew! (Yes, that was all one sentence. That’s how it felt to me, too.)

I am exhausted. I’m also way behind on all things bloggy — indeed, Dr. Crazy chastised me for falling down on the blogging job! Ack! — as I had internet access only once in those 10 days, and that was on Christmas day in the Cowtown airport. I purposely got there early to use the free wifi and check my e-mail (how sad am I?) but didn’t have time to blog or read blogs.

But one of my goals for the coming semester is to better organize my time, or at the very least to take control of it a little bit, and to build in more time for blogging (including reading yours). I’m going to do a little blog maintenance and get rid of some of the sillier posts from the early days, and then in a few days I’ll start back in with some quality posts, which have been sorely lacking around here lately.

Our semester starts up pretty quickly and already I feel busy, so I might not be the most prolific poster, but I’m going to make my posts count more (I hope, anyway). This is all in a lead-up to my plan to move from a pseudonymous blog to a persona-based blog (where my real life identity will be known, but “Dr. Virago” will still be the author of the blog) after my tenure process is complete. (Quick update on that: all that’s left in the process are the approvals of the Provost, President, and Trustees, and around here that’s really just a rubber-stamp process. Knock wood, of course.) But for the rest of today all I’m doing is unpacking, straightening up for our New Year’s party, and playing with my Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS-enabled trainer and heart-rate monitor (my Xmas present from Bullock) and going for a run to try it out.

*For those of you who don’t get the reference, the buildings in the picture are featured on the cover of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (as seen here), and “Via Chicago” is a song on their earlier album Summerteeth.

>K’zoo preview

>Now that all the last-minute abstracts for K’zoo papers are in, and panel organizers are making their decisions about who’s on their panels in May, I know for sure that the panel I’ve co-organized is a go, and also that I’m presenting on another panel. It’s not the first time I’ve worn two (or more) hats at a conference — at MLA one year I was presenting, presiding/organizing, *and* interviewing job candidates as part of a search committee — but it’s the first time at the Zoo. And my co-organizer is doing the same. Let’s hope they don’t put our panel on Sunday morning or we’ll be exhausted!

Anyway, just wanted to give y’all a heads up because this means that someone else will have to take over any blogger meet-up festivities. You don’t have to decide now, but just know that I’m not really the best person to do it this year.

But that’s not until May, so we don’t have to worry about that just now.

>Accidental warblogging

>[The title of this post is a play on the term “warchalking.”]

I’m in the BL. I enabled my wireless because I wanted to use the catalog from my seat. I’m not supposed to be able to access the real internet without paying for access (the BL site and its catalogs are free to access), but somehow I did. I feel naughty. And this is bad, because I don’t need distractions from work. In fact, enough said — I’m getting off the bloody internet.

In other happy accident news, I ran into JJCohenand his lovely family while we were each on our respective way to our day’s destinations, just walking down the street. How funny to run into someone you know (and mostly virtually) in a city of some 7 million people and about as many tourists and visitors. Granted, I was only steps from my home here, but it was still a pretty surprising coincidence. Although I didn’t get a chance to talk to them for long, I pronounce them all delightful. Kid #1 especially cracked me up, in part because he’s about the same age I was the first time I came to London. I’m glad I got a brief chance to meet them all in real life.

>Oh sunny day!

>*Finally* London had a sunny summer day. So Morgan and I spent it walking to the Camden Lock Market and along the canal from Camden High Street through Regent’s Park, past the zoo. (I still have to upload my pictures.) While in the market, we discovered the *fabulous* skirts of Nicola Quilter buried among the stalls of knock-offs and cheap imports. (If you want to find her stall, it’s in in the middle of this jumble. Or you could just go to her website.) I bought this skirt:

[ETA: That’s not me. The picture’s from the website.] The photo doesn’t do the green leaves justice — they’re a really *bright* green. Isn’t it cool? Morgan got a mini, too, but in a totally different color-scheme and pattern. I’ll let her post about her own. But aside from the cool design, I really liked Nicola herself — funny and nice and knowledgeable about what size was right for each of us and what would look good on us — and I especially liked her sizing system. Instead of numbers, she has names: tiny, trim, normal, healthy, extra-healthy, and voluptuous. Awesome!

I also bought a hideous beaded bag for 5 pounds. I don’t know why. I think I was considering it and just about to realize it was hideously garish, when the shop keeper went to a whole lot of trouble to take it down from the display for me, and so I felt guilty and bought it. It’s really quite garish.

Then after the market — which also included a lunch of West African goat curry; yummy! — Morgan and I wound our way on foot through London to the Leicester square area to meet up with Owlfish and Pittenweem at a pub.

Then, after drinks, after leaving the pub and walking quite some ways, upon entering the Bloomsbury area, in the middle of a conversation with Morgan about our mutual love of mystery novels, I said, “Oh f@*k! I forgot to pay my tab and get my Visa!” So I split off from Morgan and walked *back* to the pub, and then walked home again.

So for those of you playing at home today, I walked just over 10 miles today. That’s on top of my 4 mile run this morning. Well, it was a beautiful day, so what they heck.

And then I met Dance at the college bar. And now that I know someone else in the dining hall, maybe I won’t be afraid to go in. The subsidized prices (even for non-members) are really cheap and now I won’t necessarily have to stare at my plate. Woo-hoo!

There have been other blogger meet-ups before these two, as well. Early on in my stay here I had lunch with the fabulous Flavia, and on Thursday a bunch of bloggers got together for American BBQ (yes, BBQ — not bad, actually, but not as good as Bullock’s) for a belated 4th of July celebration that Owlfish and Pittenweem organized. Morgan was there, as was Eulistes, the latter of whom I met up with earlier in the week, as well. (Eulistes, btw, claims I have “the best quizzical look [she’s] ever encountered” and she wants “to bottle it in concentrate for future use.” Really? I think I just frown a lot when I’m concentrating or trying to hear over the din).

Which is all just to say that in addition to working, walking a lot, running, and visiting museums, I’ve been being very, very social. So with all of that, I haven’t been able to blog all the longer posts I want to do on seeing The Merchant of Venice at The Globe as a ‘groundling,’ or comparing the three libraries I’ve worked in so far, or, for that matter, doing the two memes I’ve been tagged for, or catching up on all those posts I promised about my graduate research class or the mortality of my former professors. Ack! Too little time, too much to blog!

But now I’m very tired. Must sleep.

>K’zoo report #2: Breakfast of champions

>While the dance sometimes makes me uncomfortable, blogger meet-ups RAWK! This year’s event was almost twice as large as last year’s, and I have a feeling that the breakfast time is what made that so. Sadly, that might mean that this non-morning person will have to drag her ass out of bed and be groggily social again in future years. (Side note: if anyone else wants to take over organizing it next year, feel free. It’s not onerous at all, but it shouldn’t always be me or else it will become my thing instead of a group thing.) It also might mean, sadly, that Eileen Joy will never come, because she told me later that she is simply not able to get up that early (I think she’s definitely someone who works as well as plays into the wee hours). So perhaps it should be a movable feast.

Anyway, there were so many people there that I didn’t even quite figure out who was who — in real life or in the blogosphere. Among those I could identify with their blogs were J. J. Cohen, Karl Steel, The Cranky Professor, Another Damn Medievalist (Blogenspiel), Scott Nokes of Unlocked Wordhoard, Michael Drout of Wormtalk and Slugspeak, Medieval Woman, Mary Kate Hurley of Old English in New York, New Kid on the Hallway, Dr. Moonbeam, Tiruncula, History Geek, Holly of Hollyism, S. Worthen of Owlfish, Lisa Spangenberg, aka Digital Medievalist, Elisabeth Carnell, Eulistes, and bloggers and friends associated with Making Light. If I forgot anyone or didn’t quite meet you because you were at the other end of our trio of tables (grouped in an appropriately medieval trefoil/clover leaf/trinitarian kind of way), let me know. My apologies!

I was really pleased that this year there was a real mix of people in different stages of their careers, and also a better gender mix. I think it says something about the status of blogging that we had such a mix, and that bloggers from all those stages of career were willing to come and meet other bloggers. In other words, blogging is becoming less of a sub-culture and more of a mainstream culture. It also says something that there was also a mix of pseudonymous and non-pseudonymous bloggers, and that if asked, people generally revealed their pseudonymous blogs. Somewhere someone noted that when rounds of introductions were made, we didn’t identify our blogs, but I think in my case it was more a worry about our voices carrying to tables of non-bloggers. I still worry about non-bloggers’ attitudes towards blogs. Who knows if we have an Ivan Tribble among the medieval crowd. But one-on-one I don’t think people cared that much.

On that note, Karl mentioned that when he was still “Karl the Grouchy Medievalist,” he was more prone to live up to that moniker than he is under his own name. Likewise, I often think that since I’m easily identifiable if you already know me (if you’re my friend, colleague, or student), I try not to write things that I wouldn’t want associated with me. That may explain, too, why everyone seemed so darn nice in person (on which, see more below).

I met a number of these people last year, and at least one of these bloggers is someone I knew in real life before I started blogging (though it was amusing to both of us that we only just figured this out because of this breakfast!). And many of them have been blogging or real life friends with some of the others for many years. So in many ways the breakfast was a reunion for many people. (I hope that didn’t put off too many of the bloggers who were completely new to each other. There are some tight and deep friendships in that group, but it’s also a really friendly and welcoming group.) But there were still delightful new real life acquaintances to make all around. I hope this can be an annual, informal event.

There were some conspicuous absences. As mentioned, Eileen Joy is not a morning person. And though Sir John Mandeville was at the conference, he wasn’t at our breakfast as far as I know. And LLCoolCarlIII of Got Medieval reserved a copy of Christine Chism’s Alliterative Revivals before I could (damn!) so I know he was at the conference, but apparently he’s too cool for breakfast. 🙂 Or also not a morning person. And if Geoffrey Chaucer was at the conference, I wouldn’t have expected him to come to the meet-up, since he’s a shy man who generally “lookest as [he] woldest fynde an hare,” and who “evere upon the ground…stare[s]. ”

Speaking of staring, JJC does indeed stare intently at you when you speak (see Liza’s comment here). It’s a neat trick because it gets people to babble things they wouldn’t otherwise say. I recall at one point Jeffrey asked me something about whether or not as a graduate student I was super-anxious in my presentations about being potentially revealed as a fraud, and I replied, at first, that I wasn’t all that anxious as a grad student (and though I didn’t say it, I thought that maybe I’m more anxious as a prof, actually). And then he stared and I felt compelled to say more. And I did, but not anything of substance. And then I worried that I must sound like an idiot. And then I started to get anxious, at which point I thought, “yup, definitely more anxious as a prof.” It’s like he’s my therapist or something! How do you do that, Jeffrey?! But other than that moment, I wasn’t the least bit anxious or intimidated by Jeffrey or any one else at the table. As people have been commenting around the medieval blog world, people you might expect to be cranky or prickly or intimidating in real life, because they construct themselves as such in their writing, or because their writing is just so damn smart and authoritative, even on their blogs, all turned out to be…well, for lack of a better word…nice. Really, really nice. Smiley and friendly and kind and easy to talk to. Take The Cranky Professor, for example: in real life he’s not in the least bit cranky, but rather cheerful, especially for 7:30 am! We were two of the first people there and had a funny moment of suspicious eyeing of each other until I saw his name tag and recognized his real-life name, at which point we both said, “Are you a blogger?” It was hilariously cloak-and-daggerish.

Other things I learned either at or because of this breakfast:

  • Apparently I look like Scott Nokes‘s grandmother circa 1930. Since I also get told I look like my mother in the ’40s and ’50s, that didn’t suprise me. Faces have fashion, too, and certain people have looks that evoke other eras. It may also explain why I get hit on by older men a lot (not just at K’zoo). Scott — any Swains or Gaylords in your family tree? Maybe we’re distantly related.
  • Rumor has it that Ivan Tribble is a woman!
  • The French Revolution was fought against the Germans, and England invaded the Free Colonies of America, thus starting the American Revolution. (This was from a delightfully so-bad-it-was good final exam someone had just graded.)
  • Medieval Woman looks very modern in real life and not at all like a grumpy kitty, Karl Steel doesn’t look anything like a breakfast food (which I already knew, but that picture cracks me up), Mary Kate Hurley is not a landscape, and Jeffrey Cohen‘s hand is not permanently placed in front of his face.
  • We might need a bigger place next year! I do like the convenience of Mug Shots, however, especially for those without cars.
  • Next year I really should get up and mingle instead of sitting in one place the whole time, so I can meet and talk to people at the other end of the tables.

Well, that’s about it. A fun time was had by all, I think, and I hope this becomes a K’zoo tradition.

>K’zoo blogger meet-up update

>Moving this to the top and keeping it here until I leave for K’zoo so everyone sees it. Tonight (Tuesday) I’ll send an e-mail to everyone who said they hope to show up and I will include a picture of me in it. (I’m too lazy to sort out the people who know what I look like, so everyone will get one.) If you don’t have an e-mail address on your blog somewhere, drop me a gmail: drvirago2 (you know the rest).

Updated Post:

OK, by my count 18 people have said that they could make a breakfast meeting on Friday morning of the conference (May 11). That *might* be a little big for this place, but since not everyone will show up at once, and some people might duck out early, and some people might oversleep, it could still work. (Follow the link to that place; for some weird reason I don’t want to spell it out to make a text search easy.) Plus, it has the virtues of being accessible to those without cars and not so overwhelming to negotiate as the cafeteria would be. Oh, and there’s better coffee. (And for those of you who already bought breakfast tickets, you could always eat some real food there first and then join us for coffee.)

I thought maybe we could meet officially from 7:30 to 9:30, so that those who want to come early and still make the plenary could do so, and those who want to come a little later and get a little more sleep can also do so.

If you don’t already know me in real life (or haven’t figured it out), drop me an e-mail (see sidebar) and I’ll send you a picture so you’ll know which group has the bloggers in it.

To review: 7:30-9:30, Friday, May 11, at this place (the one with the picture at the top).

Comment here or send me an e-mail to let me know who definitely to expect. If it starts to get even bigger, we may have to go to a plan B.

Original Post:

Just wanted to let youse guys know I haven’t forgotten you. I’m going to tally up how many people (so far) have said they hope to be there and figure out what the best option is. I’ll replace this post with a substantive one tonight. It’s been a hectic last week of school, followed by a piratical visit and a tearful goodbye to Wiley. Sniff. He just left with the Pirate 20 minutes ago and already I miss him. His hair, on the other hand, is still here.

Anyway, more meet-up news later, probably tonight.

>More K’zoo blogger meet-up business

>UPDATE: Moving this to the top AGAIN so everyone sees it. The operative question is still where? — though some good suggestions have been made in the comments. Also, some people are rallying have rallied for a dorm breakfast, and I think I have a plan that might make that work for those folks who don’t know what any of the rest of us folks look like. BUT, some people who are protective of their anonymity might be uncomfortable in that setting. (Don’t let me speak for you — I’m just guessing here.) And again, see the new suggestion at the end of the comments (made by Deeni and seconded by Tiruncula) and let me know if that works for you. So other proposals/ideas are still welcome. Also, some of the usual suspects haven’t said anything — perhaps you’re not going this year?

OK, in the last post, the vast majority of you said you could make a Friday breakfast. (Apologies to The Swain, but it seems there’s never a good time for everyone. And since my maternal grandmother was a Swain, I feel especially bad.) Some of you have 10 am sessions to chair, speak at, and attend (silly people!), but no one seems to mind missing out on the plenary. (Side note: I usually go for a run during the plenaries, but the one time I went to one I fell asleep!)

Last year, having a longish, drop in when you want meet-up seemed to work, so we could do something from 8:00 to 9:30, giving enough time for everyone to get where they need to be by 10. Or if you crazy people are *really* morning people, we could start at 7:30.

What say you all?

Next issue on the agenda: where????? Does anyone know if the University Roadhouse opens for breakfast? And if not, is there any other breakfast place within walking distance for those on campus without cars? If that’s not the case, we may have to arrange caravans. I’ll have my car.

I briefly thought that if we started at 7:30 we could meet at the dorm breakfast, but then I thought, “How on earth would we find each other in that crowd???” I can see it now: “Excuse me, are you a blogger? No? What about you folks? No?…”

So, any ideas?