We got back from Bradley Airport about 6pm last night, at which I sat down to finish the grading I had left behind. Yeah, I should have taken it with me, but jeez. That would have been heavy and no fun. I finished the last few this morning before beginning the summer class (ay yi yi -- not done with one term and another beginning). Not too surprisingly, the first class today (11.40-3.45pm yikes!) ended up dealing with a lot of the practical questions regarding the trip, including a visit from the study abroad coordinator who gave them a bunch of forms to fill out to release Saint Rose (and me) from any legal responsibility for them. Then we covered Beowulf. HA HA HA -- yes, in one class we covered the greatest of all Anglo-Saxon works. Ah well, that's what summer cram courses are all about. Tomorrow, Gawain.
At least I can remember Kalamazoo this year with a feeling of accomplishment and memories of fun. Of course, it helped that I was rooming with gal pal extraordinaire, Miss Wendy, the Patsy to my Edina. We also traveled to Kazoo with Faye Ringel, NE goth scholar of all things weird (no, that's not why she was traveling with us!) which made for a pleasant drive across mid-Michigan despite the rain.
We made the drop by at Waldo's to check on the UConn crowd, but already knew Thursday was going to be a busy day, so we didn't stay late. I had a lunch appointment and more changes to make to my papers -- even attended a few panels. The best was the panel on theory and medieval scholarship now although a bit crowded and getting a bit warm. The rain gave way to heat and humidity, always a bad thing at K'zoo. My first time attending I walked up to registration only to make way for a woman being carried out on a stretcher. Wow, that's some conference, I thought! Didn't know then about the cinderblock walls of the Valleys and their lethal retention of heat and humidity. Friday was even worse, but I braved the horror of Stinson Lounge to hear the Feminist and Queer Studies panel which was good. Of course, it's the wine hour where you can always be sure to find people. I caught up with pals like Carolyn Coulson. If you stand in one place at the wine hour, you'll see just about everybody sooner or later. I even had lunch with my pal Sandi (AKA the friend who gave us a little kitten named Kipper!) and caught up on things in Houston.
Saturday was looming ahead: the big day! There were some Societas Magica panels to attend and the business meeting, where my pal Scott and I handed over the nearly complete manuscript of a collection on Old English charms that we had received a positive indication on from the previous editor at Penn, so fingers crossed they still like the idea. If not, it's on to the next publisher.
Saturday afternoon was my first paper. The panel on American Popular Culture and the Middle Ages was put together by Ilan Mitchell-Smith and featured my paper on Black Knight, a paper by Kathleen Kelley on Shrek, and one by Stanley Lombardo on the parallels between King Arthur and Dances with Wolves. It was surprisingly well attended (a lot more people than at the last Old Norse paper I gave in K'zoo) and the audience was full of questions. We went out to dinner afterward to continue our conversations, which was great fun.
But I was real nervous about the Pseudo Society! When we headed over to Fetzer Auditorium after dinner, it was already chock full of people (45 minutes before the beginning of the panel!). I suppose the good thing was that many of them had a beer bottle or two in front of them; a woman who had given two previous presentations assured me how welcoming the crowds were. The three of us (all women, Phyllis Diller would be proud) were all a bit nervous but reassuring each other. Host Richard Ring was reassuring as well. The crowd was boisterous -- they started a new thing that has to have come from A Knight's Tale, the clapping to the beat of Queen's "We Will Rock You" when it was time for the show. The hooting, hissing (at bad puns, and Richard's opening remarks were chock full of them) and table pounding, however, was normal. Suddenly it was time (so glad I was going first). I was nervous at the start, and I corpsed like mad as soon as they all laughed at the first visual joke (start with the easy laugh: a reference to an otherwise unknown Anglo-Saxon comic strip about "a field-dwelling cat who does not relish the end of the Sabbath" then showing the slide of the Bayeux Tapestry with Garfield, er, Gar-feld photoshopped in). In a few minutes I had begun to relax, waited for the laughs to slow down before continuing and felt that it had gone okay. Everyone said as much. The woman after me had the best artifacts, including the bunny reliquary and the bunny around her neck. The photographer was trying hard to get a picture of her brandishing the bunny -- that would be the photographer from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Oh my -- he was taking pictures at the dance, too (oh my!). I'll have to see what shows up in their august pages. The final speaker presented a convincing argument that Chaucer had not died, but had been reincarnating in each generation and in fact now lives on as Bruce Springsteen (I'm not doing justice to her piece, trust me it was a real hoot).
After that, the dance was pure celebration. All the nervousness of the day slipped away and Miss Wendy and I both danced away until about 2 am (can you believe it) and had a blast. It was hard to get up and pack in the morning, but we consoled ourselves with a nice breakfast along the way back to Detroit. Ah, Kalamazoo.