Monday, April 30, 2007

I am TOO wordy or A Tribute for a retiring professor

A tribute for one of my favourite professors who is retiring. I have spent far too long on this, and it just keeps getting wordier. Any suggestions between now and tomorrow on how to make this more active and less wordy--and any grammatical suggestions from those of you who speak Hausa will be much appreciated!


Zan bud’e da karin magana: “bayan wuya, sai dad’i.” Kuma “bayan aiki, sai hutu.” Ko da yake bana son rabuwarmu, ina jin farin ciki da za ki iya ki huta daga yawan aiki, da tafiyar nan da can, daga Madison zuwa D.C., daga D.C. zuwa Madison, kaza, kaza, kaza!

You’ve often told the story about how you took your first Hausa class because you needed a language and it fit your schedule. Now you are retiring from a career spent building up studies of Hausa language, literature, and culture. In some ways your serendipitous encounter with Hausa was like mine. I started taking Hausa because I already knew “Yaya aiki?” and “nawa nawa ne?” I thought of Hausa as a requirement to fulfill so that I could get on to the bigger and more important task of writing about contemporary Nigerian writing in English... And perhaps that’s where it would have ended if I hadn’t been lucky enough to have you as my Hausa professor.

You have been the person who has encouraged me the most here at ***—advising me to take the FLAS to study Hausa at SCALI that first summer instead of going to Middlebury for French, encouraging me to apply for the second FLAS in Sokoto. I came back from Sokoto excited about Hausa, but it was your Verbal Stylistics class that gave me the theoretical tools to think seriously about Hausa literature and your Hausa Literature in Translation class that gave me the foundation to build upon. I learned more while TA-ing for that undergraduate class than I have in many graduate-level courses. (You were so generous in grading all the papers yourself and giving me the liberty to do what I wanted with my sections. It was more of weekly learning opportunity for me than a job!) You’ve taught me to look at layers of meaning, to plunge below the surface of a text to the metaphor beneath, a move that parallels my own encounters with Nigeria. Growing up there, I felt that I was floating on the surface of several indistinct cultures. I assumed that, as an expatriate, I would never be able to go much deeper than I already had. But learning Hausa revolutionized my experience of Nigeria. It was like tuning a radio: where I once heard static, I could now hear the jokes—understand the laughter.

Beyond the ways in which you helped me access Hausa, I will always remember your sensitive and calm advice; your irreverent asides; your invitation to give guest lectures in your classes and the encouraging feedback afterwards; the special practice session you set up before I presented at ASA; how you read through all my rough translations and figured out obscure references and proverbs; how you watched all those Hausa films with me, even when you were tired from a cross-country trip; those walks down **** after we discovered how close we lived together; and the bad-weather taxi rides (which you always paid for) with the chatty drivers who kept getting lost. I’ll also remember your diplomatic assistance with wahallar sashenmu and your amazing generosity in paying for the Graduate Student Colloquium pizzas for an entire semester. Every time I open a book from the incredible library you’ve bestowed upon me, I will miss you.

I’ve loved reading through the tributes alumni have sent in because it puts into perspective the layers of scholarship you have impacted—how the kind of influence you’ve had on my life has been multiplied many times over. Dr. Maikud’i Karaye in Kano said that they used to call you mutuniyar kirki, and wallahi, gaskiya yake magana. Ke mace mai kirki ce. Kina da gasikya da amana da karamci da hakuri da hankali da kunya da ladabi da mutunci. Hausawa suke cewa: abin da babba ya hango yana zaune, yaro ko ya taka tsani ba zai hango shi ba. Na yarda. You have guided so many of us so wisely. You have been more than a professor, a TA supervisor, or a language instructor; you are the person on whom we will model our own future scholarship and teaching. I will miss you very much

Allah ya yi miki albarka. Ki huta lafiya,

Ni ce,

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

election wahalla

I have not yet posted anything on the elections in Nigeria because I didn't want to just quote the doom and gloom of the Western media. It seems that there were mass riggings, late openings at the polls, and the usual thugs lurking about. However, I just talked to my parents on Skype, and my dad mentioned that he thinks the international media is over-sensationalizing things as usual. Although, he is not an eye witness to the polls, and, of course, there is no way any one person in Nigeria can know what was happening at other polls, here are a few local examples he knew of that are encouraging: he said that one of (former Plateau governor who is wanted for embezzlement and is currently in hiding somewhere in the country... unless he has been found... I haven't followed the story too closely) Joshua Dariye's corrupt buddies in Plateau State attempted to rig the elections but was still soundly defeated; another PDP candidate and a strong OBJ supporter in Bauchi state was soundly defeated. So, it seems that some sort of voice of the people was heard in some locations. As for the new president-elect Yar Adua... (surprise, surprise...) well, he seems to have a level head on his shoulders, a fairly positive record from his governorship in Katsina, and "squeaky clean" bio. I'll just repeat the prayer I've been saying for the last few weeks: May the next president of Nigeria SHOCK the world with his thoughtful, competent, and (let's hope for the best) brilliant leadership. May he go down in history books as the man who (despite a bumpy start) proved to be one of the best leaders Nigeria has ever seen. This must seem naive and overly optimistic, but why not? God dey. We might as well start out this next administration with some hope.

In the meantime, from my blog roll, there is
Ex-school nerd with an eye witness account from Lagos of delayed ballot boxes. "The official's at mine were(just my luck we were sent retards)was still calling up to 300 names...expecting us to stand and wait for our names...which wasn't the way it was done at other places..because of this...we were delayed and alot of people just got fustrated and didnt vote included..."

Ibrahim Sheme with reports from a phone in radio programme he hosted and conclusions that
"the important thing is to "manage" the situation and have Gen. Obasanjo leave office on 29 May. We must sustain the democratic system at all cost; it's better - always better - than military rule."

UKNaija with a report from his aunt that "Last week, she had queued in the sun, her seven decades notwithstanding to vote only to hear that virtually all the votes cast at her polling station had been cast for a particularly unpopular candidate..."

Chxta with a thoughtful analysis and a hopeful outlook: "Anyway, for me all the news hitting me on CNN and BBC about fraud, intimidation and irregularities is just blah blah. There have been small victories, and it is with a sense of hope that I am choosing to focus on those small victories because some form of progress has been made. The fact is that while slow progress isn't as sensational as fraud and violence (especially when it comes to reporting about African issues), in the long term it is much bigger news."

Toks-Boy with a rant about the Western media and positive observations on Yar Adua's initial televised comments: "The US & UK can cry foul all they like but I am sure their Ambassadors will be in Aso rock the day after the coronation to ensure that their interests are maintained. And who gives them the right to judge us anyway? What is the voter turnout in the UK? Are there no voting irregularities in the US?"

African Shirts with blow by blow accounts from the media about the elections, and a great excerpt from another Nigerian newspaper editorial: "But I cracked up today when I saw BBC monitoring's review of African newspapers' coverage of the elections. How can't this not make you laugh?..."I want to appeal to Nigerians not to lose faith in democracy... The fact that President Olusegun Obasanjo has made a complete mess of our democracy and turned Nigeria into his chicken farm doesn't mean democracy is bad. "

Jeremy with suggestions for constructive improvements for the next election: "Not by any stretch of the imagination could the election be called free and fair - the verdict of all independent monitoring groups. However, its hard to see how anything other than the predicted and pre-determined would happen. In many ways, the transition from one elected president to another was as trouble-free as one could possibly hope for. "

And finally, not from my blog roll, but someone who should probably be added. Olawande with an excerpt from TIME online, but, even better, a thoughtful analysis of each candidate:

So, these may not be the most informed or objective accounts of the election, but they at least provide a cross-section of the current blog dialogue, as represented in some of the blogs i visit.

Photo credit: Man with ballots:
Woman with voting card: La Stampa
Yar 'Adua billboard and achaba: China Daily

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007


My flight was cancelled coming back from Atlanta because of the weather, so I spent another day with my grandmother. I worked on translation on the kitchen table in the quiet of the old house, the light whipping through the windows while the trees, green with leaves, bent in the wind. My grandmother was on the phone with my aunt when the nextdoor neighbor stopped by for a visit. The nextdoor neighbors have lived beside my grandparents house for over 50 years. About ten years ago, the first wife of the neighbor died of cancer after a long decline. And within a few months he married another woman from his church--initially, they were a giggly old romantic couple, always holding hands--after a year or so, I think he realized what he had done in so rapidly marrying again. His second wife is the most talkative woman I have ever met--she can hold a conversation with herself easily, but she needs an audience, and my dear grandmother bravely puts up with it sometimes several times a day. I have even gone to the extent of dropping to the floor and crawling off into another room when I see her coming down the driveway. But I didn't this time. She told me about the shooting, "at some university but it's not yours," where about 20 people were killed, and I said, "oh, that's sad," distractedly, just wishing that she would go away. What was I thinking?

That night I went to my brother's Atlanta apartment (although he was gone to a film equipment trade show in Vegas) so as to be able to take the MARTA to the airport in the morning, and instead of trying to catch up on missed schoolwork, I lay in bed flipping through the channels. I was disgusted by the way the media salivated over this. On CNN Larry King was asking random Virginia Tech students how they felt, and giving space for Dr. Phil to rant. Fox News, of course, was talking about how the shooter was an "international student"--and with a sinking feeling I think--oh, no, now no one will ever be able to get a visa. Another station had on a debate about whether the university had been "negligent" in not immediately informing the student body about the first murder. I was disgusted by the way the media was pouncing, yet I lay there for three or four hours watching it, the repetive footage, the shrill denunciations and blabber of the commentators. Pooled ignorance, my dad sometimes says of classes that are soley discussion oriented, with no lecture componant. And perhaps that is what the television news is when it relies on talking heads and "experts" to predict what will happen next, to fill up time before all the facts are out: Pooled ignorance.

In the airport the next day, all the passengers sat watching CNN and exchanging angry opinions on how the media seemed to be blaming the university for what happened. How could they possibly have known what would happen? On the plane I wrote on a receipt:

"There's a certain glamour in being associated with a tragedy. Those on TV can barely conceal their nervous fascination with being televised. I know--when I watched the first tower fall from that Brooklyn pier, I was numb--felt I was on a stage on which I must perform my grief. In truth, I felt nothing--nothing at first, except for a kind of awareness of my body--a tingly excitement that could not be immediately understood. I interpreted it as grief, as TRAGEDY--and thus I became an actor in a TRAGEDY. And so we become so fascinated by the representation of tragedy that when we are a part of one, but not directly affected (we don't lose a friend, we don't lose a loved one), we first think of how much it is like a movie, how much it is like a televised tragedy. When I first realized that the first tower had fallen, I was lost in the wonder of how like it was to the Will Smith movie Independence Day. The reality of it didn't sink in for a couple of days, when the tingling excitement transitioned to a craving for communal expressions of grief. I just wanted to be with people."

These were my first impressions of the random students pulled onto camera to talk about how they "feel"--those nervous smiles threatening to break free as they attempt to put on a properly sober face for CNN--the shock still not worn off--the grief not set in yet. As the story has come out and the photos and bios of the victims proliferate on the web, I find myself in tears. I find myself thinking of what I would do if I were in class with my students. Do I know how to lock the doors? Where would we go? To the far side of the classroom near the hall wall where he wouldn't see us, or further back into the classroom where the bullets would have further to go if he shot through the door. Walking to campus I imagine how bullets fly into bodies, the kind of hole it would make, the expressions on faces, the sound it would make. I wonder if I were shot, where it would hit me. What my dying thoughts would be. In my translation class, I find myself writing obituaries in my head for each of us: the brilliant and prolific professor, the promising graduate students. What if someone opened the door and began shooting?

Perhaps everyone associated with universities has been thinking like this lately. It's not that I'm afraid it will happen, so much as I imagine how it would be if it did. I suppose it is a kind of communal trauma, I think, remembering how for months after 9-11, I would have dreams in which I was standing on that pier in Brooklyn watching a missile meander around Manhattan and then head straight for me. It is communal trauma, I think, and then wonder if I am being melodramatic. These are the stories that haunt me: the triple major RA from Georgia who wanted to go on for his PhD in psychology and was killed when he ran out to investigate the gunshots, the German instructor who met his wife while on a Fulbright in Germany, the girl from India doing her masters in architecture as her father had done, the French professor from Montreal who is known by a friend of my professor, the girl who was an actor and a dancer, the exchange student from Peru.

My cousin's name was on the list. I gasped a little before realizing it couldn't possibly be her. She is about the same age, but she does not go to Virginia Tech, and the photo didn't match. In a parallel life, it could have been her. It could have been me. It could have been any of us. And as I think of the gunman, I find it hard to imagine him. If I had lost someone, perhaps I would be angry at him. As it is now, I can't quite grasp it. I feel rather sorry for him. His melodramatic lines performed for the camera. His cartoon poses. If he were my student, I'd feel bad for him---and yet he killed 32 people, with seemingly no mercy, no remorse.

And each time I read another article, I recognize the irony of my compulsive Virginia Tech reading, when 183 people were killed in Iraq yesterday, when 11 more were killed today, when two young unarmed black men were shot by police in Atlanta over the weekend (and recieved nothing but local coverage), and where in Nigeria 25 militants were killed in a shootout at a police station, others have been killed in election violence. So many tragedies in the world. I am saddened by the shooting incident because it is so close to my life here, but compared to what people suffer everyday in Iraq it is almost inconsequential--a symptom of a sick society that is slowly crumbling from within.

Friday, April 13, 2007

MA defense (and off to my cousin's wedding

so, now i've lost the momentum to write about my MA defense. It all went fine. My committee asked me a few scary questions that I don't think I answered very well, they basically said that I wasn't really doing anything original, that my theory seemed a bit muddled, and that my title was too descriptive. But most of the discussion seemed to be less about the actual thesis than "lessons to learn for your future career in scholarship."

Despite my best efforts at being zen, that all disappeared with the first question--after which I was fighting back tears the whole time--not that I was especially surprised or hurt by anything they were saying--but somehow my body physically reacts to situations in which I am having to defend myself to authority figures--and unfortunately it reacts in that way. I was so GLAD I had preceeded myself by bringing in a bottle of water which I would take a big swig from everytime I felt my mouth trembling too much. One of the committee members said that "surprisingly, I seemed to hardly deal with the idea of the postcolonial at all." This observation also surprised me because i kind of thought i had. And my advisor said his signature harsh comment of the day, "Reading this, you would think this novel was the only piece of African literature Carmen has read... although I know Carmen and I know that's not the case...." This bemused me as I had written a whole chapter on intertextuality with other works of African literature in the novel. But their overall point was right: the most polished part of the paper was the most unoriginal stuff.... the stuff that excited me I didn't articulate as well.

All that to say, it was a surprisingly short process, and despite some of the harsh things they said specifically about the thesis, they said it was perfectly fine for an MA thesis, and they were very encouraging about my overall work as a student. The discussion seemed mostly about general things to know in the field and in scholarship and had very little to do with what I had actually written. In addition to his one or two token harsh comments, my advisor (talking to the committee and not me) gave me several wonderfully backhanded compliments: 1) Sometimes we have students who struggle with writing; Carmen obviously does not have this problem. 2) For class (we have a class listserve we post to every week), she will write these long but extremely provocative and eloquent posts, and she does it on the spur of the moment--that's what you need more of here, the combining of the close reading with the broader theoretical.
So, basically... I needed to write my thesis a little more like I write class posts... or perhaps blogs? Finally, they sent me out of the room, and called me back about two minutes later, and there my intimidating advisor is standing there, with the warrant in his hands, grinning and shaking my hand. And another committee member hugs me, the other one pats my back and hands me two tickets to the South African film U-Carmen, which is playing at a film festival this afternoon, and which I've been wanting to see for ages. I felt horrible telling him I wouldn't be here this weekend, because I'm going to a cousin's wedding.So, they signed the warrant, and said, of course you are continuing in the PhD programme, right? And of course I am. I FINALLY feel like I've caught up to myself. For the past two years, I've cringed everytime someone has asked me where I am in the programme. Since I've been doing PhD research for the past year and a half, I hated to tell people I was still an MA student. I felt like such a loser. There are reasons this has taken over three and a half years--a strange culture of long MAs in my dept, me being gone doing language training or research every summer, long lags in communication with those in charge. I finally feel like I'm at the right level, and it's such a huge relief.

Anyway, enough blather. I'm off to Atlanta tomorrow for a cousin's wedding this weekend. I took her engagement photos over Christmas. We had planned to do it outside, but it ended up raining most of the day, so they decided they wanted me to take pictures of them shopping in bookstores and Trader Joes and video game stores. I had so much fun trailing them around and photographing them that I thought that the job of a "documentary 'wedding' photographer" might not be a bad fall back plan.... I'm sure I'd get sick of it very quickly, but I do love an excuse to take lots of photos.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Introducing... Introducing... introducing

Introducing the latest Master of Arts degree holder, and official PhD student (hopefully we will move to the status of PhD candidate in less than a year.) I cannot describe my relief. It's nice to see one's advisor grin... More later.

Monday, April 09, 2007

D-Day tomorrow....

pray for me. my defense is tomorrow. i've re-read my thesis, and it is not the horrible thing i thought it was when i handed it in. i argue very intelligently in some of the chapters and there are occasionally (to quote my advisor on his last comments) "flashes of brilliant close reading." It, however, is not a masterpiece. There are passages that feel out of place, the organization is sometimes iffy, there are moments when I don't follow through on a thought. It starts out well and then gets a bit scattered at the end. I feel like I say very intelligent things in it, but that I don't always say them as well as I could. What worries me the most is that I have a scandelously small bibliography (ie. in the secondary sources/theoretical works... I have quite a few creative works that I've cited.) I also sort of made up my own theory and didn't quote any one theorist at length. I, personally, think that is ok, but I know the MA thesis is supposed to prove that you've grasped how to use theory, and nowhere in my thesis did I say anything like "in this thesis, I am following a poststructural feminist paradigm"... I'm just praying that my close reading is close enough, that there are enough of them, and that I the theory that I made up works consistently(I use poststructuralism without actually citing any poststructuralist thinkers, although I do quote Foucault all of one time [somewhere along the line my Derrida got axed], I cite Soyinka and Ngugi a lot but have cut out most of my quotes of their theory, and I argue that the theoretical foundation comes from within the novel itself, ala Harold Scheub and the "mythic centre.")

I defend at 10am tomorrow. I know one of my committee members will just smile at me, ask me easy questions and defend me against the others. The other one will be mildly critical, will ask me questions that relate to his research interests, and will give me a page long list of recommended reading of other people I can cite and refer to. And my advisor will rip me to pieces. I know him. And I've heard what he's done at other people's defenses. Everything he will say will be brilliant and right on point, and I will wonder why i didn't see all of that before. Just pray that I make it through without crying. I have this HORRIBLE habit of getting a twisty-cry-ey face in the middle of situations where it will be sheer mortification if I cry... these are the times I cry, unfortunately. I'm trying to calm myself down tonight so that I am a calm, confident, prepared epitomy of zen tomorrow. (ohm...ohm...) This probably means I should go to bed soon. But first I need to at least write up my intro. Here are my three imagined scenarios:

1) Dream world scenario: My advisor tells me that it is a brilliant, sophisticated, and elegantly written masterpiece of an MA thesis and that I should start revising it to turn into a series of journal articles.

2) Nightmare scenario: My advisor tells me it is the worst thing he has ever read, and that he can't believe that it has taken me so long to write such rubbish. That now that I have proven how simplistic my argumentation abilities are and how sloppy my research skills are that it is clear I am not cut out to be an academic and that he does not recommend that I continue in the PhD programme.

3) Probably what will happen: My advisor will pick my argument to pieces. Tell me my titles are bad and that my work is very unorganized and that he couldn't figure out what I was saying and how it related to my overall argument in at least three of the six chapters. He will also tell me that I clearly am a fan of the book, but as critics, we are called to take apart the book, and that I have clearly not been critical enough of Habila's shortcomings. And that where I was critical, it is obviously a straw-man argument. He will grumble about me having cited online editions of books (which I will be able to respond to by saying that I've fixed it since I turned in the draft), and he will kvetch about my wordiness. He will say that my work is not very original--it's not clear why I'm making such a big deal over Habila's novel when plenty of other novels use similar form. Furthermore he will say that when he told me to cut out the theoretical works in my first chapter, he didn't mean that I should cut them out all together (as i did in some cases) but that I shouldn't lean on them as if I had no thoughts of my own. He will say that this risks looking a lightweight because of my short bibliography and my writing on one novel. He will continue on in this vein for about 20 minutes until the gentle, smiling professor intervenes and says that afterall, this is just a masters thesis, and it is fine work for what it is, and that I've now gotten good practice for the disseration. And my advisor will say that, well, if this were a dissertation, I would have many years ahead of me, but since he knows that it is just an MA, and since it has improved a lot from the initial draft he read, he will pass me, but that I need to make sure I make these revisions before I turn it in. And I will humbly nod my head and say that they are all right in what they have said and that I will work on it. And then they will sign the paper, and I will be a MASTER OF ARTS degree holder. This is what I think will happen... it is what I hope will happen. The nightmare always lurks until it is over...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Losing Light

From a brief Skype im-chat with my mother, who is currently at an internet cafe:

"We have had no electricity since Wednesday, and before that only half current a few hours and 3 hours one least since last weekend. It all blurs together after a while!"

From an email, she sent:

"I talked to a NITEL (telephone) person and he said although they have all their new equipment installed and ready to launch, they will hold off until after the election. If the wrong party gets in, all their investment may be in vain. NITEL was privatized a year ago, and they are afraid the new administration may take it all back over. They want to conserve as much as their investment as possible. (Our phone has not worked since Christmas.)"

God, help us through this election. I pray for peace, for stability, for life.

In my holy week meditations, I've read the accounts of Christ's crucifixion in the book of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I am struck (as I read the footnotes in my study Bible) by the absolute brutality--indeed barbarity--of the crucifixion (and, no, i have not seen the Mel Gibson movie so this is all my own imagination of the event).

Nails through the wrists and ankles. Hoisting a man up, naked, until he bleeds to death and loses the strength to hold himself up. The crucified one knows he will die, but instinctually keeps pushing himself up. The humiliation of dying in front of harsh eyes like that, naked, flayed flesh, the most private bodily functions bared to those who view you, if not with hatred, with a dispassionate boredom.

And so God died this way, in the most humiliating and brutal execution devised by men.

The only perfect being to ever live.

He said:

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23: 34)

He said to the "robber" (or the notes say perhaps he was an insurgent) who asked him to "remember me when you come into your kingdom": "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." (Luke 23:43).

As he was dying, he said:

“Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”— “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:45)

He said to his mother:

“Dear woman, here is your son;” and to John “Here is your mother.” (John 19:26).

He said:

“I am thirsty” (John 19:28)

He said:

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 23: 46 )

He said:

“It is finished.” (John 19:30)

And as he died, the earth trembled and the sun lost its light, the ancient curtain in the temple, the thickness of a man's hand, ripped from top to bottom.

And for those who loved him, his mother, John, the other Marys, those watching him die and those who wept in dark rooms as the earth shook under them, it must have seemed the end of the world.

And, it was.

The next day, was the Sabbath, the day that God rested.

And the next day, when the light crept inward, through the darkness of stone, the light burst outward, the stone could not contain it. God began to create the world anew.

This is the way I tell the story.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:1-3)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

spring break....

I have been terribly lethargic about blogging lately, and I'm not too upset about it because blogging sucks up a lot of my time which should otherwise be spent writing papers etc. etc. so I welcome these periods when I don't feel like writing anything.

Anyway, the conference was fabulous. I presented my paper on Saturday and was thinking the session would be really tough because they had squeezed 6 of us into an hour and a half panel, which meant we each had 10 minutes each. Annoyed though I was, I pared my paper down a little more. I was going to cut out my film clips, but then I decided to keep a few of the shortest ones and just fast forward through the middle of my long one. Well, even though I ended up having to cut off my elegant little conclusion at the last minute because i was out of time, it turned out to be (I think) my best presentation ever. (In fact, it was good that my powerpoint was not working because that meant I had more control over my video clips.) I got excellent feedback, especially from the one I was the most "looking forward to/nervous about" hearing me: Prof. K. Harrow. (I'm abbreviating so that google searches won't find this blog.) He really rattled me with his final question, but I got to talk to him for about 20 minutes afterwards and he was EXTREMELY encouraging. Then for the rest of the evening (I left the next morning at 4am) people kept coming up to me and telling me how much they liked my paper. (Granted a couple of them were drunk when they told me this... ie "Your paper warsh the Beeeeeesht. ") I realized that I love these conferences because you're with like minded people, who are interested in the same things. I go to conferences because I get the sort of affirmation that I rarely get in my own department. Of course, part of it is just that is is really fun to present on film--especially video-film. I was armed with handouts and film clips, and I think the key to a good presentation is keeping people amused... There's nothing like a long dry paper full of theory to put people to sleep.

Now back in [my little college town], it is spring break here, with temperatures in the 20s F. sigh. I have gotten very few items on my t0-do list done. I keep wanting to go to sleep.