Well, it's done. I managed to participate in a conference yesterday and, I think, do a half way decent job. I know I was nervous because of one crucial fact -- lack of being 100% prepared. But there was also this lingering doubt of being able to "come back" post-cancer. It's this feeling that feels something like cancer (and the forced menapause from the hysterectomy) has taken away parts of my mind, sort of like the flesh out of my breast, the damaged hair from my head, and the energy I used to have pre-cancer. Doubts about being a "good" grad student were there before the diagnosis, but it sorta feels like they got intensified now that I am starting to "come back" into some version of "normal."
Jim and Stella both made the 2 hour + car drive south to SIU Carbondale with me. Jim dropped me off on campus while he and Stella drove to a wilderness area to go hiking. My talk was one of the first -- during the 9:00 AM session slot. I was the second speaker so, as you might imagine, it was hard to concentrate during the first speaker's talk (which was actually quite interesting -- a creative writer mashup with ESL theory). And then it was my turn -- I passed out the handout/ booklet I brought (outlining how a teacher can use race in the classroom, including a syllabus and five different writing assignments) and just jumped into my talk. I think it made me feel better that I could see people nodding their heads throughout and I made sure to keep eye contact the whole time. And voila! My 20 minutes had finished (thankfully, all the practicing on Friday and the drive down had perfected the time -- but poor Jim for having to listen to my talk a million times!). The next speaker was fascinating (a talk about using group conferences with basic writers) and then I tackled a bunch of questions from audience members. Really a fun time!
I'm not sure how to articulate this feeling that I might know something that other folks could be interested in -- at the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, this gets me excited in a way I just can't describe well. In a nutshell -- It's motivating. It pushed me to be the teacher-scholar that I so desperately want to be!
Anwyay, I was able to stay at the conference for another session and lunch but by then Jim and Stella were done with their hike and we started back to St Louis (he and the dog got quite muddy from their own adventures, by the way!).
A huge part of me feels relieved that I was able to talk about dissertation stuff and feel at least a bit knowledgable ... now I will use this energy to jump into a new section of the Literature Review that I need to start this week!