And I needed this conference. Right now I am teaching in one of the most difficult academic years ever for me. I am teaching a 7/7 course load while trying to get my dissertation ready to defend. For someone who has often felt like she has nothing original to contribute to the world, I have discovered that this has been more of a psychological test than anything. So it was great to meet up with some of the great people I met at the Dartmouth Seminar last year as they were there when I "birthed" the coding categories that have become such a crucial aspect of my research. I suppose this must be like reconnecting with a delivery nurse a year after you have had a child. The "baby" is growing and becoming an important part of who you are! I feel more invigorated right now about my dissertation in general and, believe me, that is something I needed as I go into the home stretch. I was hoping to graduate in May but after consulting with my dissertation director, it is now going to be December. I am a little bummed by that but you know, things happen. This also takes a little bit of the pressure off of me (though I plan to have the revisions done before the start of the summer).
I hope to blog a little about some of the new ideas I encountered while at the conference but .... that will have to wait a few more days as I try and soak in getting back a regular schedule.
But here is a little: I participated in the RNF this time (the Research Network Forum) and got some fabulous responses in terms of continuing my research on using themes in FYC (First Year Composition). In addition, I met with an editor from Hampton Press and he expressed interest about me (Yes! Me!) creating an edited collection on this issue, something I had never considered before. Certainly, this is a fabulous idea, especially as I think about getting myself back out on the job market in the next 5 years or so. So I left the conference with lots of new energy and ideas for doing "something" with my research.
I also, of course, needed a break from SWIC. Though I went to a bunch of great sessions (including several on themed courses in FYC), I also did some shopping (not so academic, eh?). And if there is something I learned about Vegas it is that there are a lot of shopping opportunities (though most of them were out of my price range!). So I spent an entire afternoon just wandering around the Strip in Vegas, checking out the stores and casinos while people watching. I am super glad that I was able to hook up with my parents (who drove up from their home in Phoenix), my fabulous dissertation director at SIUC, and friends from all over the US and Canada (and for some of these folks, this conference gives us the only yearly opportunity to connect in person!).
I usually try to take a week off after a major running event and so now that it's been a week since the slightly traumatic Quivering Quads race last week, I am about to jump 100% back into my regular week. Hold on tight!