My in-laws have just pulled out of our driveway beginning their long drive back to Cleveland. The kids have been granted an hour of computer time. Steve is mowing the lawn. And I’m contemplating reading the 104 unread e-mails in my inbox. But before I get to the e-mail, I am taking a moment to enjoy the quiet.
Last Wednesday, I flew to Chicago for the American Political Science Association conference. It’s a big deal for political science professors, a chance for us to put forward our best ideas and see if anyone cares. It’s a bit terrifying as your brains, wit, and charm are being tested by others who weigh brain sizes for a living. Every name tag also identifies a university, which pretend to give some indication of merit. It’s like walking around with your SAT scores on your lapel.
The conference went well. I guess one of the major benefits of getting old is the wiser part. I’m less intimidated by the big mucky-mucks and less awed by the big universities. My presentation was fine and was mercifully over very early in the conference. I’ll blog about my paper, but not for another month. I want to increase my response rate in September.
I was able to see some of my favorite political science bloggers. Dan Drezner was the trusty chair of our panel on old and new media. Russell Arben Fox and Rob Farley were in the audience. I passed Henry Farrell in the hallway and got in a quick hello. It is really amazing how many nice guys are involved with this blog thing. If nothing else, I feel like I’ve made some friends through this.
My folks were also at the conference. My dad was there to meet with his book editor and to attend some panels. My mom was dragged along under protest. She hates academics. It is a little odd to run into my mom in the lobby of the conference center as I’m all dressed up in a suit and heels. I bent down to kiss her on the cheek, and she put a banana in my purse that she took from the $9 breakfast buffet at Houlihans. "Honey, you need the potassium."
I also saw my grad school buddies from the Grad Center and the University of Chicago. I had dinner with my very cool friends, Lawrence and Joy, who told me about their hipster life in London (bad hamburgers and many trips to Italy). Very jealous. With all those friendly face, this was probably the most fun that I’ve had this conference.
Last week, Dan noted that political scientists have gotten away from the baggy pants suits and big beads look. My dad noticed that same thing. He said that there are a lot more women, the older dudes of his generation have moved on, and everyone is much more professional. Maybe the attendance was thirty percent women, but that is up from the past.
Do political scientists dress well? Though Rob says NOT and Dan says we’re better than the economists. I say the women were dressed better than the guys. On the flight over, I could easily identify every guy on the plane who was heading to APSA. The guys wore their light blue oxford shirts even while traveling. Well, everyone, but Cornell West who was doing his Johnny Cash thing.
For my presentation, I had the pointy sling backs just for Dan, a grey bubble shirt from the Banana, pin striped pants with a narrow leg, and a jacket from H&M. I was going for a rocker chick meets a stock broker look. But it probably came off as a harried-academic-who-finished-her-paper-at-the-11th hour look.
(next post on the panels)