So, I'm home. And trying to catch up on four days of Internet deprivation. Random bits 'n' bobs of MLA commentary, in no particular order:
-- First off, it was great meeting so many other bloggers, although I'm a little intimidated at how smart and witty and charismatic y'all are in person (I always worry that I am not really interesting enough to have a blog, but I'm pretty sure no one else at the table had this problem). Many thanks to Dr. Crazy for organizing the meet-up, and I'm sorry I couldn't stay later, because it was quite fun.
-- I did not go to any panel sessions this year. I feel kind of guilty about this, but they all seemed to be taking place while I had interviews, or too early in the morning, or during the blogger meet-up or my grad department's party.
-- Interviews. Tolerably OK for the most part, except for the Catholic SLAC where one of the search committee members grilled me for half an hour with highly specific and argumentative questions about my dissertation description, and then moved on after he had reduced me to a gibbering wreck but before I had managed to produce an adequate response to his latest objection to something I said, and I had to keep glancing at my watch the whole time because I had another interview an hour later, so I probably came across as horribly disinterested. Those Jesuits, man, they're tricky. Actually, this was the first year where a significant number of interviewers wanted to talk about research in any depth, and I don't think I talk about research nearly as well as I talk about teaching (I've had more practice at the latter), but it was kind of flattering to meet people who seemed to be interested in my work, even when they were a shade too interested.
... Oh yeah, and there was the one where I knocked on the door too early and they were still finishing up with the last candidate, who happened to be an AP scoring buddy of mine. I think I handled it reasonably well ("He's a great guy, and if you don't hire me, you should hire him"), but it was still kind of awkward.
... And the one where I went to the wrong hotel. I mean, seriously, who the hell puts TWO Embassy Suiteses (Embassies Suite?) right around the corner from each other, and THEN calls them the "Embassy Suites Downtown" and the "Embassy Suites Downtown - Lakefront?) That's just asking for trouble, especially when only one of them is marked on the map that comes with the conference brochure, and it is the wrong one.
Apart from that, they were OK, and I don't think I really choked on any of them, although my energy was definitely running low for the late-afternoon ones.
-- I can't believe they put the interview area in an actual pit! Really, going down that second escalator was like descending into Hades. Whose idea was that?
-- Yay for deep-discounted and free books! And free wine. The book exhibit is the Best Amenity Ever. Pretty good haul this year -- I splurged on my own copy of Deloney's The Gentle Craft and Approaches to Teaching Renaissance Drama, which looks really awesome. And the freebies included advance proofs of the new Ursula LeGuin, as well as something called How Not to Write a Novel, which was hilarious (and gives me hope that my own unfinished magnum opus might not be too awful, after all).
-- The University of Basketball had its usual crowded hotel-room party (this time in a room with a mini-fridge, which feels like a step up in the world; usually they keep the beer in the bathtub). A bunch of the current grad students were there, as well as 3/5 of my dissertation committee (and let me tell you, it is weird being hugged by former committee members, especially if they are male). It's also kind of weird being asked over and over when you're going to turn the dissertation into a book, and told it would make a great book, when you don't actually have the slightest inclination to do anything of the sort. I mean yeah, it's good that they think well of my work, but I had the hardest time explaining to Committee Member Hosting the Party that I like having a job with a 4-3 teaching load and no expectation that I will ever write a book unless I feel like it, and I consider this lack-of-expectation a perk. I get the sense that they do understand I'm happy with the new job, and they're happy for me, but still slightly bemused.