Last weekend was my trip out to Arizona State University to take part in the Western States Rhetoric and Literacy conference. ‘Twas quite the experience – one part academic tedium, two parts sentimentality, three parts surreal post-conference activity. Sadly the latter, while ingredients of saucy happenings were present, they were added in a strange mixture making it completely unpalatable.
I should logically start at the beginning, but I’ve been stuck at how to actually find that beginning to be able to tie in everything else; there are several tracks to choose from. I decided to break up into sections that struck me as interesting, topped them with a quote, and salted with some pictures.
[I’m not sure why these paragraphs have this strange food undercurrent; I think I’m hungry.]
“Did you meet any interesting people?”
“Well… I met the City.”
I love big cities. This time, I took my car and got to test my skill as a road rage neophyte. Even though I drive a station wagon, in my mind, I suddenly become placed behind the wheel of a lithe and powerful sports car. Surprisingly, my car went along with this, weaving in and out of traffic, only becoming unhappy in stop-and-go traffic when I heard the popping of the transmission.
I loved the feeling of driving with only a vague destination in the sea of metal. As I came through a stretch of the highway stacked with highway overpasses, the sea shifted and every car and truck in front of me swayed to the right, gently shifting and rolling together. There was beauty in it.
The first night I accidentally drove through the airport though and I returned to the habit of talking to my car when I got boxed in with white limos, mumbling about how I would find I-10 again, Vance, I really would.
“I’m taking these fucking shoes off.”
I was asked by Thom, see below, what I would remember about the weekend and about the conference. I hmmed and hahed, but ultimately gave the honest answer of, “Probably the fact that I traipsed out of the ASU with campus with bare, bleeding feet.” Those shoes were smoking hot, but podiatrically speaking a sheer nightmare. I felt under-dressed immediately. The first night when I arrived after driving all day, I realized I landed on a campus where the women looked like they just sneaked off a catwalk and were in a desperate search for the vodka and celery bar. With that sort of stark competition, I decided on the Not Caring Approach. If I have to be the one to change the academy’s values concerning the wearing of Converse and academic authority, it will be a worthy endeavor.
So how about that conference? Let’s just say that I’m not quite immersed enough in this field to take a full appreciation of the …Let’s cut to the chase: conference was boring. I was even bored with my own presentation. There were some highlights: the hippie who very comfortable with her dress, environmentalists playing devil’s advocates, and the fact that even my weak presentation bitch-slapped the only other person who had “blogging” in the title of their presentation.
There were some practical applications of teaching that were presented, and were I considering the field, I could make a lot of use for it…
Bleah…I have senioritis…Get me the hell out of school already.
“He was closing with me.”
I stayed with my Dad’s best friend Thom and his girlfriend while I was in Phoenix. My Dad had a very low amount of friends through the years. Of those he had, he could go without talking to them for months at a time. And yet, I remember Thom from when I was very, very young.
They live out in Peoria which is about 30 miles from Tempe through various freeways. Both highly intelligent, Thom was journalistic in his questions and wove me into explaining my presentation, my thoughts on technology, and where technology would be going in the future. I shouldn’t admit it, but I think I used “Blogging is the future!”
The first night at dinner, I thanked him for the flowers he sent in the days after my father passed, a bouquet of white roses and carnations and daisies. When we returned, Thom had a smoke outside on the driveway and told me that he wanted to make the weekend exclusively about me and that he didn’t need to talk about my Dad if I didn’t want to. I left it at that, but then the morning I left as we left the diner in Peoria, I couldn’t help but stumble into it. I explained the relative peace of his passing and how my Mom was doing.
He had called to speak to my father a week before he died. “I could tell he was getting weaker, but he put on a brave front with me – you know how he was – and told me he was going to hit the morphine button a couple of times and that he would be crashing out… Then he told me that he loved me like a brother. That’s when I knew. I knew he was closing with me… and it was all right.”
Tomorrow, Part 2: “There are parties like this…” and “How am I supposed to respond to that?”