Now that the Halloween…

Now that the Halloween madness is done, I'm back to regular academic madness around here. I can't quite believe that next weekend is WindyCon, and the following Thursday (two weeks from now!) I leave for ten days in Australia! I'm chairing a panel at NonfictioNow! on "Diaspora: Centering the Margins," although in true Aussie fashion, they have decided to spell it "Centreing" instead. Which seems harder to pronounce, but who am I to criticize the Queen's English?

I'm in discussion now with my co-panelists, trying to figure out the best format for a lively discussion (avoiding MLA-style reading out of papers, which is occasionally awesome, but often painfully tedious, depending entirely on the a) brilliance of the paper, and b) reading-aloud ability of the author). This conference has an academic creative nonfiction focus, but is also open to the public, and I would prefer not to bore the audience to tears. Tears which I have occasionally manfully refrained from shedding at MLA. And so I'm sending e-mails like this:

"Here's my structural inclination. That I introduce the panel topic, and then we each take 5-8 minutes for substantial self-introductions (which I'd recommend you draft in advance, though it would be ideal if you would speak from notes, rather than read a prepared piece). That would a) situate us with the audience, so they know where we're coming from, b) allow Lawrence time to show a few slides, if that's what he wants to do with his time, and c) would let each of us raise an issue or two that seems central to our work. That takes us ideally 30 minutes into our time. Then I'd moderate a discussion for another 15-20 minutes, highlighting some of the major points we'd jointly like to address (I can bring a draft of potential questions to the breakfast meeting for you folks to look at). And then we open to Q&A from the floor for the last 15 minutes."

Oh, the excitement that is my life. Although, really, I do enjoy even the structural aspect of this sort of thing, and I am just now starting to take in that I will be. in. Australia! in two weeks, where I have never been before, and where my ex-girlfriend-whom-I-am-on-good-terms-with-though-I-owe-her-a-birthday-present-or-twenty will host me and show me around. It's actually rather desperately exciting, and here's a shout-out for Kevin who will manage the kids without me for ten days in the midst of the semester. (Though over Thanksgiving break for part of it, which should possibly help. A bit.)

This is what we mean by a supportive partner, and a feminist man. What makes me sad is how several folks I've mentioned this to have been shocked a) that I'd leave my kids for ten days, but even more so b) that Kevin would be willing and able to watch them. He's their father, and a fully capable parent and adult. It is 2012, people! Get with the program.

True, I don't actually expect him to keep up with the cleaning, but when he leaves me with the kids and goes off for a few weeks (which he did at the end of the summer), my cleaning slips too. Not-spreading-pestilence & not-reeking-in-public becomes the new standard of household cleanliness. And that's okay.

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