Everything is actually bigger in Texas, including the Lumberjack Slam at Denny's.
Alright, not really. But if you, like me, came to a predominately Catholic region and attempted to go to a local business's brunch on Good Friday, you, too, would know that the Lumberjack Slam at Denny's is the one thing that is the same size in Texas as it is in Washington.
The nachos, however, are much, much smaller. On the Riverwalk in San Antonio, two fellow Popular Culture conference attendees and I sat down to a plate of eight, count 'em, eight tortilla chips on a plate, each sprinkled with one piece of beef and the smallest amount of shredded cheese. And at the price of an $8.99 appetizer, each of those tortilla chips cost us graduate students over one dollar apiece.
This weekend marked my first visit to the great state of Texas, for the Popular Culture conference Round Two. I presented this morning at 8 a.m, on the last day of the conference, to a room full of seven people, which included my two faithful friends and the Area Chair for the music panels. Two of the four presenters did not show, which meant that a tenured professor from the University of Alabama presenting on the politics of the 1980s band The Call, and I--an MA graduate student presenting on the woman who wore a meat dress to the 2010 MTV Music Video Awards--shared the stage. And while no psychoanalyst from Alabama accosted me this year, I did get heckled by a man in the back who insisted that there are such things as ground-breaking technological and scientific discoveries.
My paper had nothing to do with science or technology.
What I've learned since I started coming to academic conferences since last year is that not all of the papers you think are going to be intelligent and interesting are going to be intelligent or interesting. I've also learned that this is okay, and it is also okay to go to a Mexican food lunch by yourself instead of attending ALL THE PANELS IN THE WORLD. On the other hand, I have attended several really interesting panels, including one on post-modern revisionist myth and one on "Disney Dads." It's not all Buffy fan-fic, that's for sure.
And finally, I have learned that the heat and humidity in Texas does wonderful and horrible things to my hair at the same time. It's like my hair inhabits this weird "grey space" between bad and good that I kept hearing graduate students attempt to theorize about for the first time, at this conference. I don't think they'd ever heard of liminality. Or, quite possibly, deconstruction.