Thursday, March 20, 2014


It is evidently the vernal equinox. To those of my friends who celebrate it as a holiday--Happy Equinox!

More directly relevant to me is that today, I head to Indianapolis for CCCC 2014. I am slated to participate in a roundtable discussion on undergraduate research (something with which I have some familiarity and which I encourage). Fortunately, the talk is tomorrow, so I can spend today in transit without much worry--with traffic, I have to be concerned, but that will be about all. (I hope.)

Normally, I am happy to head to conferences. I enjoy learning (obviously, or I would not have spent so long in formal schooling, and I would not continue to work, however haltingly, on The Work), and conferences offer the opportunity to do a lot of it. In addition, there are some conferences which represent my only opportunity each year to meet with some of the friends I have made. (And, yes, I have actually made friends from time to time.) Too, conferences do allow me to travel to some interesting cities; I have gotten to go to New Orleans for conference work and Memphis, and I imagine I'll be heading to Austin and to Nashville in the coming years. The chance to see new things is one which I do not often take; I even sometimes enjoy it when I do. (I have noted being a curmudgeon, yes?)

This time, however, I go with some regret. It will be the first one I attend that I have a child at home, and so it will be the first one I attend at the cost of leaving to my wife the whole of such a burden. I do not pretend that I do as much of the work with our daughter as my wife does, but I do some, and over the next days, I will not be doing it. Yet it will still need doing.

I have to wonder if this will be how I feel about my conference work from here on out, if I will always go with some regret at leaving behind the people who love me (I hope). Curmudgeon that I am, I always have some reluctance to leave my routines and my home (much as I chafe at the restrictions upon me that I allow them to represent, and much as I often enjoy what happens when I do leave*). Such is the reluctance that I have to question its effect on my parenting (already, and the kid is only just a month old); I have to doubt how good a father I can be if I so loathe doing things. Yet if I hope ever to find my way to a tenured position, or even to one eligible for tenure, I have to do this kind of thing again and again.

Perhaps it will get easier with time. I do not yet know--but I suppose I am going to have no choice but to find out.

*Paradoxically, I tend to enjoy myself when I head out expecting trouble, and I have a bad time when I head out expecting to have fun. Such are the joys of pessimism.

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