Sunday, 6 January 2013

Literally falling down a flight of stairs

A grad student fumbles right down a flight of stairs:

I was really excited about having been accepted as a participant in the graduate workshop that preceded the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists conference in Madison, Wisconsin. However, a few weeks before the conference I tripped going down a flight of stairs, and as a result I dislocated my ankle, fractured my fibula, and tore one of the ligaments. A week before the workshop began, I had surgery to install a plate on my fibula and repair the rest of the damage. My surgeon said that I would be fine to go to the workshop, which I didn't want to miss as we were going to be creating our own reproductions of pages from manuscripts (I had chosen a page from an illustrated Prudentius manuscript).

For most of the week in between the surgery and the workshop I was knocked out on some pretty heavy duty painkillers, but the day before I left I switched over to extra strength Tylenol, because there would be no point in going if I was loopy and half asleep for the entire conference. I took a practice drive around Fargo, as I would be driving solo from my parents' house to Madison, and went out to see the new Harry Potter movie to make sure that I could sit upright for a couple hours without being in a recliner or my bed. This was the first time in weeks that I had left the house for anything but doctor visits. The outing was a success, and so I breathed a little easier as I prepared for the car trip.

The next day I drove nearly non-stop to Madison, with only one gas stop along the way. When I arrived, I was invited out for dinner with some of the other workshop participants, at which point I realized that I had neglected to think about one fact: that the conference was entirely a pedestrian affair in the late summer heat, and I had not walked more than the distance to a car in several weeks. Fortunately, dinner that first night was only a couple blocks away, but I was already exhausted by the time I got there. This manifested in forgetting basic facts, like the name of the senior scholar I had been on a panel with at Kalamazoo a few months prior, and I only managed to figure it out after about ten minutes of racking my brain, by which point the conversation had entirely escaped from me. The whole conference, while fantastic, was filled with these little failures. Fortunately, there were some truly wonderful people whose kindnesses helped prevent these failures from ruining my experience of the conference. At the very least, I was saved from any greater embarrassments, like someone walking in on me as I attempted to get dressed after a shower in the communal bathroom in the middle of the night.

While dozens of people present at the conference will be able to identify this fumblr, it is anonymous to prevent the accidental discovery by job search committees in the near future...