Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

New York Trip June 11, 2013

I went to the Reacting to the Past conference in New York at Barnard College over the weekend. Good times, and since it was my first overnight experience in New York City, I particularly enjoyed it.

Some highlights

  • The conference was one of the most congenial I have ever been to. Despite the fact that many people are traveling with people from their own schools, there was more interaction between conference participants than I have ever seen before. People sat together at breakfast and lunch, introduced each other to colleagues, and went out of their way to be friendly. I think this was because we stayed in the dorms so we saw each other a lot, there were only about 250 people, and the conference fee provided lunch and breakfast–and the food was good! It could also be that we were actually playing Reacting to the Past games that force you to get to know other people!
  • The one afternoon we had free to explore was Friday…the same Friday that Tropical Storm Andrea (thanks, cousin) came through. (Side note: My brother lives in Mississippi, and his house has been damaged by Hurricane Brett and Hurricane Lee in the past, but Andrea left him alone!) I did not allow that to deter me, and I rode the subway to Greenwich Village and walked around. Interesting, but the driving rain meant that I mostly saw puddles, people’s lower halves, and my umbrella which featured a map of the NYC subway system.
  • The same afternoon, I walked around the Upper West Side to Central Park where I saw the memorial to John Lennon at Strawberry Fields. That would have been cool too, if it hadn’t been pouring, but the rain did make it meditative.
  • I told Patrick we should try to get S or G to go to Barnard, then I figured out that it’s a women’s college, so that’s not going to work out.
  • I took the train up and realized when I disembarked at Penn Station, I was much more comfortable figuring out the subway than the taxi situation, so I took the local red 1 uptown. I also sat in the quiet car both ways. That was lovely. No one is allowed to talk on a cell phone or have loud conversations.
  • When I got back, Gilbert said, “Mama, I’m so happy to see you. I missed you when you were in New York!” and Seamus said, “Mama, you’ve got to see me on my bicycle! I’m getting so good at it!”

Now they are not napping and it’s driving me bonkers because it is the very last day of tight schedules before we embark on the summer!


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