I’ve been living in this country for well over three decades now, but I’d never been to Boston before this month, when I went for the PCA/ACA convention (I’ll be there again in January for MLA).
I’ve always enjoyed PCA/ACA, and this year promised to wonderful as well because my friend Melissa was going with me and we’d be meeting up with our grad school buddy, Maura.
George frigging Takei was the keynote speaker for the conference this year, but I didn’t get to see him. As big a trekkie as I am (hell, as big a Takei fan as I am), it hurt to miss it.
However, I had to stay behind in Davis an extra couple of days because the fabulous Sherman Alexie was here. Alexie’s book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, is our campus book project this year. As a member of the selection committee and planning committee and as an Alexie groupie (that’s really the only word for it), I couldn’t leave.
So, okay, I didn’t get to see Takei speak, but I got to moderate a panel on the Mondavi stage with Alexie, to go to a gala dinner in his honor, to see his big talk at Mondavi, to have him speak to the writing students (mostly mine) in a private q&a, to be the momentary object of his flirty nature, to get his autograph, and to wipe a little dried shaving cream off his face before one of the events. I doubt that I would have been able to get my spit/DNA on George Takei.
The trip to Boston was long, but Melissa and I made the most of our time there. We went on an awesome Trolley tour and learned a lot about revolutionary history–including the correct version of some mythical events.
We got to have some amazing fish chowder at the Union Oyster House, which is the oldest continuously functioning restaurant in all of the United States. When we asked the very friendly oyster-shuckers for a picture, they brought out a giant lobster.
We also got to take a walk around Harvard. The buildings were beautiful, but this is what I took pictures of. Lobster is a big thing in Boston, but I still find it hilarious that it’s not a taco truck that pulls up for the Harvard students–they’re getting lobster!
Finally, we had a great dinner at Jacob Wirth, an ancient German restaurant with a great beer selection and wonderful sausages (if not wonderful German potato salad).
The conference itself went well. I missed Melissa’s panel to play with Alexie, but I got to see Maura’s panel on Clue. My own panel was on Whedon (I was discussing the Reavers in Serenity/Firefly), so naturally the audience showed up. The two other panelists on my panel did not arrive, however.
For a moment, I was nervous, but then I decided to stand right in front of the audience and to take the room. Luckily, the audience was interested in my ideas, and we had a good conversation. (And Maura even noticed that I was wearing a quasi Zoe costume to deliver the paper.)
A few regrets. Didn’t got to a Doctor Who thing that I should have. Got cornered by a furry who fixed my ignorance (I thought it was only a sex thing) but who didn’t understand that I wasn’t in the mood for a two hour lecture on the subject. Didn’t book the hotel early enough to get the conference rate for the last night.
But that’s okay–I’ll know what to do in January!