Matt says this is what he feels like all the time...traveling all the time. I haven’t felt this tired for this many days in a row EVER. And I’ve only been on the road for two weeks. And I got a couple days at home in between, albeit very rushed.
I just got back from 4 days of sociology conferences in Montreal. A couple days at the Society for the Study of Social Problems (small-ish meeting geared towards new and more bohemian-type sociologists) and a couple days at American Sociological Association (what I’m now referring to as the big leagues of sociology). This was my first time attending both conferences and they were, all at once, interesting, boring, engaging, and esoteric. Sociologists are an interesting breed. Like it or not, I’m one of them. It’s scary to be with a huge group of people who behave similarly to you, in ways that you like but which become annoying when everyone around you is doing the same thing.
For instance, early Saturday morning I went on a bus tour around the city that explored grassroots organizations. Mainly we looked at neighborhoods and talked about Canada’s social housing. It was really interesting, although I was super tired and a little cranky. People were posing all sorts of sociology questions, like “If this city has great public transportation, why aren’t there more people walking around on a lovely Saturday morning?” And “It seems like the graffiti is more politically-oriented then gang related. I wonder why?” And “What is the federal, provincial, and municipal funding mix for public housing in Canada?” Questions, questions, questions.
After being on the bus for a couple hours, we had a break at this lovely outdoor/indoor market where there was tons of local fresh produce. The sellers had REAL strawberries. Not the huge grocery store California strawberries that are kind of tasteless, but little ripe ones that you would actually pick out of your garden at home. I really miss picking berries out of a home garden, so I bought some. I got back on the bus and ate a few. I was quite satisfied with myself. Then, a sociologist, whom I’m sure is lovely and brilliant, sat in front of me and started talking about how she studies food consumption. She said that there are increasing numbers of urban markets like this one that are overpriced and don’t serve the needs of the poor who reside in the inner city. Okay, true enough. It was something I would normally blather on about too. But at the moment, it was a total buzz-kill. Sometimes it’s just nice to eat strawberries and not worry about their social implications. That’s the lesson I’m taking away from my weekend.
Attending these conferences marks the beginning of my return to academic sociology. I’ve had a two-year break, being just a working stiff applied sociologist. Now, I have to get back into all that book learning stuff in order to teach my intro class this fall. I am excited. Despite my slight overload on all things sociological at the moment, I think it’ll be great. I got *free* instructor copies in the mail. It’s the greatest thing ever. I’m such a nerd.
I can’t wait to read them.
In the spirit of not over-analyzing things, I’m just going to link you to our pictures of Montreal without elaborate explanations.
I will tell you though, that in addition to lots of poutine on menus at "restos", Montreal also has a thing called "Michigan fries" or "Michigan poutine", which is french fries lathered in meat sauce (yeah, spaghetti meat sauce). You can also get a hot dog Michigan style. We didn't dare.
I’ll just end by saying that Montreal is a really cool city. It really is a bit of Europe, just an hour over the US border. Slower pace, longer meals. It's a good place to hang out. It takes a lot of walking, and a bit of patience to overcome the culture shock of being in Canada, yet not being able to communicate with people right away if you don't speak French. But when people said "Bonjour" and we just said "hi" in return, they quickly switched to English. It seems like a pretty friendly testing ground for travel abroad, if you ever have the chance to go.
P.S. My husband is amazing. After flying into Boston at 8am on Friday, he drove up to Montreal, hung out mostly by himself all weekend while I attended the conference, and drove me 5 ½ hours home late last night when I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. This afternoon, he flew off again to Virginia for a couple days. I don’t know how you do it, but you’re the best! I love sharing this crazy thing called life with you.