Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thoughts from the Road - Still Kickin'!

Well, I said in a previous post that there would be light blogging ahead - and indeed there was! So, here's what's been up:

Earlier in July I had one of the most amazing, intellectually stimulating, wonderfully fabulous weeks of my academic life. I made many new friends, many of which I continued to see at the conference that followed. Med. Camp was first rate and I'm so happy I went.

Just finished up at the NCS conference in Wales - got to see Dr. Virago quite a bit (yay!) - sitting at lunches, out and about, and best of all - crawling around on a lovely castle (Kidwelly to be precise). The murder holes were very cool. And the sheep. The sheep were cool.

The conference itself was good, but incredibly draining - even when you're there with friends and aren't in a particularly precarious position (i.e., looking for a job, looking for a publisher, etc.) it's still a draining process. I, personally, wasn't blown away by a lot of the papers, but I did skip the last two plenaries (which I heard were wonderful). My paper went fine and that's good. The best thing about the conference was seeing very old and newly-minted friends and making a few more. It was the first time that a conference was so social and so socially variegated - i.e., I hung out with many different people. I was happy to come down to true TD-land last night to see him.

Which brings me to another big thing in my life right now. There are many bad things happening in TD's family at the moment and we've been dealing with this for the past month or so in absentia and now in person. His mother is now almost completely blind (she has macular degeneration) and we found out a couple of weeks ago that his stepmom (who we adore) has very advanced cancer - she either didn't know or didn't tell anyone about the symptoms, but it's not looking good. TD's brother is involved in a horrible situation with his girlfriend and his two children (unfortunately, I can't blog about this in much more detail), but he hasn't seen his kids since before Christmas and she's drained his bank account, taken one of their cars, etc. So, his father is almost devastated beyond belief - he feels like his whole world is falling apart.

TD and I are spending a week here (he's already been here for 4 days while I was in the UK) and we're trying to get his mom into a nursing home, trying to spend time with his brother, dad, and stepmom. But it's very hard on TD to see his whole family in various kinds of crises. Today we hung out in Haarlem (where we're staying at some friends' house while they're out of town). We sat in the old city centre, in front of the beautiful, 15th-century St. Bavo Kerk, had some beers at cafe and took in the sun. Across the square, 2 men playing the trumpet and the accordion were playing "Hello Dolly". It was a surreal and lovely moment.

At any rate, I hope you guys are all doing well!


Hilaire said...

OH, MW, I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time at camp!! That's so *good*.

What a lot to be dealing with in TD's family, though - hugs and strength to you both about this. It does sound as if you're making the best of it right now - what a glorious day in Haarlem you describe.

Email coming your way soon!!

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

Big hugs to you and TD. I'm sorry there's so much difficult stuff to get through.

Dr. Virago said...

Lovely to see you so much at the conference, MW.

But oh, what a load of stress you and TD are shouldering! Hugs to you both!