Katherine and I arrived safely in Oxford, England, early this morning, so the Penners are together again for a few days. Katherine was, unfortunately, much less compliant this trip (a bee in her bonnet?), but the trip was also less arduous. My parents drove us to Memphis, we took a hop flight to Newark, waded through security there, and then took an overnight flight to London and a final bus home.
My clock is still off (which is why I’m composing this post in the wee hours of the morning), and I’m a bit worried that my body has given up on sleep altogether, after a week in which I skipped two nights entirely and cut the remaining ones quite short. My conference days were 12-hour days, and then, of course, you go home to tuck your kid in bed, catch up on email, do a bit of presentation preparation, and get things in order for the next day. Oh yes, and check in with your parents, who have driven all this way so that they could be on child duty all day. I think grandparents must all be a bit crazy, given the lengths they go to to see the little ones.
My husband deserves a medal. He took a look at us when we arrived and realized that Katherine and I both needed some serious sleep before we did anything else. So he let me take a nice nap this afternoon and wake Katherine up just as I headed out the door for a choir concert this evening. Yes, a choir concert both Friday and Saturday nights. So, after three hours of singing and dancing (this is gospel, after all, and we had a band playing with us), I arrived home to a tired but endlessly patient husband. Both kids have woken up repeatedly already this night, so we may have a bit of a quiet day tomorrow. Nice as it is to be together again, we’re seeing once again how much better the kids play when apart at this age (she doesn’t revert to baby-isms, and he gets left alone to do his own thing), so it may be a good thing that they’ll get to spend time away from one another for a month. We’ll have to see what we can do to help them after that.
As arduous as the travel can be, I am really glad I went to the conference. Faulkner doesn’t get much attention here in England, and it was wonderful to be back among scholars who share similar interests and problems. This was my first conference as a non-graduate student, and I have to say that I like the change. I was more confident of the material, so I was more likely to ask questions and engage others in conversation, and I just got a lot more out of the papers I heard. I also got some nice feedback on the paper I delivered, and managed to sign myself up for a couple of related academic projects in the near future. So, tomorrow I’ll go through my notes and see if I can follow up on all of the ideas I jotted down so that that wonderful material doesn’t get lost in the post-travel chaos.