Although I mostly seemed to sit at a table at the Stables pub and drink (my new favorite is the shandy, half lager and half lemonade: thanks Josh!), the Leeds conference was quite a learning experience. I met many people whose work I have long admired, many others whose work I now admire, many bloggers whose work I follow (Jonathan Jarrett was especially good to meet, and so were Meli and Magistra, and ADM is always fun) and some very bright young in the field folk in whom I have great confidence. Plus I got to hang out quite a bit with Mary Kate and Eileen: what could be better than that? Mary Kate and I shared scones and tea together; Eileen slept in my bed at the Yotel. That isn't what it seems but that is all I will say.
In the days after the IMC, somewhere in the extinct volcanoes turned picturesque hills outside of Rome, when life had slowed down to a pace I haven't enjoyed in years and few people surrounded me besides family, I realized that once I stop being department chair on January 1 2010 I need to dial down the intensity of my life, first off by containing the ever-proliferating commitments I've been making. I'm giving a lecture in York in March, and have organized a panel for NCS Siena in July ... but my son's bar mitzvah is in April, I am tired of missing my daughter's events at her school, I have a book I need to begin to write, I have four essays due in the fall and a special issue of postmedieval I am co-editing, and on and on. Plus I am directing a little medieval and early modern studies institute.
I need, more than anything, to have some pause -- and lacking that, simply to undertake less.
The last week offered some of that, and the next ten days will offer some more. I'm in Paris right now. Getting here was tough, and featured a marathon sprint through Heathrow to catch a departing plane (how our five year old kept up with us I have no idea), but we had dinner at café near our flat as a thunderstorm swept the heat from the city. The windows are open on the Rue Claude Bernard, and city sounds and French conversations drift in. Will anyone miss me if I simply don't return to the States?