The first part of my current flirtation with academic events is done: I have completed my paper for tomorrow’s conference and received excellent feedback from no finer source than my Oxford educated son. The next step may prove more problematic for me in some ways as the research and the writing can be worked around my stupid health but the presentation requires my body to function properly at a specific time in a specific place.
Nerves will make me even more aware of the weaknesses of my physical being. For a brief moment today I contemplated calling my doctor to see if they would prescribe me two diazepam for tomorrow in much the same way they prescribe a limited amount of them to get me through my phobia of air travel. In the end I felt that presenting a ten minute paper is nothing like being sealing into a metal tube and hurled across the sky for eight hours. This is not only something I have done countless times before but is actually something I love to do. If nerves get the better of me then they do – they will hopefully not prevent me trying to do more of the same if and when asked in future.
I don’t expect offers of lecturing to come flooding in for two very good reasons – I’m quite ill most of the time anyway and I do not have a doctorate. What comes next, now that this wonderful reminder of the fact that I not only love this stuff but am also rather good at it is close to its conclusion, is me trying to research for and write on my new thesis consistently enough to work out in a year or two whether there is any validity in submitting said thesis to my alma mater.
A year ago I was almost at rock bottom having just been hospitalised in Sussex then transported across country to the Royal Devon and Exeter. The rest of the year saw a continuing decline both physically and mentally as the new limitations of my abilities became all too obvious. It was with no remorse that I waved 2018 farewell and hoped 2019 would be kinder to me. Thus far it has indeed been kinder and I have learnt how to work around these new limitations as best I can and still somehow claim to be me. It’s a real battle some days but to be anticipating attending a day-long conference tomorrow, one in which I am an active participant in a small way, feels like a real triumph compared to this time last year.
Now, phones on silent please and if you must talk at the back can you slip in the occasional ‘oh wow’ so I think you think I’m great at presentationing?