Random Thoughts from K’zoo

It’s been (let me consult my CV) 21 years since I last came to the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I didn’t remember it at all. I’m sure I came with the Old English folks from Purdue. And I was a presider on an art panel all those years ago.

Since it has been so long, and my memory was so minimal, I thought I would comment on the general feel of the conference.

Clothing
Dress here is much more dressy than the typical “absent-minded professor” idea. I’ve seen scalloped suits where the skirt is scalloped as is the long jacket over it, in a contrasting color. I’ve seen a sweater with elven boots and tights.

Definitely bringing suits next time, not dress pants and shirts.

fountain_penAffectations
The coolest addition to wardrobe I saw was a wooden pencil box, with elaborate carving, which held an ink fountain pen.

He wrote very beautifully, almost like calligraphy.

Weather
I’ve been told it has snowed (in May) at this congress before, perhaps last year? And that it has been in the 90s, which with no a/c would be unbearable.

The weather has been a nice spring day. 40s-70s. Beautiful, even the 3 a.m. thunder storm which came through and woke most of us up.

Friendliness
EVERYONE (okay, minus the random curmudgeon) is willing to talk, encouraging, and interested.

Sitting next to a big wig and afterwards finding out they were a big wig is not uncommon. (Especially if you have a specific niche that is smaller here, like Robin Hood or Old English.)

Shoes
Shoes should be dress but more walking friendly.

Even though I normally walk everywhere on campus for my job, that’s nothing compared to how far it is to get from one place to another here. That’s an issue.

Terrain
The terrain is VERY hilly. So you are constantly walking up and down. The few buildings the congress meets in are farther apart than either of my campuses are big– and I haven’t ever made it to one of the buildings.

There is a beautiful pond, with swans, geese, and turtles.

There are trees everywhere (Remember I am from Texas. This is not the norm.) and flowers growing wild, too.

Overall
I think that this may be one of the most enjoyable conferences I have ever been to. However, I can’t figure out if that is because I am hanging out with a colleague and grad students or if it’s because it seems okay to talk to random strangers here.

I’m thinking hard on what I could propose for a session next year.

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