Heehee! This stream-of-consciousness stuff is way fun — but I’m almost afraid to re-read it later, for fear I’ll want to bang my head against my desk or something! No matter — the muse rides with me today! :)
So! The regular MUNI buses were full but not bad for a Sunday, with lots and lots of older Asian-looking folks chatting animatedly back and forth in front, and the more usual silently blank-faced riders (both Asian and a multiplicity of other apparent ethnicities) in the back half. It was fascinating seeing the various sections of the city sort of bleed into each other, both coming and going. We started out — on my arrival in San Francisco at the Montgomery BART station and getting on the #30 bus — in a rather posh section of town: big and flashy, dramatic hotel fronts ostentatiously posing at street level; sleekly anonymous black limos crouching territorially over several parking spaces; brisk, uniformed young men to wave you on if you were just “riffraff” — and to obsequiously serve you if you seemed monied; elaborate second-floor, glassed-in arboretums; lots of officious shouting, snapping flags, and busybusybusy movement! Then, within what seemed like just a block: Chinatown! All full of signs in both English and Asian languages (I don’t know enough to be able to tell which languages they were), including that Chinese style calligraphy in big neon letters for buildings like Chase Bank and other ordinarily Western-style named businesses — it was rather pretty! Gawking happily out the bus’s windows, I saw goods and produce spilling temptingly out onto the sidewalks, and more shouting shop owners hawking their wares to the few passersby; then the shops got smaller and smaller, packed in cheek by jowl and sometimes with only a single narrow door on the street. Sometimes the signs were small and clearly handmade; it felt like an old neighborhood.
At one point I saw a sign for something like “Delia’s Diner” in the midst of all the Asian sounding names, and had just enough time to wonder: Delia didn’t sound Asian to me…? Abruptly then, signage was popping up with more Italian sounding names — and boom! Within two blocks it was clear we were in something which I’d guess was referred to as Little Italy. All kinds of Italian sounding names for restaurants, delis, cleaners… I found it interesting that the light posts all had three stripes of paint around them at about eye level, in the colors of the Italian flag — but there wasn’t anything quite so territorial in Chinatown. Maybe that’s because there are many nationalities all clumped together there? The sidewalks were thronged with passers-by in Chinatown, and the cars and buses all aggressively defended their right of way with blaring horns whenever an intrepid pedestrian tried to shove in before the lights gave them permission.
There was a park or two that we passed on the way — just small triangles where three streets left a small space — and they were really nice: stuffed to bursting with ancient and twisting trees, thick shrubberies, and a small gold-painted sculpture of a bear nestled into brilliantly lush outbursts of flowers. One slightly larger park must’ve been about the size of a small block, and had two big statues in it as well as a greensward in the middle of the encircling sidewalks. There were lots of people enjoying the morning there — some folks walking dogs, a single older guy slowly and stiffly working through a sword kata with a bokken, a handful of older people doing what looked like calisthenics, and maybe three or four off in another corner performing what I believe were the fluidly flowing motions of tai chi. It was rather peacefully relaxed seeming to me, especially in comparison to the slow moving and thick crowds about a block away.
All right, back once more to the conference — since I’ve effectively covered how well I think my presentation went. ;) Oh! One last note on it: this was another first for me! It was my first scholarly presentation at a conference. I hope to have the written version published as well in the proceedings of the conference, which will be produced later. It was actually a small enough conference that it felt almost cozy — there must’ve been between one and two hundred women there. I was sorely tempted by some of the things for sale — some of the jewelry and posters were quite beautiful, while several of the books looked rather deliciously thought-provoking! I also picked up a Solstice present for a friend. One of the books on sale was a brand new translation into English of a truly remarkable scholar, and had me almost convinced to purchase it (I figured it had to be between $50 & $75 since it was a new hardcover) — but then I found out it was actually $104! That caused me to regretfully put it back down. It is definitely going on my amazon.com wishlist, though. Intellectual literary lusts: yum! ;)
The conference was for only two days — Friday and Saturday — with an associated day on Matriarchal Studies on Thursday. The entire thing worked very well together, I thought, and I can’t help wondering if they’ll make a habit of linking these two groups more often, so we get more wonderful learning all in one chronological clump. The only real complaint I had about the conference’s logistical planning was that Friday had three time segments (one in the morning and two after lunch) of four presentation tracks each, while Saturday had three time segments of three tracks each. I suspect it was due to financial issues, but I still wish one of the tracks for each of the three time segments on Friday could have been moved to a single time segment of three tracks on Sunday morning — so the conference ended Sunday afternoon instead of late Saturday night.