Getting into the New York Flow

Typically, I’m pretty open to the everyday challenges life in New York throws at you. Before moving back to the slower, quieter San Francisco Bay Area, I fought it out here for seven years. Yet, these past 2 days have been challenging, even for me.

As a blogger, wireless access is essential. However, I’m relegated to just a couple of spots where access is “free,” and find that many, many people have the same idea. My poor, 7-year old computer slows to a crawl from the heavy internet traffic, if I can even find a place to sit down long enough to log on and write. A smartphone, you ask? Maybe an iPad? Or dare I say, pay into the hotel’s wireless service to work anywhere? Ah, only when I’m no longer among the millions of unemployed, and I can actually afford such beautiful devices and services!

In conferences past, my agendas for attendance have been fairly predictable: to present a paper, to chair a panel, to serve as chair of a committee and steer the committee meeting (and make sure it’s session ran smoothly). As a graduate student, it was great to do all this and meet new people. And share a cushy hotel room close to the conference with fellow students, hit the events, the museums, etc. As I moved up the educational administrative and managerial mountain, my institutions paid my hotel bills in exchange for the assistance I provided for the alumni receptions, the hiring committees, etc. One could get used to this level of luxury, as I continued to build upon my CV with more papers, panels, and service.

It all crashed, along with the economy, in 2009.

I have been out of graduate school for a long time. Yet, this year I feel more like a student than ever before. With no institution supporting me, in fact no job at all, it was a difficult decision to even come here this year. My spouse (who is job-hunting here for the first time) and I scraped together airline miles. We are staying with friends in Park Slope, Brooklyn—not an easy trek when sessions start early and events run late. We are even frugal with food—tough in NYC. It’s a fact we knew going in.

Am I happy to be here? Absolutely! With or without fancy electronic devices. Unemployment brings with it an unpleasant and lonely isolation, interpersonally and intellectually. So, while I am finding it stressful at times to be the dutiful blogger, my inner art nerd is definitely being fed, and seeing dear friends and colleagues is filling me with much-needed camaraderie.

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One Response to Getting into the New York Flow

  1. JasonM says:

    Thank god someone is posting frankly and openly about what it is really like for the vast, vast majority of people – students, unemployed, underemployed, adjuncts and part-time employed FAR FAR outnumber the lucky few who put this conference on the institution’s expense account.

    If CAA was really serious about the welfare of the thousands of job supplicants (excuse me, applicants) and poverty-wage adjuncts who come to this conference, they would have the conference all under one roof in a dirt-cheap location like Las Vegas, Houston or Phoenix, and save every single one of them hundreds of $$$ in flights and accommodation.

    It’s not like attendees have the time to benefit from the wonders of New York anyway, between panels, interviews, etc. Also: FEBRUARY IN NEW YORK?!?!

    If the conference were in Vegas etc., then the students, unemployed, etc., could schedule their New York visits on their own time and budget, probably in beautiful October or May, and visit all the shows while not frazzled and beaten by the hell that is job interviewing.

    February CAA conferences in New York: a concrete example of the hegemony of the insulated tenured elite over the teeming masses of overeducated wage slaves.