I’m back in Mondoville, having spent a couple of days in Atlanta at a conference examining key first-year courses, their role in determining the success or failure of a range of underrepresented students, and how we can improve those students’ odds while maintaining academic rigor. The sessions I attended (focusing chiefly on Froshcomp) ranged from touchy-feely to eminently practical, with several side trips to inspiration along the way. So I learned some stuff and after I mull it over a bit, I’ll make some suggestions to the folks over in the Dark Tower. But in the meantime…
I caught a lift to and from the conference with the chair of our Math & Science department. One of our math profs was there as well, and the Dean swung by for part of the event. I was Mondoville’s rep for the Humanities, but as I said, I spent most of my time in sessions on writing, along with a couple on pedagogy.
Since my colleague was driving, I had the leisure to look around as we made our journey. That’s probably why I noticed a sign by the highway advertising “Organic Compost.”
“Glad to see that,” I said. “I’ve found that my plastic compost really doesn’t work very well.” My colleague laughed, but he may have just been trying to be kind.
The conference was held in Atlanta’s tony Buckhead neighborhood, where I hadn’t been in 20 years or so, since my days in the magazine business. The magazine sponsored a conference in Stone Mountain, and one evening we ferried the attendees and sponsors to Buckhead for wheeling, dealing, and general carrying on. So it had been a while.
I didn’t stay at the conference hotel, but I was only about a five-minute walk away, and found my accommodations quite comfortable, thanks. I guess it’s my working-class background haunting me, but when I’m in a fancy, big city hotel (as I was this weekend), I always feel a little out of place, a bit like a rube. After all, most of my family’s vacations when I was a kid or a teen were camping trips, because 1) my dad loved the Smokies, and 2) a tent and a campsite were cheap. I joke that now my idea of roughing it is when the concierge speaks broken English, but honestly, once we get past the Ramada Inn level or so, my impostor syndrome kicks in. Maybe that’s a reason I tend to overtip as well.
You know you grew up working-class when your definition of a posh hotel is “one with hallways, where the room doors are on the inside of the building.”
There were some pretty nifty restaurants in the neighborhood as well. The conference supplied us with full breakfasts yesterday and today (“Ooh! Fancy!” said Professor Hayseed.), and lunch yesterday, but the dinners were on our own, so my colleagues and I went to one of my favorite restaurants on Sunday evening.
I know that the restaurant I suggested is part of a Chicago-based chain with a couple of dozen locations, but again, I hadn’t been to one since my magazine days when I ate at the chain’s mothership, and while it might not be Charlie Gitto’s, neither is it Olive Garden or the late, lamented Spaghetti Shoppe in Muncie, IN (Slogan: “Take home a bucket!”). The other guys went for veal dishes. Me? Yeah, you guessed it.
After that, I had an apple crostata a la mode, while the Dean went for a bowl of ice cream, and then we waddled back to our hotels. I hope the chain makes it to Real City one of these days. Once every 20 years or so really isn’t often enough.
As we were eating, I was absentmindedly tapping along with the background music. The mathematician said, “You’re drumming.”
I smiled, and broke into a grin when the Math and Science chair said, “Yeah, he did that on the ride into town as well, when I turned the radio on.”
What can I say? I’ve always done that. Mom said it was like having a woodpecker in the house. I assume Mrs. M and the Spawn are used to it.
Last night, meanwhile, we went to a Mexican joint near the Math/Science chair’s hotel. I had a plate of nachos, my usual Mexican food go-to. The salsa offered sufficient kick, and let’s just say that none of us left hungry.
Monday afternoon, I got a text from Mrs. M, suggesting that I pick up a couple of Powerball tickets while I was in Georgia, as the jackpot is up over a half-billion dollars. Yes, we have Powerball in Mondoville, but occasionally wonder if buying a ticket in another state might change our luck. (NARRATOR: It has never changed their luck.)
My colleague was kind enough to swing by a gas station on the way back to Mondoville, and I accomplished my mission. If I hit, I guess I ought to kick a little into the college’s building fund, huh?
I made it home a bit before 4 this afternoon, and I’ve taken care of my laundry and otherwise unpacked. Still, I have my 8 a.m. class tomorrow morning, so I’d better wrap things up. And why not do that with a band from the Atlanta area? I featured half of the Producers‘ two hits a couple of years ago. Here’s the other one.
See you soon!