A floor to ceiling glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly at the Seattle glass museum. Each piece of glass is a large tendril coming out of a central tornado-like structure. The pieces of glass are various hues of blue. There are gold glass sculptures at the bottom of starfish and nautilus.

Yes, you’ve been asking for updates. It’s been a few weeks since I posted. I’ve been on some wanderings and walkabouts.

I’m tired.

It’s been a fall semester of meetings and conferences about graduate student development. I was in Iowa City in early October for an invited talk about graduate student learning communities. The week after, I was in Madison representing Indiana University for the CIRTL Network meeting. I hosted a one-day conference on campus about PhD Career Diversity on November 10. And I just returned last night from the POD Network meeting in Seattle. My public events calendar is now done for 2022.

A conference hall with people sitting at tables in rounds. The photo is taken from the back looking at the screen

I got to see the corn harvest season in Iowa, the seasonal shift from shorts-weather to snow in 12 hours in Madison, a beautiful pastry display at our IU conference, and the Space Needle and Chihuly glass museum in Seattle. It was fantastic to have such abundant in-person time with close friends multiple times this fall.

In the foreground, a silver platter of colorful, bitesized pastries. In the blurry background, a conference room of tables in rounds.

I’m hurting

I know some of you are asking for updates about my dislocated toes. The how-it-happened story is long and convoluted. What matters is I have two dislocated toes that can only be corrected with surgery. While the toes themselves don’t hurt anymore (in fact, the nerves are dead now), the ends of the long bones of my toes are bruised and hurt tremendously when I walk on pavement or uneven ground.

After having distressing experiences and not getting the care I wanted with my first surgeon, I met with a second surgeon in another practice at the beginning of November. It was a relief to find someone who understands the kind of pain I experience and the impacts on my life. I truly feel like this new surgeon is aligned with my goals post-surgery. We will be starting to make specific decisions about surgery after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The picture of the Space Needle in Seattle. The sky is clear blue, there's a greenhouse building in the foreground. The photo is taken from the ground looking up.

In the meantime, I participated in these conference wanderings as a temporarily physically disabled person. I acknowledge many layers of privilege of my social position. Also, I hope that, through my social position, I can raise awareness about ways we can do meetings that are more accommodating and inclusive. Knowing that I was experiencing pain and tiredness in ways most others weren’t, I had to learn to self-advocate to make my life manageable to attend these events. I told my friends in advance what to expect from me and what help they could offer. I accepted their offers for help gratefully. And I offered myself opportunities for more rest, more solitude, a place to sit, ice, more time between locations, and quiet protected time to talk one-on-one.

A speaker is at the front of the room, the picture is taken from the back of a conference room. People are seated at round tables. There is a large row of tall windows behind the speaker and wood paneling along the walls

Reflections on conferences as possibilities for abundance of care

I would love for us to work on ways to visit each other without having a conference meeting as the dependency for seeing each other. Know any patrons who want to sponsor writing/renewal retreats for graduate student developers? (kidding not kidding)

I want for our work in graduate student development to feel abundant and comfortable. I wonder whether _most_ of us would love to have a conference to have those kinds of comforts and accommodations as givens – rest, quiet, comfort, connection.

Do we passively consent to participating in conferences that temporarily and globally intrude on our comfort or basic needs? What if we had an abundant embodied experience, rather than an assumed austere embodied experience, at conferences? What decisions would we make to have a conference experience where our bodies felt taken care of, where we weren’t yelling over the noise, where we had abundant time to talk, rest, and move with care?

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