Well, hopefully my temporary laps of sanity has come to conclusion. I've had another rather hectic week, squeezing everything possible into my week. Now, don't get me wrong, I really enjoy my insane life . . . but I think I'm ready for a few weeks of quiet to get caught up! Then the chaos can resume.
Thursday was the SocioLinguist Essex Conference, or SLX. It was the 13th conference of Postgraduate work in Sociolinguistics at the University of Essex. As a Master's Student I, along with 2 other PostGrads, had been an organiser for SLX 12. Since they needed at least one carry-over organiser from last year, I got sucked into the abyss of Conference Organisation again (so did Jenny). This year there were 4 of us organising it. Jenny and I from last year, then 2 MA students. We'd been organising things since January, so had a pretty good grip on things by this week. However, it's always a bit chaotic during the last few days.
Monday I was still suffering from the relapse of the cold I've been fighting for so long. But I had to get up and onto campus for my usual data session. I had to spend the rest of the day running between one thing and another to get last minute things sorted, and finally met up with the 2 MA students for our pre-conference shopping expedition. We got the food bought and delivered to Campus. Then I met up with several other PostGrads in the Top Bar (so-called because it's the top floor of the building) at Uni for a drink. Jenny had been invited by one of the members of staff at the Blues Cafe, who's just a bit sweet on her, to come listen to his band play. She didn't want to go alone, so we came along for moral support. But I was feeling pretty rough and very tired, so I only stayed for a few minutes, then came come and crashed.
Tuesday was spent doing errands and Young Women's activities. We did some scrapbooking at YW. I've been taking loads of photos at our activities, so it was time to do something with them. We didn't get them all done, but made a good start. We'll have to do another week of it, soon.
Wednesday I ran around like an absolute maniac. During the morning I cooked and made last minute preparations for the conference. In the afternoon I drove out to Mersea Island to collect food from Jenny. Whilst there, I begged her to do my nails all pretty for me. Bless her, she said yes. After we were done, I rushed off with all the food and took it out to Enam's house. Enam's a member of the teaching staff, and had volunteered to host the post-conference social. We had it at her house last year, as well, and it was a resounding success. So I went out and made sure she had everything she needed, as well as dropping off the frozen meats to her. As soon as I did that I rushed off to the city centre to meet up with a couple friends to see the new Indiana Jones Movie. Not as good as the original 3, but a fun flick just the same. One of the girls who came along for the film was Caroline. She's a PhD student at the Uni, but lives in Brighton. So she doesn't get in to campus every day. She was the other co-organiser of the SLX 12 last year, so I know her reasonably well. She needed a place to stay the night Wednesday, in order to make the conference Thursday. She was also presenting. I love Caroline. She's a lot of fun. So we got home and had a bit of a catchup, then went to bed.
Thursday I got up far too early (for me): 7.00 am! Caroline and I got out the door about 7.45 and collected Heather (another PhD student who lives down the road from me) on our way to campus. Heather and Jenny were the first presenters at the conference, so she didn't mind having to get there an hour early. All the organisers got there early, and with the assistance of Caroline and Heather, finished up the last bits and pieces of preparations. The conference itself went reasonably smoothly, with only minor hitches. All the feedback I've had has been that it was well organised with interesting topics. Several people even commented that the professionalism was exceptional for an intradepartmental conference, and that they've been to large and well known conferences that have been less successful. So, people enjoyed the conference itself. As soon as the conference concluded Jenny and I cleared the conference room, packed my car up and headed off to Enam's to help prepare for the social. We got the bbq going and set the salads and things out. People started arriving about a quarter to 7, and the first food was coming off the grill around half 7. I'm afraid I don't know much else past that point, though, because I had to leave. I've heard that the social was successful, though we apparently had far too much food. Better too much than too little, though!
And why did I leave early? Well, I had to drive across the country! And why did I have to drive across the country? Because I was going to Alton Towers Friday. It's about a 4 hour drive from Colchester to Alton Towers, so it worked out best if I drove over the night before. Otherwise I'd have had to get up at some insane hour of the morning to get there on time. Why was I going to Alton Towers? I'd been asked out on a date! (Hey, no fainting!)
I had a fantastic time at Alton Towers. My date was excellent company. His friends (there were 10 or 11 of us total) were great fun. The park was relatively empty, so we didn't have to wait in queues for ages for every ride. The rides themselves were great. It was great fun. If you're going, I highly recommend Air, Oblivion, Nemesis and Rita. The rides are all good fun, but those were my favourite. Air is particularly amazing. You climb into the seat and pull the harness down over your head. As you do that, it also locks your legs in. Ok, that's different! You know at that point (even if you hadn't been watching from the queue) that this was going to be a serious ride. As the floor drops down before the carriage takes off, the seat pivots up, so that you're now parallel with the ground, hanging above it. So, you literally fly along the track with nothing between you and the ground except that harness. Absolutely fantastic! Oblivion drops you down 200 feet, which is quite a rush. What makes it even more fun? You're facing the ground as you go. So you see nothing in front of you as you plummet. Quite a rush. Apparently you also pull 4.5G's. I so should have been a fighter pilot. Loved it!
Upon the return from the park I debated about staying another night. But I decided to come on home for several reasons. One, it meant I could sleep in this morning without worrying about having to drive home. Two, it meant I could sleep in this morning without worrying about being an imposition on anyone else. Three, it meant that my date and his family didn't have to entertain me for another day. So I made my farewells and headed home. Got plenty of suggestions that I return, though :) Including from my date.