16th International Saga Conference

Before attending the Saga Conference in Zurich a few weeks ago, I have to say I was not looking forward to it. I even tried to convince my work that they shouldn't send me, since my funds were supposed to be for travel to Scandinavia, and that conference was not in Scandinavia. Why didn't I want to go? Well, partially in recognition that I have changed, professionally speaking, from a saga/Old Norse specialist to more of Scandinavianist with this job. I was conflicted about having to revisit that part of myself, which I had rather let go of, starting when I finished my dissertation.  Frankly, I have been enjoying the opportunity to redefine myself that comes with working at PLU. I am really obsessed with moving forward in life, and not looking back, probably to a fault. Going to the saga conference therefore felt rather like going backwards.

On the other hand, as a scholar, one spends so much time building up a deep familiarity and knowledge of a subject, and it also feels like a waste of past effort to just let that all wash away, with nothing to show for it. I probably hate that more than I hate revisiting the past.

So, well, no one believes me, that I wasn't super excited to go to Norway and Zurich this summer, but I wasn't. I'd been to Hawaii with Palmer a few weeks earlier, and that really was a nice trip, perfect actually. I am old now, and the doctor's tell me I will never have another child, so every moment I have with Palmer is really important to me. So before my trip to Zurich, the main thing I was looking forward to about it was that I would see Palmer, since I had booked the ticket to Norway/Zurich through Oakland Airport. I normally pay for all my trips to see Palmer, every other weekend, out of my own pocket, so to have work cover those trips was a relief for me, and my wallet. But that was about it, that was the thing I was most looking forward to.

My first night in Zurich, my general lack of enthusiasm for being there was in full force, and I showed up to the registration looking tired and not wanting to talk to anyone.  My attitude started to change the next morning, at the opening keynote, which took place in a beautiful hall, and was followed by some very interesting comments. And that is when the old synapse started firing again, and some of my feelings of affection for the subject started coming back up again. By the morning sessions, I was getting genuinely excited, and by coffee I was smiling, glad to see old friends. The following day was my talk, which took place an hour bus ride away in Basel, and I started to think no one was going to make the bus trip, which in a way made me happy -- there were certainly people I was hoping wouldn't come to my talk! But the people that did give me moral encouragement that day were appreciated, and by the third day I was feeling relaxed and happy, looking forward to it. It was also really nice that most everyone stayed for all five days of the conference, whereas other years, people have skipped out early. By the time the conference was over, I was very sorry to see it end.

At the conference, I would say I sort of stuck my toe back in the water, slowly at first, checking the temperature, and although there are plenty of parts of the pool I am not keen to go into -- I agree with Tatyana Jackson that there are some weird directions in the field that seem a fundamental waste of time to me -- I have actually always enjoyed swimming. 

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