For those following the travels and adventures of Jessica, the visit to my sister went well overall. My major complaint was the amount of second-hand smoke that I had to be around - everyone in her house smokes like a chimney, and all my clothes (and hair, and bag, and everything) stunk by the end of the first day. I actually woke up several times that first night thinking the house was on fire. Not entirely fun.
On the bright side, she's moving ahead slowly but surely with her thesis. I showed her how to use InDesign, which is surprisingly intuitive if you've ever used a layout program before. Of course, she hasn't, but she still seemed to pick it up quickly. Which is good, because her thesis is due on Monday. Everyone cross your fingers for her!
From there, I went to the conference in Buffalo, which was actually a bit disappointing. I had high hopes given the people who were attending, especially as the first thing I saw when I walked in was two women wearing gorilla masks (which they didn't take off through the whole conference, I might add). Some of the sessions were terrific, but most of them were either kind of superficial or somewhat ill-prepared. There was one guy who showed up with a ten-page essay on collective art movements in New York and proceeded to flip through it, reading sentences apparently at random. Then there was the talk on collaborative writing/poetry which I was really excited about, in which there was very little discussion of what collaboration was all about - it was more like, "Look! I made this! Collaboratively!" Sigh.
I think even the organizers of the conference were a bit disappointed: they'd specifically talked to me about doing a hands-on project with collaborative storytelling, and I think that I was almost the only person who actually did a workshop instead of ending up giving a lecture. On the other hand, my workshop was very well-received (even though only a few people were there - most of the conference attendees got really smashed the night before and got stuck up at Niagara Falls, so the second day's events weren't particularly well-attended). I even got an offer from one of the professors at SUNY to come back in the fall and do a three-day workshop on storytelling! So that was very cool. I even talked about role-playing for a while and had people debating the storytelling effects of LARP vs. TT. I kid you not.
Buffalo is a hideous wasteland, by the way. I mean, maybe I missed all the good parts, but my impression of SUNY was of a large industrial complex where the product just happens to be students rather than widgets, and it kind of went downhill from there. Admittedly, maybe Buffalo is best seen with a car, but I was generally pretty unimpressed.
So what have I been doing since I got back? Agonizing about whether to accept Columbia. But that's another post for after I do some pseudo-responsible things.