Thursday, September 29, 2011

Travel Anxiety

I don't think I've mentioned this, but I've got a minor conference coming up this weekend in Montreal. I say minor in reference to my role in it--I'm giving a small 12 minute presentation during a roundtable session, on the subject of remediation in the video game Dead Rising (you remember Dead Rising? Of course you do. I couldn't work the insane 72 hour mode into the paper, but that's probably for the best.). The conference is on video games and story telling, and in terms of presence, it's got some heavy hitters, including lead people who worked on Heavy Rain (Quantic Dream), Assassin's Creed (Ubisoft), Mass Effect 2 (Bioware), The Graveyard (Tale of Tales) and Amnesia: The Dark Descent (Frictional Games), and scholars such as Nick Montfort and Bernard Perron (in fact, about 70% of my secondary sources for the paper comes from a book Perron edited, so... no pressure).

At this point, I don't really have any anxiety about the conference itself; the speakers will be great, and I have enough confidence in my own abilities to be sure that I won't embarrass myself too badly. And in one of those serendipitous things, I've been reading Tom Bissell's Extra Lives, (more on that some other time), so I'll be in the right mindset for a lot of game/narrative discussion. What fills me with anticipatory dread is the commute. While I've got a travel scholarship (so it won't be a financial burden), the trip itself is almost guaranteed to be unpleasant. Here's a tip for aspiring scholars: in a semester where you teach on Fridays and Mondays, don't go to weekend conferences. Because of transport schedules and the restrictions caused by my class times, I've got to catch a Greyhound bus at 6:30 that arrives in Montreal at 5:00 am, the first day of the conference. Ugh. Then it's a 5:00 pm via rail trip back on Sunday, with an arrival time of midnight, with a morning class to teach the next day. The only good thing is that ridiculous schedule means that I only have

But really, I hate every step of it. I hate planning to get to the bus station. I hate having to make my transfer. I hate worrying about my luggage during the transfer. Which is only a problem on the way back, admittedly, but a pressing one. The train trip from Montreal to Toronto requires me to check my suitcase, but at Toronto, I have to carry the bag, and have 15 minutes to retrieve it before I'm scheduled to depart. Maybe I'll try to pack the smaller bag inside the suitcase, and claim it as my carry-on. Bringing the full suitcase for a weekend trip is admittedly ridiculous in any case; I really need some smaller luggage. Or maybe I'll try taking the book bag instead of the suitcase (immediate downside: not exactly the best way to transport clothing).

It's when I'm traveling that I reluctantly, very reluctantly, acknowledge that I could really, really use a smart phone, or at least a laptop, or SOMETHING that allows me to stay connected. So much of the information I need--my presentation, the colloquium schedule, the train and bus itinerary, map of route between hotel and university--could then be at my fingertips, as well as anything else I need to look up on the fly. Otherwise, everything has to be prepared ahead of time, and if I miss anything vital, I'm out of luck. Consequently, every time I travel, I feel like I've jumped into a swimming pool without bothering to check if anyone's filled it with water.

Anyway, expect a full report on my return. Which in my case means "write a series of posts on it that never quite gets finished."

Later Days.

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