Monday, April 07, 2014

WPC Me ASAP (aka Crowded Rooms and Culinary Kryptonite)

"Greetings from the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center!"

     ...Which is what I would have said, were I still at the White Privilege Conference, and while it's been more than a week since the conclusion of the WPC, the spirit of reflectively reflective reflection lives on.

     Have I mentioned that it was pretty cold upon our arrival in Madison? Because it most certainly was frigid, to say nothing of the breeze; not of arctic temperatures, mind you, but cool enough, as demonstrated by the lake remaining frozen during the entirety of our stay. Unfortunately, man was the warmest place to hide, and with roughly 2400 hundred souls in attendance...

This is pure nonsense!

     ...Yeah, alright, okay, let's get back on track.* For those unfamiliar with the logistics involved in a conference of this size, a typical day is broken up as follows:

7:00-8:30am      Check-in and on-site registration
8:30-10:30am    Opening and keynote
10:45-12:15pm  Concurrent workshop #1
12:15-1:00pm    Lunch
1:00-2:30pm      Concurrent workshop #2
2:45-4:15pm      Concurrent workshop #3
4:30-6:00pm      Caucuses
6:00-7:00pm      Meeting speakers and book singing (or dinner, for the majority of us)
7:00-8:00pm      Poetry slam
8:00-9:30pm      Film screenings/previews

     Before anyone gets his or her proverbial panties in a bunch, rest assured that an individual was obligated to attend only as many of the events as desired. I opted to eat dinner at the stroke of six, for example, and this turned into quite the protracted affair, mostly because that's how folks from Iowa roll.** Thus, I arrived back at the conference just before eight o'clock.
     Regarding the three concurrent workshop sections, attendees were asked to choose one from a menu of twenty for each section, including such topics as Social Justice Part One: Healing from Historical Harm through Stories and Analysis (Ballroom D), Perceptions of Middle School Students on Systems of Power and Privilege (Meeting Room Q), Decoding Modern Racial Discourse: A Discussion Opportunity for Advanced Learners (Hall of Ideas H), Hair Me Out! (Ballroom B), etc.

Ballroom? Meeting Room? Hall of Ideas? What the hell is all this? 

     Good question. The ballrooms were slightly bigger than the halls, and the halls were bigger than the meeting rooms, which happened to be quite small; so small, in fact, that for some of the workshops held in the meeting rooms, people found themselves sitting on the floor, in the aisles, against the walls, and in front of the doors. This wasn't a good thing or a bad thing, per se; rather, simply the nature of the beast, because it's tough to really guess what nearly 2400 people will do in any given situation.
     As to the quality of the workshops, I can only speak to my own experience, and to that, I would say it was a mixed bag, though for the most part, altogether enriching. As to which workshops were attended and my opinion of them, nothing more need be said, for this is another discussion for another day.***

What's the deal with the caucuses?

     Another valid inquiry. See the third asterisk.

Oh, come on! At least say something about the culinary kryptonite.

     Oh, that. The title pertains to lunch. Here's the deal: attendees were offered a choice of either a traditional or vegetarian lunch box. As one may imagine, the lines set up for dispensing traditional lunches were considerably longer than the vegetarian ones, so I opted for the latter. The thing is, under normal circumstances, I have no problem with vegetarian meals - actually, I tend to prefer them.**** The reason I had been in the traditional line originally was due to being misled by an otherwise trustworthy source to believe that a person could only acquire vegetarian meals if explicitly requested prior to the conference. Completely false, by the way, but let's not point any fingers.
     Anyway, the point being, on the day in question, unbeknownst to yours truly, the main course of the boxed lunch was some kind of fucked-up avocado tortilla wrap, and anyone who is even the slightest bit familiar with my palate -or lack thereof- will tell you that avocado (and its infernal offspring, guacamole) is more or less toxic to my delicate frame, resulting in cognitive convulsions the likes of which could scarcely be imagined. I won't lie when I say biting into that atrocity essentially incapacitated me for the first five minutes of the second workshop. No horseshit, Jack.***** Now, avocado isn't like cilantro, which is more like the tar-based kryptonite from Superman III regarding the effect upon me, but enough with all my jibber-jabber about terrible food, already.

     Next time, things heat up. In all likelihood, metaphorically speaking.******

* All kidding aside, I thought you'd feel that way, Eoin. You were the only one who could have got to that blood. We'll do you last. 
** It was quasi-Japanese fare that evening, in case you're wondering.
*** Knowing me, to be posted several days from now, but you should have seen that one coming, really.
**** On the flip side, I don't mind partaking in flesh every once in a while. The evening preceding the first day of the conference, for instance, I enjoyed a gyro, because, honestly, I couldn't remember the last time I had a gyro and opted to enjoy the hell out of that sloppy monstrosity.
***** That's right, I just referenced two John Carpenter films in a single evening. You'll thank me later.
****** But seriously, more than one functional flamethrower would have been nice. 

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