I just got back from a six-day extravaganza called the American Academy of Religion's 2010 National Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. It would probably be fruitful to examine my experience in some way, or at least put down on paper what panels I attended in order to remember them at a later date, but I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to talk about the absurd characters I saw traipsing around this conference.
There was a side ponytail. Seriously. On a woman most likely in her late forties. There were also a bevy of men sporting the Denial Mullet (bald in the front, long locks flowing in a desperate attempt to overcompensate for said baldness in the back), and a couple of the special sort I suspect have such items in their casual wardrobe as t-shirts depicting bald eagles or disembodied wolf heads.
Best in show, however, goes hands down to the man I saw in one panel making a quilt. It appeared to be some sort of patchwork deal, not to mention fairly well constructed, considering he was hand stitching it in the middle of an academic conference. I was struck by the oddity of this at first, but then he reminded me of someone I used to know way back in elementary school: the Knitting Boy.
I don't remember Knitting Boy's real name, and this makes me sad. I wish I could look him up and see what he's up to now. I was probably in fifth or sixth grade, and he was a couple years younger, but me and my friends always saw him in the lunch room knitting. It wasn't as if he was off by himself knitting, either. He had his own group of friends that sat with him not knitting while they all shared lunch and what appeared to be perfectly normal conversation. I was fascinated by this boy. Eventually I went over and asked him about what he was knitting and why, and he turned out to be a really awesome kid. We talked almost every day for the rest of the year, and he even signed my yearbook as "Knitting Boy", but I don't remember anything about him after that. Hopefully he's doing well.
As soon as I got back from this conference, I felt terrible. I actually felt terrible for most of the car ride, since I tend to get car sick, but it was especially bad this time, and persisted even when I moved to the front seat. Once I got back to my own apartment, I unpacked and vegged for a few hours before I practically passed out. When I woke up a few hours later, I realized that I had absolutely nothing to eat except bread and wine, so I made some toast, had a drink, and promptly passed out again. The next time I woke up was about three in the morning, which is an odd time to suddenly become aware of yourself sprawled out on a futon with a P90X infomercial shouting at you about how out of shape you are. It took a long time for me to reorient myself and actually get into my bed.
I figured this sleepfest was mainly because I had not slept much at all during my time in Atlanta. Sleep is hard enough for me to come by, between my seemingly boundless potential for nervousness making it difficult to register "tiredness" and the fact that my pathetic excuse for a trachea has been struggling to keep this body operating from the very get-go, which has led to some mild sleep apnea. This coupled with sharing a hotel bed in an unfamiliar environment would naturally lead to less sleep. However, I realized this morning that something else was wrong.
When I woke up this morning/afternoon (11:45, you be the judge), I felt something along the lines of death being imminent. I was shivering, I felt somewhat dizzy and achy, and I realized that the reason I felt so sick the day before was probably because I was actually getting sick. Even so, I managed to get myself together and get to class, which was thankfully cut short, and then went to the store for a thermometer and some other sickness staples like soup and Gatorade. Once I got all that stuff back to my apartment, though, I finally took my temperature and saw that it was normal. What the hell?
Even if I wasn't the traditional sort of sick, there was still something clearly wrong with me. I tried tracing back my symptoms to some previous malady, and it was then I realized that I felt similar to how I felt when I got home from England, indicating that I am short on iron. Which is bad.
Looking back over my time in Oxford, I am realizing just how lean my diet has been in terms of red meat and leafy vegetables, which I require in order to function with any sort of efficacy. My current state has probably been building up for weeks, and was exasperated by my lack of sleep over the past several days. Luckily this is nowhere near as bad as the last time, and I'm already feeling better after my second day of rest and some hearty food.
It's hard for me to pay attention to what I eat, and when I'm feeling good in terms of physical health I tend to forget that I need to keep iron-rich food in my dietary repertoire. I usually just buy whatever looks good or easy to make at the time and move on. Oops.
You know, I was hoping I could make this blog into something other than a log of my various ailments, but it seems that's just a pipe dream. I promise once I'm more lively I'll write about something more upbeat.