wrapping up our stay in Chicago

We’re busy wrapping up our research stay in Chicago, and time is brief. Thursday’s meetup was great, with lots of interesting people. We met Julian Dibbell, who has not only read the galley version of Hilde and my World of Warcraft reader, he’s even endorsed it, which was excellent news. Bryan Campen, the organiser, not only consults for businesses doing things in Second Life, he also has a fascinating job as an interfaith mediator in various online communities, stretching from Facebook to Second Life, I thnk. He and his wife are also expecting a baby just a week before we are, so we bonded on that, of course. Several people from the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Learning program were there, including Craig Wacker, who has a wicked sense of humour and came highly recommended by Linn Sovig, who met him at State of Play in Singapore. Ericka Menchen Trevino and I had a nice chat – she did her MA thesis on del.icio.us and the collisions of private and public people experienced there, which I found really interesting – especially given I just had the “what do I do with my baby links in del.icio.us” question pop up myself. And of course Jeremy Hunsinger was there – Jeremy’s so familiar a figure online that I was quite surprised to realise that the only time I’ve possibly met him physically before was at DAC at Brown in 2001.

This weekend we attended a twelve hour Lamaze childbirth class that was really very good – we were a bit worried twelve hours, two days, would get boring, but it was really worthwhile. We both agreed that we learnt a lot, and thankfully I feel a lot calmer about labour now. Yeah, it’s my second time so you’d think I’d know it all, but I gave birth to my daughter nearly twelve years ago, and I’ve forgotten almost all the details except my utter panic and horror during transition and pushing. The class has given us many more strategies for dealing with pain and panic, and I just feel much more confident. And very knowledgeable! Did you know that pleasure reaches the brain faster than pain? So if your partner massages you while you’re having a contraction, for instance, the pain obviously won’t disappear, but the pleasure can to some extent override it. Also, it’s been shown again and again that fear and tension makes pain worse. Not feeling terrified has got to be a good thing 🙂

This evening Scott and I are both participating in Steve Jones‘ grad seminar at the Communications Department of the University of Illinois at Chicago, talking about the diffferences – or not – between old and new media. Scott will talk about electronic literature as new/old media, and I’ll be using things from my DAC presentation where I discussed blogs in relation to old media ranging from Plato on writing, the introduction of the printing press and the mass media of the twentieth century.

Then tomorrow will mostly be about packing things up and shipping books home. Wednesday we leave Chicago, and Thursday we land in Bergen, and presumably, collapse, exhausted.

It’s been a splendid month. I’ve been mostly busy revising a paper that I’m going to submit to a journal, and just networking with some of the new media people here in Chicago. It’s obvious that we’ve barely touched the surface of all the interesting things happening here, so I hope we’re able to repeat this research stay here in a year or two. Additionally we’ve had a great time just enjoying life in Chicago – eating out, hanging out with friends and family. Scott’s brother and his wife took us to TRU as a wedding present, which was a dining experience to remember forever – I think we had nine official courses plus so many amuse-bouches and extras, over the course of five and a half deliciously pleasant hours. Around Bucktown, where we’re staying, we’ve enjoyed Spring (rather upscale and very delicious seafood), Cy‘s (yummy steaks), the Charleston (the Monday night bartender is an avid political blog reader and contributor, though she doesn’t write her own blog at the moment), Goddess and Grocer (I love the veggie wraps for lunch), Psycho Baby and all the other trendy baby stores on Damen and Division (no we didn’t buy anything but loved looking), Olivia’s Market (I love the Grown Up Soda), Vosges chocolates (didn’t like the Woolloomooloo, but loved the Barcelona, and want to try the bacon chocolate), Soulistic Spa (I went to a few prenatal yoga classes here, and they were great, but strangely empty, only one other participant), and I’m sure there are lots of other places I love that I’m missing out.

I’ve also discovered that virgin mojitos are really, really good.

28. January 2008 by Jill
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