NeMLA 2023 - Fun at the Falls
I love to talk Singles Studies, but oftentimes, the problem is finding others to talk Singles Studies with, outside of the CoSPers. But, the last two years, NeMLA’s offered me an opportunity to present work to others who, at least for the duration of the panel, “get it.”
Elizabeth’s a great co-organizer to work with in this respect; we democratically agreed to split up the duties involving contacting presenters and doing those mundane, thankless tasks we do at conferences, like reading bios and timekeeping.
Getting to Buffalo was easy, although the contrast in weather was interesting. After a mini-jog in 75-degree weather, I wore a T-shirt jeans as I chilled out through the 90-minute Metro ride to Dulles International Airport. The Metro just expanded to Dulles back in March, which is very convenient. While I’m happy with being able to catch Metro straight there, the ride was very long from Van Ness, my neighborhood (note to self: fly out of Reagan next time).
Upon checking into my Airbnb at midnight, I slept very well and enjoyed a brisk two-mile walk to the Niagra Falls Convention Center, where I was met with a visual buffet of books, booksellers, tote bags, and name tags. The morning was productive: I attended two talks on mindful writing and mentored a job seeker named Yeojin, who’s interested in K-Pop.
The main act, though: our presentation on “The Resilience of Singlehood.” My presentation provided a Singles Studies 101 primer before going into the study I conducted on how singles in the US fared during the pandemic. Belkis Gonzalez followed with an analysis of a single female empowerment theme in Naima Coster’s Halsey Street; Andrea Covailis offered a talk on male friendship in the works of John Steinbeck (which brought me back to my experience having student taught Of Mice and Men and subsequently reading Cannery Row); Dany Jacobs went more deeply into the study of “incels” than I ever could have dreamed of doing in my research; Theresa Desmond delved into “spinster” representations in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness. Elizabeth viewed the Hulu show, Only Murders in the Building, through a Singles Studies lens, examining the single characters. This show is now on my watch list.
Post-presentation, Elizabeth and I ate at Buffalo’s famed Anchor Bar, where I had to, by city law, order wings and a beef on weck sandwich. We went further into our analysis of societal perceptions of singlehoods, and we even shared our dating histories. I didn’t want to write it here, but I actually did date someone for five months. We got along well, but to put it succinctly, our core values didn’t match up. She wanted an escalator-style union, while I didn’t. In fact, through conversation, I concluded that while I like physical intimacy, I don’t need it. In fact, I see it more like chocolate cake. It’s fun to have once in a while, but too much will get boring and might even make me sick in the long run.
On my other blog, Not Enough Concerts, I write about the concerts I attend regularly. However, I’m currently on a 40-day cleanse (I’m on Day 15 as of the time I’m writing). I had four options to see concerts: a Rolling Stones tribute, a Grateful Dead tribute, a 90s tribute, and a funk/hip-hop group called Sophistafunk. I’m glad I forwent all of them. I would have had to rush through dinner to get to the show, Uber service wasn’t great in Niagra Falls (two cancelled on me just to take me from the Convention Center to my Airbnb), and I was exhausted from being “on” all day. It was nice being able to relax and mini-binge watch (two episodes) of You, that dark show about a love-obsessed serial killer.
Despite the delayed flight home (an hour on the tarmac without explanation), the trip and the conference were well worth it. Next year: a presentation on how I integrate Singles Studies into my first-year writing courses right on the banks of the River Charles, hopefully followed by lobster and clam chowder.
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.