Thinking about the past few days of this conference while enjoying internet access mid-flight (crazy, right?). It's been an intense long weekend, mostly spent walking around glowey-eyed while bigwigs of the sociology world conferenced about. And it's not just me that was doing this -- I swear! -- a number of other grad students I met would stop mid-conversation, lean over and whisper: "Don't look now, but that's the guy who developed Important Theory #32."

I'm more than sure that my experience at these conferences will change over time, but I'm not quite ready to exchange this excitement for more a more disciplined maturity. This experience was, for me, quite inspirational. First, Patricia Collins (president of the ASA) put together an amazing conference and delivered some fantastic speeches. She spoke critically and constructively about the meaning of community, and while I knew many of her jokes and articulations were catered to the more prominent members of the audience, I really did feel like I was part of her address. I am part of this great international team that really does try, all in our own ways, to address some of the problems facing our world. And for me, the real mix of conference spoke to that - I have never been in such a diverse assembly of over 5,000 people.

Second, I never quite understood certain demeanors of individuals in settings like these, varying from the arrogant uberprominent faculty member that gets a sick joy when they find flaws in young students' the underconfident grad student unsure about the relevance of their work. I sense that sociology as a discipline isn't so bad as far as the overabundance of mean grumps, but politics are everywhere, and it's important to be able to see these forces as they build and to not be wrongly overcome by them. And through it all, as you survive the trials of success and rise in esteem, you have to try to keep somewhere inside of you a humble sense of self and an appreciation for others. You have to hope that, for everything you create and put out there in your life, some people will really hear you and be touched by what you have done in the ways select others have for you. And they will seek you out, and the momentum of this movement will continue.


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