I had the most wonderful experience at the conference I attended! How did you guys know that Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day was the perfect book to bring on this trip?! It not only provided a squishy-heart lightness, laughs, and screwball charm, but I felt like a real Miss Pettigrew — a Cinderella story for the almost middle-aged — where gaining your true self and true life is the prize.
I arrived in Indianapolis as, well, me. A person who works full-time and takes a class every semester and loves to read and learn but doesn’t have too many outlets for it, just like Miss Pettigrew has gumption and skills completely underutilized by her governess jobs. But, magic! I left the conference a person who can present research, talk at a session or over drinks with brilliant minds in the field, and find angles into her own research from other’s work. I even was able to kinda, sorta hash out a 5 year plan which will let me do the work I love without being in Adjunct Hell or moving across the stratosphere. I even got wined and dined by universities and publishers much like Miss Pettigrew gets wined and dined in her Cinderella story! I also experienced generosity — with ideas and mentoring — just like Miss Pettigrew experiences with Delysia LaForce and Edythe DuBarry (oh Edythe! My favorite character in the book! Talk about self-creation!). Neither my experience or Miss Pettigrew’s involved losing a glass slipper, but I did manage to lose one of my vintage half slips!
When I think about Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, it will forever be entwined with collaboratively writing a poem and having it read in front of Angela Davis and the scholar who coined the phrase Passionate Attachments two seats over, learning about Materiality and realizing it will be the perfect rhetorical frame for my Rose Valley project, hearing PhD students struggle with too much and too little material in their archival research projects, crying in a session after experiencing slam poetry that is so, so brave, drinking a house-brewed beer as big as my head whist teasing out just what emergent means in grounded theory with the author of an article I read this semester, talking with over 100 people about a giant poster we made on our research, and hearing Really Nice Things back, having an elegant publisher-given dinner in a museum where you could then wander the three story collection if you wanted to, playing Depeche Mode on a Waffle House juke box (really), hearing my project partners read their wonderful poems at the Exultation of Larks, playing charades and drinking a bottle of wine in our hotel room, putting my feet up in a grand hotel lobby with a cup of Earl Grey Creme, viewing Ansel Adams photographs with my professor and project partners after a great lunch in the museum, talking about Art and Life, and More.
I finished the book as we were going home, on the layover in Ohio, but the magic remains. As the last page of Miss Pettigrew states:
I will be a novice at first, but I will put my heart and soul into it. I will learn. You need not fear. I have cast out fear. I am a new woman.