I'm preparing for another National Communication Association conference in San Diego, heading out this morning.
My last San Diego NCA was memorable, but not too pleasant. I discovered that cigars and beer can make an awful combination. And the less said about Tijuana the better.
Even my paper presentation crashed and burned.
I was presenting some fairly undercooked analysis of a website maintained by the spouse of a guy who was being held prisoner in Iraq, talking about the site's use of metaphor -- in a visual communication panel. Other folks were talking about clearly visual artifacts: album covers, comic books, that sort of thing. And I was rambling on about metaphorical imagery, the "sense" that the Web might be likened to some sort of quilt. It made sense at the time.
I knew my presentation had been a bust when absolutely no one made a comment or asked a question. Worse, no one picked up a copy of my paper (that was when we brought dozens of paper copies for folks to peruse on the way home). I brought something like 30 copies, and I left with the same amount.
I was dejected.
So I went back to my cheap motel room and dropped the copies in the trash, telling my roommate (and still great friend, Ty Adams) that I was leaving early. I'd rather hang out at the airport than stay another moment in San Diego.
And that was that, I thought.
A few months later, my pal called me with the good news. Our paper had been accepted for inclusion in an edited volume. Maybe he and I had mused about collaborating on a revision, but I'd forgotten all about it.
Suddenly we were set to publish an updated version of the article as a book chapter because my buddy had picked a copy of my essay from the trash and said, "hell, this could work." He added some really cool stuff and we worked on cleaning up the cobwebs of my initial inquiry. A fruitful collaboration borne of a bad trip.
So I'm heading back to San Diego, ready to catch up with some of my other close friends. Ty won't be there, and I'll miss him. But my visit will be fun all the same. This time I'll stay away from Tijuana, I'll avoid too many cigars, and I'll be sure to ask a question of the lone presenter ignored by the others.
You never know...