It's an oft-heard complaint: "History is boring." Well, I don't want to pile onto the obvious, but this is the most boring AHA ever, my randy neighbors excepted. It's surprisingly peaceful here in San Diego, no tsunamis yet.
There are some pluses to the dullness of the AHA. It's actually possible this year to find the time to sit down with friends for a drink rather than rushing by in a hurry from this place to that. And the lack of jobs has lifted a cloud of anxiety that usually hovers over the conference. No need to lace the hotel water with Paxil this year.
Overall, this year's panels have been sparsely attended. No sparks. The book display has been peaceful. And people are trickling in and out of the gargantuan and not-particularly-tasteful Manchester Hyatt, with no signs whatsoever that there's a boycott going on.
It's not that I'm missing out on a good time. I joined a boozy bar crawl last night in the gaslamp district bars (you could pick out the terminally nerdy historians a block away amidst the sea of trendy twenty-somethings prowling the streets, wearing micro black dresses and ubiquitous Abercrombie shirts).
Over margaritas (a toast to you AHB, III, if you are here, anonymously working the crowds), I listened to drearily repetitive bellyaching about salaries (frozen or down), hiring (frozen in most places), graduate admissions (applications up, acceptances down), and even phone service cutoffs (use your own cellphone, Professor). The grumbling, coming from some of the highest paid and most secure members of profession number five, was a little hard to take. Professor Grumbledore: stop bitching. You have tenure in a country that has lost 7 million jobs.
So today, before I join the GLBTQ protest at the Hyatt, I'm heading to the pool. It can't be more boring than the Marriott or Hyatt lobbies.