The Sunstone Symposium is an event that I look forward to every year. It's a chance to re-connect with old friends and to make new ones. I chat, discuss, explore, debate, and generally find myself completely intellectually stimulated. Last year, for example, I practically moved mountains to be there--flying across the West just days after my surgery to make a 3-hour appearance. I was in horrible pain, but it was so worth it. I needed to be buoyed by the love of my brothers and sisters after all that I'd been through.
This year, however, I've long planned to attend and when it came down to finalizing my plans I realized that it just wasn't going to work out--for so many reasons. A few of them:
--My lingering cough (going on week #4) now is only slowly abating. The dry desert air of Albuquerque exacerbated it so much that I had difficulty even giving my paper last weekend. I am not at all excited about traveling across and to another desert climate so soon again. I fear it would prolong my healing by weeks.
--The damn economy: John's hefty paycut, my canceled summer school class, and the still-looming fear of John's position being nixed altogether as UCI implements its huge budget cuts. Also, the reality that my department no longer has any funding for me and no one's hiring History professors. We had friends (bless you!) willing to help with our travel costs/accommodations, but the crux of the matter is that the cost of being away for the weekend was too high for us, right now.*
--We need some family time. When we go to Sunstone the kids are either stuck hanging out at the back of conference sessions or they stay 90 miles away in Cache Valley with extended family. CatGirl and GameBoy are growing up so fast, we hate to keep using our vacation time for activities that aren't centered around them. We've been doing a few local 'stay-cation' type activities this summer and intend to continue this until school resumes, rather than taking a longer trip that will exclude them.
There are other reasons, too, having to do with my overall inability to balance everything in my life right now. I feel the need to simplify some of my commitments. I realize that just trying to be a PhD student and a parent/spouse takes nearly all of my time. Adding in teaching and exercise and gardening and housekeeping between the gaps and nearly every moment of every day is packed. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying that sometimes I have to make choices and let things go. This is one of those times. I will miss my friends desperately this weekend and I am so so sorry to not be there in person to speak on my panel. However, my thoughts will be read by someone else & I'll also be posting my talk here on the blog. So anyone else who's had to make similarly tough choices about Sunstone, can participate vicariously here along with me.
*I should add: we are doing fine economically due to our typically-frugal ways--we're just erring on the side of caution right now, e.g. wanting our car to last a few more years, avoiding large purchases, etc. Vacations for a family of 4 are pretty expensive, even when you have friends to stay with, a vehicle to borrow, or folks sharing their food. :)