2011 Retrospective

I’m inspired by Rachel Cotterill’s recent post to take this moment to reflect on the past twelve months. I told Jefferson that I’d try to balance this post between work-related events and personal ones, and he suggested I just do both. So if this post gets too long for your tastes, blame him. 😉

In January I started teaching classes at my (now not-so) new job (because the department had graciously given me the Sept-Dec semester to settle in with only advising duties and reading groups to worry about). My first class at the University of Edinburgh was an MSc seminar introducing the topic of linguistic variation and indexical meaning. January was also the month when Jefferson and I started looking for a flat to buy in Edinburgh (something that still hasn’t happened, because it turns out that it’s not easy for recently-arrived Americans to get a mortgage in Britain).

In February, teaching got more intense, with the addition of lectures in 1st-year undergraduate Linguistics, 1st year undergraduate English Language (which were two separate courses that are now combined into one), and the beginning of an intense 6-week course in 2nd-year Linguistics (“Empirical Methods”). February 3 was the Asian Lunar New Year, which was a week or so after Burns’ Night, and I celebrated both with my first attempt at the blended event “Gung Haggis Fat Choy” by making homemade jiaozi stuffed with haggis. My plan in 2012 is to do it again but to make it a party!

Handmade haggis-filled jiaozi for Gung Haggis Fat Choy (January 2011)

In March I got a chance to return to Oxford for a weekend to present at and help run the “Sound Day” workshop, an interdisciplinary event that I co-organized with two other Oxford post-docs. I also had a rather high number of excellent meals with friends and colleagues that month!

In April I got the closest I’ve been so far to Wales — Chester, England — without actually going into Wales. I didn’t cross the border because I was too busy the whole time attending the fabulous VaLP conference that Phil Tipton organized and hosted at Chester. I then spent the rest of April recovering from the busy semester, especially by rediscovering the joy of reading novels (by starting with the Edinburgh-based 44 Scotland Street series).

In May I visited the University of Essex for the first time and then hosted a number of linguist-friends who were visiting Edinburgh. I also joined the Edinburgh Orchestral Ensemble, although, due to the very small number of participants (e.g., one week the conductor had to stop conducting and play the violin because there were no violins!), I dropped out that same month.

In June I examined a PhD viva for the first time (as the internal examiner), which was hard work but a great experience (congratulations, Dr. Corinne Maxwell-Reid!). I then flew to Boston for the ISLE conference; it was an excellent conference and I got to catch up with several old friends from UofA and Stanford who now live in Boston.

Participants in the ISLE 2011 conference workshop, "Mergers in English: Perspectives from phonology, sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics" (http://www.bu.edu/isle/isle-2011-conference-program/)

In July I had the fantastic experience of teaching at the Summer School of Sociolinguistics in Glasgow. And then, after years of waiting, I finally got to see my friends Sonny Singh and John Altieri perform live with their band, Red Baraat. They performed four times in one weekend in London and I saw three of the shows.

Red Baraat at the Barbican in London (July, 2011)

In August I attended my first ICPhS conference, which was in Hong Kong. (My slides are posted here.) It’d been 10 years since I’d been to Asia and I particularly love Hong Kong so it was another big 2011 highlight. Then Scotland won the bid for the next ICPhS meeting (in 2015), which was very exciting (and a bit nerve-wracking as well)! August was an intensely busy month personally as well, in part because we moved to a new flat (by bus, which Jefferson is very proud of), but mostly because of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Jefferson and I saw maybe two dozen shows or so, most of them not too awful (and some of them rather good!). Seeing Kristen Schaal perform, and both seeing and meeting Hari Kondabolu, were particularly cool moments (although I’m still jealous of Jefferson, who got to see and meet David Sedaris while I was away in Hong Kong).

Hong Kong at sunset, view from the convention centre (August 2011)

In September the semester started up again, with my first stab at the Honours Sociolinguistics research seminar and the (logistically complicated and, at first, very stressful) MSc Introduction to Sociolinguistics lecture. I also tried to join a Zumba class, which didn’t last more than two weeks…

Then after having taken two years away from my favorite conference (missing 2009 and 2010), in October I attended NWAV’s 40th anniversary and had a splendid time! Jefferson and I also started attending Salsa dance classes in October, which (unlike Zumba) we hope to get back to in 2012.

The NWAV40 "All-Star Panel" at Georgetown University (October 2011)

November was a big blur of teaching, advising, and giving talks (first in York and then in Freiburg at the “Indexing Authenticity” workshop). There’s not much personal to recount from November; my only day off was the day we went on strike, which I spent picketing and marching, so which didn’t really feel like a day off.

The UCU participating in the national strike for pensions on 30 November 2011 (in Edinburgh)

And finally we come to December, when classes quietly wound down and marking quickly stacked up. Jefferson and I stayed here in Scotland for the holidays instead of flying back to the States, and we celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary by taking the “best rail journey in the world.” It was indeed beautiful, but it rained the whole time and our B&B in Mallaig lost electricity due to 90mph winds. I suppose that’s what happens when you plan a winter vacation in Scotland!

The Glenfinnan viaduct, famous for its use in the Harry Potter movies (December 2011)

2011 was a fantastic year but rather exhausting, in moments! My hope is that 2012 will be a little more laid back. And that I’ll get back to blogging more, too. 🙂


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4 Responses to 2011 Retrospective

  1. debbie cameron says:

    Lauren, I salute you: I would die if I did that much in one year. Have to say, though, am very dubious about fusion haggis cuisine. As a native Scot I feel I have the right to say NO to a national dish consisting of a bag of raw porridge mixed with spiced sheep offal…

    • vocalised says:

      If it helps, this year we might just stick with with vegetarian haggis. I don’t mind the sheep-based version, but I much prefer the soy-based one, authenticity be damned.

  2. Kirstin says:

    I was just this morning wondering if you had read any of Alexander McCall Smith’s novels. He is on Facebook, by the way, and frequently posts lovely little bits of writing and poetry. I love him! Also, you are a crazy busy person. Impressive. 🙂 (And moving by bus??? Sounds awful!)

    • vocalised says:

      Thanks for the tip! Yes, moving by bus was an interesting feat. Keep in mind that we moved from one furnished flat to another, so no furniture was involved!

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