Virginia, my home state, has so much going for it. From its smug provincialism; its abiding loyalty to the traditions of the past (the Heart of the Confederacy, I bid you remember); its staunch legislative adherence to such Christian values as the Death Penalty, Right-to-Work, Environmental Deregulation, and Regressive Taxes …oh, and let’s not forget Eric Cantor … there’s almost nothing not to like about The Old Dominion. Except the heat. In the summer, the heat is suffocating.
So I’m happy to say that I’ll be escaping for ten days, starting this coming Thursday, for my annual teaching gig at the Colorado Antiquarian Book Seminar in Colorado Springs, where the average daytime temperature is predicted to be in the mid-80s and the humidity somewhere down around the who cares zone. Never mind that Colorado Springs is ranked as the sixth most conservative city in America (after such cultural meccas as Provo, Utah and Lubbock, Texas). I’m not going there to soak up the local culture. In fact, in our little conference-room enclave at lovely Colorado College, I doubt we’ll have time to discuss politics, debt ceilings, teabaggers, or any of the rest of it; and as for the weather, though we might have a few seconds to remark on its loveliness during our five-minute break periods, we’ll mostly be unaware that it’s even going on. The one thing on everyone’s mind next week will be books: how to find, buy, describe, catalog, and sell them, soup to nuts. And when I say “on our minds,” I mean on our minds, sun-up to sun-down for five straight, full days. For the students, many (but not all) of whom are new to bookselling, it will likely be the most valuable long-term investment of their careers (one I wish to hell I’d made sixteen years ago!). For the faculty, it will be as intense a week as we experience during the year, easily as exhausting (and as rewarding, though the rewards be far less tangible) as the New York Book Fair. I’m humbled and proud to be part of that faculty, and I count this as one of the most important thing I do in life, period.
That said: Lord, it’s good to get out of Virginia in July!
To my friends on the faculty and to our 50+ registered seminarians – we’re just about a week away, and I just can’t wait to see you all!