BLS 42: The Before Post

In about twelve hours, the conference that my six cohort-mates and I have been planning for nearly twelve months is going to begin. Am I nervous? Hm, no, not quite. I’m not stressing out or worried, either. But I have been very focused and a little bit tense for the past few days, because I have been spectacularly busy. All of us have been! We’ve sent hundreds of emails back and forth; we’ve driven all over Berkeley to pick up supplies, printed out a few trees’ worth of documents, made dozens of banquet decorations by hand; we’ve held big meetings, small meetings, and informal meetings in the hallway between our offices in the department. And all the while we’ve dealt with little snafus that keep popping up like mushrooms after last week’s rain.

But tomorrow promises to be sunny, and I promise that the 42nd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistic Society is going to kick off splendidly. From tomorrow morning until Sunday afternoon, I will be chest-deep in conference. I have to coordinate setup and cleanup each day and keep track of all of our volunteers. I am also co-presenting a paper at one of the first sessions on Friday afternoon! BLS 42 is not only the first conference I have organized, but also the first conference I have presented at as a linguistics graduate student. Hooray for milestones!

BLS planning has been great, really. From what I’d heard from upperclassmen who have organized this conference in the past (the duty always falls to our department’s second-year cohort; it’s like a rite of passage — or “professional development”), BLS could really screw up your year or break your cohort. After all, it’s a lot of responsibility and a lot of stress. But we’ve been good. Great, even. I’m confident not just because we have everything on our to-do lists checked off, but because we’ve been able to accomplish everything so far without getting angry with each other or having massive passive-aggressive squabbles. (I’ll check in again after the weekend is over…!)

Anyway, I’m very proud of and impressed by my cohort, and I’m really quite excited for tomorrow. But what I need now more than anything is some more sleep.


Word of the Day: goonsack [‘gʉnsæk], a word I will forever associate with BLS, because my cohort-mate Ginny argued vociferously against the use of “goonsack coffee” for our conference breakfasts. The goonsack was invented in South Australia about fifty years ago and, in Australia, still refers mostly to what we in the States would call boxed wine. (But it technically refers to the bag inside the box, also called a “goon bag” or just “goon” (haha).) These days, lots of beverages can come in goonsacks, including coffee. But because goonsack coffee from the local DD wouldn’t meet the organizers’ high standards for joe, we decided to go with giant percolators that have in past years shorted out the conference venue because they were both plugged in at the same time. So yeah. Thanks for the awesome invention and the awesome word, Australia!


About Andrew C.

I'm a grad student at UC Berkeley.
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2 Responses to BLS 42: The Before Post

  1. I’ve wondered what it’d be like to have to run a BLS or CLS-like conference as a cohort! Congratulations on your first conference presentation (the talk title looks cool). I see Maayan, Nikos, and Harold are coming from my department. Have a fun weekend!


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