I had not noticed that the US Landa Kongreso de Esperanto was going to be in Boston until I received an invitation from Benson Smith in February to speak or lead a workshop "about haiku or something". Being busy, I only gave it a moment's thought, replied to say "sure," and marked it in my calendar. I've found that trying to teach haiku is actually difficult and that it's much easier for beginners to write tanka. And I had read something around that talked about tanka as being about "love, sadness, and strong emotions", so I called my talk "Antaŭ Hajko: Amo, malfeliĉo, kaj tankao" and wrote up a blurb for the program.
In mid May, I began to work up the slides and I posted an announcement or two to invite people to register.
ekprilaboras sian prelegon por la usona Landa Kongreso "Antaŭ Hajko: Amo, malfeliĉo, kaj tankao" / was invited to give a talk at the US #Esperanto Congress in Boston (June 14-15). pic.twitter.com/tIBVqqlzZF
— Steven D. BREWER (@limako) May 14, 2019
When I agreed to give the talk, I had not realized how busy I would be this summer. And I didn't realize that the lodging would require you to purchase the food service. And that the dorms also forbade alcohol. So, when the time came to register, I declined to purchase lodging and decided to drive over for only the one day of my talk. I arranged to give the talk on Saturday, so I could attend the opening sessions and the banquet (which was also devige included in the cost of the registration).
I hit the road around 5:30am, parked under the Boston common around 7:30, and followed the directions on the website to register at one building before going to the kongresejo around the corner. But there was only the doorman at the building and he had no idea what I was talking about. I called and left a message with the answering service for the organizers. Google helpfully transcribed it for them as
Hi, this is Steve Fuller. I've come for the London Sombrero, but there doesn't seem to be any at 100 Boylston to manage the registrations at this time, and I was just hoping to get here in time for the soul animal. So if you could let me know what to do, I would very much appreciate it. Thanks.
But my message got through and I was directed to the kongresejo where I received my badge and packet of materials, including the actual program with the timing of events.
My talk was at 5pm.
What I had not expected was my emotional reaction to the event.
Almost seven years ago, I resigned as Secretary of Esperanto USA and have basically not attended an E-USA event since. (With the exception of the Sekreta Kongreso where I happened to be close by and we stayed for only 15 minutes or so.) Since then, I've basically not paid any attention to E-USA: I'm not a member, I don't subscribe to the newsletter, and I've only very occasionally looked at the website. I used to occasionally link to the posts I wrote there, but since they took down the old site, there's no longer even that reason to visit.
I had imagined seven years would give me some distance regarding how I felt. But they had not. Feelings of anger, frustration, and disappointment were, if not overwhelming, at least a painful distraction during most of the day.
I escaped during lunch: since I didn't have the food service like everyone else. Instead, I went to a nice little chi-chi restaurant nearby, the Explorateur where I got a burger and spent more for a pint of beer than I ever have before. (Tho it was really good beer.) And then I went back for the rest of the sessions.
— Steven D. BREWER (@limako) June 15, 2019
Finally, I gave my talk to a small, but enthusiastic group. They had, as seems to always happen, scheduled my event at the same time as Humphrey Tonkin (OK -- so this has only happened about three other times). So, not only could he not attend my talk, but other people who might have attended mine probably went to see him instead. Which only made sense: I mean, it's THE Humphrey Tonkin, after all! But it was fine.
There was a one-hour libera tempo before the banquet at 7pm. I schlepped my stuff back to the car, figuring then I wouldn't have to drag it around with me at the banquet. But when I got to the parking garage, I realized that I could just get in my car and drive home. Right then. And so I did. And by 8pm or thereabouts, I was home and drinking a can of Treehouse beer, watching the Cardinals with Lucy. (They lost, but whatever.)
Thank goodness, I hadn't registered for the lodging or I'd have been trapped there for the full three days.
I took some notes during the business meeting thinking I might write a report for Libera Folio. But I recognize now that it probably wouldn't be healthy for me. I can't tell how much would actually be sour grapes, but it would undoubtedly be perceived as sour grapes. So I don't think I'll go there. And I don't think I need to attend an Esperanto-USA event again -- even if I'm invited. I might go to the Universala Kongreso in Montreal next year. And tho the Landa Kongreso will be there, I don't have to attend those sessions.