Monthly Archives: February 2014

Nashville could be the hostess with the mostess

I’ve been saying forever that Nashville should host a sociology conference. For one, it would mean I could attend a conference without going broke. But importantly, it would also mean sociologists could come hang out in this awesome city. Honestly, I was hesitant to move to Nashville from the North, but in my 6 and counting years here, the city has stolen my heart ‚̧ And it’s not just me. Even the New York Times said this place should be called Nowville ūüėČ So of course I was very happy to hear that the winter meetings of the Sociologists for Women in Society would be hosted in Nashville. I mean look at the place!

The SWS conference is being held this upcoming weekend (Feb 6-9th) at the convenient Hutton Hotel. Many of my colleagues and other SWS planning committee members have done an amazing job planning this event (I take no credit whatsoever). They have created a few wonderful resources to ease in the stay. Check out the Sweet Experiences Unique to Nashville or the ample details they provide here.

But I have seen some solicitations for things-to-do and places-to-eat on facebook and twitter so I thought I would throw in my own suggestions to the mix.

I will start with my favorite things to do/see in Nashville:

  • I love Centennial Park. In the summer I might catch a concert, or find a spot by the pond to meditate, or meet up with some runners to break a sweat. Although we are still in the midst of our winter weather, it is still a great place to check out. Walk around the replica of the Parthenon (and possibly see the museum located inside). Centennial Park is just a mile walk from the conference hotel.
  • Speaking of museums, the The Carl Van Vechten Gallery at Fisk University (a HBCU) always has a great display. It’s $5 for out of state students, and free for any student in Tennessee. Fisk University, located close to Meharry University and Tennessee State University (more HBCUs), is only a 5 minute drive down the road. There is also a great mom & pop style¬†southern food and chicken spot located¬†in this historic black area of Nashville.
  • Two of my favorite eats are located in Germantown. The first is a family-style restaurant called Monell’s. Bring some friends and a large appetite as the staff will load your table with some of the best southern food you can find. Take what you want and pass the rest. They are also open for brunch on the weekend. Right next to Monell’s you will find the *best* cupcakes ever at Cupcake Collection. They close at 4 or when they are done cooking for the day so get there early. Germantown is a little less than 10 minutes away from the conference hotel.
  • A weekend in Nashville wouldn’t be complete without visiting some Honky-Tonks on lower Broadway. You are always in for a treat when you go at night, but you can find live music in most of the bars throughout the day as well. My favorite is this magical place called Tequila Cowboy. Watch out though, because you might be forced to ride the mechanical bull. Lower Broad is a straight shot down from the conference hotel.
  • If Honky-Tonks aren’t your thing–trust me, I never ever thought they would be my thing but I’ve had too many good times to deny it, nonetheless–if they aren’t your thing you might opt for a place like BB Kings or the Dueling Piano Bar.¬† Both offer seriously great music, but if you want to dance my vote would be for BB Kings. These places are also located in the Lower Broad area.
  • Oh, and I love taking a stroll at the Farmer’s Market. You can buy anything – fruit, veggies, flowers, homemade breads, handmade lotions, books, or even knock-off bags. There is a bunch of restaurants located in the center of the Farmer’s Market, ranging from Jamaican to Mediterranean. It’s also located next to Bicentennial Park, which is riddled with facts about Tennessee.

The above list is kind of my checklist for when I have out-of-town visitors. Some require a car and a little bit of money (but they shouldn’t break the bank). For those who want to know more about reasonably priced places to eat within a short walking distance from the hotel, here are my suggestions:

  • Amerigo. A classy Italian restaurant with filling plates.
  • Sitar. An Indian restaurant with a tasty buffet.
  • Noshville. A “New York Style Delicatessen,” good for breakfast or lunch.
  • Hattie B’s. Nashville is known for hot chicken and this place serves some of the best.
  • Ken’s Sushi. Sushi lunch special- all that needs to be said.
  • Chuy’s. Its a TexMex chain but if you go during happy hour you can stock up on free chips, cheese, and beef.

I can’t wait to meet everyone at the SWS meeting. I hope this list is helpful for this conference or anyone else with Nashville on their radar. Comment with any other suggestions!


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Remaining Inspired & Becoming an Inspiration

I wrote an earlier post on “how you might come back thinking ‘that was a great conference’“.¬† The conference was more or less a specialty conference, which means everyone there studies a very specific topic. This also means it is easier to connect to the ‘bigwigs’ in the field. I was aware that I’d be citing a large portion of the scholars in the room while and I remember being the most nervous I had ever been to give a presentation. The night before a fellow grad student and I were up late in the lobby practicing our presentations when a scholar whom I respect tremendously stopped by to check on us (awesome, right?). She told us that it is perfectly fine to be nervous for a presentation, in fact, she went on, it is best to remain nervous throughout your career because it means your work is important to you.

Will they like my work? Will I say something that can offend someone? Am I pronouncing someone’s name right? Did I really double-check all my stats? Do I have a stain on my shirt? Do they think I am smart enough? To be honest, I really do not want to remain nervous when present my work, or when I introduce myself to new faculty, or when I walk in to teach a class. I could seriously do without the shaky legs, swarm of butterflies in my stomach, and laundry list of questions that make me doubt every aspect of my professional self. But what I decided, however, is that I always wanted to remain inspired.

As I reflect back, I was nervous to present my work in that room because I was so inspired by those filling the room. Much of their work laid the groundwork for my own. And being in front of them would mean I had the opportunity to *ahem* inspire them. When I peeled back the layers of nerves I realize it comes down to one primary thing: I want to succeed in my role and give back as much as I receive.

As academics we use “informed” to describe the borrowing and building off of others’ work. Your methods can be informed, your theory can be informed, even your book title can be informed….but I think “inspired” might better explain what is really going on. I get inspired reading a journal article, whether it be for the groundbreaking theory or because the abstract is clearly written. I get inspired when a faculty member encourages me. I get inspired when I see a second draft of a term paper. And if its not obvious, I get really inspired at conferences. ¬†But, the thing is, if we are open to it inspiration can come at any point and from any source.

So the advice that I give you (and myself) is to walk into that conference (or a job talk, new class, oral examination) and channel the inspiration into what you are doing. I’m speaking somewhat figuratively, but also literately – use the inspiration you received and put it into your presentation, that is, think of the person whose presentations you most admire and try to replicate it!

This advice is coming straight from Dr. ¬†John Glavin, a professor of English who also moonlights as a speech coach. ¬†Glavin told our seminar class a story in which he was working with a politician who was flat out strugglin’ in his speeches. Glavin felt as though they were at a dead end until he suggested the politician mimic his favorite speaker. A few days later the politician delivered his best speech to date. Who did he mimic? Martin Luther King Jr.

So okay, we won’t all be mini MLKjrs but what I am suggesting is to find your inspiration and use it to become an inspiration. Embrace the¬†nerves by remembering why they are there.¬†Allow them to be a reminder of your passion and use them as self-encouragement for the task at hand- if you are one fire, someone is sure to finds a bit of inspiration in you.

(too cheerleader-ish? sorry, i’ll try more broodiness next time)

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