I brought my stack of quarterpage flyers down to the new spring student orientation with my guts rumbling, ignoring the fact that I wouldn’t have time to eat lunch until after my desk shift, hours into the future. But what greeted me on the tables up against the back wall of the auditorium? Pizza! Box upon box of pizza! The students made a long snakey line and I had to wait patiently and watch to see if there would be any left, and then there was. I ate two slices and had salad too, chatting about federated search with the others and making new friends with R. He works in student activities and was part of the team that just barely missed beating Villanova (due to chicanery) in the first round back in 1997. You’ve got to come to a game. As I embarked on slice number two, D. told me I’d have to go up to the front and draw the winner of our raffle. But every time I stand in front of a group I almost throw up! I whined. Then you better stop eating right now and get up there.

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Nothing quite captures the thrill of a daylong ILS demo like a midday break for lunch buffet! The Dean sprang for a tray of sandwiches, dishes of potato and macaroni salad and coleslaw, a green salad with two different kinds of dressing, and a plate of cookies, half black and white and half chocolate chip. As everybody queued up, I ran to the bathroom and to get some more water and when I returned was in the back of the line. This being the first of what I hope will be many staff lunches, I tried to keep my cool: Leaned up against the wall, talked with S. about how whatever you used first tends to stay your favorite, pretended I wasn’t eagle-eyed on the last of the veggie sandwiches. Due to the vagaries of my scheduling, I sadly had to take my loaded-up plate and run down to the cloffice to eat while pulling my handouts together for the afternoon class. The roasted vegetables were too olive-oily, so I pulled those out and threw them away after I cleaned the rest of my plate.

A new institution means new institutional catering! I signed in and picked up my name badge and folder and an inexplicable carnation with a hat pin that I never did get pinned right and took my seat in the Patron’s Lounge with the rest of the folks from the Brooklyn Campus New Faculty Van for the New Faculty Orientation Buffet: green salad and orzo salad, chafing dishes of string beans, rice, a stir-fry, ‘vegetable’ lasagna of the white-creamy-sauce variety, something they called London Broil, and red potatoes. I loaded up with salads and then picked up the tongs to grab some meat and potatoes, but the woman behind the table shot out her hand: I do that for you! I sat and ate and talked with the faculty on my right, a biologist and philosopher who both just nodded and smiled. My jokes (you had to be there, but trust me) were like loosed helium balloons, my gestures of fellowship (My brother’s a philosopher too!) like breath in winter. Then we watched that Michael Wesch video for my thousandth time and I got stuck like I always do: How does a 19 year old know what readings are relevant to her life?

I slid next door after the morning session and was faced not with food, but with silverware. RefWorks Lunch ‘n’ Learn went with buffet style: romaine lettuce leaves (an apparent Anaheim hotel staple), mushroom-tomato-and-asparagus salad, ‘chipotle’ potato salad (my red peppers have more spice, complained B.), and a sandwich bar. I opted out of the sandwich and just put some ham slices on top of the lettuce for an impromptu chef’s salad. A woman behind me was less excited about the format (I like to be served). It did result in a long line of librarians, but once we were told we could take from both sides of the table, things opened up a bit. I also ate a piece of carrot cake and kept eating it long after it started making me sick. My afternoon session turned out to be in the same room–Hyatt Regency Orange County/Anaheim Grand Ballroom B came to feel quite like home.

After filing into one of five academic-librarian-packed Anaheim Marriott ballrooms, I sat down with M. to a salad of two romaine hearts with some kind of shaved hard cheese, a roasted half-tomato with garlic, and a buttered roll. As if that wasn’t enough, our licked-clean salad plates were whisked away and replaced with chicken in a tomato-and-red-onion gravy paired with broccoli rabe and a dollop of mushroom-and-asparagus risotto. M. saved B. a seat, so we got to see the vegetarian option too (it’s almost a ratatouille!). About halfway through the main course, a couple of reps stood up and took turns talking about a few new things I would probably buy if I had any money while we all clattered away with our silver on china. I finished up with cake and coffee, always an elegant way to end a meal. That was absolutely hands-down the best conference hotel meal I have ever eaten, and an appropriate celebration of the best redesigned interface I’ve seen in awhile. Finally! A library resource that actually works like the rest of the web!

They were all standing at attention, a clutch of bright red gingham squares beckoning from a table on the lawn just across the street from the library: box lunches! Like Christmas! MBWF, hard at work all reunion weekend, took a box for herself and snaked one for me too. We took them inside the Pub and unwrapped them like the glorious presents they turned out to be: grilled chicken sandwich, little dish of coleslaw, apple, bottle of water, bag of chips, two chocolate chip cookies, a plastic utensil and napkin sack, and a bag of trail mix! I felt like a giddy little kid. We ate with C. (who skipped the box for a small plate of vegetables) and shared stories of unlikely bird visitors–MBWF and I saw a falcon perched atop a McDonald’s in the Bronx last night; C. welcomed a lone white dove to her garage who was still there this morning. At some point about halfway through the bag, I lost interest in the salt and vinegar chips and I just threw them away. If I get hungry later, I still have the trail mix. Such abundance! Such waste!

At last year’s annual meeting we had to walk ten minutes to the dining room for lunch, so got the good news this morning that lunch would be held right next door to the conference room, in Regency Ballroom B. Since morning breakouts were held in the same room, lunch was a slow reveal: bowls of iceberg lettuce followed by fixins (black olives, tomatoes, cucumber slices, a giant cup of ranch dressing), buttered rolls, and steam trays of roast potatoes, cheese tortellini, beef slices, and chicken. I filled up on salad, potatoes, and buttered rolls, and sampled but didn’t finish the tortellini. I sat with S. and C. and a jumble of librarians I hadn’t met yet–B. stayed at her breakout session table and was missed. The introduction of new board members started just as I got up for a slice of the three-layer white cake with raspberry jam and white frosting–oops!