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2017 AAPA New Orleans

Thursday: May 24, 2018

Refreshing for my summer bioarchaeology project has reminded me that I’ve never posted about my AAPA conference last year! I did not present, but I wanted to go specifically for the Dental Anthropology Association workshop on tooth crown and root morphology. See me being studious?

I inadvertently sat next to Dr. Liversidge. Helen was my lunch companion during the DAA’s Let’s Do Lunch segment in 2013. It was nice seeing a friendly face again and we both remembered each other, yay! I also met Dan, who happens to live nearish to me and we stay in touch on Academia. And my old advisor was there so I got introduced to his students, and they all knew his reference to me as “Rebecca the White”. I had really impressed him as a student, so I was first dubbed “Rebecca the Grey” like Gandalf, and at graduation, he bestowed upon me a LOTR t-shirt and the new “White” moniker. I suffer from imposter syndrome so I prefer to remain known as “the Grey” instead, you see. But I digress!

That workshop was pretty awesome. Mostly because I love how geeky everyone there was about teeth (it almost matches my advisor’s passion;) but I learned more about morphology, too. I also love meeting the people behind the names, and adore how everyone is just a human like me! I am sure there are big egos who can be rude or stuck on themselves, but so far I have been fortunate to rub elbows with pleasant people. Or, at least they are pleasant to me since I am perhaps just a “nobody”? Doesn’t matter. Nothing beats meeting the mentors. So, you can imagine the fuzzy-feelings I got when I asked for the authors to sign this book:

Ok, so maybe you need the fun backstory: The publisher had a booth but the books hadn’t arrived and rather than a full shipment, there would be something like three. THREE for a conference filled with interested parties! I accidentally met up with some of the author’s students and got on their good side and so they let me know as soon as the books showed up so I could look at one. See, there were three of them to go along with the three books (or whatever that number was). As the fourth, I was assumed to be SOL. However, I am clever! I was the first person to ask the vendor if I could buy the otherwise reserved display copy – I guess no one had thought of it. So, the vendor took my name and slipped it inside the book. Every single person for the rest of the entire conference who looked at that book – and dare I say there were many! – saw my name in large capital letters. I thought that alone was hilarious. But especially when I would introduce myself to people, or they’d be chatting with me in a group and see my name tag and go “YOU’RE that person? How did you get that book reserved for you? Why are you so special?!” Haha. Oh, good times they were – even for one such as myself that doesn’t generally like attention. But the story doesn’t end here, obviously.

In fact, let’s take another step back. I had talked to the first author, Dr. Scott, briefly at the publisher’s booth before hand and we discussed my interest in getting a doctorate in dental anthropology. He said I should check out his program, but I was honest and said I wasn’t sure I’d get in since I assume there are better candidates (whether that is true or not I can’t say – I am not shy to say I’m a brilliant student, but I must acknowledge that I am one who also, as I said, suffers from imposter syndrome). Richard told me I might be surprised because since he has met me, he knows I love the field, and my honesty and “realness” gives me an advantage, and he’d remember my name. Sweet. That made me feel good all by itself, yea?

So, fast forward, after the DAA business meeting, I got up the nerve to ask politely if Dr. Scott could sign the book. I said his name would do just fine, I didn’t expect him to take the time to write some epitaph, and walked away a little so I wasn’t creepily looking over his shoulder. He took a moment, and then returned the book. “Rebecca, I love your passion for teeth. If you ever want a PhD give me a call. Best wishes – G Richard Scott”. I thought that was just so cool. I know it is probably near meaningless, but I had just learned my teaching contract wasn’t being renewed before the conference so having even a glimpse of a possible future in the field was absolutely delightful.

I had never spoken to the other author before and I couldn’t get a read on his personality but I finally bit the bullet and asked for a signature. At first, I felt like I truly was a bother, but once he read Richard’s, he took my book and exclaimed something like “oh great, how am I suppose to match this? Of course he would write that and of course he would take the entire page!” Haha! So, I said just his name would be fine, as I didn’t want to create drama, and politely stepped away for a bit. Dr. Irish kept the book for a bit longer, obviously pondering what to write. When Joel returned the book, I was too embarrassed to even look at it til I escaped the room. I laughed out loud when I read “Forget Richard, if you want a PhD – come see me! Best – Joel D Irish”. Oh, if only all those people who saw my book on display now knew what was written inside! Teeheehee!

Other fun bits from my New Orleans experience:

I attended a fascinating symposium on the bioarchaeology of children. That theme is something I’ve considered for a doctorate many a times. See me once again, being studious?

I met the Lucy cast. I saw her in real life once purely by happenstance in NYC, but she was in parts lying down. (And it was epic.) I’ve taught about her every semester as an instructor. But seeing her height in real life was super awesome for perspective. Isn’t it always the case? “It’s one thing to read about it, but to see it really matters!” Her shoulder had slipped, if you are curious, but I didn’t want to get in trouble for touching the mega-expensive cast.

My New Zealand friend came to town for the occasion and I was fortunate enough to hang out with friends each night after enjoying supper with my in-law family (see below). The night life was amazing for people watching.

My MIL and SIL came with me. They had recently won a trip to New Orleans a year or two before and fell in love so the chance to go back was high priority. Since Boy couldn’t come, they offered to hang out with me. We toured the French Quarter together in the evenings and they did their own things while I was at the conference. One night, we took a ghost tour. It was really more about the vampire “history”. Our tour guide was amazing! Of course, I googled just about everything she said later, and almost none of it could be backed up by actual facts (as I had, of course, suspected) but it was fun regardless; she made it worth it.

We also took a bayou tour to see the wildlife. It was super cool, culturally, to see these “off-grid” houses. And the wildlife was cool. Amazing trees. Lot’s of birds and turtles and even a snake or two. Here is a wild boar:

And we saw many, many alligators. In fact, the tour guides put hotdogs on the ends of sticks and teased the gators out of the water. I have many videos. They are smaller than I imagined while at the same time larger. I can’t explain it. On Sapelo, I’ve only ever seen their eyes quickly disappear under water. Here I saw full bodies of various builds. How they can come jutting out of the water is quite frightening as well! I’m not sure how I feel about feeding alligators hotdogs, and the future repercussions for them and for people, but I do have a new appreciation for them and doubt I will be so curious the next time I am at Sapelo, geez! Not that I was ever stupid about it, but I feel like I would now never go to the dock alone for phone service.

 

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