Monday, April 26, 2010


Shortly before Will was born, I went in to talk to SL about whether or not I would attend and present something at the annual Physical Anthro meetings the following spring. It had occurred to me that abstract submissions were due, as always, in mid-September, shortly after the baby was to be born. So if I was going to submit something, I would have to get it sorted out right away.

It was decided that I would present the results of the toughness chapter of my dissertation. That part was pretty straight-forward: the data were analyzed and the chapter was written, so it would be comparatively easy to put everything into a presentable format. The logistics would be the hard part. It would require Rob to take off work and fly with me to Albuquerque (this year's meeting venue) to take care of our 8-ish month old infant while I attended the conference. To further complicate the situation, the Boston Marathon (which we both planned on running) was the Monday after the meetings, which meant we would probably have to fly directly from Albuquerque to Boston. With our infant. I tried not to think about all these things and just remain confident that it would somehow all work out.

A couple months later, when the Boston Marathon registration abruptly closed before either Rob or I had registered, the only thing that kept me from punching my fist through a plate glass window was knowing that at least now I wouldn't have to run the Boston Marathon on my way home from the meetings. With an infant.

At any rate. After submitting my abstract in September, I didn't even think about the meetings again until March, when it was time to put my presentation together and get ready to go.

The whole thing turned out pretty well. Will was great on both plane rides to Albuquerque (he slept most of the way). Will's first plane tripAnd my although my limited previous experience with traveling as a vegan had been difficult, this time I had no trouble at all. (Thank you airport 360 Burrito for having TWO specifically labelled vegan options on the menu!) My ease in traveling vegan was partially a result of my recent ability to eat food containing onions and jalepeƱos again. After 16 months of wanting to claw out the eyeballs of anyone who so much as mentioned onions and jalepeƱos, I am finally able to eat these and other spicy foods again. The timing couldn't have been more perfect. We ate Mexican food for every meal in Albuquerque, and it was great. Although there were not necessarily vegan options on the menu, it was no trouble to ask for a specific dish to be made without cheese. Around here when I ask to hold the cheese, it feels like waiters and waitresses often look at me like I'm crazy and that they have never before heard such a request. In Albuquerque, it seemed like no big deal-- like people ask for things to be made with no cheese all the time. Oh, and also, Albuquerque introduced me to the sopaipilla, which seems to be some type of wonderful Mexican croissant that comes at the end of every meal. It is probably good we only stayed a couple of days in Albuquerque or else I would have come home weighing 4,000 pounds.

Aside from the dairy-free, spicy food, the rest of the trip was great too. I got a lot of really useful and supportive feedback on my project, and as a result, was able to set up some collaborations with other people doing research on toughness. It's made me feel slightly less dismal about my career prospects.

Meli's poster

Momma presents her poster

It was definitely a lot more difficult to navigate the meetings with a child in tow though. I could not have done it without Rob. Will was my top priority, and I skipped out on a lot of talks/sessions to nurse him or spend time with him. Not to mention, I could not focus all my energy on absorbing information or networking, because Will was foremost on my mind. Whenever I was talking to someone (even about my own work), about 90% of my brain was concerned about Will-- wondering if he was tired, hungry, thirsty, cold, hot, or anything else.

Who knew an Anthropology conference would be this fun?

For the most part though, Will was great throughout the whole trip. He definitely knew that he was somewhere new because I could see it in his eyes, how he just looked around and took everything in. And he seemed really happy-- like he enjoyed seeing new and different things. I am very much encouraged that he is going to be a good little traveler! He did have a bit of trouble eating during the trip though. Ever since he started eating solid foods, I have made his baby food for him, but on the trip, he had to have store-bought. I bought organic versions of the same kinds of foods he is used to eating (i.e., pears, sweet potatoes, carrots), but he would have none of it. He just seemed not interested in solid food at all, and would turn his head every which way to get away from the spoon. Prior to the trip, he had been sleeping great-- 7pm to 7am every night for about 2 weeks. But while we were away, he woke up a couple times in the night. I figured it was partially because he was in a different place and it seemed weird to him, but also partially because he was hungry. He nursed less often than normal during the daytime (because I was away from him at the conference) and he ate next to no solid food, so it seemed like he was hungry at night. The sleeping arrangements also probably had him a little messed up. I had requested a crib and even called the hotel to confirm there would be a crib, but when we arrived there was no crib. Will has never been a co-sleeper. He will gladly sleep in my arms (the only way I've been able to get him to take a nap for more than a month now), but the instant I try to lay down next to him, he screams. So sleeping in bed with us was not going to be a viable option. We ended up taking out a dresser drawer and trying to make it all comfy for him. I'm sure it wasn't all that comfy, so all things considered, I was really proud of him for how well he did.

King for a day

One little monkey, jumping on the bed.

Makeshift crib

In addition to the conference, we also made time to do some fun stuff, such as visit the Rio Grande and go to the Aquarium and Botanical Gardens.

Albuquerque aquarium

Albuquerque botanical gardens

Rio Grande


So, I'm relieved that the whole thing is over, that it went well, and that I did not end up flying directly to Boston to run the marathon. I am still disappointed that I missed out on what may have been my only chance to run Boston, but I'm hopeful that I will someday requalify. Like maybe after Will is weaned or in college. And I'm really happy that Will did so well traveling! My next order of business is to get him a passport, so that we can take a trip to Nicaragua one day.

Will and Rob also blogged about the meetings, so you can check out what they had to say too, if you want. Thanks for reading.

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