There are those trips where you’re gone for so long, and so much happened, that writing about it seems to be an unconquerable chore to the point where you almost don’t want to do it at all. I’ll try to cherrypick some highlights.
After getting into Philadelphia on the 20th, I pretty much turned right around and headed for Brooklyn to do my Ill-Gotten Brains lecture at Observatory. Observatory is a really cool multi-use space, and it has a very cool, very smart built-in audience. I was so excited to see the Morbid Anatomy Library for the first time and meet Joanna Ebenstein in person. Here’s me doing my shuck-and-jive:
Afterwards I had an absolute blast hanging out with my New York friends. At my friend Tony’s Brooklyn penthouse, we had the unbelievable luck of having another guest staying there, a brewer from Allagash Brewing, who brought goodies for us to try. Sometimes I marvel at the absurd luck in my life.
Speaking of great luck, while in New York I got an email from The Bone Room in Berkeley, CA asking me to do the talk there. As luck would have it, I’m taking a rare book cataloging class at Berkeley in the fall, so we booked it for October 20. So for you Bay Area folks, mark your calendars! I am amazed and heartened to learn of all these amazing art spaces dedicated to the nerdy lectures that I like to give and watch.
After my brief jaunt to Brooklyn I was back in Philadelphia, tossed in a whirlwind of friends, concerts, local beers, and obscenely fatty foods. Then somewhere in there, I remembered that I had two conferences to attend! I was on the programming committee for this year’s Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences meeting, and was asked to serve on the board for the next three years. We had a lovely board meeting and dinner at the Chemical Heritage Foundation.
Dinner excitement ended with an evacuating fire alarm. The next day’s programming all took place at the College of Physicians and the Mutter Museum, which was always one of my very favorite places in Philadelphia. Getting a behind-the-scenes tour by museum director Robert Hicks was one of those great moments where you get to hear great new information about your favorite place from someone you really admire. If you haven’t seen the Mutter Museum Youtube videos, you’re really missing out on a lot of fun. I find them really inspiring.
In the wet specimen room, I was agog at all of the babies in jars and body parts surrounding me in the freezing white room. Robert put his hand on a jar with a heart on the table, and he said, “This is my favorite one,” and bent down towards it and finished, “because it tastes SO GOOD!” And licked the jar from the bottom to the lid, much to our collective horror. He soon revealed that it was an incredibly believable sugar sculpture they had made for an event. My kind of humor.
The rest of my days in Philadelphia were spent at the American Association for the History of Medicine, which had a lot of interesting talks, but my favorite by far was the lunch session by Observatory’s Joanna Ebenstein, National Library of Medicine’s Michael Sappol (who made the incredible Dream Anatomy book), and Lisa Rosner (of Burke and Hare fame) and others, talking about alternative audiences for history of medicine. Definitely up my alley. Lisa and her colleague made a multi-player role playing game about the smallpox epidemic in 19th century Edinburgh, where you can be the patient, the doctor, or the virus! So rad.
If you want to get a sense of my extracurriculars while I was in Philadelphia, you can check out my flickr set from the trip. Some keywords might include: music, beer, dogs, kids, zombies, cranberry bogs, Phillies.
Now I have about 10 days to get myself ready for my first Medical Library Association conference in Minneapolis. Juggling all the sessions, obligations, and invites to free food/booze is already proving near impossible. Here goes nothing, again!