I recently traveled to Boston to cover the joint ACTRIMS-ECTRIMS meeting for my job. My originally scheduled flight was cancelled due to the anticipation of bad weather, but that was fine with me since it meant I didn’t have to get up at OMG-early-thirty to get to the airport on time. I was rebooked on an early afternoon flight, and, upon receiving my boarding pass, I was completely unsurprised to be in boarding group 18 of 4. I invariably find myself in the last possible boarding group, as if the powers that be are planning to let me on the plane only when everyone else is not only seated but has been served a round of cocktails and is napping comfortably. I miss the good old days when planes were boarded from the back to the front, as I also always seem to get a seat in the back of the plane. This time was no exception. Of course, the overhead space near my seat had been full for roughly a decade before I arrived. A flight attended told me she’d figure something out and instructed me to wait in the area at the end of the aisle. After several minutes, it became apparent that said flight attendant had forgotten about me, and a second attendant inquired as to why I was standing around at the back of the plane with my bag.
“The other woman told me to stand here and wait, but then she disappeared.”
Second flight attendant told me she would look into it and scurried off. Not too much later, first flight attendant reappeared and motioned for me to come forward. They had found a spot for my bag in first class. I found myself slightly jealous of my bag’s luxe accommodations as I hoisted it into the overhead bin and shuffled back to my seat in coach.
The flight was uneventful, and for the next few days, I spent most of my time on conference coverage. I’ll spare you the details and just mention a few highlights.
- When I work long hours, my mind sometimes plays tricks on me (I think, to provide some comic relief). It is times like these, when I see T-cell receptor vaccination on the screen in front of me and my brain somehow changes that to velociraptors. I’m guessing that it would be pretty hard to get IRB approval for a trial of velociraptors as a treatment for multiple sclerosis, but the very idea was good for a laugh.
- I’m not sure which excites me more, free lip balm or free cookies. It probably depends on which I have a greater need for at the time, lip moisture or a sugar bump. Anyhow, both are appreciated and often available at conference exhibits.
- My team and I completed our work before midnight on two out of three nights. OK, it wasn’t much before midnight, but still, this is precedence breaking!
- The room service menu at my hotel offered this on the children’s menu (which I sometimes peruse for in search of meat-free options). Somehow, I managed to resist the lure of the souvenir hippo, but, let me tell you, it was not easy.
By mid-afternoon on Saturday, I was done with conference coverage, and it was time to prepare for a bit of fun time in Boston, which included a brief shopping trip for emergency tights. The weather was much cooler than I had anticipated, and I knew I would be chilly wearing only the dress that I had brought for Saturday night. I needed tights and a scarf or wrap. The irony here is, not only do I own about a metric ton of tights and boatload of scarves and wraps (all of which were at home), but also, I usually over-pack for every trip I take, ensuring that I have many options and am fully prepared for unanticipated meteorologic phenomena. I’m not sure why I neglected to bring tights or a wrap, but I was able to properly equip myself with a quick trip to Marshalls.
My brother Chris, who lives in Cambridge, met me at my hotel, and we had a drink at the bar before heading out to dinner at The Gallows, where my friend Jenny also joined us. I liked The Gallows from the moment I walked in and saw this on one of the walls.
I was also highly amused to see this on the menu.
I was somewhat aghast at the price, though. I’m not sure what Boones costs at the supermarket these days, but when I was in college (which was, I admit, a shockingly long time ago), it cost about $2.50 per bottle. But then again, how can you really put a price on an experience that is like licking a unicorn?
As tempting as it was to drink in some college nostalgia, I opted instead to order a drink called the chupacabra. I really enjoy saying the word chupacabra, so I’m pretty pleased any time I can easily work it into conversation. It was also a delicious drink. The Gallows menu also offered something I don’t recall ever having seen before: vegetarian poutine. I’d never tried poutine before, mainly because of the paucity of vegetarian versions, but also because it always sounded to me like something that could be really good, bad-for-me comfort food but also had the potential to go very wrong and be a soggy, repulsive mess. The vegetarian poutine at The Gallows, however, was great.
After dinner, Chris and I headed to the American Repertory Theater to see The Donkey Show, which I can only describe as an interactive, glittery, disco-dancing, Shakespeare extravaganza. Not once, but twice, during the show, my brother was pulled up on a platform to dance with a chorus dancer, and I couldn’t help but think that this will be a cherished family memory for years to come.