In the past, there have been AMS conferences where I was more of a tourist than a conference attendee. My first conference was "Musical Intersections" in Toronto back in 2000, and the convergence of fifteen musical societies was a bit more than my virgin musicological heart could handle. Toronto is a lovely city. I can particularly recommend the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Then there have been the times of musicological malaise, most noticeably during my dissertating years. I wandered through paper sessions more or less on automatic pilot. I was at those papers to see and be seen. "See me, Dr. X? I'm here listening to your paper. I'll expect a gold star." I'd converse at the receptions. "Oh, and what is your dissertation on?" Press "play." Followed by either a look of total incredulity or a sudden keen interest in the exquisite deviled eggs.
And then, there was this year. Freshly armed with a PhD, I realized I had more to talk about than just my dissertation. It was freeing to use the past tense when the subject came up. I could talk about my current projects and my adjunct teaching. I think I surprised a few people who had long been accustomed to hearing about The Document and only, The Document.
I found myself in sessions where I would have seldom tread in prior years. I no longer felt alien in a medieval session, or guilty about missing one or two papers in my area (especially when the conflict was another paper). AMS once again felt like a smorgasbord of opportunity, and it did not disappoint. I remembered a time, long ago, that I wanted to be a MedievalBaroqueRenaissanceTwentiethCentury Specialist. I felt the sweet disappointment of having too many options.
I saw a lot of phenomenal papers and some good ones. My attendance choices supported friends, former professors, and fed my general intellectual curiosity. And with all these choices, I missed quite a bit, including Ryan Banagale and Phil Ford's presentations, graciously reproduced on their respective blogs.
I'd like to thank everyone involved in this year's conference, from the organizers to the presenters. For the first time in many years, I did not muse about how different my life would be had I chosen International Relations.
For those of you who are interested, see also Phil Gentry's AMS Wrap-Up
and Jonathan Bellman's information on Disinformation.