a bend in the road

Hello to friends on both sides of the Atlantic and to a special few afloat in the Pacific!

Here’s a small update about my life in the United States.  It’s been one year since I walked across the stage in McEwan Hall and got wacked on the head by the hat made from John-Knox’s-but-also-not-John-Knox’s-pants-which-did/didn’t-get-sent-into-space (it’s a long story).  I was awarded a Masters of Arts with Honours in History and Archaeology, First Class from the University of Edinburgh…  and a lot has happened since.

In August, I started a masters program and was working part time at a local bike shop.  I enjoyed my time, but ultimately decided what I wanted was in Scotland.  So, I applied back at Edinburgh with the intention of starting the Architectural Conservation MSc this September.

In January and February, I had my first ever break from studying!  I went to San Diego to see one of my dearest friends. I had tickets to four different concerts and was preparing to go back to Scotland in April for a short holiday.

Then in March, the United States was hit by the Global Coronavirus Pandemic.  At the time of writing this, over 130,000 Americans have died.  That’s 15,000 more dead Americans than the United States’ short involvement in the First World War.

Since I live with grandmother, my family has working from home and social distancing since 14 March.  I cancelled my plans to return to Scotland in April to meet with the University and a few individuals to discuss potential research projects.  My twenty-third birthday was celebrated in sunny quarantine and I’ve been drinking a lot of iced coffee on my porch.

During this time, I’ve watched doctors and nurses cry out for more supplies as mass graves are dug in New York. I’ve watched more Black Americans lose their lives at the hands of law enforcement.  I’ve watched protests erupted across my country live on the television.  I’ve watched statues glorifying Confederate slave holders get torn down by the descendants of the people they kidnapped and enslaved.

Which brings me now to, as my dear Anne Shirley would say, my own ‘bend in the road.’  Due to visa complications and travel restrictions I have had to defer my studies back at Edinburgh until next year.

But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to sit idle.

Instead, I’ve written to my local paper (here and here).  I am volunteering for a candidate running for Federal office and have been using my time to phonebank.  Soon I’ll be helping with remote voter registration for young people.

*GO NOW TO MAKE YOU ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE!! https://www.vote.org/*

Then starting this September, I’ve been selected to serve as Team Leader with AmeriCorps NCCC for the Southwest Region.  AmeriCorps NCCC is a national civil service program supported through the Federal Government.  It’s loosely inspired by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and is the domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps.

I’ll attend a month-long leadership training school in Colorado.  Then, I’ll get my team and work on projects focusing on energy conservation, environmental stewardship, infrastructure improvements, disaster relief, and urban and rural development.  There’s a even a chance that I will be trained as wildlife firefighter!

As I said to my dear friends when I had to break the news of my delayed return to Edinburgh: ‘When shit hits the fan, it’s good people doing good things that make it better.’

If I am in place to do something good, to do something to help, I will do it.  Especially now, when I see so many people in my country hurting.  As we near the Fourth of July, I am reminded of what Thomas Paine wrote in the American Crisis (1776):

‘These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.’ 

Or to echo the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:

“You are going to live in a dangerous world for quite a while I guess, but it’s going to be an interesting and adventurous one.”

“The individual is the spur to public action. We are the government. The basic power still lies in the hands of the citizens. But we must use it. That means that in every small unit of government, each individual citizen must feel his individual responsibility to do the best with his citizenship that he possibly can achieve.”

Not being able to get back to Edinburgh this September is not a setback.  It is just a slight bend in the road.  We’ve all been there and all we can do is continue to move forward.  So, here I am! I am ready to transform Eleanor’s words to action with imagination, integrity, courage, and a high heart.  ~Just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry.~

This blog is going to change speed starting in September.  I hope you all stick around to read what I’m doing to make my country better.

 

2020 epilogue

Hello all.

I’ve been a little absent lately.  It’s been busy since I moved back to America in August.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue writing this blog after leaving Scotland in August partially because, well, the blog was about my life in Scotland and, well, I wasn’t in Scotland anymore.

But, I thought I do have a few announcements and whatnots and I did want to do a ‘2019 In Review.’  I concluded my semester at KU in the Museum Studies Masters Program.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time at KU, however, due to changes with UK Immigration and Student Visas, as well as, my own research and job interests I applied to and was accepted into the Architectural Conservation MSc back in Edinburgh.  My dissertation on the Botanic Cottage and a few papers this semester on Architectural Conservation made me realise how much I really loved the subject and wanted to pursue it directly.

And, just the thought of moving back to Scotland with real possibilities of sticking around has filled me with so much hope for the future.  Words cannot express how happy I am to be returning to that life and to the people who made it so extraordinary.  In the meantime, I will be using the first half of this year to decompress and not have academic commitments for the first time in eight years.

But, with that out of the way. Here’s my ~Year in Review~.

January 

I rung in 2019 in Edinburgh.  My parents sent Crosby back with me and we celebrated Hogmanay by watching the fireworks over the Castle from the Bruntsfield Links. The EUMC went to the Cairngorms.  There was a Burns Night Ceilidh.

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✨ hap newt year ✨

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February 

I worked on my dissertation.  My parents called to let me know that Mulan, our 12-year Newfoundland, passed away and I ran off to Shetland with Ben and Alven.

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🌊🌊🌊

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March 

I finished my last semester in my undergraduate degree and submitted my dissertation.  Then I went to the Bothy to celebrate under the pretty stars.  After four years, I finally made it to Camban.

April 

Mom and Dad called to let me know that my cat Rory passed away due to a heart defect. I flew back to America the next day and met up with my family for vacation.  I celebrated my 22nd Birthday back in Edinburgh.

May 

Caitlin, Ellie, Sophie, and I drove from Edinburgh to London and then took the train to Paris for a week.  I saw the prettiest stained glass in my entire life.  The last week of May, I left Edinburgh with the EUMC for the annual road trip to wherever the weather is nicest.

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yesterday’s sleep spot.

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northy north

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June 

Continued traveling about.  Made it to Applecross for the EUMC Dinner Meet.  Said goodbye to a lot of friends for a while.  Went to Lewis and Harris with Alven and Ellie B.  Returned to Edinburgh to pack for excavation season at Bamburgh as the Assistant Finds Supervisor.

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oh deer

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~ritual purposes~

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view of the office.

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July 

Family arrived in Scotland for my graduation.  Graduated from the University of Edinburgh in History and Archaeology with First Class Distinction.  Said goodbye to Gregor, Tuva, and Erling and Roseneath as we knew it.  Returned to Bamburgh to finish excavation season.

August

Returned to Edinburgh.  Waited in a thunderstorm for four hours to get front row spots at the Florence + the Machine Concert in Princes Street Gardens with Ellie B.  The fireworks from the Military Tattoo held at the castle went off during the encore set.  It was magical.  Movers arrived at Roseneath and boxed my room up to be shipped to America.  I left Scotland on 10 August.

September  

Started a new job and spent time with my new puppies.  Read a few books and cleaned out my closet.  Seven kittens randomly appeared on my porch.

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they’re so stupid i love them.

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October

Snuck one of the kittens from outside inside.  I named him Henry.  Worked my job and worked on my novel.  Read some papers and some books.  Shipment of stuff from Edinburgh finally arrived and there was only one casualty.  RIP ‘The Celtic World’ by Miranda Green.

November 

Tuva visited Lawrence!! I took her to a KU basketball game and to the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve.  I was really happy to see because I miss her lots.  I also didn’t post on Instagram for a month???

December 

Finished up semester at KU.  Time at home, worked, and went to visit family.  Spent Christmas at home.  Went to Hays for New Years Eve. Taking time to relax and decompress before returning to Scotland.

And that’s the year.

I could say there’s ‘lots of stuff ahead for me in 2020 !!!!!’ But, in the meantime I’m going to sleep, work, read, write, go to yoga, cycle, and climb.  You’ll hear from me when you do.

❤ kenn

ad caledonia

 

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/44hWudHzcHxsCrnFxUdk5h?si=X3f2CrQoQC6xsV2EKMkXag

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Today I am headed to Scotland to begin University.  The trip has already started off a bit rough with out flight from Kansas City to Newark delayed for nearly two hours!  We already will have to rebook in Newark because our flight to Edinburgh leaves before we will arrive.  Fucking.  International.  Travel.

Just a bit about myself.  My name is Kennedy Younger Dold.  I am eighteen years old.  I was born in Lawrence, Kansas, USA.  Currently I am traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland to start my first year at the University of Edinburgh for History and Archaeology.

I really want to become a medieval archaeologist working mainly in Scotland and England.  I have a special interest in late Rome/Early Middle Ages, also the High Middle Ages (Hundred Years War).  Ideally, I will be working on digs during the summer and have either a professorship or a fellowship at a University.  I know that I will need to have a phD in my field if I ever want to be competitive – and for the type of person that I am, being competitive in my field is a must.

I am not traveling halfway across the world to be mediocre.

Of course, I have been forced to make sacrifices to achieve this.  I am leaving behind a lot of amazing friends.  This summer was honestly so fun and I really got close to a lot of people that I hope to remain in touch with.  Of course, I will hope to make new friends in Scotland… assuming of course that I make the flight in Newark.  We land at 8 and our flight leaves two terminals over at 8.10.  It is nice though to finally be heading to Scotland.

I’ve been waiting for this for a really long time.  I’ve learned as much as I could in Lawrence, and it was time to move on.  You can’t spend your whole in one place and you can’t spend your life in regret.  I’ve learned this all too well.  That is what I hope for Edinburgh – to live there for next plus years without regret.  I know this is probably too much to ask, but fingers crossed.

The movers arrived at Roseneath Friday, 2 August to pack up my life in Edinburgh and move it to Lawrence.  Four years of my life packed and boxed in less than an hour.  It’s taken me nearly a month to write this post.  But, as I have my Masters orientation tomorrow, I figured I’d finally attempt to finish it.

During the packing process, I found an old journal I bought before leaving Lawrence back in 2015.  It fell forgotten between my bed and my bookshelves for the past three years, so I never filled it out except for the first few pages which I transcribed above, faithful to the original.  If I’m going to be honest, ‘eighteen-year-old Kenn’ seems absolutely terrifying.  I can only hope that I’ve chilled out.

But, I’m glad to see that after four years I didn’t fully ‘travel halfway across the world to be mediocre.‘ I did graduate with a First after all and have a Masters program to do.  But, sadly(?), happily(?) I’m still on that ‘unending quest often satisfied but never for long‘ my high school English teacher wished upon me.  It was a quest tucked inside an old copy of Selected Poems by H.D. that I have kept with me these past four years and probably will for the rest of my life.

Once again, in spite of my desire to fulfill that quest – to do what I need to find my place, my home, my heart… I find myself in the same position as I did four years ago, leaving those closest to me and a part of myself an ocean away.

I said goodbye to Caitlin and Ellie and Sophie and Tay at the beginning of the month.  All four of them are off to do great things and I can’t wait to see what they all do next.  On August 8th, Ellie and I went to the Florence + the Machine concert in Princes Street Gardens and managed to elbow our way to the front row.  I stood outside in a thunderstorm for an hour and half to get those spots but considering how much her music means to me … worth. it.

I spent August 9th, my last day in Edinburgh, tidying my room and getting coffee at Black Medicine.  I knitted a scarf.  Then I walked along the Crags to look out across my city one last time.  I owe so much to this city.

I said goodbye to Gregor that night and that was very hard.  Gregor was among the first friends I made at university and I am so grateful he was there to help out a wayward Kansan learn how to climb mountains.  I’ve never had the experience of having an older sibling, but having Gregor is my life is perhaps the closest I’ll get to having an older brother.  He’s supportive but also calls me out on my bullshit.

Regularly.

That sentiment can also be said for my Norwegians, Tuva and Erling.  (I would gust more about you guys but you got a whole three paragraphs last post!)  We became a family in those three years in Roseneath.

Alven went to the airport with me on the morning of August 10th to help me manage the absolute unit of baggage I checked to help me survive the month before the rest of my belongings are shipped.  I said goodbye to him at the security gate to which he replied, ‘I won’t miss you.’

Lies.  Blatant lies.

Over the past four years, I’ve changed my hair colour, swapped my glasses, gotten four tattoos, and cut my fringe back four times before I instructed Erling to hold an intervention if I ever attempted a fifth time.  I’m not going to attempt to discuss everything that happened these four years because you if you want to read that then just read my blog ???

Either way – I do believe I have come closer to finding the person I want to be, the person I need to be.  And, I owe it to Scotland.

I lost her a few times, but she always crept back up on me … eventually.

I have tried to put into words just what Scotland means to me and every time I fall short.  (Which is why this post is so late.)  Sometimes, I think I finally understand.  But, just like the mists wrapping its way through the twisty-wisty stress of Edinburgh, the feeling is there and then it is gone again.  The closest I think I ever came was the jumbled mess of stream of conscious prose I wrote in my private diary last September prior to the beginning of my final year:

Wednesday, 12 September 2018 – 1.30 am

I suppose now is as good of time to start writing in this book.  I received it for Christmas nearly 2 years ago but found it to beautiful for just any mundane story.  So it sat on the bookshelf – until now, I guess.  Because if not now, when?

Just to state for the historical record, my name is Kennedy Younger Dold.  I born April 28 1997 in Lawrence, Kansas, USA.  I attended school in Lawrence until I graduated from Lawrence High in 2015.  That following September I moved to Edinburgh, Scotland to attend the University of Edinburgh.  I study History and Archaeology.  This is the beginning of my final year.

I suppose what led me to begin writing at this time was the realisation I had returning to Edinburgh this weekend.

I set out to study the past – history.  To make connections to places and people.  I was never a lonely child but I often found myself amongst the company of books or those much older than myself.  I often understood but found communicating difficult.  I have always been much more at home by myself – until I realised the connections I had so deeply desired had finally manifested themselves in the way of incredible friends and companions, many of whom I dread to see the day we part ways.

I guess then, what the sudden urge to write this morning means then is that I’ve found it.

My peers no longer stare at me as if I’m some sort of Professor’s Frankenstein.  The desire to connect through history was only a mask used to hide my true fears of loneliness…

It’s not that I no longer wish to be an archaeologist – it is more that I am no longer seeking something which I do not possess.  The past has bewitched me – make no mistake – but…

Now, when I see castles and ruins I see both those from the past and my smiling companions in the present.  I see people who genuinely care and understand me.

And, maybe that’s what I’ve always wanted to find?  But only through returning to the past did I discover what laid ahead?

I owe everything to Scotland (~ad caledonia~).  To the degree I earned.  To the books I read.  To the person I became.  To the friends I made along the way.

I am heartbroken, but they are the reason I can return to America.  They are the reason I am beyond excited for my Masters and the future opportunities ahead.  At the moment I have 1) a pretty cool part-time job, 2) two new St Bernard puppies, and 3) an upcoming hog roast where my parents plan to dig a hole and set fire to a whole fucking pig in the front yard, you know, like they do in Hawaii.  In the future?  I want be a part of something bigger than myself, give back, help others, and tell stories.

If you haven’t learned this by now, I’m a bit of a sentimental shite.  I keep every letter ever written to me including one my dad wrote to me when I went to summer camp when I was 11.  It was a pretty basic letter but did include the line, ‘come home with great stories!’    

So, my lovely, lovely, dearest, darling, sweet princess angel, Edinburgh, here’s to you.

To the cobbled closes of Edinburgh and laying in the sunny Meadows.  To the green mists of Glen Coe, the saw-toothed ridges of Liathach, and the pink hued sunset beaches on Skye.  To getting drinking whisky and singing off-key in Kintail.  To ceilidh dancing under the stars or watching the crashing waves in Shetland.  To an underground Parisian jazz bar, cinnamon rolls in Oslo, or meeting Bacchus incarnate in Berlin. To a Neolithic settlement along the Danube, an ancient Roman trade city south of Pompeii, a medieval kirkyard, a towering Northumbrian castle, and a 18th century gardener’s cottage.  And finally, to the towering red sandstone tenement of Roseneath I was so unbelievably lucky to be able to call home.

Thank you for my four years in Faerieland.  Thank you for the lessons and the stories.  Thank you for my international family.  Thank you for me.

With tolerance and love,

Kennedy.

 

 

 

my third summer with the anglo-saxons

What up boyos!!!

I’m back in Edi for ~one final week~ before bouncing across the ocean for a limited show two-year US tour in search of jobs and education. I’ve lined up a fancy new part-time job (more on that later), enrolled in my ~graduate~ classes, and forced my dad to pick up his grown-adult-child’s vaccination records so I can prove to KU I’m not an plague carrier! As it turns out I’ve been vaccinated twice for meningitis!

However, for the past six weeks I’ve been surviving in the No Phone Dead Zone of Northumbria.  It was my third year with the Bamburgh Research Project and my second year on staff.  This year I was the Assistant Finds Supervisor.  I’ve chatted about the site and my responsibilities previously in various posts but the gist of the position was to assist the Finds Supervisor in cataloguing and keeping all the finds that come out of the trench.

I also specialised in teaching Small Finds Illustration – basically drawing the ‘shiny’ or special finds that come out of the trench like worked bone, carved stones, or exceptional metal work.  I’ve always been ~artistically~ inclined, but I learned how to do technical drawings my third year of university and really liked it.

However, one thing I learned from the season is that I really, really, need to invest in a new computer if I want to seriously pursue digital finds illustration.  Especially considering I almost certainly have an illustration project lined up with the BRP which could transition over to my Masters!  My current laptop is a Grand Old Lady at this point and my poor baby crashed four times causing me to lose more than one illustration over the season.

I’ll provide two different examples of my work from the season below:

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Besides teaching illustration, I supervised the reorganising and moving of the bulk finds from the Castle Windmill to our storeroom inside the castle.  The Project decided that instead of storing all the bulk finds (shell, charcoal, mortar, animal bone, etc) in year boxes they would be stored in artefact type boxes.  This will make it much easier for future study of a particular artefact type.  However, it basically took all season to inventory boxes and create a new cataloguing system.

On a social note, Ben and Alven ‘surprised’ me with visit during the last weekend.  Their original plan was to show up and actually surprise me which I’m very glad they didn’t because I hate surprises.  Ben took the train up from London and Alven took the the train down from Edinburgh.  I picked both of them up from Berwick.

That weekend was also the BRP Reunion so not only did both of them get to meet the students and current staff but many of the Oldies from the project as well.  And of course, while it had been sunny all week – it rained all weekend.  Both of them got drenched on the beach and I forced them to stand next to the space heater.

However, I think between working on site and drinking in the pub, Ben and Alven got a truly well-rounded archaeological experience.  Alven worked a bit with the animal bone since he’s studying zoology and, while, we don’t have an cranes on site for Ben to gush over we do have an EDM which uses ~lasers.~

It was a really nice weekend.  Alven is still being a public nuisance in Edinburgh (HE CRAWLED OUT THE WINDOW OF MY FLAT!!!)  but I’m really glad that I got a chance to say farewell to Ben this time in the bright sun instead of the Edinburgh bus station at night.  There were still tears but I’d say it wasn’t as ~traumatic~ this time around.

And that was the season.  Lots of teaching and drawing and cataloguing.  But as always, I really enjoyed my time with project.  It’s given me invaluable archaeological experience which will only make it easier for me to get that dream job with UNESCO.

I am already looking forward to next summer.  Things are going to be a bit different – we are moving trench locations and there might be opportunities for me to work with both the Castle Museum and the Project.  Again, this might transfer to my Masters.  There are also some other potential summer projects which I am currently trying to make work.  More on those when I know myself.  Fingers crossed.

But, this past Saturday, Gregor drove down to Bamburgh to pick me up from the campsite.  There was a slight issue getting the bike in the car but we eventually found an Allen key.  I said farewell to the rest of the staff and Gregor and I booked it back to Scotland with time to spare.

I’ve got just over a week left here in Scotland and I plan to enjoy every second I have left here in Edinburgh.  These past four years have gone by far too quick – expect a very emotional post in the next week.  More on that soon.

byyeeeee.

 

 

 

the ending of things and beginning of things

It’s the middle of week four of the Bamburgh Research Project.  We have two weeks left in the season.

Last week I was back in Edinburgh for bittersweet farewells and the endings.

I left Bamburgh last Thursday evening and spent Friday running errands to prepare for the coming week.

Ben arrived late from London (He’s currently selling his soul to the corporate engine and getting hit by cars in exchange) on Friday night.  His train was delayed.  Personally, I think it was karma for leaving disgusting fermented lemons in the Roseneath fridge.  I waited for him at Waverly listening to three drunk Glaswegians singing ‘A Thousand Miles’ by Vanessa Carlton on the communal piano.  It was wholesome.

The next morning my parents and Crosby arrived into Edinburgh after flying from America.  Ben, Alven, and I went for an early coffee and then met up with them for brunch and then later an early dinner.  After dinner, we three and Crosby went to see ‘Toy Story 4.’  We all cried.

The next day we three were joined by Gregor and Sophie at Cold Town House, a lil microbrewery with a roof terrace overlooking the castle in the Grassmarket.  We stayed all afternoon in the sweet, sweet Edinburgh sun.

Ben left for a dinner and Alven, Gregor, and I returned to Roseneath to make our own.  I met back up with Sam and Pippa and Ben for a pub quiz.  Then around 10pm it was time to walk Ben to the bus station for his bus back to London because once again he’s sold his soul to the corporate engineering world and needed to be in the London office for bright and sunny Monday morning.

It’s really, really hard watching a bus pull away and not knowing when you’ll see that human again.

It’s really, really hard hearing the bells of St Giles and knowing with each chime that human is further and further away.

It was the first goodbye of many to come and maybe in some place in my mind I thought I was ready.  As it turned out, I wasn’t anywhere close.

Monday, I ugly cried in my kitchen and Alven took photos.

Tuesday, on the second of July, I walked across the stage in McEwan Hall and got wacked on the head by the hat made from John-Knox’s-but-also-not-John-Knox’s-pants-which-did/didn’t-get-sent-into-space (it’s a long story).  I was awarded a Masters of Arts with Honours in History and Archaeology, First Class.  I took my photos in the Old College Quad.

And that was four years.

Taking the photos, I looked up to the Golden Boy on the roof of Old College and thought about seeing it for the first time back in 2015.

After graduation, Mom and Dad and Crosby and I went to Sandy Bells to wait for our dinner reservation.  I messed up the timings and booked a much later reservation than I thought.  We ate at the Witchery by the Castle and once again I’m reminded exactly how I want my future official dwelling to look.

Wednesday, I took the family to Stirling to see the Castle.  On all accounts, I believe they enjoyed it.  I went to Stirling with Gregor and our Canadian exchange student Sarah in first year so it was nice to return.  I also took them to Gregor’s friend’s coffee shop.

Thursday was the Fourth of July.  It was my third Fourth of July outside of America.  Truthfully, I found it hard to celebrate this year when the quote American Dream un-quote is being denied to so many.  When children are being separated from their parents and held in cages with no beds or toothbrushes or soap.  When women are denied autonomy over their own bodies.  When teenagers fear for their lives while they are trying to get an education.  But sure, let’s parade tanks, force people to work instead of giving them their day off, and brag about the Continental Army ‘taking the airports.’

Anyway, I also got two really pretty tattoos. One is a Kansas sunflower – a symbol of loyalty and the flower of the American Suffragettes.  The other is a Scottish thistle – a symbol of defiance and memory.  Both are actually from the same plant family and are also both noxious weeds!  Tattoos have become a cathartic release for me.  I’ll carry them forever as reminders and memories of where I came from, where I went, and where I’ll go next.  Tat me up!!111!!!

That evening Tuva and Erling and Alven and Crosby and I went to see the new Spider-Man film.  Highly rated, Zendaya wears a Joan of Arc T-shirt.

Friday was Crosby’s 20th birthday.  Yikes.  Mom and Dad took her shopping and I ran a few errands.  I met up with Sophie for a quick cup of coffee and she gave me the loveliest card which I cried reading on the train.

That evening, Roseneath went to the Argyle for one last official flat pub outing.  Gregor went to sleep early as he was still recovering from celebrating his own graduation. Tuva and Erling and Alven and I stayed up late into the night drinking whisky and crying in the kitchen.

Saturday morning I woke up early and packed the rest of the shit I needed to take back to Bamburgh.  Mom and Dad came by Roseneath to help me carry my stuff as I can’t put a lot of stress on my shoulder just yet with the fresh tats.

And that’s when I said goodbye to my sweet, darling Norwegians.  I’m so glad that I met them on a mountain in the Lake District four years ago.  All my love you two.

By now, they are safely back in Oslo.  Gregor is still in the flat and will be there when I return in late July.  But, Roseneath as we knew it with Tuva and Erling and Gregor and Kennedy has come to an end.

It won’t be forever, but I know the separation of Roseneath will probably last far too long.  However, I do know this, when we do see each other again, wherever in the world it will be – it will be as if we never parted.  As I’ve learned, global friendships are some of the hardest to keep.  But, if you can keep them, they prove to be the most rewarding.  Having friends across countries and over oceans makes the world just a bit smaller and that much more wonderful.

But, goodbyes are fucking hard.  I don’t think they will ever get easier.

And so, I returned to Bamburgh Castle and my family toured the site.  We ate lunch together and I worked for the rest of the day.  After a week off, I need to reorganize some stuff and get back into the workflow.

I’ve cycled to and from the castle when it hasn’t rained to think.

So much has ended.  So much is beginning anew.  I’d be lying if I said I haven’t cried at least once per day this past week.  But, I wouldn’t trade these past four years.  I will carry my memories of my friends in Edinburgh forever.

Will update more later.

happy summer solstice!

Happy Summer Solstice!

Today is the longest day of the year.  Enjoy the sunlight and take some time to reflect on all the beautiful and bright things in your life.

It’s the end of the first week of the 2019 season of the Bamburgh Research Project and I’m back in Edinburgh just for the day do run errands and do my laundry.

This season I am working as the Assistant Finds Supervisor.  If you’ve been totally out of the loop, the BRP is located at Bamburgh Castle in Northumbria.  Bamburgh was a massive Anglo-Saxon stronghold and later medieval fortress.  Excavations are currently focused in the outer ward of the castle in a known metal working area circa the sixth to seventh centuries CE.

So far, I’ve been teaching illustration techniques and am currently in the middle of reorganizing how the project stores bulk finds (pottery, ceramic building material, charcoal, etc).  Up until recently the project stored bulk finds by year.  It was decided that to make it easier for future study we would reorder everything so artefact types are together regardless of year.  It’ll make everything easier… but is a process to do.

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view of the office.

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This past week has truthfully gone by quickly.  I took the train from Edinburgh last Friday.  We had a staff work day on Saturday to organise our new offices and get the trench ready for students the next day.

I also received my degree classification last Friday.  I have been awarded a First Class Degree in History & Archaeology MA with Honours.  It’s a mouthful, but basically it means I did a pretty damn good job.  A First is the highest degree classification you can get in the UK.  Also, as I found out yesterday, I was one of two students to receive the Archaeological Dissertation Prize.  The award was split this year and is awarded to the student (or students) who received the highest mark for the year on their dissertations.  Maybe it’s time to actually print copies…

If you can remember that far back to April, my dissertation focused on architectural archaeology and cultural heritage management of the Botanic Cottage at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.  I pulled in a lot of my experiences volunteering at the Cottage for the past two years as well.

But yeah. It’s been exciting.

And honestly, it’s a week illustrating what happens when you really, really want something.  I guess dreams really do come true, kiddos.  And, like, I really, really don’t want to sound like an asshole, but I’m so proud.  I am graduating from a top 20 world university with top honours, hanging out at an archaeological site all summer, and then starting a Masters in a field I love.

I never compare myself to others because we are all flowers growing at our own pace,  however, I do compare myself to past versions.  This is my evaluation: present-Kenn is everything past-Kenn hoped she would be, but, present-Kenn still has work to do so future-Kenn can be her best version.

But, I could have never done it without my friends or my parents or my lecturers or my supervisors or the RBGE or the BRP.  My heart is so full and I owe it to you all.

I’m back to Bamburgh this afternoon and then back to Edinburgh again next week.  My family is arriving for my graduation not long after I get back and it’ll be great to see them.

Happy Summer Solstice!

 

roadtrip 2019

I’m back in Edinburgh after yet another Yummick Roadtrip and I have the midge bite scabs and sunburn to prove it.

For those completely unaware, I cast my lot in with the Edinburgh University Mountaineering Club (EUMC) in first year.  Four years and three committee positions later, I’ve found it to be an incestuous league of miscreants who might also just be the best people I’ve ever had the pleasure of suffering in a bog with.

This year eight of us departed Edinburgh on May 26.  Split between two cars, we headed northward arriving at the walk in to Strabeg Bothy with plans to spend at least two nights.  The bothy is maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association (MBA) who manages and upkeeps basic open access shelters around Scotland.  Most of them are old croft houses with stone walls and two fireplaces.  They can be notoriously dark, dank, and soggy but it really beats pitching tents in rain and wind.

The walk in was a treat.

It was advertised to be a little over two miles, but during the day the river flooded and the surrounding bog became a swamp.

I fell into this swamp after being dumb.  I too was bamboozled.  After more than sufficient ridicule, Erling finally attempted to help me.  However, at this point, the mud and sheep shit had already absorbed me up to my knees.

bog

Finally, we made it to the Bothy after wading across the flooded river in a human chain. Ben decided to abandon us all and wade across the river himself.  I still don’t know if it was ambitious, stupid, or if he was just trying to off himself so he didn’t have to listen to my horrible jokes anymore.  We all put on dry clothes and hung everything else to dry by the roaring fire.  Then we cooked dinner (steak stir-fry if you’re wondering).  I found a copy of Atonement and kept the fire going.  It was cozy.

We stayed at Strabeg for two nights and then walked out.  Ironically, the river torrent we had been forced to cross two days earlier was a little more than a stream.  It made me so angry.

Considering that most of Scotland was still a bog from the heavy rain the last few days, we headed even farther north to Sheigra in hopes that we might find some dry rock or sun.

Behold. The sunny beach of Sheigra.

 

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yummick roadtrippin’ 2019

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northy north

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Upon arriving, we pitched up and decided what to do next.  I took off along the coast for a pleasant run.  Alven placed his crab trap in hopes of catching something for breakfast.  That evening, we sat at the beach until the sun started to dip below the jagged sea cliffs.  The only option was to climb higher and we watched the last rays of the sun from a grassy ledge overlooking our pitched tents.

 

We packed up mid-morning.  Alven checked in on his crab trap only to find that a crab had indeed been caught, ate the salami bait, but then broken out of the trap.  Saddened, to have been outsmarted by a mere crustacean, we headed off for a day of climbing.  After a successful day, we headed along the coast to Scourie and pitched up in a field near the shore (we pitched on the middle peninsula in the photo).  Being that is was Alven’s birthday, we treated ourselves to something nicer than what we could cook on our gas stoves.  A true comic moment was the look on Ben, Sam, Erling, and Alven’s faces when they learned that the ladies’ bathroom at the restaurant had clean hand towels to wash faces and spa-grade soap and lotion.  Apparently, the gent’s room only had a weak hand dryer.  Walking back to our tents, we watched the sunset.

 

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yesterday’s sleep spot.

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The next day we left for a bit of day cragging on semi-dry rock.  We returned that evening to the same field in Scourie to spend another night.  From Scourie, we drove southward to Ullapool.  It had been nearly a week on the road at this point so we stopped to resupply food and take showers at the Ullapool Leisure Centre.  (We had wanted to go swimming, but the pool was closed for Senior Hour in the morning.  But, alas, no seniors were floating about!)  As usual, the boys finished their showers well before the girls and were waiting outside with their arms crossed.  Honestly, I pity those of you who don’t appreciate clean hair and scalding water more.

From Ullapool we continued toward Applecross where the annual EUMC dinner meet was to be held at the Walled Garden.  It was a chance to see everyone before parting ways for the summer, take showers, peel off sweaty leggings and put on something nice.

We met up with various other parties of Yummicks at the pub to swap stories from the week and then pitched up by the water.  We stayed up late wrapped in a tarpaulin to keep out the chill.  Many were already realising the bittersweet finality of this last road trip.

The next day we packed up and moved to the Applecross Campsite. It was raining so some ambitious folk went running and others went to the cafe.

 

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oh deer

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By the afternoon, Ellie B arrived from Edinburgh and it was almost time to get ready for dinner.  Getting ready for the Dinner Meet is a rather social affair.  Imagine, people rushing around the campsite fixing each others ties and makeup while balancing plastic wine glasses or tins on cars or in soggy patches of grass.  The Walled Garden was a short walk from the campsite.  That was a blessing as it was threatening to rain again.

Dinner was really nice.

After, we danced our way back to the campsite to disco versions of Star Wars.  We changed clothes and then headed down to the beach for a bonfire. I’ve come to realise I’m actually quite sentimental and found myself trying to memorise that moment on the beach. How everyone’s smiles reached all the way to their eyes. How the fire flickered in the sand. The feeling of being spun on the beach in a dance and the cold sand between my toes.  How even the stars seemed to dance along overhead.

The next morning was rainy and fit the mood of farewells. Ellie Leigh returned to Wales to continue her amazing internship. Ben headed north and then south to London to start his summer job (He also drove off with all the remaining food and my camping mug!!! Sabotage!!). Tuva and Erling returned to Edinburgh.  The rest of the Yummicks scattered to the wind to do amazing things of that I am sure.

It was just Ellie B, Alven, and I heading even farther north to Skye.

The following week went as quickly as the week before despite my pleas to make it slow down. We spent a windy night on the edge of the world and woke up early to catch a ferry to Lewis and Harris.

 

We spent the next two days driving around the island and visiting every historical site on the map. The Callanish Stones were absolutely stunning. They are a stone circle similar to Stonehenge, but arguably much larger and probably more significant – they exist in a larger landscape with more of the subsidiary stone circles still surviving.

As an aside, stone circles don’t exist in isolation and play into the landscape.  They’re all connected to each other like a spider’s web across expansive miles. Their position is affected by other circles and geographical features. Because Lewis and Harris is still relatively undisturbed compared to the landscape around Stonehenge you can actually get a better feeling for the prehistoric landscape. Also, you can walk right up to them.

 

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~ritual purposes~

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The sun finally came out and the waters turned into one of the most beautiful turquoises I have ever seen. (The most beautiful still has to be Shetland.)

 

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🥰

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The three of us took the ferry back to Skye and then drove to Sligachan to meet back up with other Yummicks.  We spent the night at Neist Point and watched the sky turn from blue to yellow to orange to pink to purple and then to black.

Sunsets have always held a special place.  Growing up in the Kansas countryside you get used to vibrant colours spreading across the wide reaching sky.  The sunsets across the ocean have that same magic and maybe something a little extra.  There’s a moment when the sun’s rays hit the water and appear to wrap around the world.  And then the stars emerge – the same stars people have looked upon for thousands of years and the same ones we all gaze upon now.

I am so thankful I decided to wake up early that morning in September four years ago to get on a bus and head northward.  I am thankful for the sun and the snow and the rain and even the bogs.  For the broken tents and the soggy bothys.  I am thankful for the moments of fellowship in the mountains and trust on belay.  The silence of the night broken by the muffled sound of music.  The quiet breaks on the sides of ridges.  The feeling of exhaustion but also of adoration for the landscape and the people around me.

And the stars.  The spreading canvas of light across the night sky.  They might be separate balls of gas thousands and millions of light years apart, but together they weave constellations and epics across the sky.

I know no matter where in the world we end up, we’ll share the same sky.  Somewhere, you’ll be watching your sun and stars as I watch mine.

Writing this now back in Edinburgh I realise how much I will miss them.  I just hope they will miss me just as much.

I am reminded now of the conversation I had with an old woman in the Tesco car park in Ullapool.  She rambled a bit and was all to keen to tell us the dangers of Germans driving large caravans on small highland roads, but she looked me in the eyes and said something I will carry with me for a very long time.

She said, ‘Some places are magnets and the north of Scotland is a strong one.  People return here.  They always do.’

I hope I do.

Either that or I’ll write a really good story about it.

 

~a week in paris~

Hey all.  It’s me, back to tell you about my international exploits.

For those wondering:

  1. Yes, I am finished with university.
  2. No, I haven’t graduated.
  3. Why? Examinations are still ongoing and the external exam board meets in June.
  4. So when do you graduate? July 2 at, I think, 2 o’clock in the afternoon (?).
  5. So, like, what have you been doing? Well, I went back to America for a bit of sun and then back here to Edinburgh.  And then off to Paris with Caitlin, Sophie, and Ellie.

The trip started by driving down to London from Edinburgh.  We stopped off in Liverpool for lunch with Caitlin’s aunt.  It was late by the time we finally made it to London.  The next day Sophie, Caitlin, and I spent time in central London.  We went to some of the vintage shops near Oxford Circus and I found ~yet another~ leather jacket.

The next day we met back up with Ellie at Kings Cross to take the train to Paris.  We arrived in Paris late afternoon and from Gare du Nord took the Metro to our AirBnb.

Our first day in Paris it was sunny and we spent it wandering around.  We visited the Museé d’Orsay.  The building used to be a railway station but was later adapted when the tracks proved too short for longer trains.  It now houses pieces by the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists like Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Cezanne, and Gauguin.

Basically a dream.

That evening we went to an underground jazz bar that Betsy had recommended.  Betsy had spend a few months living in Paris during a study abroad program and ~usually~ has good taste.

The place was called the Caveau de la Huchette and is located in the Latin Quarter just south of Notre Dame. The basement of the building dates to about 1551 and has links to the Templars.  By 1789, it became the meeting place for French revolutionaries.  In 1772, it was converted into a Freemason Lodge.  After the Second World War, it transformed into a live jazz club when American GIs brought in New Orleans jazz and swing dance.

The drinks are a little pricey but the live music was fantastic.

The night day we got up early to visit Sainte-Chapelle.  The chapel was commissioned by Louis IX in the 13th century to be the reliquary for the holy relics he collected while on Crusade.  It’s construction was relatively contemporary with Notre Dame.  Notre Dame was built to be the more public building while Sainte-Chapelle to be the private royal chapel.

We arrived early in the morning to see the stained glass.

I don’t know if it’s because I was probably a magpie in a previous life, but I love stained glass.  Actually, that’s probably an understatement.  I could sit for hours looking at stained glass.

We then went for lunch and to see Notre Dame.  Since the fire earlier this month, the street has been blocked off but it was heartening to see the structure appears to be stabilized.  The roof is gone and so are many of the upper windows.  There is smoke damage to the upper rose window on the south side of the building.  However, the bell towers are okay and so is the larger rose window in the front.  Even without a roof, the building was still impressive.

Near to Notre Dame is Shakespeare and Company, an independent bookshop with ties to James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald, and Ezra Pound.  The first shop was founded by the American Sylvia Beach in 1918 as an English lending library and bookshop.  Sylvia soon found herself in the company of dozens of English and American writers of the Lost Generation who had flocked to Paris following the end of the First World War.  In 1922, she published James Joyce’s Ulysses when the book had been banned in most English speaking countries.  She operated the bookshop during the Nazi Occupation of Paris until she was arrested in 1941 for hiring a Jewish assistant and refusing to sell a copy of Finnegan’s Wake to a Nazi Officer.  Beach spent six months in an internment camp.  When she finally returned to Paris, she did not reopen her shop.

However, by 1951 George Witman reopened Shakespeare and Company with Sylvia’s blessing across the way from Notre Dame.  The shop earned a second life as the inspiration for the Beat Generation with visitors including Allen Ginsberg and James Baldwin.

I grabbed a coffee from the cafe attached to the bookshop and a table facing out toward Notre Dame.

As a hopeful novelist, being in this space was incredible.  I’ve struggled a lot with my writing in recent years.  Often I just don’t feel confident or like I’m expressing myself well.  Just the other day was the seven year anniversary of the publication of my novel.  I can’t believe it’s been that long.  And, I know I really need to finish something else.  Trust me, I’m gathering stories…. which I’ll finish… eventually.  My current piece is something really dear to my heart and I want to make sure that I’m telling it the way I want it to be remembered.

But, being a place where people just want to tell stories and express themselves was comforting.

That evening we went to the Louvre.

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▶️🅰️🌾❗️💲

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As expected, the Mona Lisa was small and the display of Nike was incredible.  She is positioned at the end of a long stairway and looked just like she was taking off as you got closer.  Honestly, she’s a star.

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📈📍🦅📧

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The next day we went to see the Eiffel Tower.  It was pretty.

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🤟🏻🅰️💲🌱 1️⃣

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We had some lunch and then queued to see the Catacombs.

I would never wish to see the Catacombs again.  The tunnels stretch for over 200 miles under Paris and include the remains of over 6 million people dating from the medieval period.  They were removed from overcrowded, un-safe cemeteries during the 18th and 19th centuries and placed underground in walled stacks.  All the remains were kept together and plaques indicate which cemetary they came from.

While, I understand the necessity for the remains to be safely reorganized below ground in a city that was nearing two milleniums worth of occupation… I cannot say that I felt comfortable visiting.

I have worked with human remains in labs and excavated remains in the field.  I had the option of completing a Masters in osteology… but that doesn’t make it any easier.  The Catacombs felt like a world apart and, honestly, I felt like an intruder.  I’ve always justified my study with the scientific benefits of analysis.  However, there was not any scientific advantage to viewing these remains except to see them in dark, claustrophobic tunnels where the living very clearly have no place.

To see a part of history, maybe I am glad for that.  But, not all history needs to be seen.

The next morning we caught an early train back to London.  The four of us split off and I went to Westminster Abbey.  After visiting the Abbey, I found a sunny spot in St James’ Park and read my book.  That evening Sophie and I spent the night at Ellie’s.  The next day, the two of us took the train back up to Edinburgh.

I’ve been back in Edinburgh for few days now finally getting time to decompress.

All in all, the best part? Being with my friends at Caveau de la Huchette and Shakespeare and Company definitely.  Most beautiful piece of art? The windows at Sainte-Chapelle.

 

xxii

Well, it’s probably fitting my birthday post is a few days late.

It’s been a busy few weeks even after finishing my degree and I haven’t really had time just to sit.  But, now that I’m back in Edinburgh, I’ve been using my time to read, sleep, and play Skyrim for the thousandth time.  I just beat Aulduin again last night.  You could call me the Dovah-Kenn (sorry that was a terrible joke).  I also went to see Avengers: Endgame.  I probably need to see it again considering I cried through half of it, especially when Carol did THAT!!! and Steve did THAT!!!

But anyway, here’s that belated birthday post even though I’m still *technically* 15 on my Kansas driver’s license.

I’m always worried about the weather on my birthday considering for the first 18 years of my life it rained buckets.  But, Edinburgh once again gave me the best birthday gift with a sunny, warm day spent in the Meadows and empty seats at the Argyle in the evening.

I’ve never been one to fuss about the day I hatched fully formed from an egg, but I do like to have my space to declare ‘I won’t do a damn thing’ and throw myself down on the ground.

As for words of wisdom now that I am entering upon the golden Taylor Swift Birthday, I’m honestly not sure.  19-year-old Kennedy apparently had a lot to say about the world so you can read what she wrote here.  Truthfully, I think she was pretty smart (albeit maybe a bit arrogant).  Most of it still applies with the addition of maybe one more.

If these past four years in Faerieland, have taught me anything it is: be willing to adapt but also be confident within yourself.  You never know when opportunity will arrive, but you can make sure you are ready to met it when it does.

So, anyway.  Happy Birthday to me.

 

back to edi

It’s the 25th of April (three days before my 22nd birthday in case anyone was counting!!) and I’m back to Edinburgh.

I’ve spent the last two weeks in America… not out right hiding but busy with moving back and enrolling for August.  In case you’ve been out of the loop, I had a choice between staying in Edinburgh for another year for a Masters in Human Osteoarchaeology or returning to the States for a Masters in Museum Studies.

I had a lovely meeting with the director and advisor for the Muse program this week and I have already enrolled in my courses.  This August, I’ll be taking a required course on Museum work, another specialising on creating exhibits, and a theory course on historical building preservation.  There’s actually a graduate certificate in Historical Preservation through the School of Architecture I could take alongside my Masters which I may look more into when I’m back.  After writing my dissertation, I’ve become really interested in that line of work and it would fall in well with my ~dream~ of working for UNESCO.

I am actually beyond excited for this autumn.  It’ll be a good change of scenery and a few years of familiarity before I bounce of to do something ‘stupid and crazy’ again.  Trust me, I have plans.

Things back in Lawrence have changed, but, as it it with midwest America, may things stay the same.  It’s a blessing and a curse.

A big change this time was returning with two less in the house.  In February we lost our 12-year-old Newfoundland, Mulan.  While sad I knew she had give our family her ‘true last measure of devotion.’  What was unexpected was losing my 6-year-old cat, Rory.

Prior to leaving Edinburgh at the beginning of April, Dad had called to let me know that Rory had been to see a veterinary heart specialist in Kansas City who had diagnosed him with a congenital heart defect.  Rory spend two days in the clinic and returned home with a blood thinning medication he was to take each morning.

Everything seemed well – until it wasn’t.  Three days after returning, Dad found Rory curled up and asleep in his favourite spot by the window.

I’ve spent the last three weeks trying to find a way to describe what the last six years with Rory meant to me. Each time I fall short, but those with animals know the impact an animal has and the hole they leave.

But, I can say I am glad to know he felt safe and loved.  He didn’t hide or grow scared but curled up and fell asleep.  That is all you can really ask for.

Which is why I think I can write about it now.

But anyway, I’m completely done with my degree and just awaiting the exam board in June to let me know what my classification is.  I get to see the new Avengers films with my friends tomorrow night and then bounce around during May before leaving on the EUMC Road Trip.  We don’t know where we are going but we’ll check the weather and see what looks nice.

After the Road Trip, I’ll be back at Bamburgh Castle where I’ll be working as the Assistant Finds Supervisor for the whole excavation season.  It’ll be yet another summer crying over Anglo-Saxon dirt and I. am. so. excited.

Graduation is in July and after that everyone will scatter to the wind for a while.  While I am beyond saddened, I also know there are so many new opportunities waiting.