berlin: nein/10

This weekend I went to visit some friends in Berlin.  I turned in my last submission for third year – essay for Theoretical Archaeology and then skipped town for a few days

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Gregor is currently on placement in Hamburg and Sophie is on placement in Berlin.  They’re both architecture students are are working in architectural firms to learn about careers in the field and gain work experience.  But, with weekends off, they decided to put up with me for a few days.  Thanks guys!

I arrived in Berlin Friday evening after a bit of a delay in Frankfurt.  Getting to my AirBnB from Tegel was easy enough and only mildly annoying with my phone almost dying en route.  Gregor met up with me at the U-Bahn station and we joined Sophie and some of her work friends at a bar for some drinks.

Just to describe the scene a bit… the bar was located on the ground floor of an block of flats and must have been a converted shop or flat originally.  It was entirely lit by candles which cast shadows onto the red walls.  The ceiling trim was a frieze of vines and human faces.  It was a nice space of couches and chair with tall and short tables. The most incredible part was the bartender circling the room who appeared just when you finished your drink, ready to bring you another.  Not only that but he would take massive orders of drinks and bring each quickly without fault.  Incredible.  Honestly, the only explanation I could come up with was the bartender had to be Bacchus.

The next day all three of us met up for Brunch and then took the U-Bahn to see the Brandenburg Gate and the Holocaust Memorial.  Both are located in the center part of Berlin.  The Brandenburg Gate is quite famous and I’ve included a photo below.  The Holocaust Memorial consisted of raised concrete blocks which rise in height as you walk into the center of it.  The ground also rises and lowers like a wave as you walk.  It was actually really disorientating and created a true sense of claustrophobia, which I am pretty sure was the intended purpose of the memorial.

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After, we walked toward where Checkpoint Charlie would have stood (the real one was taken by the Americans and is currently housed in the Smithsonian… classic America.)  The weather was rainy in the morning on Saturday but cleared up by the afternoon.  We spend the rest of the afternoon walking about the center of the city and onto Museum Island.  Gregor pointed out the columns of the Neues Museum which still had evidence of machine gun splatter from the Second World War.

Maybe it’s just my American naivety but seeing the physical evidence of conflict really made me stop.  I grew up reading the history and I always knew about what had happened either learning from my father or in school, but I think it’s a different thing entirely to see the bullet ridden columns lining the portico of the Neues Museum in person.  However, while the scars of conflict are still there, the area around them is green with gardens and full of life and music.

On the Sunday, we visited the upstanding bits of the Berlin Wall, a few markets in the old Soviet part of Berlin, and the Altes Musuem on Museum Island.  The Berlin Wall has been turned into a canvas for public art and in one of the markets, an old Soviet storehouse and grain tower had been converted into an outdoor climbing wall and bouldering room.  Just 40 years ago, that area was blocked away and now people are creating art and climbing walls.

 

 

 

 

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Maybe it’s me being an annoying History student and reading too much into things, but I really do believe we need to understand and remember from which we came and be aware of the world around us to know what to do and where to go next.  The city also showed that from conflict can be growth, change, and education.  Gardens can grow again and walls can climbed and painted.

I am super thankful to Gregor and Sophie for putting up with me for the weekend and showing me around.

nearly done.

woah.  That’s classes for third year finished.  yikes.

I’m not totally done yet, I have my final essay due in next Friday and one exam in May.  However, I am done with set class times and lectures.  The University is officially on holiday for the coming weeks.  Haven’t figured out what I’m doing for my holiday but I have a few options and some ideas.

This semester was a little hectic with snow related university closures and a four week strike.  However, I really enjoyed my courses.  My favourite course this semester was Archaeological Illustration.  I’ve always really enjoyed art and graphic design and I loved learning how to create stuff for excavation reports as well as public outreach programs.

My only exam this semester is for Theoretical Archaeology, it’s on May 16.  After I have provisional plans to get back to the Bothy to finish works for the kitchen and such.  Hopes to get some walking in like year as well… I just will have to remember sunscreen this time so I don’t lose all the skin off my arms again.

The EUMC has a massive 75th Anniversary dinner and ceilidh coming up later in May which will be similar to last year’s dinner, camping, climbing, and walking (and drinking) road trip and party on Iona … only this time old members from the club will be coming back.  I recently spoke with an old bothy secretary from the 1960s Yummick era who was very excited to hear about the event and promised to bring friends and stories.  Should be lit.

Plans for the summer are shaping up, I have four weeks of excavation planned at the end of July into August with the rest of the summer set aside to work at the Gardens on my dissertation.  I have been focused on getting this semester done first and then I will turn focus onto research and talking to people.  Exciting.

The weather is slowly warming up and then it snowed again the other day… typical.  But, today is sunny and it wasn’t too cold this morning.

I’m just waiting for my laundry to finish and then probably going to get some coffee and cry over this essay about post-processual thought in archaeology.

 

maybe we should address the elephant in the room.

Hey pals. Time to get political!

I’m so amazed by the power and voices of the young people in America in right with the ‘Walk for Our Lives’ marches happening across the country.  I just wanted to add a few words myself since I can’t be there in person and I like to comment on things more than Alexander Hamilton.

Whether you read this or not is up to you, but it’s my blog.

I am twenty. I grew in a family with a history of military service. My
father taught my sister and I that guns were tools. They were not toys.

We did, and probably still do, have guns at home.  They are the remains of my Grandfather’s service in Vietnam and my own father’s 35 years in uniform. You can either call it sentiment or purpose removal, but the guns were dismantled, locked away, and forgotten.

In 2015, I moved to the UK. In 1996, the UK witnessed its deadliest mass shooting.
The Dunblane Massacre killed sixteen primary schoolchildren and one teacher.
After the tragedy, instead of offering prayers and condolences, Parliament passed laws.

Today, gun crime is virtually non-existent.  It’s next to impossible to even purchase firearms.  From my own observations, most of the time police officers are often not even armed.

My friends ask about America. They ask why tools designed to kill are permitted
where they have neither a need nor job.  They ask why civilians need to play
military.  They ask why the rights of objects supersede the right to life.

I explain the antiquated 2nd Amendment, the evolution from militia to professional military, and how politicians accept NRA money.

To them, America is another world.

Honestly, on this issue?  I agree.

The answer is not more guns, arming teacher, or fortifying playgrounds. The
answer is not ‘prayers and condolences.’ The answer is not ‘just be nicer to each other.’  The answer is not trying to circumnavigate the issue instead of simply acknowledging the real problems.

The answer is legislation, buyback programs like those in Australia, and treating mental
and physical health as equals. The answer is going to the polls and making your voice heard.

In November, I will vote. Like 2016, my friends and I will watch from Edinburgh. I
hope, this time, they will see the America I know we can be.  I love my country.  I really do.  But I know we can, we will, and we must do better to protect our future.

Young people are a lot smarter than they are given credit for.  They will remember and when it’s their time to govern they won’t forget.

our story so far

Things have been very stressful lately.

But, I submitted the second of my large essays for my Crusades History course yesterday so I am down to my final two deadlines: April 4 and April 13.

This semester has been pretty okay.  I’ve really enjoyed my courses, when I’ve had them.  The University has been taking place in a UK wide strike affecting classes and such.  It’s been a little frustrating not having class or not being able to contact people, but they are getting pretty screwed over by pension cuts so understandable.

I went to go see the new Tomb Raider movie and I was pleasantly surprised.  Knowing video game movies in the past, I was keeping expectations low to avoid disappointment but I really enjoyed the film.  The casting was spot on and they really paid attention to the feel of the newer games.  The story was a little different and there were characters replacing better characters from the game, but they very clearly are setting up more films.

Mild spoiler warning: I really enjoyed the change to the ‘evil empress’ Himiko they did for the film over the game.  In the game she was a pretty one dimensional character but in the film they gave her a bit more backstory.  They also drew a bit on themes of how women’s narratives, especially women in power, can be shifted over time to something they were not.  In the film, Himiko was a carer of a deadly disease (one to which she was immune) and sentenced herself to exile to protect her people.  However, over time her story was changed into that of a monster purposely trapped on the island by her own people.  A small change, but one that drastically impacted how history perceived Himiko.  It was not until Lara (another women) looked beyond historical bias in sources and directly to the archaeological remains that the true story was revealed.  Anyway… control your own narratives, people.

I’m still planning what to do for spring break, but I am really leaning toward walking Hadrian’s Wall.  I’d take a train to probably Newcastle and then walk along the wall to Carlisle.  I’d plan for about 8 days camping and walking… a few friends are keen but haven’t planned anything just yet.

Summer excavations for this year are planned around when I’m doing dissertation research.  I’m writing my dissertation about the archaeological impact of the Botanic Cottage the RBGE.  I volunteer at the site and I’ve really grown to love it (pun intended).  The cottage was the original site of the lectures held at the garden during the Scottish Enlightenment, was abandoned, and in 2014 moved to the current RBGE and rebuilt.  The rebuilt used traditional methods and such so it could be considered an archaeological reconstruction and such.  It’s really cool and I’m really excited to start working.

Toward the end of the summer I’ll be heading back to Bamburgh for two weeks and then to Poulton for another two.  Bamburgh has hired me back as junior staff so I’m really excited to be able to use my knowledge to teach!! And Poulton was such a class dig last year that I’m just glad to be back.

I had a slight existential crisis the other week when I realised that graduation was soon and I didn’t really have a plan because I just love to study everything.  I also really just want to do something positive during my young years, cha feel?  I looked around and at the moment I’m really leaning toward getting an Education Masters and teaching degree so that I can do something helpful… and there’s always time for me to get back into my own selfish academic niche. lol.

Anyway, writing things down helps me to think about them and put actions to a plan so if you’re interested in knowing why I detail everything about my life.

 

 

call your mom.

Happy International Women’s Day/Month/Everyday.  If you haven’t already call your mom, aunt, sister, grandmother, cousin, girlfriend, or friend and tell her how great she is. 

I’ll wait.  Okay done?  Cool!

I waited to write this post until after my lecture this morning on ‘Feminist and Gender Theory in Archaeology.’

It should come as no shock that I am a woman who vehemently supports other women.  I love seeing women meet success.  I love reading the news and seeing the advancements women are making in STEM in the arts and in politics.  I love celebrating what makes women awesome.  This is why if you’ve been keeping up to date with things on ‘the Facebook’ I’ve brought back my ‘Inspirational Lady of the Day.’  I do this because I love drawing attention to things.

This not just because I love to meddle but because it needs to be done.  For a really long time if I wanted to learn about women’s history I had to find the information myself.  There were very few women featured in my textbooks.  The answer the textbooks gave in the small paragraph (at the very end of the twenty pages comparing dick sizes of the Bourbon kings of France) was that women typically didn’t do anything.  They didn’t write anything down.  They stayed home.

Sorry, my dudes, but that’s lazy history.

If I can, as young meddling child, use Google to find a list of important women in history, you, as a middle-aged academic with multiple phDs, can too.

And if it’s really that hard, I’ve made you a easy to click link!

A question was asked this morning in my lecture whether or not the study of ‘Women’s History and Archaeology’ should be political.  It most certainly should.  Everything in our world is political.  This doesn’t mean that you have to take a stance on everything, I love oranges just as much as I love strawberries… but it means that you can’t ignore the inherent politics of recognizing women.  And in a way, by staying out of politics you’re admitting that some things just aren’t that important to note.

History and Archaeology will never be objective.  We can’t go back in time and interview people.  What we can do is take what we learn from the excavations and create our next best educated guess.  But, as I’ve read, these guesses are often sugarcoated in modern stereotypes and bias.  You see this in museum displays with the men in the forefront and the women sitting in the back.  You see this in how just because a burial is found with a sword it’s deemed to be male… jokes on you, it’s a woman. Or how ‘Feminist Theory’ is treated as an offshoot of the Historical Discipline.  Treating ‘Women’s History’ as some kind of secondary history tells students is that if they want to learn about women they should take extra classes.  It send the message that women’s history isn’t going to be discussed in the mainstream history classes because it’s ancillary to an ‘academic understanding of the past.’

Some wild arguments I’ve heard against women’s history as part of the core curriculum as followed:

  1. ‘It keeps history ungendered.’ Sorry, my dudes, that’s even lazier.

The reason history is studied is because people find the actions of other humans insightful.  They love to connect to the past and see were we as humans have come from.  And I mean all humans.  You cannot call it a ‘History of Humanity’ if you only count certain humans.  Also, history has never ‘been ungendered.’  Take a gander around any bookshop and count how many history books you find written on women or by women.

2. ‘Women’s history is not interesting.’ Someone give me a spoon so I can gauge out my eyes.

Not every person is interesting.  I will agree that some people are fucking boring.  But discrediting an entire historical corpus on the basis that it’s not going to be interesting is pretty short sighted.  This is like if I said the History of the American Civil War wasn’t interesting or for you Brits reading this, Henry VIII breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church (even though it was Elizabeth I who finalized the deal and actually set up the Anglican Church).

3. By extension, ‘women’s history doesn’t sell.’ pls, chad. s t o p. 

The three highest grossing films of 2017 were about women: Star Wars, Beauty and the Beast, and Wonder Woman.  The last was the first big-budget superhero film to be directed by a women as well, Patty Jenkins.  She even went to my high school!  Stories about women do sell.  People want to see them.  They want to read about them.

When shows on Women’s History are made they are watched and they are supported… but I guess History Channel hasn’t gotten the memo yet if this screenshot of their show lineup says anything…

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I don’t hate men.  Really.  I’m not out here to fight people.  Pinky promise.

But, I am pretty fed up with history as it’s been taught and the public perception of women’s history.  There is no excuse not to recognize our stories and lives as valid.

To leave you with some final thoughts.  I do mean all women.

‘Third Wave Feminism’ if you want to stick labels on things has really made massive leaps and bounds toward more intersectional feminism but there is a lot more to be done.  By ‘intersectional feminism’ I mean that we need to identify that all women experience life differently and our history should not be treated as a single lump group.  Aspects of ethnicity, sexuality, age, class, etc affect how women experience things.  This affects their lives and our study of history.

To put this in context, I’ll use an example from the American Pay Gap (which does actually exist just in case you were wondering!).  Over the years, we have recognized that yes, white women still only make 79 cents to a white man’s dollar for the exact same job.  However, did you know that black woman are only make 60 cents and Hispanic women only 55 cents to the white man’s dollar for the exact same job.  We know women make less than men, but sometimes we don’t look at the differences within working women themselves.

So yeah, in summary.  The first step is recognizing that women exist in history.  That women’s history is an integral piece of the historical discipline.  Don’t be lazy.  The second step, once you agree that women have actually done things, we need to realize that all women are different and experience life differently.  We are all important but we are not the same.  It is the differences that gives our history strength.  Our differences are what make us so interesting and inspiring.

But, it takes all women (and men too) supporting and celebrating each other to make things happen.

So if haven’t already fucking call your mom.

 

shit i have learned through bumbling around, pt 2

All over the land the kids are finally startin’ to get the upper hand.
They’re out in the streets they turn on the heat
And soon they could be completely in command.
Imagine the sensation
Of teenage occupation

– ‘Teenage Rampage’ SweeT (1974)

Welcome!  Come on in.  It’s time again for me to share some things I have learned from  my constant international flailing before I turn 21 and can drink the Devil’s Water in America! Never mind, that at 18, I could already vote in state and national elections, get married, join the military, or, you know, show up to Walmart with an expired ID and buy an assault rifle.

I started this post with lyrics from a song written by the 1970s arena rock band SweeT.  They’re also know for ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and ‘Fox on the Run.’  Both very good songs that I highly recommend… but anyway.

To celebrate 2018 being the ‘Year of Young People’ here in Scotland…

The topic of this post: Young People and Potential 

Remember that bit in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when the Ministry of Magic refused to do something about Voldemort and instead it was Dumbledore’s Army, a bunch of kids, who actually did something?  Yeah, more on that.

Growing up, there were few things I was told I couldn’t do.  And, this isn’t meant to be construed as me being a spoiled brat.  I mean it more in that my parents had total and complete faith in my abilities to accomplish whatever I sent my mind to.  And because I knew they believed in me, I believed in myself.  At 8, I have a black belt.  By 14, I published my first book.  I made the JV/Varsity basketball and track and field team in my freshman year.

In my junior year, when I saw gender discrimination in girls’ sports over guys’, I wrote to the Athletic Director and then met with the Principle to ask why Title IX protocol wasn’t being followed.

Title IX if you are unfamiliar:

No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.

— Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute (20 U.S. Code § 1681 – Sex)

At the meeting, I was told that my high school didn’t have a Title IX director (which is Federally required to qualify for funding btw) because apparently we didn’t have any Title IX issues… despite girls’ teams lacking funding in comparison to their male counterparts, were denied equipment due to cost, weren’t sufficient publicity, and had a lack of general respect from our peers.  But you know, I’m not bitter or anything.  I just wanted to be treated fairly like the rest of the sports teams.  Which is why, even now, I’m a massive advocate for equality in sport.

But, now, at 20, I’m sitting in Edinburgh writing this and, arguably, I am still being a massive public nuisance.

And just to be clear! I’m not telling you all this to pat my own ego.  I’m telling you all of this to explain where I stand on issues and why I do the things I do.

So, flashback to the 2016 election, I felt so alone.  I could not understand why it seemed my country didn’t care about me.  Why they voted against their best interests.  Why they chose to represent themselves to the world in this way.  But, at least, I had a vote in that election.  The worst part of that election was explaining to my, then 17-year-old, sister why her country didn’t care enough about her to vote for her future as well.  I reminded her that it won’t be forever. We have the chance to do something.  We just can’t sit still.  And, I think a lot more people realised that as well.

More recently, I have seen young people feel a thousand times worse than what I felt in 2016.  I’m going to be frank, the circumstances that have put the young people of Parkland in the spotlight are fucking awful.  I wish they would have never been put in that situation.  But, they have.  However, they are refusing to accept that ‘this is just how things are.’

I could go on and on about gun safety.  For example! Did you know you often have to go through more background checks to adopt an animal than to buy a gun?! Or, how people care a whole awful lot about making sure a baby is born but once it’s here they do nothing to protect the kid?  Or, you know, if you really want to shoot guns, you could join the military instead of playing military?  Guns are tools.  There is not a job in today’s society that warrants the need for a civilian to use or own an assault rifle.  It was not designed for recreational hunting, it was designed to kill humans.  And sorry if that came across as preachy, but it’s the truth.

… but that’s not the point of this mini-essay.  It’s always too soon to talk about guns, isn’t it?

Anyway, young people are refusing to accept that this is just how things are.  They are putting the pressure on companies, local politicians, and national leaders to reject money from the NRA.  (The NRA which comprises roughly 5 million members out of 323.1 million Americans.  Truthfully, they are nothing more than a loud minority.)

It is sad that so much pressure has been put on today’s young people.  It’s forced too many to grow up a lot faster than they should have.  But, sadly, when the adults aren’t doing their jobs, someone has to.

This is not the first time and it won’t be the last.  I like to remind people, important figures in history weren’t the grumpy old people we see in museums.  In 1776, Alexander Hamilton, who later established the National Treasury, was 21.  Joan of Arc was 17 when she was leading the French army during the Hundred Years War.  Henry V was 29 at the Battle of Agincourt.  Victoria was 18 when she became Queen.  Alexander the Great created an empire at 18.  Phillis Wheatley published her first book at 20.  Mary Shelley, also at 20, published a book you may have heard of, Frankenstein?  The book that created the horror genre.  At 23, Nellie Bly was exposing poor conditions in asylums.  She also traveled around the world in 72 days… just to beat Jules Verne.  Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were 28 and 29 when they exposed the Watergate scandal.  Nadia Comeneci scored a perfect Olympic 10 at age 14.

So please, just give the younger ones time to be old enough to vote, and us older ones time to be old enough to run for office.  Young people have a lot more power than they think.  I truly believe that.  Gift or curse, the internet generation is using their voices to unite for something greater than themselves.  I think it’s really amazing how high school and university students from around the world can come together in solidarity.

And maybe it’s a warning, but probably more of a promise: Change is coming.  It’s coming from the ones too young to vote in 2016, but foaming at the teeth to vote in the bi-elections this year and in 2020.  it’s coming from the university students who grew up reading Harry Potter.  And, it’s coming from the older millennials who are a realising that things are still to be done.

So, that’s what I’ve learned is the true power and potential of being a young person.  We don’t see limitations as walls to stop us, but something to be climbed over.  Just because something works does not mean it cannot be made better and just because something has been that way for a long-ass time, does not mean that it is not time for change.

Progress happens whether we want it or not.  You can either fight it or help us out.  Your choice.

And sure, my generation made eating a spoonful of cinnamon and TidePods national news but we also are going to be the leaders of the future.

 

neither this way nor(that)way

*smiles into the void* // photo @tuvaod

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Last night I got home and scratched another country off my scratch world map.  Tuva, Erling, and I spend the last week in Oslo the capital of Norway visiting museums, going skiing, and eating lots of fish.

For those who don’t know Tuva and Erling are two of my three flatmates.  They are both Norwegian and grew up in Oslo.  They are childhood friends with Anna and Elsa.  And, they very kindly and graciously invited me to come back to Norway with them over this year’s Innovative Learning Week, Festival of Creative Learning, Reading Week, Innovative Skiing Week? week in February with no classes.

The week was amazing.  I’ve never been to Norway, I didn’t really know what to expect, so I sort of just went with the flow.  I knew I wanted to see the ‘Scream’ and the Viking Ships but beyond that I was happy to hang out and see the places Tuva and Erling knew best.  Which I do think is one of the best ways to travel.

The first full day we went to the National Gallery to see the paintings.  I got surprised by a real and true painting by my girl, Artemisia Gentileschi, an absolute baller female baroque painter.  Tears were shed.

Artemisia my girl ❤

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After the museum, we went to a coffee shop near to where Erling’s brother went to high school and where they all spend a good amount of time in their teens.  It was very Scandi and hip and everything they say about Scandinavia I can confirm as true.  But, jokes aside, going to places of importance to the people you are with is one of the best ways of seeing the character of the city.  Cities are massive and you’re never going to see everything, but you can see the places that mean something to the people you are with.  It makes the place come alive a lot more than just ticking off the ‘Top Ten.’

The next day, Tuva worked on an essay for uni and Erling and I went to the Viking Ship Museum.  We walked there from Tuva’s flat.  The museum was purpose built for three viking ships uncovered in Oslo in the 19/20c.  The most famous of the ships is the Osberg Ship.

♑️⭕️🌾🔱🅰️✌️

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Seeing the ships was such a surreal experience.  I know I say this a lot, but as a kiddo growing up in the middle of the USofA interested in European History, there isn’t much to do except for read.  And, I read a lot.  I didn’t live near to massive American museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or the Smithsonians in DC so I didn’t have opportunities to see things in real life.  Looking at pictures online or in books was what I had.  So when I see something I’ve read so much about I do tend to tear up, it’s like finally meeting an old friend you’ve only talked to in letters.  I spent so much time studying and wishing I could see things… that when I do, I get overwhelmed.   When I see artifacts in real life I always learn something new.  The ships were bigger than I thought.  The wood was darker.  The carvings more intricate.

 

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That evening the three of us saw Black Panther in the Oslo cinema.  The film was amazing and I want to go see it again.

On the third day, we went cross country skiing.  Oslo has a green belt around the city full of forests and ski tracks.  This was the second time I have gone cross country skiing and I think I loved it even more.  My knees didn’t hurt at all, I got to see some fantastic scenery, and got to ski on parts of the World Cup course (and didn’t die).  Not a bad day out.  We stopped twice during the day at two different mountain huts.  The huts were started from the old summer farmsteads for cattle in the mountains but now are places to stop and get food, water, etc.  The ones we stopped at were very traditionally Norwegian and were made of wood with all kinds of funky old mountain and ski gear inside.  They serve cinnamon rolls and waffles.  I got a cinnamon roll and cried because I love cinnamon rolls so much.

 

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The second hut was pretty much the only part of the day I really truly struggled.  Tuva and Erling abandoned me and I got stuck in a snow drift.  Tuva went looking and found me crawling up the drift with my hands with my skis dragging behind me.  Eventful.  All in all, however, I would 11/10 do it again.  Each hill I went down I fell down less and less.  I properly face planted a few times (once after I got distracted because I saw a women being pulled on skis by a dalmatian!!!), but I managed to get up quickly.  I’m an American not an American’t afterall.

⛷⛷⛷

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I left early yesterday to get back to Edinburgh and sort an assignment that is due Monday.  I had to do some stuff on the computer and didn’t want to leave it late because I don’t trust technology.  But, I had an amazing time.  Oslo is an amazing city, so thanks again Tuva and Erling (I know you’re reading this, either because you want to or because I made you #supportchagirl).

Classes resume soon, but the university is striking so I may have more free time.

shit i have learned through bumbling around, pt 1

‘unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. it’s not.’ – dr seuss

Hey pals!  This is the first part of a blog series I plan on writing leading up to my 21st birthday in April.  The topics will be on ‘shit I have learned through bumbling around.’

This week’s topic: ‘giving a fuck’ v. ‘not giving a fuck.’ And how, at nearly 21 years of age, I have discovered that you need to give and not give both simultaneously. 

Forward, I’m not going to write deeply about politics this time, I’ve done that before and if you want to read that you can go back to the November 2016 or January 2017 section of this blog. It’s no secret that I, a twenty-year-old student who lives in Europe and studies history and archaeology, is left leaning.  If that was a shocker to you it’s okay to sit down.  It was a shock to me as well.  That being said, politics shroud everything and to ignore them is naive and will be a point of discussion below.

First, as any academic analysis demands I will define my terms.  ‘A Fuck’ will be treated as a noun.  It is the feeling, idea, or concern given or not given by someone about a given topic, object, person, etc.  To ‘give a fuck’ means that the individual expresses interest or care about a given, topic, object, person, etc. Reversely, to ‘not give a fuck’ means that the individual does not express interest or care about a given topic, object, person, etc.

Okay, definitions out of the way.

In the following essay I will explain why an individual should first, ‘not give a fuck.’  After, I will counter with why they should ‘give a fuck.’  Lastly, I will take this dichotomy and create a new thesis based on why ‘giving’ and ‘not giving’ fucks can and should coexist peacefully within an individual.  The basis of my study will be from my own personal experiences.  This is what I’ve experienced and should not be treated as the be all end all guide.

Part I: ‘Not Giving a Fuck.’

So long as an individual is happy no fucks should be gifted to the surrounding community.  If the individual is acting independently and without harm to themselves or others, they should exist as a balanced atom: all valence fucks intact. 

I was never a popular kid.  For a long while, I cared a whole awful lot about what others thought of me.  I used to tailor who I was to fit some sort of idea I thought others thought of me.  It was wildly twisted and really confusing.

I did not fit in with the jocks because I was too much of a nerd.  I did not fit in with the nerds because I was too much of a jock.  I felt like I was constantly shifting how I presented myself because I wanted to fit in and did not want to be seen as weird.

It was a disaster that had me running between the locker room and the Latin room.  Each time I left a part of what made me Kennedy behind and I really hated it.  I knew that I couldn’t be one part without the other and that I needed to figure out how to be both.

It was not until I decided trying to tailor myself was just too much work.  Instead of being a weakness, I turned it into a strength.  I stopped caring about what others thought of me and just did what I wanted.  I continued about my day filled with things that I enjoyed.  I spent a lot of my time reading, going to museums, playing basketball, and running.  While I do admit, that did make things lonely.  I had rejected a large part of what made being a teenager such a ~dramatic~ time.  But, it wasn’t for long.  By continuing to do things that I enjoyed regardless of whether or not people thought it was cool, I soon found others like me.  They did exist!  It just took a while to find them, because like me, they thought they were alone.  And so instead of going to museums alone, I went with friends.

Now, I still do things that I enjoy without really much worry.  I like going to museums, so I go.  I enjoy studying, so I do that.  I enjoy mountaineering, so I do that.  I also spend a lot of my time alone, but I enjoy that too.  I’m here to learn so I’m not really concerned with asking questions that may make me look like fool.  I’m not particularly afraid of making fun of myself or making a fool of myself.  Within reason, of course.

Which, I think, is how I learned to ‘not to give a fuck.’  I finally reached the paradise of ‘No Fucks Given Nirvana’ when I realised it’s not about not caring about anything, it’s about caring about what makes you happy and not letting other people convince you that it isn’t worth your time.  It’s about fully being yourself and accepting all aspects of yourself all the time versus certain aspects of yourself some of the time.

Part II. ‘Giving a Fuck.’ 

Once I learned how ‘not to give a fuck,’ the next lesson I learned was when and for what I should actually spend my precious amount of fucks.  I care deeply about history and archaeology and my cat and my family and my friends.  I would drop anything at any moment to help a friend in need, that’s true.

It’s about caring for things that are important to you.  It’s about standing up for things that mean something and it’s about representing yourself the way you want to be respected.  My dear friend Betsy always says that ‘you attract what you exude.’  She’s totally right, if you spend your fucks wisely on things important to you, you’ll live a pretty happy life.

And, here’s a truth.  If you give a fuck about someone, chances are they’ll give a fuck about you too.  But obviously, don’t spend time on people who don’t care about you.  That’s fucked up and will just make you sad.

For myself, I’ve spend a lot of my fucks on caring about what’s going on in the world around me.  Personally, I don’t like to live in a bubble.  I like to understand what is going on in my community.  I like to help.  I don’t like just standing by and waiting to see what happens.  I hate feeling like I can’t do anything.  I need to be involved and a large part of what I care about it making sure that everyone gets a fair chance.

And just for me personally, I think it’s pretty damn selfish to not care about others.  Just because it might not personally affect you doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care.  Maybe you shouldn’t be in the front for the issue, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a place in it.  You can help by listening, clearing a path for others to speak, or sharing what they say.

But, I always ask myself if I’m giving a fuck for the right reasons.  If it’s to pat my own personal pride, I need to sit the fuck down.  I’ve learned quite a bit from growing up in a military family and one of those things is that the most important shit happens without anyone knowing.  So, maybe no one will ever realise how many fucks you’ve spent… but to be honest, that’s not why you’re spending them.

So, yeah.  Personally, I’ve spent a lot of my fucks on politics and current affairs.  After all, actions speak louder than words.  I’ve written my fair share of words about topics I care about both to this void of a blog and to the relevant government offices.  I don’t know if anything ever gets read, but they might one day… but if I stop then they won’t ever.

Tldr; spend your fucks on things you care about, be active in you community, care about your fellow humans.  But do it for your own reasons not just to look cool. 

Part III. Living Harmoniously

I often point dramatically toward a window and and ask people if they see it too, my last fuck fluttering away into the open, summer breeze.

Of course, that’s not entirely true as I still harbour many a fuck within my heart.  But, those are the good ones.  The ones I spend caring about people and things important to me.  The reasons I get up and bumble about.  They are the desire to learn and not be afraid to ask questions in class.  The ability to meet new people and not feel as if they judge me straight away.

The fucks flying away are the bad ones: the ones filled with insecurity and fear and anxiety.  I wave to them as they drift away.  But, in a way, I am thankful for their existence.  They taught me how to react to change, how to stand up for myself, and how to be proud of myself.  By leaving, they make room for more time for things I actually should be caring about.

So I’m going to close with the quote that I started this post with, scroll back up if you’ve forgotten (shame on you!).  It’s not about not caring about anything, just caring about the right things and for the right reasons.  You can’t control what others think of you, but you can control what you think about yourself.  So it’s not that I don’t care.  I do care, I care a whole awful lot because I know that it’s the only way things are going to change for the better whether that’s being more self confident or working to better my community.

 

 

 

 

im stumbling, im bumbling

Hello friends, it’s been awhile that I’ve welcomed you into the dumpster fire of my life.  So, come in.  Welcome.  Take a seat.  I’ve been stumbling around and may have actually figured out the secret to eternal youth…

Just kidding, but I did get mistaken as a child on the good ‘ole Lothian bus the other day.

The semester has been working along smoothly.  My final marks from last semester are back and I’m pretty proud.  I have the first of my assignments coming up in a few weeks.  It’s for Archaeological Illustration and I have been drawing a lot of rocks in Adobe Illustrator.  It’s actually really cool, but really time consuming.

Caitlin and I had a bit of an adventure last week.  I read about this local perfume company in Edinburgh called Reek Perfume that make scents inspired by historical women. The first of their perfumes is called ‘Damn Rebel Bitches.’  It’s inspired by the Jacobite Women. They don’t test on animals or retouch their photos, which I thought was pretty cool.  I got the address from their website and so Caitlin and I decided to go.  As it turns out, the address on the website is actually the flat of the lady (Sara Sheridan) who owns the business.  We felt a little embarrassed at first to have mixed it up, but she not to worry, a lot of people do that.  Sara invited us in and we chatted for a while about the perfume, feminism, and history.  They were actually shooting photos for their next perfume launch as well.

And as it turns out, she’s a historical novelist and written like over twenty books… including tie-in novels for the iTV Victoria series.  She said that if I ever wanted to write something for the Reek blog to just send her an email.  Which I totally think I will, I just need something catchy to write about!

On Wednesday, I was at the RBGE from 3- 9.  I helped to cook a Burns’ Dinner for about 40ish people.  The garden is hosting ERAMUS professors from Italy, Portugal, and across the UK for a weeklong workshop.  It was a lot of potato peeling and mashing, but I didn’t mind.  I joked that this was always my job during Thanksgiving as home, which was true.  I got a chance to chat with a few of people who work at the garden as well as speak with a few international professors.

Things have also been falling into place for my dissertation next year, which I hope to be able to finalize soon.  I’m looking at exploring the archaeology of the Botanic Cottage.  Think historical buildings, public engagement, social memory, etc.  I’ve had a few meeting with different professors and I’ve got another one on Wednesday.

Thursday night was the EUMC Burns’ Ceilidh and I still have bruises on my arms from popping sick moves.  Things got a bit confusing after the ceilidh when it circulated that we were all heading to Wetherspoons, but then failed to clarify which Wetherspoons out the six (6) in Edinburgh we were going to.

But, my dudes.  Never fear, the EUMC reunited and  I still made it to my 9-11am seminar.  It’s required and please don’t ask about the state I was in when I left the flat.  I made it to Starbs and when I walked in I was nearly brought to tears when the kind women behind the counter asked if, ‘I wanted the usual* and a muffin as well?’

Yes, o kind woman.  I do.

After my seminar I picked a burrito and went home.

*’the usual’ is a grande vanilla latte and a blueberry muffin

 

 

cairngorms 2k18

Hello, dear readers.  Welcome to my trash blog.  You’ve clicked the link so now be prepared to be bombarded by narcissism.  Similar to the last two years of my meager existence, the EUMC journeyed northward to the Cairngorm National Park for the first weekend of second semester.

How did I end up in the perdictiment below?  Read on.

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The EUMC stays annually at the Woodlands House, a house owned by the university located in Kingussie. The house has real beds, a kitchen, and hot showers. As I told a few of the Freshers, this is luxury meet.

Ellie and I departed early on Friday after my first of many early 9am Theoretical Archaeology seminars. We stopped to get food and arrived at the house around 6 pm. We grabbed beds for ourselves, put lasagna in the oven for dinner, and then made a snow cat/rabbit outside. A car later hit our snow creature and it was sad.

The rest of the club arrived later that evening and the mad scramble for beds/floor space ensured. Then we sat about to plan our activities for the next day. Some went skiing, some went climbing, others walking. I went walking with a smaller group up Ben Macdui, the second tallest mountain in the UK. We left the house at 7.45 and arrived at the Caringorm ski center to start our walk. The sun was out in the morning and while temperatures were low, the psyche for a mountain day was high.

And even when the sun disappeared behind low sitting clouds, I was glad to be out in the mountains. We all finally slugged it to the top and I imagine the view must have been spectacular. Coming back down was a bit more difficult in the conditions, but we all safely made it back.

Throughout the walk, I was reminded it was the one-year anniversary of the Women’s March. And, mind my hubris, but I rather thought it was fitting to be slogging up a tall mountain.

Back at the Woodlands House that evening, Tuva, Erling, Ellie, and I made dinner. We made plans for the next day. We would go cross-country skiing. And reader, by ‘skiing’ I mean I was 12 and I also fell off the ski lift.

That evening, there was some pretty good chat, a bit of sock wrestling, and some snorers.

The next morning everyone boarded the bus and we set off. Tuva and Erling, being Norwegian were basically born on skis. I, being from Kansas, a relatively flat and warmer place, was not. Ellie also was a decently experienced skier. Tuva and Ellie were very nice and helped their suffering friend. Contraily, Weird Ski Uncle Erling laughed whilst I lay face down in the snow.  After sufficient mocking, he did eventually ski back to help.

For those unaware, cross country skiing or sometimes called Nordic skiing is a type of skiing in which the front of your boots clip into the skis but not the backs. You move the skis in a gliding motion but acting like you are walking but not lift your feet. It felt a bit like trying to run underwater.

I learned how to move forward pretty quickly, I did not properly learn how to stop.

And before you ask, I fell – quite a bit. I would describe my faceplant more to you here, but I feel like this video accurately describes my first attempts. I did get the hang of it toward the end and would absolutely do it again.

Sunday night we left about normal time only to discover that our usual route south through Pitlochry was closed due to a snow gate closure in Dalwhinnie. The only other way back to Edinburgh was to go eastward to Aberdeen and then south from there through Dundee and past St Andrews. This turned a 2 hour car ride into a 4.5 one. Ellie drove and was a star about the whole debacle.

Monday, I didn’t have class and stayed in to read and catch up on work. Tuesday, I had seminars for Archaeological Illustration. I am very excited about this course and I am looking forward to creating some art pieces for the assessment! This morning I had my seminar for my Crusades class. And, my dearest dudes, I am one of four girls in this class. The rest are the stereotypical ‘Edinburgh history student’ and I unsure where they came from or where they go considering I have been here for three years and have never once seen them in such an innumerable pack before. Perhaps it’s something about the Crusades that brings them out of hibernation? Unsure – more research is needed. Will continue to monitor the situation.

After my lecture I met up with Sophie, Caitlin, Urte, and Ellie for coffee. I’ve got a bit of reading to do before Friday, which I plan to work on later this afternoon/evening. I’m volunteering at the Botanics tomorrow with a community art group so won’t have as much time in the afternoon to work.

But, uh, yeah, the US Government is still shut down and I’m still alive and kicking it in the UK. So until something else cool happens, my darling dudes.