okay, one last time. promise.

If you’re fed up with me using my blog to promote the 2018 Mid-term elections, rest assured… this is the last time.

Today is Election Day and if you haven’t voted yet – shame on you.  Honestly, that’s not meant as a joke either civic negligence isn’t cute.  Your vote matters, not just for yourself but for everyone around you.  I’m going to sleep early tonight with an alarm set for even earlier tomorrow morning to watch the results come in on boring as C-SPAN unless I can find a way to watch something else.  Yay, time zones.

But. Just one last thing I’d thought I’d say before this election.  America, I believe in you.  I believe you because you’ve seen this before and you’ve seen worse.  And, while it might knock you down a few times you’ll get back up.

America, I know you will.

While I was thinking about how to write this post I stumbled across this:

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This is the Columbus and its register. It was built in 1924 by Schichau Shipyard in Danzig, Germany.  It weighed 32,581 gross tons.  Measured 775 (bp) feet long and 83 feet wide.  Featured steam turbine engines with twin screw. Service speed was 23 knots. It held 1,725 passengers (479 first class, 644 second class, 602 third class) and on January 1, 1926 it arrived to Ellis Island.

Herman Meiwes, my great-grandfather, was the 21st passenger on the Columbus.  He was 24 years old.  From New York, he traveled to Chicago were he met my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Thumann.

In 1929, Elizabeth had traveled from her home in Germany to the United States of America.  She left behind her family, her friends, and the memories of her fiancée who had been killed during WWI.  Everything she owned was placed in a single wooden trunk.  In her bag was a letter from a man in Nebraska who was seeking a German wife. Like Herman, Elizabeth was also seeking a new life for herself – one away from the dangers rising in her home country.

As it turns out, the man in Nebraska had already found a wife by the time Elizabeth arrived in New York.  She moved to Chicago and worked as a nurse and housemaid.  An honest job for a clever, independent woman with limited English.  That was where Elizabeth met Herman.  The two married and moved to Kansas where they had two daughters – Annie and Sue.

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My Great-Grandparents, Great-Aunt, and Grandmother.  1946.

In 1952, Sue married Clete.  In 1958, my grandparents had their first son, Mark, in England while they were stationed there with the US Air Force .  Back in Kansas, in 1961, their second son was born, Scott – my dad.

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My Grandparents on their wedding day.  1952.

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My mom, me, my dad, my sister, and my grandmother. 2014. (Side note: if you want to see me in the future look no further than this picture).

My great-grandparents arrived in the United States with nothing to their names but hope of a better future than the one unfolding in Germany… and through the kindness of the Americans they met along the way and their own hard work – I am here able to write this now.

And, that’s the truth.

I think about my family a lot this time of year this close to Thanksgiving and Christmas.  As their great-granddaughter, I hope to uphold the faith they had.  The faith that America would be the place to welcome them with open arms and do its best to give them the future they deserve.  The place where through hard work, they could make something.  The hope that America will continue to welcome each and every one of us with open arms and do its best to give us all the futures we deserve.  The hope that if we continue to stretch just that bit further with love and support for those around us – we can all make America the place Herman Meiwes first saw from the deck of the Columbus.

So, that’s my last election post.

I’ll see you all on the other side.

 

It’s been a week.

It’s been a week – so much so that I wrote this a week ago and postponed publishing it until now because I was *stressed.*

I’ve been busy crying over building a scale model of an Iron Age roundhouse, I got my first piece of assessment back (I got a 72 on my presentation about Roman Graffiti in my Early Medieval Sexualities course!), and I voted via absentee for the mid-term elections.

I spent the last weekend in the Lake District with the EUMC.  We stayed in the Langdale Valley and the weather was great until it wasn’t.  On Saturday, Gregor drove Ellie, Alven, and I to Hardknott the Roman fort built onto the side of a hill.

The fort was built between 183-203 CE and it’s one of the best preserved forts I’ve ever seen.  It still had the stone foundations of the granary, Principia, and commanding officers house as well as a near complete surrounding curtain wall.  Hardknott even had a bath complex and surviving parade/practice ground!  During a wall walk I discovered the still functioning Roman drainage system that would have drawn water away from the center (and most important part) of the fort.  After eating lunch in the granary, Ellie, Alven, and I walked the 10 miles back to the campsite following the path of the old Roman highway system built to connect Hardknott to the other forts in the area including the one in Ambleside.  The road was also used in the medieval period as there’s a record from 1182 of a bunch of monks in an ox cart traveling the road.

That evening we returned once more to the infamous Old Dungeon Ghyll where they have Old Peculiar on tap.

On Sunday, I had reading to do for class and Gregor had to work on his dissertation proposal so he drove myself, Ellie, and Alven to Ambleside.  The weather wasn’t super great either so I didn’t feel too guilty about not spending the day in the hills.  I had just finished a paper on early medieval monasticism when I glanced at the television and saw ‘Breaking: Kavanaugh confirmed for US Supreme Court’ running along the bottom ticker.

I stopped, put my pen down and quickly left for the bathroom where I spent the next ten or so minutes crying in frustration and then trying to recompose myself in the mirror so I could return to my work.  And, I’m not telling you this to extract your pity.  I’m telling you this so you understand.

As children, we are taught not to throw a fit in public.  As adults, we can shout and yell until our face turns red.

As children, we are taught to answer questions asked of us eloquently and with respect.  As adults, we can respond with a snarky, ‘Have you?’

As children, we are taught we have to work hard and be qualified for our jobs.  As adults, we expect to be automatically given what we want.

As children, we are taught to believe in Santa Claus and are held accountable for our actions or else we’ll get coal for Christmas.  As adults, we refute the under oath testimony of women and refuse to hold people accountable for their actions.

Why is it that we hold children more accountable for their actions then adults?

I watched the hearings, I followed the joke of an FBI investigation, and I once again had to explain to my friends why it’s still currently 1917 within the borders of the United States of America.

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh scares me.

It scares me because it showed me, once again, that my country does not care about women, does not believe women, and will not take the required steps to protect the civil liberties and rights of women.

It scared me because it showed me, once again, that my country does not care about, believe in, or will protect me, my mother, my sister, my aunts, my grandmothers, my cousins, or my friends.

I shouldn’t have to tell you these things to make you believe me, but just in case you want to see my credentials to speak on this subject: I have been groped in nightclubs. I have had explicit things shouted at me on the street. I have had been called ‘a bitch’ and a hell of lot worse.  I have been stalked.  I have had multiple men become angry when I told them they were making me uncomfortable.  My friends have those same stories and more.

Male readers, if that was uncomfortable for you to read then you can only imagine how I felt.

And, before you ask why I didn’t stop it or prevent it let me tell you this: yes, I have a second degree black belt and ten years of martial arts experience.  Yes, I went to the university and I went to the police – but that’s not the point.  Sexual harassment and assault do not happen when you are expecting it and are often in places you know and committed by people you know.  It’s not the stranger in the dark alley that so many people want us to believe it is.  It’s sort of like how this post started out as a gentle recount of my travels to a Roman fort and then changed abruptly…

Also, how about we stop blaming women for things that happen to them and start holding the people who actually did it accountable, m’kay?  How about instead of a reactionary culture we adopt a preventative one?

This past week has made those feelings of helplessness and fear resurface and as someone who really hates feeling helpless – it was sickening.  I watched as a man screamed and yelled his way onto the Supreme Court like it was something that was owed to him.  I watched the testimony of Dr Christine Blasey Ford as she came forward to a panel of people and recounted a horrible event in her life.  An event that, I might add, she would not lie about.  Why would she?  Why cause a fuss out of nothing?  Dr Ford has been forced to move out of her home due to death threats.  Her life has been upended because she spoke out.  With everything to lose (and as we saw little to gain) why come forward with something that isn’t true?  Why go to the trouble to get all the way to Washington DC for false allegations?

And when Kavanaugh was confirmed, that flood of emotions, frustration, and helplessness erupted and caused me to cry for ten minutes half way across the world in a restroom in Ambleside.

At this point, it’s beyond planks in a political platform for me.  I’ve already cast my ballot for people I know will care about me, believe me, and fight to protect my rights.

Things must change.

Women cannot be treated as second class citizens.

Their testimony must not be treated as ‘a hoax.’

I urge you this November, in just 19 days, to think about the women in your own life and do the same.

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

 

 

 

 

four years of bumbling

An update a little late for some but not for others.

It’s week two of fourth year.

This past weekend was spent in Glencoe.  I hiked the Three Sisters on Saturday (a walk I had done in first year and was keen to repeat to see how times had changed).  I ran down the trail back to the bus in boots and probably broke at least two toes.  That evening the club went to the historic Clachaig Inn and fondly reminisced about the snow and the hail and the rain and then finally the sun.  I learned boat races are not a thing I should compete in no matter how much I want to.  Sunday morning I left for a gentle ten mile jog, came back to the campsite by one, and took a nap until people returned around four.

I hadn’t been to Glencoe since first year, so I was quiet excited to return to see how I’ve improved.  Spoiler alert, three years does make a pretty big difference.  And since coming from Kansas back in 2015, I’ve learned a lot about mountains/mountaineering in general.  I’m still by no means an expert, but I would say I’m at least fairly competent.  It’s a bit odd now, if I’m being entirely honest, being seen by the new members of the club as one of the people who ‘knows what they’re doing.’  Especially if I think back to the some of the stupid tactical errors I pulled in the first three years of my mountain existence such as:

  • thinking I didn’t need a roll mat
  • putting guy lines of a tension tent in the wrong direction so it collapsed
  • having my water bottle freeze shut because it was metal and reversely trying to fix that by putting boiling water in a metal bottle the next day and burning my hands
  • forgetting. my. gloves.

A side by side comparison of my wholesome growth illustrated through my first year trip to Glencoe versus this past weekend for interested parties:

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spot cha girl

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Which, again being as honest as I can on this platform without further incriminating myself as a bumbling idiot, is pretty reflective of my time here at University.

For those unaware, I upended my life in 2015 and moved to Scotland having accepted my offer to study without actually visiting the country prior or knowing anyone who lived here.  At this point, as well, the longest I had spend away from home had been at most two weeks.  It was a bit of a snap decision really.  For most of my high school years, I had plans to attend UChicago to play basketball.  It really wasn’t public knowledge at the time, but I had actually been in the middle of recruitment process, having visited the university, spoken with the coach, and attended a few camps.  I applied to Edinburgh in October more as a long shot ‘what if’ but six days after my application had been submitted I was facing an unconditional offer.

By January, I decided to not even apply to UChicago and move to Scotland.

But, I am glad that I did it.

Really glad actually.

(My university saving and parents are as well just fyi.)

But, then to complicate matters further, instead of joining the basketball team as I had thought I went on the Cobbler day trip with the mountaineers.  And, after spending my formative years in Kansas, (a flat farming state in the landlocked dead-center of the USofA) I decided that I should learn how to rock climb and hillwalk.  It was a very steep learning curve, both figuratively and literally.  But it has allowed me to travel the country and see sites (including archaeological ones) that I would have never seen otherwise.

Which I guess is the point of this post? And the reason for the beginning anecdote about Glencoe. This year brings my undergraduate degree to a close, but hopefully opens up more opportunities for additional study.  And my typical fashion of bumbling around until something works out, it’ll probably crop up when I least expect it.

Poulton Research Project 2018

I arrived back in Edinburgh on Saturday after spending the last two weeks in Chester working on site with the Poulton Research Project.  This is my second season back at at the site, which if you’re a keen reader of this blog you’ll know to be a 13-15c Medieval Chapel with surrounding graveyard (read about my first season here).  The excavations focus on the medieval burials – but there is plenty else around the site from Prehistoric, ‘Celtic’ Iron Age, and Roman.

I’ve scanned in my excavation log for your reading pleasure and for an extra challenge of reading my smudgy handwriting. Enjoy.

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Bamburgh Castle Excavations 2018

I just arrived back to Edinburgh last night from working excavations at Bamburgh Castle.  The castle is located south of Edinburgh, across the English border into Northumberland.  While it was largely rebuilt in the 1890s, the foundations are those of a large Anglo-Saxon coastal stronghold with close connections to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne (the site of Viking raids in 793 CE).  The excavations are focused in the outer-ward of the castle (roughly the 6/7c CE) in an area of metal working and industrial activity. If you want to read more about the site check out this article from Archaeology Magazine.

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I was on site working as an Assistant Environmental Supervisor, in the role I oversaw and taught students the process of floating samples taken during excavation, drying, sieving, and sorting.  I also completed my own admin tasks helping out Alice (Environmental Supervisor) and Tom (Post-ex Supervisor) to make sure all the paperwork was complete for Graeme (Site Director).

An aside: flotation is a process by which soil samples from the trench are put into a tank of water and broken up by hands and jets.  This allows for the organic material like charcoal and seeds to float to the top and be collected in a flot bag and the heavier, inorganic material to sink to the bottom to dry and be weighed and sorted.  It’s really great for recovering information about what people were eating and growing as well as what sort of wild plants grew in an area.

If you remember, I attended Bamburgh last summer as a student.  They must have found my jokes funny, as this year I was invited back as staff.  While it was the same site, it was totally different experience and gave me valuable time in a supervisor/management role.  I am so grateful for the team at the Bamburgh Research Project for the opportunity!

Just having turned 21 and still in my undergraduate studies, I was the youngest member on staff.  Truthfully, at first, I was worried I wouldn’t be up to par for the job or that trying to teach students who were often older than me would be a little difficult.  It reminded me a lot of my time practicing tae-kwon-do.  Since I earned my black belt at 8, I was simultaneously the youngest but also one of the senior students.  This meant that despite my age, I had a leadership role.  I learned how to teach a variety of ages and experience levels.  And honestly, as I’ve learned, if you can teach a class of 10-year-olds how to spar correctly and safely you can pretty much do anything.

But anyway, back to the archaeology.

Keeping those lessons in mind, I moved quickly into my supervising role.  In a passing comment from other staff members, I ‘turned flotation into a well oiled machine.’ We quickly moved through the sample backlog from years’ past and put the Enviro team in a really good starting place for next season.  And while I wasn’t the one actually doing most of the work this year, I learned just as much about archaeology as I had the year before.  Teaching a skill really does imprint it further.  Likewise, taking part in the ‘behind-the-scenes’ aspects of the excavation connects all the separate pieces together.

And while it made me realize how much I actually did know about my chosen field of study, it revealed what I also didn’t know.  And that was okay.  One of my biggest pet peeves of any leadership is when a leader refuses to admit they don’t know something.  As I experienced, it’s okay to admit you don’t know something.  A good leader learns just as much from their students as a student learns from a good leader.

I also learned how to quickly adapt to challenges.  We had a large sample which was taken from a shell midden last season (oddly enough, it was a sample that I had taken myself so I only had myself to blame for the mess it created).  It was 2 15L buckets of heavy organic material that when floated broken down into fibers and blocked the mesh, causing the flot bag to silt up.  The team and I had to divide the samples into smaller buckets and mix in hot water and sodium bi-carb to break down the organics.  Then we left the buckets to sit for a few days.  After the weekend, the buckets were finely ready to float.

Besides working on the environmental side of the excavation, I also taught pottery and finds illustration.  It was really fun to teach and again really helped to further ground the skills I had learned this year in my Archaeological Illustration course.  I also got hoisted 90 feet in the air to take site photos so that was pretty neat.

I’m sad to see the season over so quickly as I truly enjoyed my time on site.  Seeing both sides of an excavation was a really unique opportunity and I glad that I was able to do my part to make this season successful.  As worried as I was at the beginning, my fears quickly went away as I got into the flow of the excavation and grew more confident in my understanding of the processes and my abilities to teach.  The rest of the staff was so supportive and because they believed in me – I believed in myself.  And as my first experience in a management role on a prominent excavation – I’m pretty proud of the work we accomplished.

Today, I’m back in Edinburgh to run errands and wash my clothes, but then it’s back down south for another excavation.  More on that to come.

roadtripping 2018

Sorry for the absence, I’ve been away for the last few weeks getting eaten alive by midges.

I’ve been in back in Edinburgh for nearly a week after time at the Bothy, Arisaig, Skye, and Torridon.  It’s been just enough time to take multiple showers, postpone my laundry until I physically couldn’t stand to have it in my room, read not one! but two! trashy teen medieval fantasy novels, get the photos from the trip developed, take part in the Processions to celebrate 100 Years of women having the vote in the UK, and teach young children about worms.

A lot has happened so I’ll try to summarize it the best I can without boring you.

As per my last blog post, I stated I would be returning to the club Bothy in Kintail to do some final fixings before I officially retired from my post as EUMC Bothy Secretary.  With great pride, I can say the EUMC Bothy is now fitted with a fully working gas kitchen.  We cooked a group meal on Saturday night and I spent another weekend in one of my favorite places in Scotland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then it was quickly back to Edinburgh to repack for the following two weeks of Roadtrip.  Gregor arrived back to the flat with his dad’s orange jeep and the four of us (being Gregor, myself, Tuva, and Erling) drove to Arisaig for the kick off of the annual EUMC Roadtrip and the 75th Anniversary Dinner.  This year was special in that the event was attended by not only current Yummicks but past club members as well.  I spoke with a few members from the 1970s and 1980s.   We arrived on the Friday night and had a BBQ on the beach.  On the Saturday, we went cragging to a nearby sport crag.  That evening we had a hog roast, a ceilidh, bottles of committee wine, and I got to meet not one! but two! very fluffy cats.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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That Sunday, Gregor drove back to see his parents and I along with Alven and Tuva packed out kit into Ellie B’s car.  Erling, Oonagh, and Ben packed with Ellie Leigh.  The eight of us went to the beach near Arisaig were we discovered how quickly the Scottish tide can come in and that apparently, gin bottles explode in hot cars (?).  Then it was off to Mallaig to catch the ferry to Skye were the weather was the nicest.  No one really starts the Roadtrip with any concrete plans, we just check the weather and go.

I had never been to Skye before this week.  I had been close, multiple times.  The Bothy is just south of Kyle of Lochalsh, which if you wanted to drive to Skye over taking a car ferry is where you would find a very steep bridge linking the island to the mainland.  And the weather was incredible.  On average Skye gets about three sunny days a year, the rest of the time it’s known to be clouded in mist and rain.  The week we were there, it did not rain a single day.  Clear skies, hot weather to the point I was still sweating in just a sleeping bag liner… and midges.

The Scottish midge is a beast known only to itself.  While I pride myself for never getting ticks or mosquito bits… holy living Hell I was eaten alive.  I looked like a pox victim.  Actually, probably worse.  And since we wild camped most nights, the midges had no mercy.

But anyway, here’s what we got up to on Skye.  Ellie B and I had a nice walk from Elgol to Kilmarie.  It was along the coast and we stopped for ice cream and met a nice dog.  We ordered way too many plates of sweet potato fries from the pub in Sligachan and probably ate all their mayo as well, sorry.  All of us had the bright idea of wild camping at the Fairy Pools so that we could wake up early and see them without all the tourists, which was great and we all went for a swim until the tourists showed up… with their mechanical, whizzing drones.  I really hope when they rewatch the footage they see my kind, respectful one finger salute while I’m trying to bathe for the first time in a week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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day 1 on skye

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In a stroke of ingenuity, we sat cooking dinner in a layby with cars speeding past.  We were all well beside ourselves having realized the speed of the cars kept the midges at bay (it’s hadn’t occurred to us how low our standards had gotten that were were excited about cooking on a layby)…  that was until I woke up the next morning to see the yellow roof of my tent covered in black patches.  In a speedy departure I thought I was home free until I fell into a bog up to my waist.  Pinned down by the weight of my base bag, my friends abandoned me to the midges while I pulled myself (and about a metric ton of bog crap) out and stumbled to the car.

That afternoon, everyone was just a little tired and split up to do different things.  Some went climbing, a few ran errands to get missing kit, and I went for a run.  Despite falling in a bog that morning the day evened out and I ran a solid 18km down Sligachan Glen at the base of the Cullins.  The sun was out, the trail was amazing, and I honestly haven’t felt that happy running in a long, long, long time.  I could have kept going… in fact I sort of did.  I only planed on maybe 7/8km max… but it was just one of those days were nothing hurt and the surrounding were beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was off to Neist Point for climbing by the coast.  I’m normally not scared of heights, but, ouch, did I think I was going to fall into the ocean.  But, I mean it didn’t help that the path to the crag neared about three inches to the cliff with horrid, cackling birds below.  But, the climbing at Neist was great.  The sun did not set until nearly 11 pm so we stayed out late AND! we had our first midge free night!

 

 

 

 

 

The next day, Ellie B and I met up with Sophie, Caitlin, and Urte who were all on their own roadtrip around Scotland.  However, before we went to Dunvegan Castle because tbh is it a trip if you don’t see a castle?  That evening we pitched our tents on a dubious beach spot and got a bit of a fright when we thought the tide would wash us out again.  But, it didn’t and we had a BBQ and celebrated the week as the sunset on Skye with a bottle of cinnamon schnappes.

We were all brutally awoken by Ali shouting, ‘CAN EVERYONE GET UP SO WE CAN LEAVE THIS HELL HOLE!’ at 7 am. My eyes snapped open it was wasn’t even patches of black this time, no my tent was entirely blackened with midges.  Not wanting to even think about moving I shouted back, ‘Have you tried asking them (the midges) nicely to leave?’ No one thought that was funny and with panicked screeching we packed up and got the heck outta Dodge.  However, this was not before Erling became the next victim and if it wasn’t for his socially acceptable male leg hair, he would have looked like not just a pox victim but Patient 0.

Ellie B drove in silence back to the pub carpark and I didn’t blame her in the slightest.  I even forgave her a bit for almost murdering me in my sleep.  *Apparently* I snore and the only way to stop it was to hold my nose until I woke up.

That afternoon, Ellie B drove Tuva, Erling, and Alven back to Edinburgh and Ali returned to Aberdeen.  I swapped into Ellie Leigh’s car with Oonagh and Ben and we all drove to Torridon.  We spend the rest of the time in Torridon before Ellie Leigh dropped me in Inverness and I caught the train back Wednesday night, just in time to go to the pub and see friends again before they all left for the summer.

But back to Torridon, it was finally windy and the midges met their rightful demise.  The highlight of my time in Torridon was scrambling across the Liathach Ridge.  With just the four of us in Torridon and with limited rack and ropes Ellie and Oonagh split off to do an eight pitch route while Ben and I completed the ridge.  (I’ve linked the route description above if you want to check it out because I’m a little too lazy to retype it here.)  But basically, at a few points, while clinging to the side of a rock I cried to Ben (he offered no sympathy, mind you!), why I, a meager Kansas farm child, had ever thought leaving the flat of the valley floor below was a good idea. Jokes aside, it was actually fine and I’m glad for this view.

 

 

 

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Some scrambling.

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The next day all four of us drove to Diabaig for some climbing but after a while we bailed and went for a swim instead.  Then it was off to Inverness to drop me at the train station for my train back to Edinburgh.  I left early so that I could make it to the RBGE Volunteer BBQ on the Thursday.

 

And that’s the trip.  I’m back now and I spent today at the gardens helping the education team with school groups aged 5-6.  I need to start some research, pay a few bills, and answer a few emails before heading off on excavation in July.  I keep telling myself to do things and I probably should get started.

 

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

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.

neither this way nor(that)way

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.

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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.

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.

se(mess)ter 2

Se(mess)ter two is upon us.  I went to Ikea with Caitlin and Sophie and got a new plant.  It’s an aloe vera plant which I have named Poe.  Poe the Aloe.  Everyone, please say Aloe to Poe.

Quickly, I’m taking three courses again this semester: Archaeological Theory, Archaeological Illustration, and The Crusades and Medieval Society.

I had a seminar for Archaeological Illustration today and I’m really excited.  The course teaches you how create both digital and hand drawn section drawings, artefact drawings, or more artistic renderings, etc.  There are two major projects so I’m pretty keen to get out my art supplies and ~be creative.~ I’ve also been doing some reading for the course already and there are some really interesting points about archaeological representation and how the past is shaped by how we view/study it in the present which I’m pretty ~inspired~ by.

Tomorrow I’ve got a seminar for Crusades and Medieval Society which will be looking at how the views of the Crusades have changed over time.  Again looking at the ideas of how people viewed them then and how we as historians view them today.  Out of all the history courses I have taken up to date, I’ve got to say that I’ve been the most excited for this one.

Wednesday and Thursday are EUMC related activities (avalanche and safety talk on Wednesday and Pub Climbing on Thursday).  Friday morning I’ve got a bright and early 9am a la Theoretical Archaeology which I have been dutifully in attendance and participating in all year long (mother and father are you proud of me yet?? pls.  it’s been 84 years)

Then this weekend, it’s off to Cairngorms for some snow and mountains!  I’ll post pictures, don’t fret Jean.

But anyway, things I have been doing lately include cleaning my room and then being reburied in the mess, reading some books, and swapping the placement of my wardrobe and dresser all myself by crying, pushing it along the carpet, and employing the furniture wobble dance… you know the one.  I’ve actually kept up to date on my daily calendar and I’ve found that three different alarm clocks placed in various locations around my room is the perfect solution to my habit of oversleeping.

I’ve also purchased myself a sleeping bag with arms and legs and a hot water bottle.  However, as a mere mortal, I, Kennedy Younger Dold, gave myself too much power over my own comfort.  To right this wrong, and instead of hiring a mercenary, the universe came for me directly.  One night, I naively (and snuggly) fell asleep in my sleeping bag with arms and legs with my hot water bottle and amongst my two duvets and seven pillows.  Around three o’clock in the morning, I was awoken by the terrible feeling of being boiled alive.  I struggled, in the dark, to free myself from the clutches of my own vanity.  But, I, being a stupid girl, forgot that my hands were still inside the mittens attached to my sleeping bag with arms and legs.  So there I flailed until my eyes adjusted and I was freed from the inferno.  Other than that near death experience, I would rate this product 5 stars on amazon.co.uk.

 

things suck, but not entirely.

Prompted by another revolution around the sun… it’s the 2017 year in review.

Truthfully?  2017 felt like the prolonged hangover that was the entire bottle of vodka of 2016.  New year, probably not new me… but it can only go up from here.  It can’t get any worse, can it?

I’ve just got back from the Bothy.  I celebrated Hogmanay with my friends, the mountains, and fours days in my sleeping bag.  Ellie drove, plenty of shenanigans.

January

I began 2017 at the Bothy.  It was just a few days after my hero and pretty much the inspiration for my attitudes toward life, Carrie Fisher, passed away.  The following week, I traveled to London to meet up with Ellie, Caitlin, and Sophie.  Term started.  I also got a new president and the following day the US had its largest protest to date.  The Women’s March had 500,000 marchers in Washington DC, 4,600,000 in the rest of the US, and an additional 5,000,000 worldwide.  I also climbed some mountains.

February 

I finalised plans for nine weeks of field work over the summer and my dad came to visit me.  We went to Bamburgh Castle were I ended up spending five weeks excavating an Anglo-Saxon industrial area.

March 

March is Women’s Month in the US and so I spammed people on Facebook with an inspirational woman everyday.  I also spent a lot of time reading and writing for courses.

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happy sunday 🎇

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April 

I finished up second semester of second year.  Then I went down to Chester for the first of my excavations.  I spent two weeks working in a medieval kirkyard excavating, recording, and lifting a burial.  I returned to Edinburgh and turned twenty.  Then I began to revise for my exams.

May 

I revised for sometime.  I took my exams. I skipped down and went north.

June 

I travelled around with my friends across the UK on the annual EUMC road trip.  We went to the Lake District and then up to Iona.  The EUMC held its dinner meet on the island so after a week of travelling and climbing, we all cleaned up, ate a meal, and had a bonfire on the beach.  I began excavations at Bamburgh Castle the following week.

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sound on.

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July 

Still at Bamburgh Castle.  I really loved it there and I learned a lot.  Mallory, a friend from home, came to stay with me for a week.  Then it was off to Italy for my last excavation of the summer.  I flew into Naples to study human remains from the Roman period at Aeclanum.

August 

It was back to America.  I flew into Florida to meet my family for vacation.  Then I helped my kid sister move into college in Iowa.

September 

The start of third year.  I helped out with Freshers’ Events for the EUMC.

October 

I climbed some more mountains and revisited a Roman fort.  I was also very stressed.

November 

I was very stressed.  Wrote three essays in four weeks and went to Christmas dinner.

December 

I finished early in the month.  My mom came over to visit me.  Then it was back to America for Christmas.  My parent’s adopted another cat.  I saw Star Wars three times.  Then it was back to Scotland for New Years.  I cried at multiple airports.

So what did I learn from 2017? Things suck, but not entirely. 

Had I wished things had gone differently in the 2016 Election.  Everyday.  But, am I glad that the silver lining is that people are becoming active again in politics?  Everyday.  Am i hopeful for the 2018 by-elections?  Hecka.  Am I proud of Alabama in the monumental election of Doug Jones? Yea boiii.

As stressed as I get during the semester am I proud to be a student at a top world university? Duh.  It’s part of the contract.  As Britney would say, ‘You gotta work bitch.’

The summer excavations may have been cold and rainy and then hotter than the sun… but I was still excavating.  And I was loving it.

I may have missed a flight and cried in front of an American airlines employee… but I still made it.

Carrie Fisher might not be around anymore… but her performance in The Last Jedi was everything.

Things suck, but not entirely.  It’s really easy for me to forget that sometimes and only look at what’s gone wrong and not what’s gone right.  I worked a lot on that in 2017, trying to find positive things in what seemed like an awful year long hangover.

So, here’s 2018.