*stress-fess begins and other haps*

For how many contact hours I have this semester I should really be writing more.

Things around Edinburgh have been in that weird stage of ‘IamextremelystressedbutalsostrangelycalmshouldIbeworriedaboutthis?’

If you know the feeling you know, and if you don’t oh, my sweet summer child.

Apologies for not writing as much, but in reality, I don’t think you’d find my general bouncing and bopping interesting.  However!  I was convinced otherwise by a few devote readers of my illustrious list of mild inconveniences to detail more about the mundane facts of my existence.

Since you’ve last heard from me:

I went to the Cairngorms with the EUMC.  We stayed a cute lil bunkhouse because Scottish winter is very cold and there isn’t enough sunlight to justify camping.  I went running without any knee braces and suffered no ill side effects.  I’ve been rehabbing my knees religiously because I don’t want to have to wear braces anymore.  I also walked to see some prehistoric standing stones.

I started a 120 hour online TEFL course.  This will let me teach english as a foreign language.  Just more options, I guess.

I submitted my second essay for Early Medieval Sexualities.

I went to see The Favourite and Mary, Queen of Scots. I don’t know why 2019 has become the year of historical female power dramas but I’m living for it!  The films aren’t totally historically accurate, but honestly, sometimes historical purists need to calm down and enjoy themselves ffs.

The EUMC had our Burn’s Ceilidh.  Burn’s Night is a Scottish holiday to celebrate the poet Robert Burns.  Each year the lads and lassies of the EUMC write crass poems about each other to be read aloud at the ceilidh.  My poem was about how I find skeletal remains more interesting than living people, and I mean, I could be offended… but, it’s true?

I woke up the next morning with sore arms and bruises from being 1) swung around during ‘strip the willow’ and 2) purposely throwing myself and my dance partners at other people for funnies (Sorry Alven, Erling, and Ben).  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: ceilidhs are a contact sport set to fiddles and drums. And. I. Love. It.

I’m still plugging away at my dissertation and the last of my coursework.  At the moment, I have three essays, a presentation, and my dissertation.

BUT! Everything is done by 8 April.

It’ll be a stress-fess for the next two months – but it has to get done, so it’ll get done.

All the work has to get done because my loving parents booked a holiday on 9 April. I was told this was booked in the same vein as when my dad sent me my Christmas present right before exams.  Physically, the gift was an Xbox, but, you see, this was only a metaphor for the actual gift: a lesson in self-control and discipline…

But! I will be free from uni soon.  Then I can spend my days working on my novel, and finally, have some peace.

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

let us talk about humans

Hello all! Let us now talk about being human.

Story Time.

The year is 1929, a young woman named Elizabeth traveled from her home in Germany to the United States of America.  She left behind her family, her friends, and the memories of her fiancé 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.  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, independant woman with limited English.  That was were Elizabeth met Herman, another German immigrant who received his citizenship in 1933.  The two were wed moved to Kansas where they had two daughters – Annie and Sue.

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

My great-grandmother arrived in the United States with nothing to her name but hope of a better future than the one currently unfolding in Hitler’s Germany… and through the kindness of the Americans she met along the way – I am here able to write this now.

Wednesday was Burns’ Night, the annual Scottish Holiday for celebrating Robert Burns.  Burns was a famous Romantic Scottish poet who wrote frequently about his love of the Highlands was an inspiration to later writers such as Walter Scott.  It is traditional to eat haggis with neeps and tatties to celebrate.  And so, my friends and I gathered together for a feast.  My friend Ali, from St Andrews, memorized Burns’ ‘Address to the Haggis’ and recited it with great gusto and ceremonially split the haggis with an ice axe (we are mountaineers after all).  We toasted each other, friends from across the planet, with whiskey.

Saturday was Lunar New Year, the annual Chinese festival to celebrate the coming of the new year.  Again, my friends and I gathered together for a feast of noodles and dumplings and rice.  Our hosts were Chris and Jingjie from Hong Kong and Singapore respectively.  We gathered to exchange well wishes and hopes for the new year with toasts of sake.

Everyday in the flat these thing occur: Gregor complains about the English but then is reminded that many of his friends are English.  Tuva and Erling talk rapidly in Norwegian and I am only left to infer they are talking about their love of herring.  I use a farming or baseball metaphor.  We all sit down for a nice dinner.

In summary: Different cultures are beautiful.  My friends from all over the world are amazing and I love them all dearly.

And now, history repeats itself as Donald Trump attempted to ban people from seven Muslim nations totaling to 130 million people.  Refugees landing at JFK Airport, who had thought they had finally made it free, were confronted with the reality that they were arriving in a hostile nation.  Parents seeking a new future for their children have been told despite the days, months, years of waiting for legal visas – they are not welcome.

Trump based this ban through a hastily written and cowardly executive order – ‘Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.’  The order reeks of xenophobia and Islamophobia.  It lumps thousands of people together for the actions of a few.  Socially, it is dangerous and created out a fear of the unknown.  Politically, Trump has made it clear that to him all Muslims are the same.  Which is ridiculous and ignorant considering most Americans are able to separate the KKK or the Westboro Baptist Church from Christianity but are somehow incapable of separating ISOL from Islam.

Oh, and FYI: We are only nine days into Donald Trump’s presidency.

But – the America I know came out and showed the world we will not blindly follow in his hate.  Within hours, protestors had congregated at the airports the refugees were being detained and stood together in solidarity.  Lawyers went to work and the ban was declared rightfully unconstitutional for those who had already arrived in America and for those in transit with valid visas.  This saved those currently being detained in airports… but what about the rest?  Additionally, the ban did not just affect refugees, it affected Green Card holders who are currently abroad as well as people arriving in the US for business such as a  vet from Glasgow who holds an Iranian passport.

How can the President of the United States, the so called ‘Leader of the Free World,’ have so little empathy and compassion for those in need?  We want to lead but we are afraid of stepping up to the plate and educating ourselves about real issues.

History is not kind.  Those in congress who stood by and did nothing will be remembered as the cowards they are.

But – again, for the people in the back, over the nine days I have seen the American people step up to the plate when our ‘political leaders’ have struck out.  The displays of love and solidarity across America make me wish just a bit that I was there to stand along side you all… instead of writing this on my blog.

I am so proud of my friends who are standing up against this and standing with each other.  I know together we can get through this.  For my Canadian friends – thank you for stepping up when American could not.  And for my Scottish friends – thank you for being there in solidarity.  And my German friends – hats off to you too.

So please, when you’re reading this think of something you can do to make a difference – even a small one.

Educate yourself.  Stop spreading clickbait and false news.  Listen to three or four different sources before making a snap judgment.

Attend a march or peaceful protest! Sign a petition!

Call or write to your legislators. Here’s for Kansas. Here’s for The House of Representatives. Here’s for the Senate.  I know emailing politicians may feel like a dead end, the number of times I’ve tried to contact them and received only an automated response is high… but once we decide our voice is never going to be heard is the day we become complacent.

Donate to organisations like the ACLU whose lawyers are currently working pro-bono to help those currently detained in airports.

Listen to those who are speaking and stand beside them. Simply listening and understanding a different point of view can make the world a better place.  Our current crisis stems from fear.

Keep talking. Post on social media, have conversations with people.  Politics isn’t a mum subject.

We are all human and, to be honest, we aren’t all that different.  My great-grandmother was able to restart her life here in America.  It is basic human dignity that we extend this chance to refugees fleeing their countries in the same light Elizabeth fled hers.

And seriously, it’s getting fucking exhausting trying to explain this to people.

 

 

 

 

Scotland Sountrack XXII

Hello and welcome to week 3.

I’ve been busy all week with socials and coursework.  Yesterday I had one my infamous Introvert Shutdowns.  Which basically means I wrapped myself in a duvet and didn’t leave the flat all day and I was asleep by 7.30.  It’s not that I hate people, I just get really tired when I’m around them constantly and need time to recharge.  Illustration below:

introvertsBut, I’m up and (semi)functioning today.  I’ve been working on tutorial reading for my Medieval History course.  The tutorial on Monday is over the 13c Papacy and whether or not Innocent III and Boniface VIII used their papal authority to restrict the autonomy of lay princes over their kingdoms.  Spoiler alert: they did.  Between the various papal bulls issued during the late 13c and early 14c, it is clear that the Papal States felt threatened by the sudden rise in power of secular kingdoms, especially those of England and France.  This came to a head when Philip IV of France basically stormed Rome and captured Boniface XIII after Boniface had threatened to excommunicate Philip for exerting ‘too much control’ over the clergy in France.  This established the Avignon Papacy which led to the Great Schism of the 14c and is arguably the roots of the Reformation.

I’ve also been reading for my Archaeology lab which is also Monday.  We will be looking at artifacts and learning the basics of how to catalogue, draw, and record finds.  Finishing my coffee, I went to the NMS (again).  I tend to go there a lot.

Other news.

This Easter Holiday (April 9-21st) I will be taking part on the Poulton Research Project in Chester.  This project focuses on the excavation of a Medieval cemetery!  I’ve been in contact with the excavation supervisor and will get a chance to work not only on the excavation but in the osteology labs as well. I am very excited for this opportunity!

I’ve definitely started to narrow down my range of study and would ideally like to pursue a career in Medieval Osteology, preferably looking at the remains (and burial practices) of Medieval knights and what we can tell about the role of conflict as a means of prestige and rank in society… or something along those lines.

I’ve always viewed good Military Archaeology as a bit of an under-represented topic.  Most academics tend to stray away from the nitty gritty details of conflict and focus instead on more gentile issues leaving out the messy topic of conflict.   This is fine, but I would argue that it curtails our understanding of the Middle Ages greatly.  As we must remember, a king had to be both a warlord and a statesman.  It wasn’t until the reign of Henry VII in 1485 we truly saw the birth of a ‘politician king,’ but by then it could be argued had already moved from the Medieval Period to the beginning of the ‘Early Modern Period.’

Anyway.  I should have so more news on the archaeological front with the days to come as well.  That’s all for now.  Enjoy the playlist.

Welcome to Wummer

I spend the weekend in the Cairngorms, the national park located in the northeast of Scotland.  I packed my crampons and ice axe in hope of snow.  There was no snow.  I hiked in my baselayer and went for a swim – it’s technically still winter, but it felt like summer… hence the title: Welcome to Wummer

Such was the weekend.  We departed from Edinburgh at 6pm Friday night and drove up through Pitlochry to Kingussie where we all stayed in the Woodlan House, a uni owned house with a kitchen and real beds!  Luxury!

Saturday morning was an early start with bags on the bus by 7 AM.  Naturally, because of my bad temper in the morning and general dislike of humans prior to 10 am, I set my alarm for 5.15 AM.  I got up and immediately went to the kitchen to make breakfast and have at least three cups of heavily caffeinated tea.  I had a nice 45 minutes of quiet before the rest of the 50 some odd people woke up.  By 7AM, with boots and gaiters on we were loaded into the bus to be dropped down the road at Glenmore Lodge.  We had a long day ahead of us with a 18 km hike up to Bynack Mor, down a bit, over and a up Cairn Gorm, and then down again.

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It was really lovely.  The temperature was cold but not terrible, the wind was bearable, and you couldn’t have asked for better visibility… you could have asked for a bit more snow. Especially considering I had thrown my crampons in my bag.

My anatomically fucked up knees even held out all day until we reached the summit of Cairn Gorm.  Increased stretching and yoga has definitely been helping, but there is only so much you can do when they already do not articulate correctly.

I was glad I got the chance to get out of the city and walk however.  Women’s Marches all over the world in solidarity against the general anti-woman feel of the new Trump Administration were being held on Saturday.  While I had been unable to join the walk that day in Edinburgh, I focused my walk in the Cairn Gorms about moving forward and what steps I would need to take to continue to be a positive, supportive member of society.

Saturday night we returned to the house and Tuva, Erling, and I cooked dinner.  We’ve been collaborating on the past few meets for Saturday dinner because 1) it makes cooking easier and faster and 2) we can split the supplies and actually make more food than we could have if we all made it separately.  We decided to go all out and brought along diced lamb, feta, tomatoes, spinach, pita bread, and tzatziki for a feasting fitting of Athena.

The next day, my knees were a bit sore and Tuva had a cold so we planned a bit mellower day starting early again at 8 AM.  I woke up again early so that I could have my tea in peace.  Our walk was planned through the forests around Glenmore, through the reindeer reserve, past a loch, and then back to the ski center car park to get picked up.  When we stopped at the loch most of us jumped in for a swim.  I use the term ‘swimming’ rather loosely for when I got into the water it was more of a run in and scream.  It reminded me a lot of my track and field days when I would have to take ice baths after practice.

And that was the weekend.  It’s back to classes now, I had an Archaeology lecture, Medieval Europe tutorial, and a Roman Empire lecture today.  Tomorrow I have a Medieval Europe lecture about the power of the papacy and another Roman Empire lecture.

 

 

For Tomorrow.

‘If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.’ – Juan Ramón Jiménez

I found this quote while reading Fahrenheit 451 a few years ago.  I wrote it ironically the other way on a ruled index card and taped it to my desk so that I would see it everytime I sat down to study. (Mom and Dad you can check it should still be there).

Today is… well, today Donald Trump become the President of the United States of America.  A country of 300 million people spanning 9.834 million km².  This inauguration day was an all too heavy reminder of what could have been.  On November 8, I had high hopes I would witness Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first female president of the United States.  By November 9, after staying up for nearly 24 consecutive hours, having two panic attacks, and still making it to my 9 am… I was unsure of my future.  I could not understand how a man as repugnant as the man now waving to the world across newspapers, television screens, and computer monitors was going to become one of the most powerful, influential people on the planet.  How he had won despite claims of sexual assault, racial discrimination, and business fraud.   I still do not have an answer to this question… maybe I would if I was getting a degree from his fraudulent university and not one from one of the top 20 world universities.

But – that was November.  It is January.  2017.  I have grieved, I have attempted to understand… and now like many others I have to take my sorrows, my anger, my knowledge and use it to create positive action.  We can sit idly by as those loud, boisterous, braindead microphones continue to shout, or we can speak, educate ourselves, and educate others.  We need to keep speaking – even if our voices shake.

But – we must remained poised and composed.  We cannot fight fire with fire.  It is easy to become angry, to retaliate with more hate.  This only weakens our stance and gives those who oppose us grounds to dismiss us as yet another angry mob.

What we can do and what I am trying to do is to put in all the work I can today to make the future brighter tomorrow.  I am here in Edinburgh to get the best possible education that I can.  I know though an education I will acquire the skills I need to succeed and then in turn use those skills to help others succeed as well.  I am here in Edinburgh to meet people and embrace the globalized world we live in.  Through discussion and tolerance we can learn from each other – and see that we all truly are not as different as some people want us to believe.

I remember Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘Do one thing each day that scares you’ and rephrase is a bit, ‘Do one thing each day that scares what Trump represents.’  Go out and get an education.  Go out and speak.  Go out and march.  Go out and love.  Go out and do not be afraid.

Through love and tolerance and the desire to reach out and connect is how I know we will get through this.  It will be hard.  My eyes are not dry as I write this.  I am scared of what the future holds.  I know the United States is not the greatest country in the world, no country can boast that, as no country is without faults and it is a bit egotistical to think of one as ‘the best’ while ignoring very apparent flaws.  However, I do believe the United States has a greater responsibility than most.  With great power, comes great responsibility (yes, I just quoted Spiderman, leave me alone).  My greatest fear is that responsibility will become trivial.

But – amongst the fear and the uncertainty I know if we come together, if we ‘never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it’, and if Princess Leia did not teach me anything else – we must hold onto hope.

Thank you and now I am off to escape to the mountains for the weekend.

 

semester ii + scotland soundtrack xxi

Ah, semester two is upon us.  Prepare the lances, open the gates… and charge.  I’ve been adamantly waiting for the start of classes.  Usually one is less than ready to become absorbed by reading and essay writing… but I always find myself the happiest when surrounded by learning… I feel a real sense of purpose and belonging.

I love attending lectures and listening to people talk about subjects they are passionate about.  Growing up, I felt very isolated from my peers (albeit, looking back on it now, much of it was probably self inflicted).  I never knew what to say during a conversation and never seemed to share any of their interests.  Socially, I’ll admit I was a more than a tad awkward and quite shy.  I loved talking with people, but large groups made me tired and overwhelmed (and this still do).  Perhaps that made me appear stand-offish.   My best friends were my parents, my cats, and my books.

I buried myself in study.  I latched onto the Middle Ages.  And truthfully at 13, who does not love the idea of great queens and valiant knights and conquests of valour?  I covered my walls with charts and maps.  My room was full constantly with piles of books from used bookshops and the public library.  I read as much as I possibly could, bringing books with me everywhere I went.  My dad and I would hold exergetic debates over historical events, I remember quite fondly one discussion, during my second year of highschool, of how the Third Crusade would have gone differently had Frederick Barbarossa not drowned in the river.  My mom would roll her eyes.

At that age, and now at 19, I really want nothing more than to learn as much as I can.  The connections we make to the past are indispensable for our futures.  History is what binds people together across the ages and like a whisper can tell fantastic stories if one sits quiet enough to listen.

The opportunities I have been given here are not ones I take lightly.  I have the chance to shape my future, now, at this moment.  As Lin Manuel Miranda wrote so ferociously, ‘I am not throwing away my shot.’  I have had successes, but cannot be complacent.  As I told my parents over break, ‘Three of my essays this semester were firsts… I’m going to try to see if I can make that five this semester.’  Especially, as I enter into the second half of my second year.  Graduation grows closer.  If I want to continue to be surrounded by the history I adore, and I very much do, I have to stay focused.

I guess, it was the intrinsic human fear of failure which drove me for the longest time.  I feared I would never made it out of America, now I suppose, seeing as I have had the appetizer, I am awaiting the main course.  I am not so scared of failure much anymore, as instead of focusing of the negatives, I try my best to stay positive.  Just coming back from the shop with enough food to last me a few weeks, I realised, as I turned the key to my flat, where I had been two years ago – accepting my offer to study here in Edinburgh, in a country I had never been, and a continent I had only first visited two years prior.  By accepting, I did not allow my fears of failure control me anymore.  Now I just have to build up the confidence to reach my arms wide, grab it, and never let it go… which is easier said than done.

I still have much to learn, and I know that I will never learn everything I want to… but at least I know what makes me happy.  As I listen to world experts talk about the subjects I adore, or run my hand along the the vast shelves in the library full of books I have yet to read, or walk the ancient streets of Edinburgh, or climb peaks up north I think a lot back to the young girl from Kansas who wanted nothing more than to see the places in her books. How, each night, she would look at the map of the world she had pinned to her ceiling and knew one day she would finally find her place.  Everything I do now, I do for her.

And additionally, future-me with an excavation all her own and a cat named Henry, what I do now is for her as well.

As I said, I do not take my place here lightly.

So, goals for this semester:

I) I plan to reach farther and aim higher.  I am finally taking a course in Medieval History and I hope it is everything I want it to be.  However, I cannot be complacent in my background knowledge.  I must use this as an opportunity to learn even more than ever.

II) Attempt to be more sociable.  Remembering to put down the books and actually interact with people… ones who have not been dead for the past six hundred years.

III) Be more productive during the day and not leaving large amounts of reading to the day before.  I have a very bad habit of this.

IV) Stay. On. Top. Of. Laundry.

V) Remember that this is a subject that I love dearly and not allowing my studies to become a chore.

VI) Not take myself too seriously and remember I am still a huge nerd who may or may not have just spent the last ten minutes looking for her glasses… when they were already on her face…

Classes start tomorrow and I have lectures in both Archaeology and Rome History.  I am very glad to be getting back to my studies and cannot wait to see what I can learn this semester.  News on this summer’s upcoming archaeological dig is coming soon, I just have to finalize a few more things… but I can say that I am quite excited about it.

 

 

lads hit london town

It was a spontaneous trip planned through a group message of mostly cat gifs and pictures of Ryan Gosling.  It ended with me crying over old things, dropping my toothpaste down the toilet, and hitchhiking pigeons.

*drum roll please* Welcome to the recount of ‘Lads Hit London Town.’

On Saturday, I booked a cheap flight down to London to meet up with Ellie, Caitlin, and Sophie.  All three of them live around the area.  I flew into Gatwick by 4 pm, hopped a very humid and crowded train to Victoria Station to meet up with Elie and Caitlin.  From there we walked past Buckingham Palace (Yes, the Queen was in.) through Trafalgar Square to Chinatown for dinner.  It started to drizzle while we were walking.  By the time we got to the restaurant, we were soaked.  I had a huge plate of noodles, devoured them all, and felt much better.  After dinner we walked to past Big Ben, Westminster, and the Houses of Parliament, then to Waterloo station to catch a train out of London to Caitlin’s.

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The next morning we started bright and early as we had planned to go to Oxford to meet up with Sophie.  My morning started extra exciting as I dropped my toothpaste in the toilet pre 8 AM. We took the train back into the city and grabbed the Oxford Tube (a bus not as the name would suggest a train).  Unaware that ‘no hot food’ does not include ‘hot drinks’ like it normally does in America, I forced myself to down a large latte in five minutes before boarding the bus.  I later learned that you could in fact bring drinks on the bus and I hated myself for the entire hour and half ride.

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By the time we got to Oxford I was glad to be on cold, unmoving, ground.  Sophie picked us up at the bus stop, we stopped briefly at her house which was built in the 16c (and omg it was so cool).  I rushed to the bathroom because, again, I was stupid and downed a large coffee in five minutes.

We then travelled into Oxford.  Oxford is such a pretty town, and is definitely dominated by the University.  We went to the original Blackwells bookshop and then trekked over the Pitt Rivers Museum.  The Museum had shrunken heads and swords.  After the museum we stopped for tea and snacks at one of the older Church buildings in Oxford, boasting to have been used since 1230.

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That evening, we returned to Sophie for dinner and watched the new iTV Victoria series.  We only intended to watch an episode or two, until we realised that actual bae Albert did not appear until episode five… so we marched on.  The next morning we took the Oxford Tube back to London.

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Back in London, we took the underground to visit the British Museum.  I was especially excited about visiting, as it has been a place I have wanted to go for a few long time.  It’s a bit silly, but I’ve got this old postcard from the early 1900s featuring the exterior of the Museum.  It has people walking in out of the museum on it with horse and carriages waiting like taxis in front.  I’ve kept this postcard with me for a while, keeping it on my desk next to other old postcards of places I would like to go or places I have been.

Walking inside of the museum I was overwhelmed.  I knew the museum was large, but it never really dawned on me just how spectacular the collection is.  The first gallery I entered was the Egyptian gallery and I was greeted by the giant bust of Ramses II.  The Rosetta Stone lay just beyond.

Another reason I was so keen to visit was that the British Museum has, in it’s collections, many artifacts taken (or stolen, depending on your viewpoint) from building on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.  When I visited Athens back in March of 2015, I had given a report on the Temple of Athena Nike (a small temple located by the Propylaea near the entry of the Acropolis which was dedicated to the goddesses Athena and Nike).  However, many of the original friezes and stonework were not located in the New Acropolis Museum in Athens.  While I had seen the building and some of the more famous pieces such as ‘Nike attending her shoe,’ I had not seen the major friezes that has adorned the exterior walls of the temple.

In the British Museum, I actually stumbled upon them rather unexpectedly, but was glad that I did.  While, to be fair, I wish that I had been able to see the pieces in Athens with the rest of the structure, I was glad to have been able to see them at all.

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This sentiment could also be said of the Parthenon Marbles.  Two years after visiting the Parthenon in Greece, I was able to finally see the surviving friezes and metopes.  The marbles had been taken by Lord Elgin in 1801.  Seeing the marbles in London was more than a little controversial for me considering the circumstances that surrounded their original departure from Athens.

As an archaeologist, I have always felt that it is my duty to uphold and respect the cultural heritage of the cultures I study.  This extends to the rights of autonomy over artifacts.  However, I do understand that at the time of their removal, Greece was on the cusp of their Wars of Independence.  The Acropolis was severely damaged over the following decades, with the Parthenon itself taking heavy hits from cannonfire.  It cannot be certain, what the fate of the marbles would have been had they remained in Greece… but at least, then, having them removed and taken to London seemed to be the best option in the sake of preservation.  Now over 200 years later… it has become a point of contention between Greece (who despite being facing economic collapse, has spend large sums of money developing and building a new museum to house the marbles) and the UK.

While personally, I would like to see the marbles return to Greece… I can understand the worries of the academic community.

Other highlights of the Museum featured the famous Sutton Hoo ship burial which many people relate to the time of Beowulf and the Lindow Man.  The Sutton Hoo burial is an Anglo-Saxon ship burial dated to around the 7c AD.  It was a truly incredible find as it links fact to fiction, archaeologists were able to lift portions of Beowulf that correspond to finds in the grave… drawing into greater question the text’s legitimacy as a historical source and not just an epic poem.

Lindow Man was one of the Iron Age bog bodies discovered in England.  I’ve written quite a bit about him through essays, high school science projects, and on exams.  This was again, a situation where I had turned the corner and stumbled upon him.  It honestly took me a little bit by surprise to see him there before me.  I had looked at plenty of photos of Lindow Man but to see him in person… I could still see the red of his hair and the stubble of his mustache, arms twisted in a sleeping position.

Like I said, the British Museum was a little overwhelming for me.

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From there we said goodbye to Sophie and Caitlin.  Ellie and I traveled back to her house for dinner.  The next day, Ellie and I travelled back into London for a day of shopping and more site seeing.  We ate lunch and then hiked up to the Royal Observatory.

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The next day was back to Edinburgh.  Ellie and I caught the 11 AM train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh.  The train ride was very calm and honestly, so much better than flying.  The train did a brief stop in York… and then about twenty minutes later, the train conductor announced: ‘Could the person who brought the crate of live pigeons with them please return to Coach D to collect your pigeons.’ You could honestly hear the collective WTF across the train.  I assumed then that the situation had been taken care of… until two train attendants said that no one had come to collect the pigeons and it was assumed that they had been placed on board the train in York.  A crate of live pigeons was left unattended on the train.  The conductor called ahead to Newcastle, however the station was unable to take the pigeons.  We continued onto Edinburgh (passing Bamburgh Castle…more on that site to come) … where I am assuming the pigeons were taken from the train.

And that was the end to my trip to London.  It was really wonderful to see my friends and have them show me some of their favourite places in their hometowns.  Also a big thank you to Ellie, Caitlin, and Sophie’s families for allowing us all to stay at their houses along our escapades.

I’m back in Edinburgh relaxing after my yoga class ready to get back to University on Monday.