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…

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 12.36.21 PM

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.

 

here comes the sun…

Welcome to Week 10.  One essay (over the Roman army) and write up report (over the domestication of the goat in the Near East circa 10,500 BP) left to go.

Last week was hellish.  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  I was super busy and the weather was pretty shit.  I missed my cat terribly, realised I would only be happy again if I had a cat, and contemplated what it would take to let my landlord allow me to get a cat.  Then I had a massive introvert crash.  Fun!

The highlight of last week was meeting with the supervisor for the Osteology masters program on Thursday morning.  I had emailed her asking about the course and we arranged to meet early on Thursday to discuss what I would need to do over the next two years.  The program sounds really fun and definitely something I could see myself doing… especially if I want to continue with osteology as US regulations are pretty strict on what analysis you can do with human remains.  She said that I was on the right track and to continue to take as many osteology classes I can and continue to seek out volunteer spots like I am doing at the NMS.

This weekend, however set a nice tone for the last two weeks of term.  The sun was out and the temperatures were creeping up toward 20C!  On Saturday morning I joined in at the Anti-Fascist march here in Edinburgh.  Long story short, an alt-right party had planned an ‘unofficial’ White Pride day in Edinburgh on Saturday and so a counter protest had been formed to make a clear statement that this city is one of love and tolerance.  Get ta fuck Nazis.  I also got to walk by the Avengers set down on Cockburn Street so that was pretty cool as well.

Afterward, I left to go work on my essay and presentation because, as everyone knows, the best way to combat the alt-right is through education and acknowledgement of fact!  Later that afternoon, after slugging coffee after coffee, I met up Ellie, Sophie, and Urte and hung around outside all afternoon.  I really hope the weather stays as nice as it’s been for a while.  I’ve been wearing my Birkenstocks on a daily basis if that gives you any indication about how nice and sunny it’s been!

On Sunday, the weather was nice again. I had work to do, so I took the books I needed and set up my hammock along Middle Meadow Walk.  I read about Roman forts in Britain, gave a mock presentation, and drank a few G&Ts.  Sunday was also Mother’s Day here in the UK so I tagged my mom in a nice meme on Facebook.

Today, I had an archaeology lecture over animal domestication, a medieval history tutorial over Joan of Arc, no Roman lecture because of a scheduling error (I went and got coffee instead), and lastly my archaeology seminar where I presented my findings about goats!  I could finally use my farm child knowledge of growing up with goats for the power of good!  The presentation went really well, and I’m always keen to talk about osteology.  Since one of the osteology classes isn’t being offered next year (professor on research leave) I am really considering taking the course on the analysis of animal remains.

Just this week and next and then the semester is done! But, before I head to Chester next Sunday for a two week excavation, I need to finish my last essay and report.  It’s going to be hard to focus with the weather being this amazing…

Scot(t)land Soundtrack 26

Happy Birthday Dad!

Sorry I wished you Happy Birthday yesterday because I am negligent human.

For those unaware (aka most of you), my dad’s a pretty cool dude.  My mom worked full time when I was growing up, so my dad was the one who basically raised me.  He’s the one who taught me how to read and how to, most importantly, play Age of Empires.  He also introduced me to how totally awesome history can be.  How?  Well, instead of normal books you would think to read to a small child who can’t even tie their shoes yet, my dad read me whatever he was reading at the moment… which was usually some gigantic book about some niche topic during the American Civil War.

Dad’s keen on understanding the ‘realities’ of history.  It’s never enough to just read something in a book.  To really get into the mindset of what life was like in the past, Dad always says you have to experience it.  When I became interested in Medieval History, he taught me how to use a longbow, crossbow, and a few different types of swords.  Like I said, cool dude… if a bit mental.

I wish I was kidding.  But no.  There are photos in a few albums back home of my dad reading a Medieval History textbook to me when I am barely two months old and of me aged twelve fiddling with a longbow in the frontyard.  You could make the argument that my chosen path of study was more nurture than nature.

Dad also taught me the value of service and loyalty.  I guess a thirty-six year military career would instil certain values in a person.  Even now, I really try to live up to the standards my dad set.  It’s a challenge, but I think I’m doing okay.

Anyway.  Happy Birthday Dad you’re really old now!! Remember to drink your prune juice!

Week 8 + Scotland Soundtrack 26

Busy week ahead… as always.

Yesterday I had my Medieval History tutorial over the English Revolt of 1381, Lecture about Roman Frontiers, and my Archaeology Lab over using GPS to create site plans.  This morning I had a lecture over Popular Religion in the 14/15c.  Funky fresh times talking about converted Pagan rituals!

Last Friday was a long night.  I volunteered at the NMS for the Museum Late.  The NMS hosts night time events which correspond to the current special exhibit.  They serve drinks, have live music, and performances that go along with the theme.  The exhibit right now is ‘Monkey Business’ about different type of monkeys and apes.  I’ve been through it a few times with my museum membership and it’s really cool.  (Although I am looking forward to the next exhibit about Bonny Prince Charlies and the Jacobites!!) But anyway, I was staffing the arts and crafts station for the evening.  It was actually quite fun, I was stationed in the Grand Gallery so I was able to listen to the live music and watch the acrobats!

Saturday and Sunday I was absolutely exhausted. I took the rest of the weekend to relax, work on readings, and read books for actual enjoyment.  I’m currently re-reading Pride and Prejudice.

I have three assignments left to complete for the semester so things are starting to finally settle down a bit.  However, I still have my big essay for Roman History so that’s still looming.  Ugh.

Some cooler news, I’ve got a meeting lined up next week to discuss a Masters in Human Osteoarchaeology so that’s exciting.  I know it might seem early, but I started looking at Universities when I was a sophomore in High School, so about this time four years ago…. ouch.  Got to love those extensive five year plans!

The rest of the week looks decent ahead and I’m going to really try to get out somewhere this weekend.  Haven’t decided where yet, but may just take a train north and see where I end up.

Scotland Soundtrack XXV

Hello everyone!  All my coursework for Medieval Europe is submitted.  My essay is turned in!  I’m happy with it.  I wish I had 1,000 more words to delve into more stuff because I really do enjoy the topic but oh well.

Now I can enjoy the rest of the semester… sort of.  Coming up, I have two more Practical assignments (working with Abode Illustrator and using GIS to create digital maps of sites) and one presentation/short report about the ‘Domestication of the Goat’ for Archaeology.  For Roman World, I have one essay.  I’ve decided to do the question about Roman Military camps and what that tells us about the organization of the Roman Army. YAY! The semester is closing down, but I can’t get unfocused.

Yesterday was my Grandma’s birthday so Happy Birthday again Grandma!

Also yesterday, since my archaeology lab for the week was canceled and I didn’t have NMS volunteering, I had the afternoon off.  Incredible!  To relax after submitting my essay, I went for a run because the weather was #stellar and then in the evening I went to hot yoga.  I’ve been attending yoga classes for a while now, they’re really been helping with my anatomically incorrect knees.  However, this was my first time attending a hot yoga class so I was a little nervous about it to be honest… but it was actually really nice.  I was disgustingly sweaty, probably should have brought a bigger towel, but it was a good flashback to a Kansas spring day, albeit being close to 20 degrees cooler.  The class was set at 89F (32c) and Kansas summers can get up to 110F (43C).

Today, I’m working on some tutorial work for Roman World and planning out the rest of my semester (we only have four weeks left… WHAT!?). In case you’re interested, here’s a whirlwind tour:

Term finishes on April 7, and then I’m off to Chester for the first of three excavations this summer.  I get back to Edinburgh just before my 20th birthday.  Exam dates came out yesterday.  I have exams on May 15, 18, and 23.  Exam revision is going to consume my life for the following weeks, but once those are done it’s off on the Mountaineering Roadtrip to wherever the weather is nice.  The Dinner Meet this year is on Iona (You know the 6c monastery established by St. Columba… later home to Oswald, the King of Bamburgh Castle!).  After the dinner meet, it’s a mad dash back to Edinburgh to get packed for five weeks at Bamburgh.  Then a week back in Edinburgh to get packed for both my excavation in Italy and my trip back to the Dis-United States of America.  Back in America, the family and I are going on vacation and I can finally relax.  It’s going to be a busy summer, but I can’t say that I’m not doing the things I love.

Reminder! March is International Women’s Month so don’t forget to be/thank/appreciate/acknowledge the amazing ladies in your life!

Scotland Soundtrack XXIV

It’s another weekend in Edinburgh.

I’m nearly done with my essay for Medieval Europe about National Identities in the Hundred Years War.  This morning I got up early to go to yoga class at 9 am. I slept in until 3.30 pm yesterday (introvert crash), didn’t leave the flat, watched Pride and Prejudice (again), and had porridge for dinner… so I figured I should be productive today.  Here’s a playlist that hopefully inspires productivity and also Ed Sheeran’s new album came out yesterday and I honestly forgot what I was listening to before.

Today wise, I need to mail an old pair of glasses away to get the lens reglazed with my prescription.  They’re an old pair I nicked from my mom while I am was home over Christmas because I liked the frames.

I’ll probably (read: definitely) stop for coffee today.  Hopes are to get my essay done today and submit it by tomorrow because I do not trust technology.

Oh! And March is International Women’s Month so don’t forget to be/thank/appreciate/acknowledge the amazing ladies in your life (Love you Momby! <3).

Scotland Soundtrack #8

all essays are in and my last lecture is tomorrow… then it’s off for easter holidays.

enjoy some jams. favourites this week are 1,2, 6, 8.

the florence + machine song is a shout out to henry v… see if you can catch the reference, once more…

End of Semester Timetable.

Happy belated Easter everyone!  I spent the day yesterday walking around the city.  It was rainy in the morning, but the sun came out in the afternoon making it a gorgeous day.  I went to see the Celts exhibit at the National Museum as well.  It was a fantastic exhibit with artifacts from all over Europe including the Gundestrup Cauldron!!!

This morning, I turned in my last essay for the semester (Archaeology essay about the study of human remains).  This week is the final week of classes.

I could not be happier with how this year has gone.  I also cannot believe just how fast it passed either.  It seems just yesterday I was running through the Newark Airport to catch my flight.

The semester is coming to a rapid close with just Spring Break, Revision Week, and then Exams.  Here’s a list of things that will be happening to finish out the semester.

Today, I have a meeting at the National Museum of Scotland!  I was selected to be a member of the Young Demonstrators, a youth-outreach group at the Museum who helps to plan events to further engage the community.

Tomorrow is my last archaeology tutorial of the year.  We will be discussing Roman Britain.

Thursday is the last official day of classes for me.  I have two lectures: Celtic Civ and Scottish Studies.

This weekend I will be preparing for my climbing trip to Spain for Spring Break,  I fly out next Tuesday.  I cannot wait!  The trip will be fantastic and the weather is going to be amazing!  Nice and warm and sunny!  I’ll be in Spain for the whole break.

My dad is coming out to visit me when I get back from Spain and I am so excited to see him. He’s already requested I show him some of the cool pubs around Edinburgh.  (Don’t worry Dad, I’ve got a list.)

Revision week is from the 21st to 28th of April.  My first exam is on the 29th.

But! My 19th birthday is on the 28th, and to celebrate I will stop being a pansy and go get the Athenian Owl tattoo I’ve been talking about for ages.  The appointment is already set so no backing out now.  I’m getting it centered on my left scapula.

My two other exams are the 8th and 18th of May.

This morning I got my flights to Romania.  I will be flying from Edinburgh with other students to Bucharest and then take a train to Turnu Severin.  The dig team will pick us up and then we will stay a the dig house just outside of Schela Cladovei.  The dig runs from May 21st to June 11th.  It’ll be a lot of skeletal excavations so bones, bones, and more bones!!

I’ll be flying back to Edinburgh and couch crashing (swapped for homemade mac and cheese and alcohol) for a few day to sort my stuff out and decompress after the excavation. Then it’s back to the States.

I’ll be home from around the 16th of June to the beginning of September.  Time to see friends, family, and spend time with Rory.  Already checked out the climbing gym at KU and I can get a ‘home for summer’ membership, so I can keep climbing over the summer!  Just need someone to belay me (*cough* Mom?  Dad? *cough*).

Also, I’ll probably hide inside because I’ve gotten used to cold, rainy Scotland and Kansas summers were already unbearably dry and hot.