~a week in paris~

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

For those wondering:

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

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

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

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

Basically a dream.

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

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

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

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

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

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✨Finally seeing the 13c in Technicolor™️✨

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That evening we went to the Louvre.

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▶️🅰️🌾❗️💲

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

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📈📍🦅📧

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

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🤟🏻🅰️💲🌱 1️⃣

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

xxii

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, anyway.  Happy Birthday to me.

 

a video?!

 

what is this 2016?! I haven’t done a vlog in ages and this is the least I could do after shoving my camera in my friend’s faces for two weeks.  sorry not sorry. So anyway, here’s a belated mock-u-mentary about the anniversary dinner/roadtrip conveniently edited to a PG rating and under 5 minutes.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

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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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😻

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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.

 

long time no chat

Hey all!  Apologies for the absence.

Things have been a little busy around here in Edinburgh.  I had my last exam on Wednesday (Theoretical Archaeology) so I am officially done for the year and just awaiting some final marks.  The exam went well and unless I royally messed up, it’ll be fine.  My final project marks for my Archaeological Illustration class came back and I’m quite happy with them.

Out of all my classes this semester, Archaeological Illustration was probably my favorite as I got a chance to work both digital stuff like Photoshop and Illustrator but also techniques like ink and watercolor.  I’ve always love art and it was great to be able to use what I’ve learned in school during this class!  I’ll include pngs of my final project below if you want to see.  We had to choose an object and create two different illustrations.  I chose the wooden box I use to keep my bobby pins in.  I did one academic on the computer and one hand-drawn for public engagement.  Also for museum work and excavations learning to record artifacts is a great skill to have.

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The flat had a party last night to celebrate as it was also Norway Day (17th of May).

Plans are to go up to the Bothy soon to set the gas and do some other work so I promise to write a longer post about summer plans then.  Next week is the EUMC Anniversary dinner in Arisaig.  There will be a ceilidh, hog roast, camping, climbing, and a beach.  Then it’s off on a short climbing road trip to where ever the weather is nice and beach is close.

As for the rest of the summer, I’ll be spending June in Edinburgh working at Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh on my dissertation about the Botanic Cottage (archaeology, Enlightenment History, and education!).  July is going to be full of excavations both at Bamburgh and back to Poulton.  August is back to America.

Byeeeeee.

yummick road trip 2017

Hello friends it is I, your local hermit.  I just got back last night after a whirlwind tour of the UK.

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sound on.

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It all started right after my last exam on May 23.  I finished my exam at 4.30 pm and then headed right north to the Bothy with a small crew to finish renovations and spend a few days there.  I’ve officially taken over as Bothy Secretary for the EUMC and the place looks fantastic.  The kitchen is now fitted, doors are hung, the fireplace is filled in, and we even got a fantastic day out on the hills for some sunny walking.  We walked the Five Sisters of Kintail, a ridge line with five peaks and three Munros.  I got terribly sunburned during the walk and basically both of my arms  have peeled off.  On May 26, it was back to Edinburgh.  I spend May 27 airing my kit and repacking.  It was a quick turnaround as we left again, early, on May 28 to head south.

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hi mom! i forgot sun screen.

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Ali, Ellie, Tuva, Erling, and myself all crammed ourselves and our kit into Ali’s parent’s car and began our week long adventure across the UK.  We first headed south to the Lake District to avoid the bad weather up north in Scotland.  We may have had a mild SNAFU with the bouldering mat whilst driving the M-6.  For the first two days, we stayed at Ellie’s grandparent’s cottage in the Lake District.  The building was built in 1725! We spend one day climbing and the next day we went for a nice 17km stroll.

Then we packed up again and headed further south into the Lake District. We arrived in Great Langdale for a rainy afternoon.  We pitched our tents and I made sad sausages in the rain on my camping stove while Ellie held an umbrella over my head.  To wait out the rain we all headed to the pub.  Later that night, more Yummicks joined us at the camp site.  The next day we headed over to Shepard’s Crag for a day of climbing in the sun.  I got sunburned again.  I lead my first pitches in a right long while and it felt really good to be back out climbing.  The next day, Ali, Ellie, and I headed to the Langdale Boulders.  I saw the Neolithic rock art carved into the sides of the boulders and pitched my hammock and take a nap.  Tuva and Erling went climbing at the nearby Raven Crag.

The next day was a long haul drive from the Lakes up to Oban.  Oban is a port city on the west coast of Scotland.  We caught the ferry over to Mull from Obam.  Once on Mull, we put the party bops on and jammed out as we drove across the island to reach Fionnport.  We stayed the night at a campsite in Fionnport.  The sunset was incredible.

The next day, while many stayed on Mull for some climbing I packed up my things and caught the early ferry over to Iona.  Iona was the location for the Dinner Meet on Saturday night, a dinner of general shenanigans and debauchery.

However, Iona is also an island of significant historical importance.  In 563 AD Columba landed on the island with 12 monks and established one of the more important religious sites in Scotland.  The Abbey on Iona is famous throughout history.   And, a link to my upcoming excavation at Bamburgh Castle, when King Oswald was a boy he spent his exile in the kingdom of Dal Riata (modern day Argyll and parts of Ireland).  Iona was the religious center for Dal Riata.  When Oswald converted to Christianity, he would at some point visited Iona.  And later when Oswald returned to Northumberland and took back his rights as king of Bamburgh castle, he brought with him a new sense of Christian ideals.  It was Oswald who granted Aiden the land for Lindisfarne and strengthened the connection between secular kingdoms and the church.

So anyway, I spend the day on the island by myself.  I went for a run around the island to explore the sites.  It was fantastic.  The weather was amazing as I explored the Nunnery and the Abbey.  While I was listening to the audio guide at the Abbey, I heard what I thought was a crack of thunder.  At first I just thought it was part of the guide’s music but then I looked outside and saw that the sky had opened up and there was actually a small thunderstorm!  I waited in the 13c Benedictine cloisters for the storm to pass.

That afternoon, more yummicks made it to Iona and we headed down to the beach.  I jumped into the ocean and had a good swim around in the cold, but-not-too-cold water.

Iona was definitely an island where you could feel the sense of history.  It cloaked everything on the island with a sense of mysticism.  When I took the ferry over from Mull and caught site of the Abbey from the water, I could understand why for over 1000 years people have been coming to this island.

That evening, everyone finally took showers and we headed to the restaurant for the dinner meet.  It was a really nice time and I got a chance to see all my friends again before everyone leaves for the summer or in the case of a few for exchange the next year.  After dinner, we headed back to the campsite to change and then headed back down to the beach for a bonfire.  I roasted s’mores and then taught a lot of my friends how to make them as well.  I was shocked to find that the quintessential camping food was just an American thing.  We hung around the bonfire singing songs, telling stories, and drinking a lot of alcohol.  Lol, what did you expect?  You put 40+ twenty somethings on an island after a week of walking, climbing, and camping.  We finally got pushed out of the beach by an onset of rain around 3 AM.

The next day was a slow pack up and then ferry back to Fionnport.  From there we drove back around Mull to catch the ferry back to Oban.  The drive was long as we arrived back at the flat around 9.45 last night.

All in all it was a fantastic trip out with lovely people and a good start to a summer I know is going to be stellar.  The only downside is that it’s over and lost pretty much all the skin on my arms.

I woke up late this morning to air out my kit and write this post.  I’m just back in Edinburgh for a few days now.  I’ll be heading south soon again to start my five week excavation at Bamburgh Castle!

 

this is early bc im skipping town

This post is *technically* about a day early but since I’m getting the heck outta Dodge right after my exam, I decided to write it tonight.

And that’s second year.  Tomorrow, I have my last exam, Roman World, at 2.30 pm (to 4.30pm).  I’m a little nervous for it as always, but I am currently channeling the planet Saturn which astronomically exudes confidence.  I’ve read through my notes and my textbook, so I’m feeling pretty good.  I also figure after four+ years of Latin, a trip to Italy, and having a published novel which draws on aspects of Roman/Greek society if I don’t know Claudius from Caligula by now…    

Right after my exam, I won’t have much time to celebrate.  I’m running right back to my flat to grab my bags.  I’m leaving for one of my favourite places in all of Scotland – the Bothy.  I’m officially become the Bothy Secretary for the EUMC and I cannot be more excited.  This trip is going up to work on the kitchen and finish up the main refurbishment works so that the Bothy can be ‘officially reopened.’

Anyway, I am so glad that exam season is over.  It’s been more tiring than stressful and honestly, more annoying than anything else.  Classes finished back in the beginning of April, so it’s been about a month of waiting for my exam.  I’m the type of person would would rather write 2-3 long essays in a class over the semester than wait for an exam.  So, I’ve read a lot, walked around a lot, and drank a metric fuck ton of coffee.  Yay!

But, two down and one to go.  My archaeology exam was last Monday and it was pouring outside.  Medieval Europe was last Thursday and after I took the exam I went to the NMS for a book talk with Diana Gabaldon (the author of Outlander).  She talked about writing and then signed my copy of Outlander.  It was pretty cool.  Today, I went for the massage/facial my mom booked me for my birthday and I have emerged a new woman with fewer knots and much less dead skin.  Thanks mom!  I’ve also been trucking away on my *space archaeology* manuscript, it’s nearly at 30,000 words atm. WOWZAH!

But anyway… tomorrow I finish up with my second year of university.  This, September (assuming all goes well and I didn’t fuck everything up on my exams) I’ll be starting my third year!  GASP!  Time to start working on a dissertation and having my marks count toward my final degree.  Honours years is going to be a transition, but I’m really excited for it.  This year has honestly been amazing.  First semester I got to take an osteology class and this semester I got to use those skills on the excavation in Chester.  I can’t wait for this summer to use them again at Bamburgh and in Italy.  This semester I took a course in Medieval History which I enjoyed so much.  It really makes a difference when you finally get to take courses in things that you have a genuine interest in.

It’s been a crazy two years.  If you had told 2015 Kennedy that 2017 Kennedy would be having a kick-ass time in Scotland she would have probably been a bit skeptical.  Sometimes 2017 Kennedy still can’t believe that she made it here either.  Walking around Edinburgh still catches me off guard sometimes as I catch sight of new things.  You’d be surprised how many old things tend to blend into the city unnoticed.  Just the other week, I wandered into the Old Calton burial ground and ran into David Hume’s tomb – who knew.

But, enough with academics already.  I am so ready to finally relax this summer and turn my brain off, enjoy the weather, and drink some well earned alcohol.  Treat yo’self.

Well, that’s second year.  It’s been grand.  After my exam I’m headed to the Bothy for a few days and then back to Edinburgh and then out for the Road Trip for week and then back to Edinburgh and then out to Northumberland and then back to Edinburgh and out to Italy and then back to London and then to America… you get the idea.

dear crosby, (your room still smells like french fries).

Congrats Crobmonster.  You’re officially done with high school, well, minus the actual graduation day… But, tbh no one really cares about the physical day of graduation.  It always rains and all you do is walk across the stage to get an empty diploma case (jokes on you, your real diploma hasn’t been printed yet!)

Alright.  I figured I would take this chance to write you a nice ‘lil blogpost.

I hope you enjoyed your last day in high school, but I do hope that you aren’t in the mindset that this has been/must be the best four years of your life.  Because tbh it’s not.  It won’t be.  You’ll probably miss your friends, your teachers, and that gross but sweetly nostalgic smell of old hummus that haunts the hallways of LHS *shudder.* Keep in touch with as many or as few as you want, but, now, clean the mold out of your locker and leave. (But, not before thanking your teachers.  Dammit Crob, go back inside right now and thank those wonderful humans.)  But yeah, don’t stick around.  Get out and go.  Don’t dwell in the past, especially when it comes to high school.  No one is going to care at all in a year.  You’ve past the high school milestone in your life, but this isn’t like on a road trip when you get out of your car and and take a gazillion photos with the ‘Welcome to Colorado’ sign.  You’re going seventy-five and have no time to stop, because Cr(ur feet smell)osby, I know, mom and dad know, your teachers and friends know that you’re headed to something cooler than just the ‘Welcome to Colorado’ sign.

I know you’ve had a pretty rough time these last four years.  (I hope that at least for the first two I was able to help a bit?) But, truthies Crobula? I know you’re really scared of growing up and leaving and you think that by graduating that you’ll have to start acting all adult and shit.  Lol nope.  In fact, the people who act really adult right out of high school are probably the most insecure and worried about their future.  They’ll tell you that ‘being mature is the best thing since sliced bread’ as they sip their disgusting cold brew coffee.  The real secret, Bobsby?  Maturity is circumstantial.  Meaning you’ll learn when it is appropriate to at 2 am shout ‘Down it Fresher’ to yourself as your drink an entire bottle of Malibu while covered in 200 googley eyes versus when you need to assure the director of the bank that all your paperwork is in order and that you have the right forms of ID and signatures to be made a signatory on a bank account.  See, Crib, completely circumstantial.

Alright enough about high school (*whispers* because no one cares).  Now onto University.  I’ll give you a bigger pep talk this August but for now…

I know you’re worried about making friends.  I mean aren’t we all?  But, trust me on this one.  There will be plenty of theatre loving weirdos for you to hang out with.  It’s a weird thing: once you get to a place that specialises in something people who like that thing… *hides behind my hand and whispers* they are everywhere.  I think it’s a government conspiracy.  And for that first week of classes?  Everyone is going to be scrambling to make friends.  Sometimes the people you meet in week one are going to be your best friends, other times they are going to be the ones to introduce you to your best friends.  Either way.  Chillax, Bing.

Have fun this summer.  Hang out with your friends and enjoy having dad do your laundry.  Don’t think of it as your last, it’s just the prologue of the sequel that ended up being better than the first sorta like The Empire Strikes Back.  High school is over for you.  But, I bet you that you’re going to be sad for like 0.00000000003 seconds because I know how excited you are to start at Cornell this fall.  Congrats Bob.

Now thank your teachers and leave.

– ur older, wiser, and infinitely cooler sister

p.s enjoy the playlist. i only put i musical song it on because i can’t stand musicals.

p.p.s ur room still smells like fries.

hi mom! i’m still kicking it.

Hi Mom (and other family members who like to know what sort of weird shit I’m up to these days!)! Here’s a weekly update on my life (and a playlist of what I’m currently listening to… [does anyone actually listen to these? asking for a friend]).

While many of you are aware, I turned twenty on Friday.  My hair has turned white overnight and my chronic knee pain had developed into full blown osteoarthritis.  I am coming into my elderly age.  I stayed inside all day Friday and sat.  It was glorious.  I watched films (Mr Holmes, Young Victoria, Pride and Prejudice, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Indiana Jones), made homemade cinnamon rolls with the new hand mixer my mom bought me for my birthday, ordered pizza, and drank some fancy gin and tonics.  My friends came around during the day to sit with me and watch films.  Then they went back to studying for exams.  Everyone was out the door by 9.30 and I was asleep by 10.  It was a total rager, Mom.

On Saturday, I woke up early for yoga at 9 am.  Then I came home and studied for my upcoming exams.  I finished knitting a scarf for myself and then went out for coffee to study some more.  That even I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2 with Ellie.  It’s out a week early here in the UK.  So, Mom, tell Crosby she better not be stealing anymore of my clothes or else I will text her the entire plot summary and spoil the film.

Sunday, I went to the Cat Cafe and petted cats.  Then I came home, worked a bit, and then went to yoga at 2.  In my elderly age, I must preserve my core strength and flexibility of my youth.  In the afternoon, I used some weird sea salt shit on my face and scrubbed off all of my dead skin cells.  Then I put some smashed seaweed on my face and sat around the flat like an Ariel wannabe for a while.  Sunday night, I stayed up until 3 AM watching the entire season of GirlBoss on Netflix.  It was very good if at times a bit infuriating.  But, I recommend watching it.

Today, I woke up at noon.  I made myself a breakfast sandwich and then took a nice stroll up to New Town to grab a cup of coffee and work on my revision.  I’m re-writing my notes and creating charts now to help me remember key facts.  My exams aren’t for another two weeks, but I study the best if I do a little bit each day.  Tonight, I’m going to hot yoga and will be reduced to a puddle of sweat.

I got the last of my assignments back on Friday.  70 on a report about the domestication of the common goat and a 68 on a Roman essay about Roman Forts.  Pretty decent.

The rest of the week, Mom, I’ll be working and drinking a lot of coffee because I’m (probably?) addicted to caffeine.  On Thursday I’m going to go pick up the two canisters we painted for the kitchen.  I am very excited to be able to organise the flour and sugar so that when I open the cupboard they don’t spill out and attack me.  It will be nice not being covered in white powder and looking like a cocaine addict every time I want to bake!

I’m in this strange stall period now with classes over and exams not for another two weeks.  It’s a bit stressful but also semi-relaxing because I don’t have any classes to go to, if that makes any sense?  However, I’ve honestly been a bit bored because I do actually enjoy my lectures and such.  So, to  combat my pre-exam stress/boredom I’ve been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac and searching the internet for funky fresh activities to do with my time in-between revision.  I was thinking of maybe taking a few day trips to random places but not yet sure.  I’ll let you know when I make up my mind, Mom.

Anyway, it was really nice being able to see you all last week.  Miss you and Dad and Rory and Mulan and (sometimes) Crosby.

Schela Cladovei Excavation 2k16: Part I

Woah.

I’m back in Edinburgh after spending the last three weeks in Romania on my first archaeological excavation.

Just to recap: the excavation was based in Schela Cladovei, a Mesolithic/Neolithic settlement on the banks of the Danube in southern Romania (basically on the border between Romania and Serbia).  Located in the region known as the Iron Gates, Schela Cladovei had been a primary location of fishers and early farmers.  Other history in the region included battles between the Romans under Emperor Trajan and the Dacians were Trajan built a pontoon bridge across the Danube #nbd.

So here goes the longest blog post ever. I’m actually going to split this into two parts.  This will be the boring  ‘this is what I did part.’ Part two is the touchy-feely ‘I’m going to cry about old things’ part… coming soon.

The trip started out on May 21.  A group of us flew from Edinburgh to Heathrow and then onto Bucharest (the capital of Romania).  Our flight arrived at 12:05 AM, with the train to the city centre at 8:40 AM.  It was a long wait. (Read: I spent 6 hours sleeping on a plastic chair in the Bucharest airport and it wasn’t even a nice chair. It had one of those annoying hand rails between each chair and they were attached.  Like who does that?)

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Finally when the sun came up we got to a smaller train station and boarded a train that would take us to Gara Nord, the central station in Bucharest.  From Gara Nord we took the 10:40 AM train to Drobeta Turnu-Severin, the larger town near Schela.  The train was a six hour journey through southern Romania.  Everyone was super tired and tried to sleep, but it was really hot and stuffy on the carriage so I got maybe 2 broken hours of sleep.  The train was also delayed by 2 hours.

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However, we finally made it to the dig house in Schela.  I had hit the ’24 hours of travel’ mark long, long ago on the train so I went right to sleep.

Our first morning of the excavation started with a quick lecture about the logistics and history of the site.  Then we walked down to the river so uncover the site.  We removed polystyrene blocks and tarps to uncover the trench.  The trench was a large square divided into metre squares, five long (509, 510, 511, 512, 513) and five wide (Q, R, S, T, U).  Those metre squares were then divided into four labeled from left to right (A, B, C, D). So squares would be labeled for example Q509A – row Q, metre square 509, box square A.

The trench had a mixture of dark soil and yellowish soil.  Dark soil is an indication of a ‘feature’ basically archaeological terms for ‘something did something here to disrupt the soil.’ Yellow soil is the undisrupted soil.

We started excavations the next day.  Our daily schedule started at alarms at 6 AM.  We left the dig house at 6:50 to be on site at 7:00.  We set up the equipment and worked until 8:30.  Breakfast was brought to site by a local Romanian woman who lived near the site.  It consisted of really, really, really, good fried egg bread and usually some meats, cheeses, and spreads.  A few days we got warm loaves of bread.  She also brought really good coffee that definitely was strong enough to snap anyone out of being tired.  We worked until 11 AM and then took a break for water/food/sunscreen until 11:30.  Then we went back to work until 1 PM.

The weather in Romania is really humid this time of year.  It’s also really hot with temperatures reaching 32C.  We started early to avoid working in the hottest parts of the day.

After returning to the dig house we had a break for lunch/showers/sleeping until 4.30 PM.  At 4.30 PM, we started cleaning our finds from the day or sorting dry finds.  This was a really fun part of the day because often times when you excavate you can’t really tell what you find because it’s so covered in mud… you just know that you’ve found something.

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Dinner was a 7 PM.  It was usually cooked by the same woman who brought breakfast to the site.  After dinner, everyone usually just went back up to the rooms to chat and relax before going to sleep.  The days were very long and often everyone would be asleep by 10 PM.

We had Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday off.  Usually we hung about on Saturdays and would go into town for shopping trips on Sundays.  We actually went to the cinema one weekend to see the new X-Men film.  It was still in english but had Romanian subtitles.

And then the day repeats for three weeks.  It was awesome.

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It never got boring though.  We learned how to excavate, wet sieve, do floatation, take levels, and work the EDM.  Each day different people were doing different tasks.  Excavation involved working in the trench.  Our task for the 3 weeks was to dig 5 cm down from level 19 to level 20.  Wet sieving used a pump and  drum to pump water from the Danube to wash away mud from smaller finds like tiny bits of bone and pottery.  Floatation works similar to wet sieving except that you have to use two sieves to collect fine pollen or seed particulates that would have just been floated out of the drum.  For this we worked with a archaeo-botanist from the University of Belgrade in Serbia.  In August, she will return to Bucharest to analyse the samples.  From the sample she will be able to tell what sort of plants (both wild and domestic) grew in the area.  Taking levels involved working with the dumpy level to tell how much deeper you would need to excavate.  And lastly, the EDM is used to the set the crosses of the squares to make sure that the trench remains consistent.

Besides the dig we got a chance to go out and see parts of Romania.  During our last week we spend some time in the Old Town of Drobeta where we got to see a 16c Romanian Castle.

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We also took a boat trip down the Danube to see sites that had been flooded when the two hydroelectric dams (Iron Gate I and Iron Gates II) had been built.  The dams are actually one of the reasons why Schela is so important, because it is one of the few sites that has not been submerged by the rising water levels.  ALSO! Hi, fellow mountain climbing friends… don’t know how clear the photos are but the Iron Gates are home to some cool looking limestone walls that probably would have some great climbs.

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We also stopped at a cave that had been used by the Austro-Hungarians in the 19c as a border fort between them and the Ottoman Turks.

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We left the dig house on June 10 and took the 9:30 AM train back to Bucharest.  My flight back was at 5:10 the next day and there was not a day-of train that would have gotten us back on time.  So we decided to spend the evening in seeing Bucharest.  Bucharest is a really cool city, but it’s very contradicting.  The Old Town of Bucharest resembles the streets of Paris is its grand buildings, but you can definitely see leftover Soviet buildings.  Remember: Romania was part of the Eastern Bloc until the Romanian Revolution in 1989. However, walking the streets of Bucharest you can really tell that Romania has pushed to become more Western and remove any trace of being a Soviet Satellite.

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Also side note: in Captain America: Civil War, Bucky is hiding out in Bucharest.  There were, unfortunately no Winter Soldier sightings.

Our travels back to Edinburgh where a tad stressful with a delay in Bucharest that pushed our flight in Heathrow to a bit of a sprint.  But, we made it back.  When I got off the plane in Edinburgh the temperature was 12C with a heavy rainy overcast.  It was glorious.

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It was a lot of hard work and the weather varied (I GOT TO SEE THUNDERSTORMS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 7 MONTHS I AM ALIVE!)  but I really enjoyed my time on site.  Finds included a variety of pottery, stone, and both animal and human bones (more on human bones later…).  It was a really incredible time and cannot be more thankful for this opportunity.  I am so excited to see what the next three summers have.

Okay. Stay tuned for a really awesome post about a super cool find that I had the chance to excavate!!! Tears ensured.

(Also side note… I realised that I’m wearing my black and white striped shirt in a lot of these photos… I swear I showered and did laundry!! I’m not a gross human.)