okay, one last time. promise.

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

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

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

America, I know you will.

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

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

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

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

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

grandma_family

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

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

clete:sue

My Grandparents on their wedding day.  1952.

family

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

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

And, that’s the truth.

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

So, that’s my last election post.

I’ll see you all on the other side.

 

It’s been a week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh scares me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Things must change.

Women cannot be treated as second class citizens.

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

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

Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.

 

 

 

 

straight outta lfk.

Hey pals!  It’s me, writing from the authentic and original Lawrence, Kansas.

I’m in America until term starts in September.  After a short holiday with my family, I’m finally back in Kansas.  *Cue Wizard of Oz joke.* I have bit to myself to relax and write before Tuva, Erling, and Gregor show up to stay with me.  I’m really looking forward to showing my flatmates my hometown.  Lawrence isn’t as big as Oslo or as old as Crieff but I hope they will enjoy their time here.

For those unaware, Lawrence was founded by an abolitionist group from Massachusetts in 1854.  It sits on the border between Kansas and Missouri.  Prior to the official beginning of the American Civil War, Lawrence was a central part to the period known as “Bleeding Kansas.” “Bleeding Kansas” was the struggle between pro-slavery factions who wished the see the Kansas Territory enter the Union as a slave state and abolitionists who fought to see Kansas enter as a Free State.  The Kansas Territory was the hot ticket at the time as it would tip the scales (Free States to Slave States) either way it went – so there was plenty of fighting within the territory as well as external groups such as the one from Massachusetts establishing cities to gather support and abolitionist votes.

In 1855, John Brown visited the territory in support of the abolitionists and aided Lawrenicans known as ‘Jayhawkers’ to help free slaves across the Missouri border and take them to Underground Railroad stations.  The Underground Railroad was a system of safe-houses leading from the American South to the North and finally to Canada to help African-Americans escape slavery.  Because of Lawrence’s involvement in both of freeing of slaves and the setting up of a provisional abolitionist government headquarters it was attacked by Sheriff Samuel J. Jones in 1856.  Jones and his men burned many of the buildings on Massachusetts Street (the central street in Lawrence), including the Free State Hotel which had served as the abolitionist headquarters.  Lawrence rebuilt and continued to resist the pro-slavery factions based in both Missouri and nearby then official capital of Kansas, Lecompton.  Between the period of 1858 to 1861, Lawrence became the ‘people’s capital of Kansas’ and the rival to Lecompton.  Finally, in 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as a Free State.

However, in the early morning of August 21, 1863, Lawrence was attacked again by pro-slavery forces in the form of William Quantrill and his band of about 450 Missouri Bushwhackers.  Quantrill and his men burned Lawrence, including the rebuilt Free State Hotel now called the Eldridge Hotel on Massachusetts Street, and murdered 200 men and boys.  The attack had been systematically planned over months and orchestrated with Quantrill compiling a list of known abolitionists to kill and buildings to burn.  It wasn’t just a spur of the moment decision.  However despite it all… Lawrence rebuilt and aided the Union throughout the American Civil War.  I’ve included engraving from Harper’s Weekly below to show the destruction from the raid.  Harper’s Weekly was a national newspaper at the time and Quantrill’s Raid for sure made national news.

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Battle_of_Lawrence

Images from ‘Harper’s Weekly’ 1863.

After the American Civil War, Lawrence continued to be a liberal hotspot in Kansas.  Our city seal is even of a phoenix rising from the ruins of a burning building, a remembrance of the two raids that tried to destroy Lawrence.  Into the twentieth century, Lawrence acted as a halfway point between New York and San Francisco.  As such, it was a hotbed for the Civil Rights Movement and protestors of the Vietnam War.  There were sit-ins and protests such as the one held by 50 black students at the very high school I would later attend.  In April of 1970, the Student Union at the University of Kansas (the university in the center of Lawrence) was set on fire in protest.

In today’s world, Douglas County is one of the few consistently Democratic counties in the state.  The one time there was an Alt-Right rally in Lawrence a few weeks ago, 750 counter-protestors showed up against the Alt-Rights’ 8.  The most recent city wide protest is the protection of art as the voice of the people.  So, if you’re wondering where I get my politics from, it has a lot to do from where I grew up.

Coming back to America is draining for me both physically from the flight and mentally with all the batshit politics.  But, at least being back in Lawrence, I see people who continue to speak out and stand up for what’s right.  And, maybe Kansas isn’t the top of the list for visits to America but I’m pretty proud to call Lawrence my hometown.  Especially now because, admit all the current bullshit, we still remember our history and try each day to do the right thing.

And, I hope when the rest of Roseneath visits they’ll be able to see that too.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

call your mom.

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

I’ll wait.  Okay done?  Cool!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So if haven’t already fucking call your mom.

 

shit i have learned through bumbling around, pt 2

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

– ‘Teenage Rampage’ SweeT (1974)

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

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

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

The topic of this post: Young People and Potential 

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

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

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

Title IX if you are unfamiliar:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Bothy Work Party 2k16 + Scotland Soundtrack 19

It’s Monday.  Here’s a playlist and some words.

This weekend I traveled northward to the lovely Glen Licht House in Kintail aka the EUMC club bothy.  Map below.

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 11.24.28 PM

As a lot of you know already know, I’m the Bothy Apprentice for this year.  Next year I’ll take over as Bothy Secretary.  While the rest of the club was tasked with various renovation projects including cleaning the tiled floor, fitting the new kitchen, or building a boot rack to keep mud off of the previously mentioned new tiled floor.  As Bothy Apprentice, I was tasked with feeding the hungry masses.

I decided on mass production of potato corn chowder.  Ellie (my sous-chef for the weekend) and I started early around 10:30.  We had a lot of help from other members of the club, including Eilidh and Caitlin, to chop all the vegetables needed for the soup.  Guys we brought a metric fuck ton of potatoes with us.

And that’s how my day was spent.  We set up shop outside in the gorgeous Highlands, turned on some music (spoiler alert: it’s the playlist above), and set to make four giant vats of soup.

People kept asking if I needed any extra help but I jokingly responded with, ‘Guys, I’m from the Midwest of the United States.  If there’s one thing we do actually know how to do, it’s making enough food for a small army.’ And then when people asked about the recipe, ‘Um… well, I learned how to cook from my dad, who learned to cook from the United States Marine Corps, so I just sort of throw whatever I have in a giant pot and dump spices in until it tastes good.’

It was exactly what I needed after this hectic week.

I needed to just get away from everything for a few days.

I read a lot over the weekend.  I took two of my favourite book with me: Tomorrow is Now by Eleanor Roosevelt and Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman.  I read TIN a lot when I’m upset or generally unmotivated.  It’s one of those books you don’t need to necessarily read in order either.  It’s like the Magic 8 ball of books, you can open up to any random page and find the answer you need.  Same goes for LoG. 

Some food for thought.

In a sense, nearly all great civilizations that perished did so because they had crystallized, because they were incapable of adapting themselves to new conditions, new methods, new points of view.  It is as though people would literally rather die than change.  Sometimes, seeing the stubborn resistance of large groups of Americans to accepting the existence of totally new conditions, their determination to meet the future as though it were the past, I am deeply puzzled.  How did it happen that a people with constantly developing ideas on methods of production and distribution appears unable to develop new ideas, new points of view, new solutions to the problems of adjustment to change? – ER

And.

LONG, too long America,
Traveling roads all even and peaceful you learn’d from joys and
prosperity only,
But now, ah now, to learn from crises of anguish, advancing, grap-
pling with direst fate and recoiling not,
And now to conceive and show to the world what your children
en-masse really are, – WW
By Saturday night, the soup was done and the hungry masses were happily appeased.  Sunday, I took a short walk through the rain up the valley to the waterfall.  I was soaking wet by the time I got back to the Bothy, but I was happy.  It was chance to clear my head.
This weekend was a nice break from the real world where I could get out and not have to think too deeply about things.  This week has deeply upset me. I was really fed up with a lot of aspects of humanity.  It was nice to escape everything, eff off to the mountains for 48 hours, and gather my thoughts.
One last thing.
This loss hurts but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. – HRC

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Why I’m Still 110% With Her

 

I watched the election since 9 pm last night until I went to my 9 am tutorial this morning.  I slept less than five minutes.

This morning was one of those moments when the world just stopped and slowed.  It took me a few minutes to process what had happened. America you threw a nasty punch this morning, it knocked a lot of us down. I know it knocked me down.  I physically couldn’t breath.  I couldn’t comprehend what had happened.

I was confused and lost and scared.  I panicked.  I sobbed.  It was awful.  I felt like my country didn’t care about me at all.

But, I had class at 9 am. Drying my eyes, I grabbed my backpack and walked to class.  The election knocked me down, but I refused to prevent it from keeping me from getting back up.

We have to remember Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.

We’ve got to get up and keep fighting for change. We might have been defeated here but we only fail if we give up. Failure is what happens when you stop trying.  Defeat is just a growing pain of progress.

We can’t stay down.  You can cry.  I cried.  But, complaining and blaming won’t do a thing now.  We’ve got to get back up and study harder and work harder.  We have to remember what Hillary stands for, what Bernie stands for, what Obama stands.  The only way things will ever change is if we keep talking, keep writing, keep loud.  We have to move on from this election with elegance and with poise.  Most of all, we have to move on from this election with hope.

I’m upset.  But, I’m not going to let those emotions turn into despair and sadness.  I’m going to turn it into motivation, because I know this isn’t over.  I’m going to get the best education I can.  I got my first essay back for the year and I got a 75 mark on it.  That’s solidly in the First category.  I was pretty proud but I know I can’t let up now.  I’m going to keep writing this stupid blog in case it makes even a sliver of a difference.  I’m not going to lose hope for the America I know.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: this isn’t the America I know.  It is not the America I am going to represent.  I stand for a tolerant, inclusive America – not a country fueled by fear.

We have to remember Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.  

It is our job to keep them alive. 

Just to offer a little hope yesterday:

  • Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada) became the first Latina US Senator.
  • Kate Brown (Oregon) became the first LGBT Governor ever.
  • Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) became our first Somalian-American Muslim woman legislator.
  • Kamala Harris (California) became our first female African-American senator since 1999.

The next four years are going to be rough.  But we have two options: we can hide or we stand proudly in the streets in solidarity with our fellow Americans. We must refuse to cower in the face of hatred and bigotry.  As Michelle Obama said, ‘When they go low, we go high.’  We have to stand together and show the world that we are not a people ruled by hatred.

Watching Hillary’s concession speech showed me that while she might not be our next president, you can be damn well sure she’s going to continue to fight for us.  She hasn’t lost hope.  I haven’t either.

So today after having one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had, I went to my 9 am.  I grabbed a coffee and worked on an essay.  I went to my 11 am archaeology lecture.  I grabbed an afternoon pint with some friends.  Then I went home and slept for six hours.  I was tired.  I was upset.  I got knocked down, but you can be damn sure that I’m getting back up.

I remember looking at a poster at my Junior High School when I was about 13. It had all the presidents on it and I remember thinking about how one day we’d finally have a women up there. It didn’t happen this year, but Hillary’s ideas didn’t die with this election.

I am beyond saddened by the result, but I know that we need to keep moving forward. We can allow this to knock us down, but we cannot allow this outcome to keep us from getting back up. We cannot dwell in our sadness and regret. We have to channel those emotions into creating the America I know we can be. We have to keep fighting for tolerance and equality.

So, yeah, I’m still with her.

 

 

Why I’m 110% With Her

Hello again! It’s me, your friendly neighborhood expat here to talk to you about the US Presidential Elections… which is today.

I’ve thought a lot about how to write this post, because undoubtedly getting political gets people upset… but I realized that I couldn’t stay silent. I also realized I didn’t want to.

I’m not going to pretend I know everything about politics, because I don’t.  I am writing from one view in this post: the America I know we are and the America I know we can be.

I am 19. This is my first election. I was so proud to be able to vote for Hillary.  In a lot of ways she started out just like me: a young university student with the drive and desire to reach her goals and create change.  I am sitting here writing this as a second year university student hoping one day I can help future generations like Hillary has helped mine.

Not to mention she is so, so, so qualified. She’s been a Senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State. Her career spans over 40 years of public service. In those 40 years she’s faced difficulty and instead of allowing it to beat her – she rose above it.  She’s been under the political microscope of America for over 40 years. Guys seriously, they’ve examined her damn emails dozens of times and haven’t found anything.

And you know, I agree, she’s not perfect. But, people aren’t perfect. No president in our history has ever been perfect. Not Washington, not Lincoln, not FDR, not JFK, not even Obama. But, they do they best they can in the places they can, guided by a genuine desire to serve the American people.

That’s what the job is about: service. Not fame. Not fortune. It’s service.

This election goes beyond politics. This election, at its core, is about what version of the American people we want to be and how we want to present ourselves to the world.

Donald Trump is a misogynist.  He’s a racist.  He’s a bigot.  Donald Trump represents the ugliest part of our country and he’s raised his supporters on a xenophobic crusade to make ‘America Great Again.’ Great for who though?  Certainly not women, African-Americans, Latinos, the disabled, and the LBGTQA+ community just to name a few.

As a young woman, watching Donald Trump is horrifying.  He has bragged about sexually assaulting young women. Let me repeat that for the people in the back, Donald Trump, the Republican candidate for President of the United States of America, has publicly bragged about attacking women. Because that’s what sexual assault is – it is an attack meant to physically and psychologically hurt a person.   

 And, guys, seriously? Seriously?!  Tapes come out with actual audio of Donald Trump saying absolutely vulgar things about women and people are still defending him.  He’s insulted women in person, over the phone, in interviews, on live television.  When the women he’s attacked have come forward he’s called them liars.  ‘Oh, that’s just typical Donald.’ What? No. That is not a valid excuse.

There is no excuse for sexual assault.  We should have zero tolerance for this behavior.

It is absolutely disgusting people excuse this behavior.  It is beyond me how people can find this behavior funny, charming, or the qualities of a leader. ‘But wait! He tells it like it is!’ they protest.

Do you know what excusing Trump’s behavior tells me about my country? What it tells the rest of the world? (Because guys, the US elections isn’t surprise! just an American thing!) It tells me women don’t matter. It tells me I don’t matter. What happens to me is just part of ‘like it is’ in America.  It tells me it is perfectly acceptable for men to act however they want toward me, because if Trump can do it then by extension any man who supports Trump can do and say the same things.

It’s 2016, I’ve got essays to write, lectures to attend, and mountains to climb.  I don’t want to have to waste my time also watching out for orange cheese-puff perverts.  Call me a nasty Feminist bitch for it, I don’t care.  It’s beyond inappropriate and I’m tired of this behavior being acceptable.

Someone please explain to me how you can look yourself in the mirror and morally agree with Trump?  How can you look at your mothers, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, sisters, cousins, and friends and agree with Trump?

Speaking of other completely fucked up things about this election, the Ku Klux Klan aka the white supremacist group that burnt crosses in people’s yards, brutally murdered people, and publicly lynched African-Americans endorsed Donald Trump.  In fact, just the other day the KKK set fire to an African-American church and graffitied it with ‘Vote Trump.’

I have had panic attacks thanks to this election. I can’t imagine what my country could turn into with this behavior at the helm.  I fear for my education, my access to healthcare, and my career… and that’s just thinking of myself: upper middle class, white, female.  I look at Hillary and see one of the the most qualified individuals ever to run for the Presidency and she is still in contest with a megalomaniac xenophobe.

I can’t even comprehend what thoughts are going through the minds of minorities or the LGBTQA+ communities. I don’t have the experiences and it would be inappropriate for me to even try to speak for them, but, guys, just know I’m standing beside you, behind you, wherever you need me to stand.

There are times, especially recent times, I have been so embarrassed to call myself an American.  I am embarrassed of this the version of America we are presenting to the world.  The international community is beyond floored that Trump made it this far.

This election has rocked the very core of American society.  However we move forward tomorrow will forever change the trajectory of our country.  Just a simple look back at the 20c can show what happens when a loud movement blames a minority.  This is the moment things either change for the better or for the worse.

One man isn’t the issue, Donald Trump, alone, can be ignored.  It’s the mob mentality created by Trump that is the issue.  It is the disgusting ideas about women, minorities, and the LGBTQA+ community that have spread across our country.  It’s ideas rooted in the fear of difference and intolerance and how they have become accepted by a portion of American society.  Just the other day a peaceful protester was brutally beaten at a Trump rally.  Another protester, this time at a Clinton rally, had his rights defended by none other than President Obama.

Which is why I’m with her – because I know this is not who we are.  I know this hatred and rage is not who we are.  I have faith that the American people will overcome this fear.  It’s a new different America than what people are used to, and to some that makes it scary, but to the rest, this new America is the greatest we’ve ever been.

As much as I’m afraid for the future, I am also excited because the American people I know won’t let bigotry and hatred define who they are.  So please, get out to the polls and exercise your right to vote.  Show the world who we really are: a melting pot of cultures, a land where differences are celebrated, a forum for new ideas, a community of acceptance and tolerance.

Show the world the America I know.

That’s the America I am proud to be a citizen of.