death monday is dead.

Today is the last Death Monday of second year.  Damn.

Hey, Uni?  Maybe slow down, please?

This morning I had an Archaeology lecture over Forensics and DNA which was really interesting.  It ran a little over and cut into my already limited lunch time… but eh, the lecture was cool so I didn’t mind.

For lunch, I grabbed a bowl of soup and went to eat in the Debating Hall in Teviot, it’s in the quieter part of the student union and I really like it because it looks like an old medieval Great Hall.  You know the type with the high wooden ceilings, mezzanine, and dark wood everything?  Yeah?  Yeah.

After lunch, I went to my last Medieval tutorial for the year.  It was over the Later Crusades after the fall of the Crusader states (circa 1291).  After, I had a Roman Empire lecture over the 3rd century AD and then I went to my last Archaeology lab for the semester.  The lab was over using data sets to create charts and stuff on the computer.

The weather has been stellar again and so yesterday I spent most of the day outside.  I went for a run in the meadows, meet up with some friends, and did some yoga.  My friends have commented that I have transcended my title of ‘Trash Child’ (I constantly trip over things, fall into bins or the gutter, and live in the Meadows in my hammock which one more than one occasion has been set up next to a bin.  I also lay on the floor for prolonged periods of time and whine.).  According to Ellie, I have become ‘Earth Child’ after my outdoor yoga sesh in the mud.  Truthfully, I still feel more like a ‘Trash Child’ but eh, I’ll take ’em where I can get ’em.

On wider notes, the Avengers have started filming again here in Edinburgh!  They’ve blocked off of much of the Royal Mile and yesterday night they blew up a truck in front of St. Giles!  I’ve walked by the set a few times and they have repainted a jewelry shop into a kebab shop and have massive rain buckets pouring water all over the street.  They only film late at night, so, no I haven’t seen any of the actors (and probably won’t). Although I could swear I saw one of the directors driving around Edinburgh last weekend!

This week is going to be spent finishing up my last two essays.  I’m nearly done with my Roman Empire essay and still have to write my archaeology report.  This weekend officially starts my Easter break and I will be heading south to excavate a Medieval graveyard and get a much needed two week break! More on that next week!!

My twentieth birthday is in 25 days so that’s terrifying.  I always thought that by the time I was twenty I would be a semi-functioning adult… but alas.


Scot(t)land Soundtrack 26

Happy Birthday Dad!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 8 + Scotland Soundtrack 26

Busy week ahead… as always.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scotland Soundtrack XXV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scotland Soundtrack XXIV

It’s another weekend in Edinburgh.

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

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

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

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

Scotland Sountrack XXII

Hello and welcome to week 3.

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

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

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

Other news.

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

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

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

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

semester ii + scotland soundtrack xxi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, goals for this semester:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



2/3 Exams Complete + Scotland Soundtrack 20

Heyyoooo! Two exams down and one more to go.  I had my Archaeology 2A exam on Saturday and finally 2k16 cut me a break with questions on both the Roman Army and Iron Age Scotland!  This morning I had my Osteology exam and 2k16 must really be sorry for the shit storm it realeased this year because the exam questions were glorious.  I felt really good about both exams, so that can either mean I did well or screwed them up entirely… but I feel like it is the former.

But, here’s to Wednesday – I hope that my luck doesn’t run out.  Wednesday is my final exam for this semester, Modern Scottish History.  Out of the three, this is the exam I’m probably the most worried about because instead of two essays in two hours like the previous exams, this one will be three essays in two hours. (Like my hand already doesn’t hate me after two exams and climbing…)

Today, after my exam I came home and played more Tomb Raider to decompress.  I’m nearly to the end of the game and it’s getting that part where playing it becomes increasingly dangerous to my productivity… that and it has me yelling at the television in both triumph and fury.  Both of which Tuva, Erling, and Gregor think are hilarious.  Later this after I had a volunteer meeting at the NMS, we’re probably going to have our tours running soon so stayed tuned.

Tomorrow, it’s one more final day of revision.  I’ve got three more episodes of the Scotland documentary to watch just to refresh and to read over my notes one last time.  I also need to talk a quick walk down to find my exam hall.  It’s in a new building I haven’t been before.  I’m not too worried about the concepts, just mostly the time constraints.

I generally tend to freak out over things and when I’m actually taking the exam everything usually turns out just fine… which can also be said for a lot of things in my day to day life.

But anyway, study tomorrow.  Exam Wednesday morning.  Final Xmas shopping on Thursday.  General packing and last minute stuff on Friday.  9:05 AM flight on Saturday morning.  Busy.  Busy.  Busy.

Family Visit 2k16 + Scotland Soundtrack 20

This week my dad and sister came to visit me.  It was really great to see them before exams get crazy.

They flew in early on Saturday morning and I met up with them for coffee.  I always enjoy talking history with my dad (he’s basically the reason I study history now) and while I can talk over the phone, it’s a lot nicer talking to someone in person.  Since Dad’s been retired he’s started a whole slue of building projects on the farm.  My sister, Crosby, was pretty excited to come over as well.  She’s just finishing up her Senior Year of High School and next September she’ll be starting University at Cornell College in Iowa.  She’ll be majoring in Musical Theatre and Gender Studies.

I took them to see my flat and Crosby replies with, ‘Wow your room here is just as messy as your room at home!  It even smells the same!’  Thanks Crob.

The rest of the week we tried new restaurants and coffeeshops I hadn’t been to yet.  I found some really awesome coffee shops that I’m definitely going back too.  Crosby said she drank enough hot chocolate to last the year.  We don’t let her have coffee… for good reason.

On Wednesday, I took Crob dress shopping for her Winter Formal because she ‘want[ed] to have a Winter Formal dress from Scotland that no one else will have.’ Typical.  Then we had a sisterly shopping trip aka I gave Dad a reprieve from traveling.

On Thursday, I balanced class with spending time with them.  But, I think they entertained themselves in the city… it’s hard not being able to find at least something to do here.  That evening we went shopping for Thanksgiving.  Similar to last year, when my Mom came over and cooked dinner, my Dad took up the mantle this year.

Friday we spend all day cooking and it was honestly really nice… well Dad and Crosby cooked and I peeled potatoes, played music, and hung Christmas lights.  Friday night we had a few friends over for a nice dinner.  It was really nice.

This morning while I was still passed out in a food coma, Dad and Crosby boarded their flight back to America.  I’ll see them all in three weeks when I’m home for Christmas.  My Grandmother will also be moved into the house which I’m really excited about.

So that’s a quick update about my life.  I’ve got a cold right now (typical).  And, I’m working on finishing up my last essay.  I just submitted my Human Skeleton essay on: ‘Archaeological human remains are not just another artefact’: Discuss.  Funky fresh topic I know.  The other is for Archaeology about the Traprain Law treasure and what it tells us about Roman Scotland… but that’s the last one.  Finally.  Then it’s on to revision.

My exams for the year are on the 10th, 12th, and 14th of December so probably going to freak out soon.  But then I’m back to the States on the 17th and back here by the 28th. Short visit but that’s because I’m out to the EUMC Bothy for New Years!

Anyway, it was really lovely to get to see my family in the ‘calm before the storm.’ It’s always great to see my Dad and discuss history.  Crosby is so excited for University and I’m really excited for her.



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


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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