a logistical plan

Since you’ve last read about my life I’ve made a few decisions.

If you remember from my last post – I had two offers for graduate study.  The first, continue here at the University of Edinburgh for the Human Osteoarchaeology MSc.  The second, return to Lawrence for the Museum Studies MA.

This past Sunday was a beautifully sunny day in Edinburgh.  To sort my thoughts and make a decision, I went for a run in Holyrood Park.  I thought back over the last week as I threw myself down the grassy hills and up rocky paths.  Finally, I found myself at St Anthony’s Chapel overlooking the beautiful gorgeous city that has taught me so much.  St Anthony’s was built some time in the 15c and pretty much the only thing that remains is the front facade with a doorway and two windows.

The window to the right of the doorway has always been a great place sit and think.

Over the past four years, I’ve found myself at St Anthony’s a lot.  It’s fitting, I suppose,  to gravitate to a chapel dedicated to the patron saint of lost things to make all my biggest decisions.

So, I weighed my options in respect to my major concerns:

  • Program suitability and how it fits with my general life plan: 1) do something good for someone other than myself and 2) tell stories
  • Job prospects after / phD
  • Stability but ability to continue to travel and excavate

Below are my condensed notes.  Trust me you don’t want or need to see all the flow charts.

Stay in Edinburgh.  The program is something I love.  The subject is a direct link into the past in ways I can’t really describe.  Logistically, I would get to live in my flat another year.  However, a masters in Edinburgh would lend itself directly into a phD.  I don’t know if I want to do everything back to back.  I also want to do something good for someone besides myself before I find myself behind an academic desk.  A masters at Edinburgh would be in a subject I love, a city I love, but might be too narrowed and would put me right into a phD.

Brexit has complicated matters as well in respect to companies who can sponsor work visas and minimum income required to apply (which falls outside of the graduate jobs range).  As someone who has watched current immigration trends in the UK and researched all types of visas, it’s not like the movies.  You can’t just pack up and move to the UK.  There’s not really a guarantee even with a phD.

  • Best: Get a job after masters, work for a few years, phD.
  • Likely: Complete masters but do phD based on current job market.
  • Worst: Do masters, don’t want to do a phD straightaway, can’t find a job, have to leave Scotland.

Return to Lawrence. Again, the program is something I love.  I basically grew up in museums.  The program would also keep my academic interests more broad but still specialized.  I’d be able to work in a variety of heritage fields.  Logistically, I would live at home for the duration of the program.  The program has a required internship component.  I’ve already found internships at the Met Cloisters in New York City to apply for.  I also like the flexibility of the final project which would allow me to make a historical documentary!  A masters at KU would allow me to take time out after, get a job, do something good for this world, and collect my thoughts for an eventual phD.

Brexit and visas are not a concern.  I can always continue my summer fieldwork in the UK and it’s not like if I move away I move away forever.  If anything, getting a good job in America will give me the professional experience to re-apply and get jobs back here in Scotland when things settle back down.

  • Best: Get a job after masters, work for a few years, phD.
  • Likely: Get a job after masters, work for a few years, phD.
  • Worst: Live forever in my parents house (yikes)

So, I guess if you’ve read this far into my general life rambling you’ve probably come to the same conclusion I came to myself: Museum Studies MA at the University of Kansas.

I said both options out loud and the Museum Studies MA just sounded right.  But, I would be lying if I said it was not a bit sad when I realised how much I would be leaving behind here in Edinburgh.

This city has become my own as much as I have become part of it.  I really don’t know the words to describe my love for Edinburgh.  Trust me, I’ve tried and all that’s come of it are some shitty poems and four drafts of a fantasy novel.

But, I do know that just because I may be moving away doesn’t mean I won’t ever be coming back.

I spent the next few days thinking over my decision.  It was not one I took lightly.

Tuesday morning I spoke with my personal tutor about it and he agreed.  Both were very good choices, but a little job security doesn’t hurt.  On Wednesday, I went to speak to the course organizer and thanked her for the offer.  It was really important to me that I went to speak to both of them as they had helped me immensely over the years.  I mentioned that I would like to return to Edinburgh in the future for a phD and they told me to get in touch when I do.

So … that’s me in August.  I’ll be a Kansas Jayhawk for the next two years and then … who knows.  My phone call with the Peace Corps went well and I have more information about applications.  I’m also weighing a few other options.

I’m going to write a larger love letter to Edinburgh one day.  I hope to express everything these past four years have given me.  Honestly, the confidence I have found in this city is why I know returning to America is best choice for me now.  I’m excited to see what lies ahead ‘across the pond.’

But, for the next week I’m bouncing to Shetland. Byeeeee.

 

3 drinks.

Monday night, I went to Sandy Bell’s to listen to live folk music with Tuva, Erling, Gregor, and Alven.  I had one drink for an old friend, one drink for a faithful companion, and one last drink for the future moving forward.

I’ve learned that words can never truly express enough, and I’m never quite sure if I even say the right ones.  And truthfully, the scariest part is you don’t know when your words might be your last.   But, I hope that I’ve shown the people around me how much they mean to me.  It’s something I fear that never do enough and as I realized  is something I should probably do more.

My dear friends both old and new, you have taught me so much.  I deeply adore you all.

So, I guess, now, I’ll speak about the that second drink.

I knew when I left home after Christmas that I probably would never see my slobbery, stubborn dog again.  My dad had told me for months that Mulan was on borrowed time.  At 12, she was well beyond the life expectancy for a large breed such as a Newfoundland.

Monday in class at 5.30 pm I felt something in my chest.  I’d be the first to admit that I haven’t been as religious in recent years as maybe my parents would hope.  But, sitting in class then I knew something had happened.

Thirty minutes after the hour, my beautiful, loving, slobbery sod fell asleep at home surrounded by those she loved and who loved her.

Mulan was hard to train and never graduated puppy school.  She never did what you asked her to do but she always did what you needed.

And for that I am so, so grateful.  I am thankful for the time that I had her and the life she shared with me.

Her favorite season was fall, just as the leaves began to change and the temperature started to cool.  She’d go outside and sit under the trees and let the wind blow her fur with two long strands of drool dripping from her jowls.

She was gentle.  So, so gentle.  Last December, when my dad found a half dead kitten on the porch, it was Mulan who stuck her head in and breathed hot air onto the the kitten’s face until the kitten gasped and my dad realized that my mom would just have to deal with another indoor cat.

To know the love of another creature who expects so little and offers you everything is truly a gift.  To know that love and see it in their eyes is blessing beyond measure.

I will miss her forever, but, if someone offered me the chance, I would do it all over again.  Without hesitation.

Mulan, I love you to the moon and to the stars.  I love you beyond the stars and wherever else we will go.

And, now time for that third drink and a decision.

I have been accepted into two Masters programs.  The first, here at the University of Edinburgh for the MSc in Human Osteoarchaeology.  The second, back in Lawrence at the University of Kansas for the MA Museum Studies.  I’ve also received a very positive email back from the Peace Corps recruiter I emailed prior to the government shutdown who wants to set up a Skype meeting/interview.  And finally, I waiting on the outcome of a few internships I applied for.

Chances are, I will complete a Masters before embarking on any other work – but I want to gather as much information as I can.  At the moment, I’m getting my TEFL certification and plan to double down on learning a foreign language this summer.  It’s actually quite lazy that I don’t speak more than just English.

Which, leaves me with a lot of choices – none of which I realized are bad decisions.  I’ll just have to figure out my next plan of action and move down the field from there.

I do know two things however. I’ve always known them, but I think this week just made it a little bit easier to define them.

First, forty years from now, I don’t want to think about what I have done and realize that I simply waited for the storm to pass. If anything, I love thunderstorms.  But, I’m not throwing myself into a thunderhead for the sake of making history.  I honestly could care less.  I’m not a white man, my chances at being taught about in school are already slim. I’d do it because it is the right thing to do.

Secondly, I want to tell stories.  That might be in a museum or as a novelist or maybe as a documentarist.  I’m no quite sure yet, but I know I want to tell stories I believe in. And, sure, I’m not in a place right now to do that.  I’m still collecting the stories I want to tell.

But, I guess, what I learned this week is this: I hope those closest to me know how precious they are to me.  There will never be enough time, but what you learn from the time you do have will guide you forever.  Just like the rainbow I followed this morning which led me to one of my favorite coffee shops.

 

 

 

 

*stress-fess begins and other haps*

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

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

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

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

Since you’ve last heard from me:

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

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

I submitted my second essay for Early Medieval Sexualities.

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

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

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

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

BUT! Everything is done by 8 April.

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

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

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

 

 

 

twenty-fun

Yesterday was my Twenty-First Birthday.  I’m not a massive fan of big birthdays mostly because I hate planning them and secondly, I’m not a big fan of being fussed over.  I spent this birthday, like most before it, outside enjoying the weather with my friends.

As it has been on my birthday for as long as I can remember, it rained in the morning.  Sophie and Ellie came over early while the sky was still cloudy for chocolate chip pancakes.  Tuva and Erling wished me a happy birthday and hung around watching the pancake carnage.  They’re nearly done with their final essays.  Then, Ellie went to the library to revise and Sophie and I headed to the Anatomical Museum.  The University has a special osteology collection that is only open to non-medical students on the last Saturday of each month.  In this case, the date fell on my birthday.  Maybe it’s a little gross going to look at bones on one’s twenty-first birthday… but Sophie didn’t seem to mind.  She studies philosophy and she said she ‘quite enjoyed it actually.’

After, we went for coffee and then wandered around the Saturday market in the Grassmarket.  We followed the path along the castle, through Princes Street Garden to Waterstones.  I bought myself a new cookbook.  When we left Waterstones, the sun had finally broken out from behind the clouds and I send a text to the rest of my friends to meet us in the Meadows for birthday cake and gin.

That morning, my parents had surprised me with a massive birthday cake.  The delivery guy was equally confused when I opened the door in my Christmas pajamas with a ‘Who ordered this cake?’

Sophie and I returned to my flat to grab the cake, a picnic blanket, gin, tonic water, etc.  Then we set to the Meadows to find a sunny spot.  I would argue the Meadows is a liminal space.  It’s an eighteen acre park in the South of Edinburgh just shy of the main University campus.  During the winter it becomes a barren wasteland until it snows and then it becomes full of half-made snowmen.  During the Spring, and more so in the Summer, it is filled with people, barbeques, dogs, and fire-twirlers.  Yesterday it was less crowded than usual due to the rain that morning, but we found a nice dry spot close to the music being played from higher up Middle Meadow Walk.

Soon enough more friends cycled by and joined.  By eight o’clock both the cake and the gin were gone.  We headed to my flat to drop things off and then moved to the Argyll, the local just down the street.  As it turns out, the Argyll was hosting African Drum Night.  More friends came and went, all dropping by amidst revision.  It was lovely to see everyone and we all discussed plans for when we are all finished in May.  We stayed at the Argyll until late then all departed to our homes.

And so, my birthday came and went and I am so glad I spent it here and with those people.

I know it’s a broken record, but as a kid I wanted what I have now so, so, so badly.

I still remember the first day of High School, my English teacher had us read a poem by Walt Whitman.  He said it probably encapsulated what we were probably thinking:

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
And I think it still does in many aspects.  But, at least in this point in my life I don’t feel detached or in a ‘measureless oceans of space.’  I’m connected to this city and to my friends and I life I built here for myself.  Truly, built for myself and by myself in a brand new city and brand new country.
So now, as I move forward with the next chapters of my life I’m excited.  I’ve worked hard to get where I am today and I have had a lot of help as well.  So, thanks everyone.  I hope I won’t disappoint you.
But today, as I finish writing this in the sunny shade of the Meadows I am thankful.  Thankful for what I have seen, the places I have been, and the people I have met along the way.  And I don’t know what it will be, but I am sure I will be thankful for whatever comes next.

nearly done.

woah.  That’s classes for third year finished.  yikes.

I’m not totally done yet, I have my final essay due in next Friday and one exam in May.  However, I am done with set class times and lectures.  The University is officially on holiday for the coming weeks.  Haven’t figured out what I’m doing for my holiday but I have a few options and some ideas.

This semester was a little hectic with snow related university closures and a four week strike.  However, I really enjoyed my courses.  My favourite course this semester was Archaeological Illustration.  I’ve always really enjoyed art and graphic design and I loved learning how to create stuff for excavation reports as well as public outreach programs.

My only exam this semester is for Theoretical Archaeology, it’s on May 16.  After I have provisional plans to get back to the Bothy to finish works for the kitchen and such.  Hopes to get some walking in like year as well… I just will have to remember sunscreen this time so I don’t lose all the skin off my arms again.

The EUMC has a massive 75th Anniversary dinner and ceilidh coming up later in May which will be similar to last year’s dinner, camping, climbing, and walking (and drinking) road trip and party on Iona … only this time old members from the club will be coming back.  I recently spoke with an old bothy secretary from the 1960s Yummick era who was very excited to hear about the event and promised to bring friends and stories.  Should be lit.

Plans for the summer are shaping up, I have four weeks of excavation planned at the end of July into August with the rest of the summer set aside to work at the Gardens on my dissertation.  I have been focused on getting this semester done first and then I will turn focus onto research and talking to people.  Exciting.

The weather is slowly warming up and then it snowed again the other day… typical.  But, today is sunny and it wasn’t too cold this morning.

I’m just waiting for my laundry to finish and then probably going to get some coffee and cry over this essay about post-processual thought in archaeology.

 

maybe we should address the elephant in the room.

Hey pals. Time to get political!

I’m so amazed by the power and voices of the young people in America in right with the ‘Walk for Our Lives’ marches happening across the country.  I just wanted to add a few words myself since I can’t be there in person and I like to comment on things more than Alexander Hamilton.

Whether you read this or not is up to you, but it’s my blog.

I am twenty. I grew in a family with a history of military service. My
father taught my sister and I that guns were tools. They were not toys.

We did, and probably still do, have guns at home.  They are the remains of my Grandfather’s service in Vietnam and my own father’s 35 years in uniform. You can either call it sentiment or purpose removal, but the guns were dismantled, locked away, and forgotten.

In 2015, I moved to the UK. In 1996, the UK witnessed its deadliest mass shooting.
The Dunblane Massacre killed sixteen primary schoolchildren and one teacher.
After the tragedy, instead of offering prayers and condolences, Parliament passed laws.

Today, gun crime is virtually non-existent.  It’s next to impossible to even purchase firearms.  From my own observations, most of the time police officers are often not even armed.

My friends ask about America. They ask why tools designed to kill are permitted
where they have neither a need nor job.  They ask why civilians need to play
military.  They ask why the rights of objects supersede the right to life.

I explain the antiquated 2nd Amendment, the evolution from militia to professional military, and how politicians accept NRA money.

To them, America is another world.

Honestly, on this issue?  I agree.

The answer is not more guns, arming teacher, or fortifying playgrounds. The
answer is not ‘prayers and condolences.’ The answer is not ‘just be nicer to each other.’  The answer is not trying to circumnavigate the issue instead of simply acknowledging the real problems.

The answer is legislation, buyback programs like those in Australia, and treating mental
and physical health as equals. The answer is going to the polls and making your voice heard.

In November, I will vote. Like 2016, my friends and I will watch from Edinburgh. I
hope, this time, they will see the America I know we can be.  I love my country.  I really do.  But I know we can, we will, and we must do better to protect our future.

Young people are a lot smarter than they are given credit for.  They will remember and when it’s their time to govern they won’t forget.

our story so far

Things have been very stressful lately.

But, I submitted the second of my large essays for my Crusades History course yesterday so I am down to my final two deadlines: April 4 and April 13.

This semester has been pretty okay.  I’ve really enjoyed my courses, when I’ve had them.  The University has been taking place in a UK wide strike affecting classes and such.  It’s been a little frustrating not having class or not being able to contact people, but they are getting pretty screwed over by pension cuts so understandable.

I went to go see the new Tomb Raider movie and I was pleasantly surprised.  Knowing video game movies in the past, I was keeping expectations low to avoid disappointment but I really enjoyed the film.  The casting was spot on and they really paid attention to the feel of the newer games.  The story was a little different and there were characters replacing better characters from the game, but they very clearly are setting up more films.

Mild spoiler warning: I really enjoyed the change to the ‘evil empress’ Himiko they did for the film over the game.  In the game she was a pretty one dimensional character but in the film they gave her a bit more backstory.  They also drew a bit on themes of how women’s narratives, especially women in power, can be shifted over time to something they were not.  In the film, Himiko was a carer of a deadly disease (one to which she was immune) and sentenced herself to exile to protect her people.  However, over time her story was changed into that of a monster purposely trapped on the island by her own people.  A small change, but one that drastically impacted how history perceived Himiko.  It was not until Lara (another women) looked beyond historical bias in sources and directly to the archaeological remains that the true story was revealed.  Anyway… control your own narratives, people.

I’m still planning what to do for spring break, but I am really leaning toward walking Hadrian’s Wall.  I’d take a train to probably Newcastle and then walk along the wall to Carlisle.  I’d plan for about 8 days camping and walking… a few friends are keen but haven’t planned anything just yet.

Summer excavations for this year are planned around when I’m doing dissertation research.  I’m writing my dissertation about the archaeological impact of the Botanic Cottage the RBGE.  I volunteer at the site and I’ve really grown to love it (pun intended).  The cottage was the original site of the lectures held at the garden during the Scottish Enlightenment, was abandoned, and in 2014 moved to the current RBGE and rebuilt.  The rebuilt used traditional methods and such so it could be considered an archaeological reconstruction and such.  It’s really cool and I’m really excited to start working.

Toward the end of the summer I’ll be heading back to Bamburgh for two weeks and then to Poulton for another two.  Bamburgh has hired me back as junior staff so I’m really excited to be able to use my knowledge to teach!! And Poulton was such a class dig last year that I’m just glad to be back.

I had a slight existential crisis the other week when I realised that graduation was soon and I didn’t really have a plan because I just love to study everything.  I also really just want to do something positive during my young years, cha feel?  I looked around and at the moment I’m really leaning toward getting an Education Masters and teaching degree so that I can do something helpful… and there’s always time for me to get back into my own selfish academic niche. lol.

Anyway, writing things down helps me to think about them and put actions to a plan so if you’re interested in knowing why I detail everything about my life.

 

 

call your mom.

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

I’ll wait.  Okay done?  Cool!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 12.36.21 PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So if haven’t already fucking call your mom.

 

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.

 

neither this way nor(that)way

Last night I got home and scratched another country off my scratch world map.  Tuva, Erling, and I spend the last week in Oslo the capital of Norway visiting museums, going skiing, and eating lots of fish.

For those who don’t know Tuva and Erling are two of my three flatmates.  They are both Norwegian and grew up in Oslo.  They are childhood friends with Anna and Elsa.  And, they very kindly and graciously invited me to come back to Norway with them over this year’s Innovative Learning Week, Festival of Creative Learning, Reading Week, Innovative Skiing Week? week in February with no classes.

The week was amazing.  I’ve never been to Norway, I didn’t really know what to expect, so I sort of just went with the flow.  I knew I wanted to see the ‘Scream’ and the Viking Ships but beyond that I was happy to hang out and see the places Tuva and Erling knew best.  Which I do think is one of the best ways to travel.

The first full day we went to the National Gallery to see the paintings.  I got surprised by a real and true painting by my girl, Artemisia Gentileschi, an absolute baller female baroque painter.  Tears were shed.

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After the museum, we went to a coffee shop near to where Erling’s brother went to high school and where they all spend a good amount of time in their teens.  It was very Scandi and hip and everything they say about Scandinavia I can confirm as true.  But, jokes aside, going to places of importance to the people you are with is one of the best ways of seeing the character of the city.  Cities are massive and you’re never going to see everything, but you can see the places that mean something to the people you are with.  It makes the place come alive a lot more than just ticking off the ‘Top Ten.’

The next day, Tuva worked on an essay for uni and Erling and I went to the Viking Ship Museum.  We walked there from Tuva’s flat.  The museum was purpose built for three viking ships uncovered in Oslo in the 19/20c.  The most famous of the ships is the Osberg Ship.

Seeing the ships was such a surreal experience.  I know I say this a lot, but as a kiddo growing up in the middle of the USofA interested in European History, there isn’t much to do except for read.  And, I read a lot.  I didn’t live near to massive American museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York or the Smithsonians in DC so I didn’t have opportunities to see things in real life.  Looking at pictures online or in books was what I had.  So when I see something I’ve read so much about I do tend to tear up, it’s like finally meeting an old friend you’ve only talked to in letters.  I spent so much time studying and wishing I could see things… that when I do, I get overwhelmed.   When I see artifacts in real life I always learn something new.  The ships were bigger than I thought.  The wood was darker.  The carvings more intricate.

 

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That evening the three of us saw Black Panther in the Oslo cinema.  The film was amazing and I want to go see it again.

On the third day, we went cross country skiing.  Oslo has a green belt around the city full of forests and ski tracks.  This was the second time I have gone cross country skiing and I think I loved it even more.  My knees didn’t hurt at all, I got to see some fantastic scenery, and got to ski on parts of the World Cup course (and didn’t die).  Not a bad day out.  We stopped twice during the day at two different mountain huts.  The huts were started from the old summer farmsteads for cattle in the mountains but now are places to stop and get food, water, etc.  The ones we stopped at were very traditionally Norwegian and were made of wood with all kinds of funky old mountain and ski gear inside.  They serve cinnamon rolls and waffles.  I got a cinnamon roll and cried because I love cinnamon rolls so much.

 

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The second hut was pretty much the only part of the day I really truly struggled.  Tuva and Erling abandoned me and I got stuck in a snow drift.  Tuva went looking and found me crawling up the drift with my hands with my skis dragging behind me.  Eventful.  All in all, however, I would 11/10 do it again.  Each hill I went down I fell down less and less.  I properly face planted a few times (once after I got distracted because I saw a women being pulled on skis by a dalmatian!!!), but I managed to get up quickly.  I’m an American not an American’t afterall.

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I left early yesterday to get back to Edinburgh and sort an assignment that is due Monday.  I had to do some stuff on the computer and didn’t want to leave it late because I don’t trust technology.  But, I had an amazing time.  Oslo is an amazing city, so thanks again Tuva and Erling (I know you’re reading this, either because you want to or because I made you #supportchagirl).

Classes resume soon, but the university is striking so I may have more free time.