Story Mode Complete

This afternoon, with a bag of frozen peas on my ankle (I face-planted off Calton Hill last night dressed like a 1980s calisthenics instructor), I submitted my final essay and finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh.

After four long years of work and the last year spend writing my dissertation, it feels really, really good to be finally done.  After I submitted my dissertation last week, I went to get an ice cream and found a bench in the Grassmarket.  It was a sunny day and the castle looked gorgeous as ever (you almost forget they used to burn the witches 200 metres to the right!).  Then I left for the Bothy for the weekend and enjoyed the sun up north.

But, I’m not going to lie.  The end is also a bit sad.

I have truly fallen in love with this city.  My time here has shaped the person I have become and the person I will continue to be in the future.  My degree has taught me a lot more than just how to write historical papers or dig in the dirt.  The people I’ve met and the places I have been will, honestly, stay with me for the rest of my life.

Maybe, one day, I’ll write a book about it.

This post is shorter than I anticipated, but, truthfully, I can only say how much the past four years have meant to me in a limited number of ways before it gets contrived.

So, that’s me done.  I’m bouncing on holiday soon.  After that, it’ll be EUMC Road Trip and then at Bamburgh for the rest of the summer to help with excavations.  Graduation is in July.

happy (belated) international women’s day!

I’m going to apologize up front about the delays of this post because let’s face it, this should have been posted last week.

I also wrote most of this last week but got busy writing an essay and sewing 200 plastic balls (like the ones you find in a ballpit) together into a dress for a party with the theme ‘anything but clothes.’

But! On the bright side, this won’t get buried now under all of the other IWD posts!

Happy (belated) International Women’s Day!

*I’ll wait while you call your mom, aunt, grandmother, sister, cousin, or friend*

Right.  It’s that time of year again for my annual ‘angry feminist rant.’

When I was a young kiddo, I used to replace the heads on my little medieval action figures so that my princess character could be the knight and fight the dragons.  (This was probably inspired by reading Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet.)  As it was, all the female figurines wore dresses.  Not only was it impossible for them to be put on the horses, they didn’t have scabbards to store their swords!

Honestly, it was tragic.

To my young brain, you obviously needed a both a horse and a place to put your sword to go on quests and slay dragons.

This story might seem a bit silly when you just think of my childhood bedroom floor littered with a bunch of male-bodied knight figurines with female heads, but at the root of it was my desire to see the women I wanted to be when I grew up.

And it really, really sounds cliché writing it here, but reading the Hunger Games at thirteen changed everything.  It was one of the first books I read with a recognized female narrator in an action role.  I had, of course, read female narrators before in Tamora Pierce’s books but a large part of the plot is that Alanna disguises herself as a boy in order to become a knight.  None of the other characters are aware that she is a girl and most of her interactions and decisions in the plot are based around maintaining her status as a boy.  That is, until the fourth book where she reveals her secret and establishes herself as the biggest badass in Tortall.  Honestly, ten-year-old Kennedy was amazed.

But, with the Hunger Games, for the first time, I was getting an upfront first person female perspective on the action and the adventure.  Not just second hand from a male narrator. While I adored Harry Potter and worshipped at the feet of Percy Jackson and the Olympians and as much as Hermione and Annabeth were central characters, they weren’t the narrators.

They weren’t the ones controlling and driving the stories.

Which, I guess, brings me to the point of this post: The importance of female driven stories.  If young girls see or read about someone who looks like or acts like them it gives them someone to believe in.  It shows them something tangible to remember and to hold on to.

I’ll always remember the feeling I had walking out of the cinema after seeing The Force Awakens or Wonder Woman. Watching Rey wield a lightsaber or Diana Prince walk into No-Man’s land was symbolic in more ways than one.  And, what made them such compelling characters was the fact they were distinctly female as well.

Which is why I was so excited to see Captain Marvel last Friday.

Carol Danvers has been my hero since basically forever.  I’m not going to claim any hipster status here… but I was a member of the Carol Corps before it was cool.

I won’t spoil the film for those who haven’t had a chance to see it yet, but I will say that Captain Marvel is the film I wish I could have had when I was eight or nine years old.

It is a film written for women by women.

It shows how emotions are not a hindrance to success and that if believe in yourself, you don’t have to prove anything – to anyone.  (That and the film touches on important themes about fear mongering which is a lesson, I think, a lot of people should learn for themselves.)

Frankly, I’ll always be a little jealous of girls today who get to grow up with so many more stories written for and about them. (That and how none of them have to brutally maim their toys.) But, I am beyond excited to see what happens next.*

Higher, Faster, Further, baby!

(*What’s happening next is Carol Danvers is going to show up in Avengers: Endgame and Thanos is not ready.)

 

shetland

This past week, Ben, Alven, and I took the train from Edinburgh to Aberdeen and then the overnight ferry from Aberdeen to Shetland.

Considering the events of the week before which included learning I’d lost a friend I’d known since childhood, my parents calling to let me know my faithful dog of 12 years was gone as well, and then deciding to move back to America this August for a Masters – getting away seemed like the thing I needed to do.  The trip was planned quickly, with ferry and train booking happening Thursday to leave Saturday.

Shetland, if you are interested, are the northernmost islands of the UK.  The islands are very close to Norway and have a very strong Norse heritage with plenty of archaeological sites.  One of the really significant ones is Jarlshof which has everything from Bronze Age, Iron Age, Viking, Early Medieval, and Late Medieval on one site.  If you’re interested in the complete history here’s the Wikipedia page.

But, anyway.  We spent the week traveling around the Mainland and working on our dissertations.  All three of us brought work with us, so it wasn’t a total escape.  But the change of scenery was something I dearly needed.

Instead of a normal blog post I decided to make a video to attempt to capture the week.  The video is at the end of this post because I want you to read everything first.

I’m going to be honest here, I fell in love with Shetland.  Everything from its remoteness to rainbows created by the crashing waves to the ancient stone brochs and finally to the long roads to the edge of cliffs.  It felt like there was something familiar about it nagging at me the entire time.

Back in August of 2015, I began the long process of packing up my life and moving to Scotland.  That process included picking and choosing what parts I wanted to take with me and what parts I would decide to leave behind.

Maybe I am a sentimentalist, or perhaps that is just a nice way of wording Kennedy-is-a-hoarder, but one of the things I packed and moved across the Atlantic with me was a worn copy of Selected Poems of H.D. and a typewritten note by one of my English teachers.

A portion of that note reads:

Dear Kennedy,

In his poem ‘Tollund Man’ Seamus Heaney writes:

 Out here in Jutland // In the old man-killing parishes // I will feel lost, // Unhappy and at home. 

I would never wish you unhappiness, however, I know that desire is in you to find a home in the lost places, in history, in poetry, in the bog, in the ruin, amoung the relics.

So my wish for you is an unending quest often satisfied but never for long.

If you’re a nosy reader of my blog here you’ll probably recognize those verses from my About page.  They’ve been there since the beginning.

The book is one of the few I keep close within arms reach next to my bed.  The others, if you’re curious, are Tomorrow is Now by Eleanor Roosevelt, The Art of War by Sun-Tzu, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I have thought of those words often, I’d admit.  When I received them at age 18, I knew that it would be something that would plague me for years and I think my English teacher knew that as well.

Living in Scotland these past four years has become that ‘unending quest.’  And truthfully, my English teacher was right.  It has been satisfying – but at each turn I make, I discover something new and once again I am… on another unending quest.  Traveling to remote places, exploring in wet and windy weather could make someone feel lost – but again, and not to sound like pretenious piece of shite, I have never felt more at home.

I am so close to finishing my degree with only two essays and my dissertation left.  Especially after the events earlier this month, going to Shetland this past week allowed for me to escape everything and find my next move.  It also showed me a place I would happily return to and live unbothered.

 

 

 

 

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.