Nineteen.

It’s April 28th. (well here in Scotland) Ya nerds in America are living in the past.

I’ve never been one to freak out about my birthday. I tend to just celebrate it at home with a small group of close friends and lots of food.  I also moved abroad after I turned 18, so I sort of missed the ‘big birthday.’  But, I always like to look back at the past year and see how I’ve grown and changed as person.  I aim each year to not change who I am but just to be a better version of myself.

So here are nineteen things I have learned over the past year.

  1. Being an introvert doesn’t mean I hate people. Do people annoy me? Yes. But, I don’t hate people… for God’s sake I’m studying History and Archaeology.  Being an introvert just means being with people all the time tires me out.  I need a few days to recharge.  Going camping this year has helped a lot with this as I have been able to go away for a weekend and talk to people if I want to but also just walk.
  2. Try something new at least once a week. I know there’s that Eleanor Roosevelt quote about doing one thing that scares you each day, but if you’re like me and like your daily routine and would prefer not to have an anxiety attack…  try to do something new once a week.  But, that’s a little hypocritical as I sort of jumped off the deep end and starting climbing mountains and getting tattoos… but that’s a different story.
  3. Doc Martens are great. When you walk to University everyday and live in a pedestrian city, you need good shoes.  Trust me, your feet with love you for it.
  4. And, so is food. Eat more food.
  5. Everyone conquers at their own pace.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, people.  I struggle with maths but excel in writing.  Everyone is good at something and crappy at another thing.  But, that doesn’t mean one skill is more valuable than another.  I don’t understand maths… but I am humble enough to grovel before it as I watch Netflix on my laptop run by some magical computerized code.  Just find what you’re good at and destroy your enemies from there.
  6. Don’t try to grow up too fast. Moving away to University, and especially moving abroad,  I felt like I was having to grow up fast.  I overwhelmed and worried that I was not mature enough to live on my own.  I tried to act mature but that just ended up with me being extremely bored because I realised being a grumpy adult really sucks. Maturity isn’t really something a person forces… it just comes with living and learning from mistakes.  So for now it’s back to watching cartoons and reading comic books.
  7. Vodka is a no. (See reference to ‘learning from mistakes’ above.)
  8. Go to the gym. My stress levels get out of hand if I don’t work out.  I physically have to do something or else I will go crazy.  But, it doesn’t have to be a crazy long run or 2 hours lifting weights.  Just go do something.
  9. As God said unto Abraham, ‘Treat yo self.’ Take a day and just do whatever you want.  It doesn’t have to be anything… sometimes I just don’t leave my room for a day and watch Netflix.  Just take a day and relax.  When my anxiety gets bad I go to the National Museum and hang out in the basement looking at Roman and early Scottish artifacts.  It’s quiet, it’s something I enjoy, and it gives me a break.  Other days, I go shopping.  I buy a new jumper or a new book.  It’s not everyday, but if you don’t take a day for yourself every once in awhile life gets pretty annoying.
  10.  People change. It’s natural and actually like around 1 million or so cells in your body die each day so literally speaking you’re a different person each day.  I know I’m different but I’m not trying to be a different person.  I don’t try to put on a false persona, because a) that’s hard work and b) sooner or later people are going to find out that I’m a huge nerd anyway.
  11. You have to let things go. I was notorious for holding grudges.  Call me the Grudge Queen, and it’s still something I’m working on.  But, I realised I can’t let what people do and say impact me negatively.  If I’m worry about what other people do, I’m not living my own life the way I want to.  
  12. Never give up, never surrender. When I was a kid, I had a tag on my tae-kwon-do bag with this quote.  It was pretty much my driving force growing up; work hard and one day it’ll all day off.  Even when it gets hard, you just have to keep going.
  13. If it doesn’t make you happy, then why are you doing it? I lost a childhood friend to a car crash last year and it made it realise that not only is life not fair, it’s fucking short.  Don’t waste your time with something that doesn’t make you happy.  It’s not worth it.  I’m so lucky in that am I studying what I love in a place that I love.  I’m also lucky that I found that love at a young age… but honestly, if you’re not happy… do something else.
  14. Say thank you. I would not be here without my family, friends, and teachers.  I will forever be thankful for their love, support, and guidance.  Friends you chose, family you’re stuck with, but teachers are especially stuck with you… so just make you that you say thank you.
  15. Failure and ‘Not being Successful’ are two different things. You only fail when you give up.  People don’t succeed at everything all the time.  Life would be pretty boring if we did.  I wasn’t accepted into the Honor’s Program at the University of Kansas… but that didn’t stop me from still applying to the University of Edinburgh and the University of St. Andrews and getting into both with unconditional offers.   
  16. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades. This is something my dad always says, and he’s right. While everything in life isn’t a straight shot, doing something halfway just is not worth it.  Just do it right the first time and then you don’t have to fix it later.   
  17. Proving things to others doesn’t really matter. This was something I told my dad I learned when he came to visit.  Growing up I always felt like I had to prove things to people.  I got a black belt and published a book because people told me I couldn’t.  I was always fueled by other people’s negative energy and not my own positive drive.  Moving forward now it’s how can I make myself better, not how can I prove to people that I’m worth something.  Because, I know that I am.     
  18.  Honesty and Loyalty. Call it growing up in a military family, but honesty and loyalty are as close to sacred as things get to me.  I can deal with stupid.  I can deal with bigots, racists, and sexists.  But, dealing with dishonesty and lies is not something I want to waste my time with.
  19. Carpe the fuck out of that diem. I try to make every day better than the last.  I know some days are going to suck, but that’s just life.  There’s always a silver lining to everything, sometimes it just takes a little bit longer to find.

So that’s my birthday post.  I’m up early to go climb Arthur’s Seat for sunrise and then join #teamtattoo today.  Tomorrow, archaeology exam and then CAPTAIN AMERICA!  Next month, 2 more exams.  June, Romania.  After that, who knows?

I just know I’ll keep working hard to be the best person I can be and do what makes me happy.

Scotland Soundtrack #9

Another playlist!

Tomorrow is my 19th birthday so I’ve been thinking a lot about the past year and moving forward.  I’ve set a few goals for the coming year, but as always I just aim to stay a loyal, honest person and do what makes me happy.  Oh, and continue to academically destroy and get the best degree I can.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about home since my dad came to visit me… and stay safe guys!  I can’t believe there’s already been tornados touching down… it’s still April!  And honestly, I am a little angry that I’m not there to storm watch!  Thunderstorms (along with my cat) are one the things I miss the most about Kansas.  Just to picture, because Kansas is so flat with vast prairies, huge thunderstorms just roll across the land.  Watching the lightening was always my favourite.  And, to non-Kansasan readers, there is one way to tell a native Kansan from the rest of the population: when there’s bad weather (eg. tornadoes, lightening, etc) native Kansans go outside to watch.  But here across the pond, we’ve had some Kansas grade bi-polar weather in the last few days.  It hailed/snowed yesterday morning and was sunny by yesterday afternoon.  (How people can still argue that global warming isn’t real is beyond me…)

But, anyway enough rambling… enjoy the music.

Uni Life Update 24-4-16

vlog about Dad’s visit, revision, and exams.

Update: Spa day happened and then the fire alarm went off… I still had my green face mask on.  But, at least it wasn’t at 3 am this time.  I swear I have the worst luck with fire drills.

Spain Soundtrack

When I travel I try to always have music with me, it makes waiting at the airport/not having to talk to people on the flight a lot easier.  I also find it cool to listen to songs after a trip and remember all the cool stuff.  Anna Sun by WALK THE MOON is one of the those songs that whenever I hear it, I always think of my trip to Italy in 2013.

And because I’m lazy, I usually just end up listening to the same songs on repeat for a whole trip.  For Spain, that happened with Bleachers’ album Strange Desire.  

So here’s my Spain soundtrack!

¡Escalada De Roca!

Around the beginning of February, I was talking with a few mountaineering friends (who were, as I was, admittedly very intoxicated).  Great start to a story, I know.  They were discussing their upcoming trip to El Chorro, Spain in April.  Having never been to Spain before I started to ask questions about the trip.  It was a sport climbing trip over Spring Break to a small rural area outside of Malaga in Southern Spain.  A lot of club members were going, both old and new.  They asked if I was going, but I said I wasn’t quite sure… seeing as I didn’t really know how to sport climb.

But, I thought about it for a couple of weeks and late February I booked tickets figuring that if I wanted to learn how to rock climb I had to start somewhere.

For non-climbers reading this, my experience with rock climbing so far had only been top-roping at the CSE (the University gym).  Top-roping is when you are tied into the rope from the top anchor.  I had never climbed outside before or lead.  Lead climbing is when you are tied in at the bottom and bring the rope up with you and clip into bolts, or in the case of Trad, gear as you go.

By booking the trip, I knew that I needed to not only buckle down and finish my essays but train as well.  For the next couple of weeks, I worked on my climbing, took a course with a few friends to learn the basics of outdoor leading (bolt clipping and making an anchor at the top so you don’t lose gear), and bought a rope.

On April 5, a few days after I submitted my last essay for the year I packed everything in my Grandpa’s old USAF parachute bag (which by the way is a little bit of a hassle to move but great for packing everything) and set off for Spain.

I couldn’t be happier with my decision to take this trip.

Everyone stayed in a small B&B/campsite called the Olive Branch.  It’s located in a great central spot with a 5 minute walk to the nearest craig and 25 minutes to the farthest.  It was a great spot for everyone to come back to in the evenings and cook dinner or just hang out.  They even had a small library and on my rest days I found a worn copy of a Bernard Cornwell book (a great historical writer, if you haven’t read his stuff… I recommend Azincourt.  For obvious reasons.)  In the evenings everyone gathered around for drinks and cards, it was honestly a great time getting to meet new people and getting to know friends better.  I learned how to play a lot of new card games… and lost a lot of them.  One game ended with the loser having to jump into the icy cold pool at 1 AM… that loser was me.

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yo tent home for 2 weeks

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this is how you dry the laundry you wash in the shower

Being a sad, pale, albino teen I got terribly sunburned.  Actually that’s an understatement I got absolutely fried.  However, because of my enrollment in Albino Survival 101 I very early on identified the wondrous and wild Aloe Vera plant.  I looked ridiculous cutting up plants and then rubbing the inner goo all over myself… but guys, seriously it was either plant goo or imminent death.

But on to the climbing!

My first day out on the rock was, honestly, a little nerve wracking.  The walls at the CSE are only around 8 meters while the smallest climbs in El Chorro are 10 meters.  I started off slow, gaining more confidence as I moved upward.  And like I said, everyone has to start somewhere.

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I can say though that pole vaulting definitely had gotten rid of my fear of heights.  Looking down from my climbs, I was never nervous from the height… in fact I found being up high sort of exhilarating.  Maybe it’s because I’m a short human.

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To try to recount all my climbs over the past two weeks would be a little silly… and honestly I don’t think I can remember all of them.  But here’s a few of my favourites.

Las Cosas de Lucas (5+) This one was an easy climb up the right side of the rock.  I really enjoyed the bridging and crack climbing aspect of this climb.  Plus it was really awesome to get a photo from the top.  Everyone agreed this was ‘the Narcissus climb.’  This craig was also just really cool… you had to walk up stone stairs built in the 1500s to get there. #historyyyyyy

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El Beso de la Flaca (5) This climb was a higher than than other ones that I had previously done and had a lot of different holds and moves.  But, this climb was memorable because of the caves that you had to crawl in and out of to clip bolts (read: embrace your inner cave creature).  It was a lot of fun getting up to the caves and looking out at the view.

Geisha (6a) This was one of the first 6a leads I did on the trip!  It was another crack climb with a small flake.  This was probably my favourite single pitch route of the trip.  This climb was extra memorable as just as I finished the crux and made it to the anchors to rethread and lower-off, it started to downpour. I was soaking wet while trying to work with the rope to get down!

Solo Afeitar (6a) This was a really enjoyable slab climb.  It was one of my first experiences on a slab and I found trusting the small holds a little tricky at first, but I felt like I got the hang of it.

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Lluvia del Asteroides (5+) My first ever multi-pitch!  I seconded this climb with Sam (yet another EUMC friend) (meaning I followed up/removed gear).  This climb was one of my favourites of the trip.  At 250m and 8 pitches (although we did it in 7), it was highest climb I’ve done to date.  To say that it was a step up from the indoor 8m wall at the CSE is an understatement.  I remember looking down off this climb and thinking ‘holy shit that’s high,’ but I was so taken aback by how beautiful Spain was that being that high up didn’t really bother me.  All the pitches were different from each other so I got to try a little bit of everything on this climb.  Topping out on this climb was one of those experiences you remember for a long time afterward.  It was a lot like how I remember so vividly standing on the top of the Duomo in Florence looking out over Italy.  I kept thinking how lucky I was to be in Spain and to be experiencing such a beautiful day rock climbing.

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250m up!!

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the big frontales wall, the multi-pitch is the center rib to the left of the big cave.

I flew back to Edinburgh on the 18th so I decided to spend my last day to visit Malaga. Craig, Chris (More EUMC friends YAY!), and I took the train from El Chorro to Malaga early that morning.  We got to see the Cathedral, a 10c Moorish Castle that had been built on a Roman Amphitheater, and eat fresh fish from the big local market.  Despite having been in Spain for two weeks, we had all really just been camping out in the middle of nowhere and hadn’t really gone into any Spanish towns.  So, I was glad to have had at least one day to experience a bigger Spanish city.  From Malaga I took the train to the airport and then waited there for my flight.  I arrived back in Edinburgh around 1 AM (my flight was delayed by 2 hours….) and finally made it home by 2 AM.

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All in all it was a fantastic trip and I am so grateful I was able to have this opportunity. I cannot wait to see where my climbing goes in the next three years at university!  I hope to get more into Trad climbing soon.  At the end of the day, that’s how I treated the trip.  I took each day as it came and just enjoyed being out on the rock with my friends.  I pushed myself to climb harder but I made sure that I was still having fun.  I ate a lot of food and fully embraced the Spanish siesta.

One thing I learned over my years playing competitive sports (between tae-kwon-do, softball, basketball, track, and cross country) is ‘that if it’s not fun then why are you doing it?’  This was especially true in the case of softball were I pushed myself to continue even when I no longer enjoyed the sport.

That’s why when I came to university I decided to finally give myself a break.  Competitive sports were a great way of learning valuable life skills like being a teamplayer, setting goals, etc.  I am so grateful for the opportunities I gained through them, but I knew that my time with them had come to an end.  I just didn’t feel like competing anymore.  I felt like I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore.  I just have to do what makes me happy.

Which, I think is a pretty positive outlook on life and one that I am happy to continue with.

As for now, my dad is currently visiting me in Edinburgh which is awesome because I haven’t seen him in four months!  My 19th birthday is in 8 days!! For my birthday, I’ve finally decided to get my tattoo done.  Exams are quickly approaching with my first one the day after my birthday.  And then next month, it’s off to excavate Neolithic skeletons in Romania.

I guess that’s all for now… jeez this was a long post to write.

Scotland Soundtrack #8

all essays are in and my last lecture is tomorrow… then it’s off for easter holidays.

enjoy some jams. favourites this week are 1,2, 6, 8.

the florence + machine song is a shout out to henry v… see if you can catch the reference, once more…

End of Semester Timetable.

Happy belated Easter everyone!  I spent the day yesterday walking around the city.  It was rainy in the morning, but the sun came out in the afternoon making it a gorgeous day.  I went to see the Celts exhibit at the National Museum as well.  It was a fantastic exhibit with artifacts from all over Europe including the Gundestrup Cauldron!!!

This morning, I turned in my last essay for the semester (Archaeology essay about the study of human remains).  This week is the final week of classes.

I could not be happier with how this year has gone.  I also cannot believe just how fast it passed either.  It seems just yesterday I was running through the Newark Airport to catch my flight.

The semester is coming to a rapid close with just Spring Break, Revision Week, and then Exams.  Here’s a list of things that will be happening to finish out the semester.

Today, I have a meeting at the National Museum of Scotland!  I was selected to be a member of the Young Demonstrators, a youth-outreach group at the Museum who helps to plan events to further engage the community.

Tomorrow is my last archaeology tutorial of the year.  We will be discussing Roman Britain.

Thursday is the last official day of classes for me.  I have two lectures: Celtic Civ and Scottish Studies.

This weekend I will be preparing for my climbing trip to Spain for Spring Break,  I fly out next Tuesday.  I cannot wait!  The trip will be fantastic and the weather is going to be amazing!  Nice and warm and sunny!  I’ll be in Spain for the whole break.

My dad is coming out to visit me when I get back from Spain and I am so excited to see him. He’s already requested I show him some of the cool pubs around Edinburgh.  (Don’t worry Dad, I’ve got a list.)

Revision week is from the 21st to 28th of April.  My first exam is on the 29th.

But! My 19th birthday is on the 28th, and to celebrate I will stop being a pansy and go get the Athenian Owl tattoo I’ve been talking about for ages.  The appointment is already set so no backing out now.  I’m getting it centered on my left scapula.

My two other exams are the 8th and 18th of May.

This morning I got my flights to Romania.  I will be flying from Edinburgh with other students to Bucharest and then take a train to Turnu Severin.  The dig team will pick us up and then we will stay a the dig house just outside of Schela Cladovei.  The dig runs from May 21st to June 11th.  It’ll be a lot of skeletal excavations so bones, bones, and more bones!!

I’ll be flying back to Edinburgh and couch crashing (swapped for homemade mac and cheese and alcohol) for a few day to sort my stuff out and decompress after the excavation. Then it’s back to the States.

I’ll be home from around the 16th of June to the beginning of September.  Time to see friends, family, and spend time with Rory.  Already checked out the climbing gym at KU and I can get a ‘home for summer’ membership, so I can keep climbing over the summer!  Just need someone to belay me (*cough* Mom?  Dad? *cough*).

Also, I’ll probably hide inside because I’ve gotten used to cold, rainy Scotland and Kansas summers were already unbearably dry and hot.

 

 

Run History: Flodden Wall

Since my knee injury last year that unfortunately cost me my senior year track season, I have been working to get back to the running level I was at.  I’ve been running around the city quite a bit, here’s a new section for the blog that combines running and history because I am still a giant nerd.

Today I ran the approximate path of the Flodden Wall, the old 16c town wall of Edinburgh.

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Flodden Wall Run Stats

Distance: 6.5 km

Sites: Flodden Wall (Duh), Royal Mile, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh Castle, Grassmarket, Edinburgh University.

Run Features: Semi-busy roads, park trails, multiple hills, old stairs.

Run Type: Urban

The Flodden Wall dates to 1513.  The wall was constructed around the southern part of Edinburgh to guard the medieval town against English attacks.  It also served at the border for the official burgh of Edinburgh and distinguished between those who lived in the city and those who lived outside of the city.  It was important for many people to officially live in the city because then you were able to gain access to the city markets.

The wall takes its name from the Battle of Flodden which occurred on 9 September 1513.  The battle was fought in Northumbria between Scots forces under James IV and the English forces of the Earl of Surrey. It was a catastrophic Scots defeat with James IV killed during the battle.

Battle is a prime example of the ‘Auld Alliance’ between Scotland and France.  To put it bluntly, throughout history, the Scots and French teamed up to just to eff with the English.  And even sometimes the English teamed up with the Scots and French to eff with other English.  It’s messy.  But basically, it was a power free-for-all and everyone raised huge armies just to steal power and poke at each other.  And people say the twenty-first century is full of drama…

But, point blank, you see the ‘Auld Alliance’ time and time again during the earlier Hundred Years’ War and War of the Roses.  The Battle of Flodden was an attempt to divert the forces of Henry VIII from France.  Henry VIII had also claimed to be the supreme overlord of Scotland… and they didn’t really like that.

However, the scoreboard at the end of the Battle of Flodden was in favour of the English.

With the death of James IV, infant James V,the son of James IV and Margaret Tudor was crowned king of Scotland (well sort of, a committee of Parliament members ruled for him until he was of age).  If alarm bells didn’t ring at the name Tudor, Margaret was the sister to Henry VIII.  Like I said earlier, ‘Auld Alliance’ drama.

And because she’s really cool, here’s a side tangent on Margaret Tudor.  She married James IV as a means to bring peace between England and Scotland.  Their son was James V, the father of Mary, Queen of Scots (ANOTHER REALLY COOL FIGURE IN HISTORY).  Through her second marriage to some other Scottish noble, Margaret had a kid who had a kid who was Lord Darnley.  Lord Darnely was the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots (her first one, Francis of France (lol), died of a an ear infection… and was not a dashing blonde swordsman… I’M LOOKING AT YOU AND YOUR TELEVISED HISTORICAL INACCURACIES CW).  So basically, Margaret was the grandmother to both Lord Darnely and Mary, Queen of Scots.  The son of Lord Darnely and Mary, Queen of Scots would grow up to become James VI of Scotland… and James I of England!  He takes over after Elizabeth I dies without an heir, because technically he’s the closest living Stuart relative!

But anyway, back to the wall… basically it was created in case the English decided to march on Edinburgh during the time when the Scottish king, James V, was a literal defenseless infant.

Because building a wall is always the way to solve issues of foreign diplomacy, right?