Week 52: out with the old

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Week 52

Happy New Year, for those that are celebrating and Happy Birthday again to my wonderful Mum. New Year is always a bit of an odd one for me, an intensification of the liminal feelings that come between solstice and the official start of the new year.

We’re going for dinner with friends, then drinks and firework watching.

Whatever you are up to, have fun and be excellent to each other.

Reflecting on 2013

I said this time last year that this was a scary year, and that I was determined to meet it head on. That worked pretty well until the summer, when a combination of things (but mostly looming end of contract nerves) sent me into a bit of a downspiral, where, true to form, I stopped writing and posting pictures and mostly hid under a rock.

I am doing something about it all though. I’m just not going to talk about it too much here. But I do want to show you some of the awesome things that the second half of 2013 held for me, because it wasn’t all bad, not by a very long way.

My last #project52 post was week 35, where I talked a bit about the deep funk I was in, and about failing joyously. So that leaves me 17 weeks to find pictures for, if I have them…

 

Week 36: I went to EAA in Pilsen. Tried to organise a tweet-up and mostly failed, but got to go to some wonderful sessions, tweeted a lot, and had brilliant wide ranging discussions over a number of great dinners with colleagues. I also got to go on a whistle-stop tour of Prague, which was brilliant and I want to go back.

Week 36 - Gargoyles at Prague Castle

Week 36 – Gargoyles at Prague

 

In week 37 my brother came to visit on his way to the UK. We kept a pact made earlier in the year and got matching tattoos…

You Can Never Go Home

Week 37a You Can Never Go Home

You Can Never Go Home

Week 37b You Can Never Go Home

It is both an irreverent reference to Grosse Pointe Blank and to our odd status as nomads…

In Week 38 me and the wonderful Esther mouse-proofed my kitchen so that they didn’t take over and build an empire while I was away on fieldwork:

week 38: None shall pass!

week 38: None shall pass!

Then I ran away on fieldwork, for almost two months. The first week (week 39) we were there I was ill (some sort of Georgian plague from my brother) and did a lot of preparation work and some EM surveys. On the ‘rest day’ we went hiking on the Timpa Cassano:

Week 39: Timpa San Lorenzo from the Timpa Cassano

Week 39: Timpa San Lorenzo from the Timpa Cassano

Week 40 saw a lot of caesium magnetometry in some very ploughed fields:

 

Week 40- ploughed fields and moody skies

Week 40- ploughed fields and moody skies

Week 41 saw colleagues from the BSR arrive to employ some techniques and expertise I don’t have myself!

Week 41: ERT with the BSR to investigate archaeology in lynchets

Week 41: ERT with the BSR to investigate archaeology in lynchets

By week 42 they had departed for another project on Sicily and me and my colleagues carried on with data collection in the foothills… some ceramic surveys, some geophysics and a trip to Matera!

Week 42: Matera, Sassi in the foreground, neolithic caves on the other side of the gorge

Week 42: Matera, Sassi in the foreground, neolithic caves on the other side of the gorge

 

In week 43 the whole team moved up into the mountains to continue our work. Matt celebrated his birthday without me in the UK, while I climbed a mountain on our ‘rest day’

Week 43: Top of the Falconara

Week 43: Top of the Falconara

 The tail end of week 44 saw me head to Rome to guest-lecture at the KNIR, a real privilege, and a lot of fun. I also got to go and visit the Via Appia, a first for me! I then headed back to the Netherlands.

Week 44: yours truly on the Via Appia, looking oddly foreshortened

Week 44: yours truly on the Via Appia, looking oddly foreshortened

Week 45 was a lot of frantic prep at work before heading to the UK in week 46, but I did find time to go and listen to cool music with Esther & Arno 🙂

Week 45: Folk music with Esther and Arno

Week 45: Folk music with Esther and Arno

Week 46 involved a trip to the UK, and my usual November weekend in a Castle playing silly games. This (of course) meant the hair needed to be rendered ‘interesting’ again, now fieldwork was over for the year:

Week 47: a return to winter plumage

Week 46: a return to winter plumage

 

Week 47 saw me still in the UK. Amongst other things, Matt and I went to Leavsden studios to see the Harry Potter exhibition. I would highly recommend it!

Week 47: Tig and Lola have a potions lesson

Week 47: Tig and Lola have a potions lesson

Week 48 involved a lot of running around, including a trip to Amsterdam, where I indulged my apple pie addiction:

Week 48: PIE!

Week 48: PIE!

Weeks 49 and 50 sadly don’t have pictures. It was too dark, cold and nasty to feel like doing much. In week 51, my beloved M arrived and so I got the Christmas tree ready:

Christmas tree with baleful dragon (scarf)

Christmas tree with baleful dragon (scarf)

Since then we have been mostly hanging out, baking, playing board games and making all of our new lego. There are still a couple of days to go before the end of week 52, so I’ll leave it there for now. I might try to have a hunt for pictures from weeks 49 and 50 – there might be some lurking that I have forgotten about.

So, be excellent to each other & have a great New Year.

Writing this post has made me realise I’ve not uploaded any of the autumn fieldwork pictures to Flickr yet, so I am off to set that going while Matt and I play board games x x

 

 

Blogging Archaeology: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Yet again I am sneaking in just before the end of the month with my response to the December questions raised by Doug for the Blogging Archaeology carnival leading up to the SAA meeting next year. Here is Doug’s prompt for the month:

The Good- what has been good about blogging. I know some people in their ‘why blogging’ posts mentioned creating networks and getting asked to talk on a subject. But take this to the next level, anything and everything positive about blogging, share your stories. You could even share what you hope blogging will do for you in the future.

The Bad- lots of people mention it feels like talking to brick wall sometimes when you blog. No one comments on posts or very few people do. What are your disappointments with blogging? What are your frustrations? What do you hate about blogging? What would you like to see changed about blogging?

The Ugly- I know Chris at RAS will mention the time he got fired for blogging about archaeology. It is your worst experiences with blogging- trolls, getting fired, etc.

My reply:

The Good: This is a hard one to answer. This blog doesn’t generate a lot of comments or discussion, and it hasn’t ever led to a speaking gig or being asked to participate in something. It does give me a non-academic space to play with some ideas, a little corner to rant into when I feel like I am hitting a brick wall, and somewhere I can show off all my cool fieldwork pictures. Because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to do that? I think the best moments for me have been when I have posted something personal or hard to articulate and got even just one reply that agrees with me, or encourages me. It helps knowing there are internet denizens out there who share my love of prehistory who also see links to their childhood reading, or who get how frustrating it can be to be pigeonholed as a methods or hard science person that doesn’t have anything useful to say about people in the past… I think as well that I wouldn’t tweet if I didn’t blog, and that twitter is by and large a wonderful place, where I get support, encouragement and random technical assistance from people all over the world that I wouldn’t otherwise ‘know’.

The Bad: Knowing where to draw the lines. This has always been a much more personal space than a professional one, but I am increasingly aware that prospective employers might look at it when considering me for roles. I’ve thought that perhaps it just should quietly disappear someday… I never know how much of myself I feel safe putting here. I’ve alluded in the past that I struggle a bit with mental health stuff at times, and that the blog tends to go quiet at those times because all I want to do is pour out all of the stuff… but that wouldn’t really be OK. I also struggle a bit with expressing my ideas here in a wider sense. I sometimes come back from conferences both elated and inspired but also deeply concerned with the future of what it is that we, as a discipline, do. But I’m early in my career (if indeed I ever develop one!) and I don’t want to put anyone’s nose out of joint. I wish I could be my bolshy 15 year old self at times, and demand that the world takes me as is, but at some point I got nervous about that.

The Ugly: Blogging can be a difficult place for archaeologists – horror stories about loony commenters with axes to grind, ancient aliens nuts, druids…. thankfully I’ve never had to deal with that, perhaps because I don’t seek to have any sort of ‘authoritative’ voice on here. I’ve also largely avoided the problems a lot of women seem to encounter… the only ugly moments have been realising when posting about feminism, that some of my friends are less than enlightened, which is a painful truth. Work seem blissfully ignorant of social media in general, which I actually think is a pity – I’ve tried to drum up interest for things like the Day of Archaeology, or using blogs as teaching tools, to be largely met with bemused looks. I know my students have found this by googling me, and that’s kinda cool, even if it contributes to the feeling of the need for self-editing mentioned above. So I think I get off pretty damned lucky on this front.