2017 Review and 2018 Plans/Goals

It really is difficult to believe that we are already coming to the end of 2017. There has been plenty of negative things about this year but there have also been enough positive things that have kept me from losing my spirit. There are several amazing things that I have been a part of this year but also some things that I need to continue to work on to better myself. I could tally off every good and bad event that happened this year, but with one or two exceptions I just want to take this blog post to review all of the amazing things 2017 had to offer.

2017: Grad Classes

I started off this year feeling like a complete failure. It marked the end of my first semester in graduate school and the feedback I received from one particular professor made me question my ability to continue. I felt really down, but I decided once the new semester started that I would make it my goal to be better and not let someone’s opinion of my abilities hold me down. I got through that set of courses with little to no hiccups along the way, plus I got to get to know an amazing professor who is now on my thesis committee. Who knew I’d pick up statistics so easily?! The Fall presented another set of challenges with classes. I will say that it was fairly difficult to get through it and to be honest I still haven’t looked at my grades because frankly, I don’t care about my grades anymore. In the grand scheme of things, grades don’t matter and that is something I’m trying to remind myself constantly or else this grad school thing just feels worse.

On top of a generally good classroom experience, I also presented my first single author conference poster at a major national conference. Yeah, it was just a poster, but it was still awesome! This conference was held in Vancouver, CA and I had such an amazing time. I got to hang out with my friends and professors from my current institution and I also had an opportunity to catch up with some old friends from my alma mater and meet new people.

2017 Research Assistantship

I’d say one of the brightest highlights of my year was being offered the opportunity to work with an amazing professor/researcher on her archaeological project in Montana. This was such a drastic change from what I had to go through in my first semester of graduate school, being offered no funding and no acknowledgement of existence in the department when faculty would pat themselves on the back for funding “everyone”. The beginning of 2017 changed that. This professor saw an opportunity to work with me given my skill sets and brought me on to her team. Ever since I feel like I’m part of a great supportive family in this big academic world, a world where it is easy to feel isolated and frankly, forgotten.

Before 2017 I had never done any work outside of the U.S. Southwest doing archaeological field work. I always thought that I would stay in the SW throughout my academic career not just because of how much I love the region, but also because of how much time commitment I had already placed in it and connections I had made. My research assistantship however has changed many of my regional goals and potentially my long term research. My field work experience in Montana, within Blackfeet/Pikuni Country and East Glacier, has stimulated my academic interests in ways I have yet to experience. I feel excited again about archaeology. Not that I wasn’t excited before, but prior to this experience I started feeling the weight of the SW on my back as it is saturated by archaeologists who stake their claim on sites/sub-regions/time periods/material culture. It gets a bit frustrating to try to find your place in all of that. All of the possibilities that presented themselves to me in Montana truly livened my spirit and it continues to do so with more and more potential for work/research coming up.

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Through all of these amazing things that have come from my research assistantship the best has to be the fact that I now have an amazing, intelligent, and supportive woman as my boss/professor/committee member/future advisor. Not only has she brought me on to her research family (really some of the most amazing people I’ve had the privilege of getting to know), but she has also helped me through a number of academic and personal trails I have gone through since being in graduate school. She basically goes above and beyond as an advisor. I was worried about what would happen once my current advisor retires after my MA is finished. I was worried that I’d work with someone who was either uninterested in what my research is or not experienced enough in the type of research I do. Now I don’t have to worry about any of that. I now have a supportive, interested, and experienced professor to advise me for my dissertation. This isn’t something many people get in their advisors, so I’m very fortunate and thankful.

Cat!~ I also got a cat… that is all.

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Things I want to change in 2018

Just three things… let’s keep it simple and doable.

One big thing I want to change in the coming year is my attitude. I realized recently that my attitude has been really poor this year and it doesn’t make me feel good when I express this in front of people and don’t stop until it’s too late. I need to stop being so negative towards myself and other people. Just let out good vibes and don’t let the little things bother me.

Another thing I’d like to change is the way I physically present myself. I have been slacking on caring about my appearance and I really want to fix that. In the past and even currently I have never been one to care about what others think about my clothing choices or hairstyle, and I still don’t really care. However since I have now entered a more professional world I want to present myself as a professional and dress like I put some effort into my look.

As you may have noticed, all of my highlights are school/work related. I want to change that in 2018 and expand my social circle and get some hobbies outside of the university. I miss having things to look forward to that aren’t work related and I have somehow let this academic world take over my life. So next year, make more friends and reconnect/nurture old friendships.

That’s it. I hope to be able to write more on here some day (I know I say this in almost every post). I’m hoping to get back into some photography. Maybe in the next post I’ll have some new photos!

Thanks for reading!

~DRS

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Nasty Woman Marching on Washington

There are moments as I go through the graduate school process that I wonder why I put myself through it all. Choosing a career that requires an MA or PhD, there are few moments when advisors/other faculty members give out positive reinforcement. The choice to continue work in academia means choosing a life that will require hearing criticisms and having everything you do chewed up and spat back out at you with the expectation of you saying “thank you for your feedback”. It isn’t easy, but today I was reminded yet again why I do what I do.

As an anthropologist, I study people. This field of study (in short) aims to look at people in the past and present in order to understand behaviors. This ultimately leads to an understanding of the different ways in which people view the world and a respect for those different world views. Not that everything is condoned or accepted, but it is understood. It is because of the nature of our field that as anthropologists we value the rights of every human no matter their sex, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, cultural affiliation, disabilities etc. What is not tolerated are those who aim to justify hatred because they think themselves superior or anyone who doesn’t fit their little box of ideals to be inferior.

It is because of this, I am proud to say that this is the life I’ve chosen. I am surrounded by people who will not tolerate injustice and hatred. With the Women’s March on Washington happening tomorrow, almost the entire Anthropology department, faculty and students, will be attending the local march.  It is not okay to threaten basic human rights. It is not okay to justify hate and promote the idea of white-male superiority then say it isn’t what you said or meant. We see you and we will not just stand by. We will not allow this hate to go unnoticed or become normalized.

Yes, I am a Nasty Woman and I will be marching on Washington tomorrow.

Life Update/Blogging Again

I honestly didn’t think I’d come back to this blog. My life has been a rollercoaster of emotions and the schedule has been jam packed. As some of you know, I started graduate school in Fall 2016 focusing in archaeology. In my last few blogs I expressed excitement over the new adventure I’d be starting but also acknowledged the stress to come and acceptance of it then to be added to everyday life stress. Little did I know that the acceptance would be much easier said than done. I didn’t know what being in graduate school really meant, especially coming in as a PhD student straight from my BA. There are some things I wish I had known how to deal with both academically and personally that would have made my first semester smoother than it was. I didn’t want to make this blog post about “what I learned in 2016” since I don’t think it’s fair to make that distinction for my situation. Since I’m a student, my life is lived by the semester and because of this I will share with you the experiences I have had both good and bad in my first semester of graduate school and things I wish someone had warned me about. Let me just say, I am not at all complaining about my situation. I am extremely lucky to have this opportunity to learn from leading professionals in this field and work along side brilliant fellow graduate students. That being said, here we go.

Warning: I’m not editing this entry much. Mostly because I feel this type of content should be somewhat raw. Just a heads up in case there are any typos and grammar issues.

1. Choose projects/term papers wisely.

I made the mistake last semester of choosing a term paper project based on what my professor wanted me to do and not exactly what I felt comfortable with doing. I wanted so desperately to impress this professor that I didn’t think in the moment that this was a project that was beyond my skill level. Long story short, the project was a flop and and the paper was horrid. In my attempts to impress the professor turned into a great way to do the complete opposite. I have made sure that not only will I try to make sure that the project I choose directly relate to my thesis/dissertation topics but I will also only take on projects that I know I can handle and seek guidance when it is something I can’t.

2. Everyone else is just as stressed.

Yes, even people who seem on top of their game are just as stressed and self-doubting as I am. It’s easy for me to fall into this mental pit of darkness thinking I was the only one feeling like I was in over my head all the time and scrambling to get things finished on time. As it turns out, this is not at all the case. Not that this was something I was unaware of, but it is something I am now trying to actively recognize as not a fault on my part but a normal part of this life we have chosen as graduate students.

3. Friendships are amazing and necessary.

Whether the friend lives on the other side of the world, city or street, there is nothing that can replace a great friend. If it wasn’t for my friends I would not have made it out of my first semester without quitting. Between coffee pep talks, text rants and evening drinks we all got through our situations together. Not just from an academic standpoint, as not all my friends fall into this category, but from an overall life standpoint.

I’m proud to say that I feel my long-distance friendship is getting stronger after what seemed like a hiatus. Our lives weren’t just physically apart but there were just situations on both ends making communication difficult. This is changing rapidly and I’m so happy to say that my best friend is still my best friend. I truly don’t know how I’d get by without her. She is my sister and my other (better) half.

I’ve also made some amazing new friends in my first semester of graduate school. Friends that I can honestly say will be an important part of my life for years to come. These people aren’t just brilliant but also genuinely wonderful. The lessons I have learned just through casual conversations is extraordinary. I am a better and stronger person now because of them.

4. It’s okay to be upset.

All semester I put up this front that I was okay, that I was handling everything. No, I definitely wasn’t. I was a mess and nobody knew it. I didn’t think it was okay to show that I was upset or disappointed. I thought it would show that I couldn’t handle graduate school and everyone would think less of me. So I held it all in and kept a calm smile on my face. When the semester ended I had a mental breakdown. I went through a solid two weeks of swinging from indifference to uncontrollable crying. I was at an all time low. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I’m breaking down after holding it all in ever again. I need to be okay with acknowledging when I’m upset with something so I can constructively deal with it when it initially occurs and not when I can’t do anything about it. It is okay to feel upset and it is okay to cry it out every now and then.

5. There are no excuses for putting this off. 

I put myself in bad situations by making every excuse I could think of to not do things in a timely manner. Everything got pushed to the last second and I paid the price for it either immediately or in the long run. This is stuff that I was able to get away with when I was an undergraduate but I have quickly learned that this isn’t going to get me far in graduate school. I have started off this semester the way I never have before, I created a schedule for myself with deadlines that I will make myself follow. I’m surprised to say that it is actually working! Creating monthly, weekly and daily goals is fantastic and I am feeling great about this new change I have implemented into my routine. Hopefully I can keep it up!

 

So there it is. An update on my life… sort of. Just a few things that I wanted to share either specifically or generally about my experiences in the Fall of 2016 and what I have learned from them. Clearly this is just a snapshot and I could have written so much more! Hopefully I didn’t lose anyone in this post. It was clearly geared towards my experiences as a graduate student but obviously most of these things most can relate in any career. I hope to be able to post more often on here! I’m not sure how it will go but I will try! Thank you for reading! The content will soon (hopefully) get back to normal outdoor/photography/archaeology related things!

Southwest Archaeological Field Work 2016

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The summer field season has wrapped up. The students are back in their hometowns and cooling off from the extreme Arizona heat. This summer marks summer #3 of archaeological fieldwork for me and boy was it an incredible experience. I spent it yet again in the American Southwest, a place riddled with the remains of past human life. Of course, as before, the location of my work will remain private. There is such a horrible looting problem and I’d rather not contribute to or provoke those actions.

For starters, this was the first year I’ve been out in the field and have had the role of being a crew chief. Meaning I was in charge of the excavation of a unit and was responsible for teaching a new group of students every week of the proper procedures and tedious process of archaeological excavation. IMG_5572

Although there were times things got a little heated (literally and metaphorically), the students this field season were excellent. Such a wonderful group of humans working together towards a common goal, whether it was excavation of the pueblo or survey of the surrounding land. A hard working bunch with a strong desire to learn. I couldn’t continue this post without acknowledging their drive, without which our work would be much more difficult and near impossible. IMG_5585

That being said, we accomplished so much this summer. Excavation in my unit in particular yielded such amazing information including evidence of ritual closure. Many ceramic sherds were found along with a full projectile point, bone beads and a few awesome features. All of this was found underneath wall fall, which seems to have been pushed down intentionally as a way of closing the space (extramural). It was truly incredible.

Survey of course revealed so much information that we did not expect. So many new archaeological sites were found ranging from Paleo sites to Pueblo period. This area isn’t known for having paleo sites so these findings are incredibly important for the archaeological record.

All in all, a fantastic field season with amazing people and wonderful finds. I apologize for the vagueness of the findings. I cannot describe with too much detail the area or the findings due to sensitivities of both site integrity and the living descendants of these past peoples.

To everyone reading this: Please understand that we must protect these cultural resources. Do not pick up or destroy archaeological remains of any sort and take it away from it’s context. As archaeologists, we need things to remain where they are found in order to learn anything from them. Respect the archaeological record and the descendants of the people who left them. 

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A New Adventure

DSCF0143For some reason keeping a blog going (or getting it started) has been difficult. There has been many changes in my life since my last post. I had just graduated with my BA in Anthropology and was trying to keep myself busy while I was waiting to hear about my fate as a student. Would I get accepted into graduate school? If so, where would I go? Well, these questions were answered shortly after started this blog.

I heard the news of my acceptance into the University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology while I was on vacation in Mexico. The vacation was fantastic. I had been to these cities in Mexico a few times in my life already (Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta) but this time was even more amazing than the previous visits. It was meant to be a gift for graduating college, but it turned into a getaway from the stress that was waiting on my graduate school prospects.

As it turns out, a few days into my week long trip I received an email from one of my mentors that I got accepted into the graduate program at the University of Arizona. Of course, this was a pretty big deal. I was ecstatic. Knowing that I’d be continuing my academic life at a school that is known for being a top player in the field is something that I couldn’t even begin to wrap my head around. To be able to pursue my PhD in Anthropology/Archaeology with a professor I respect and admire is something most students only dream of and somehow it happened to me. I don’t doubt it will have its stressful moments and there will be times I question my decisions, but right now this is what I want and I’m excited to get started. Here’s to August and the start of my new adventure!

There will be a blog soon of my vacation to Mexico as well as my recent archaeological fieldwork experience. It has been a fun and educational few months!

Southwest Archaeology Pt.1

Archaeological fieldwork in the Anasazi culture area (Northern AZ & NM and Southern UT & CO). For the sake of privacy and protection, I will leave out the details of the location.

When people think about archaeological fieldwork they think of people digging in pits. Although excavation is a huge part of fieldwork, much of the work in archaeology involves survey. There are various methods of survey but this particular survey involved was is called “field walking” to cover planned out transects. This allows for a more thorough search from sites and artifacts while walking very systematically over the land. Sites and artifacts are recorded but rarely are the artifacts collected. The artifacts collected are usually the rare finds such as projectile points and intact groundstone. Projectile points are collected due to the rarity of the finds and the possibility of finding them again are rare even after taking down their coordinates. Groundstone is extremely important due to the traces of various organic materials and minerals that can be found in it’s pores.

You will see in the photos that I have demonstrated some of these materials that were collected. One of them is a Clovis point. Clovis is perhaps one of the oldest known cultures in the Americas, dating to approx. 13,000 years ago. There is still a lot of debate in the archaeological world about Clovis being the oldest in the Americas.

In another photo you will see an intact metate. This was most likely used for the purposes of grinding down various grains and perhaps dates closer to Late Archaic, 500BC. However, since it was just found this summer, the exact timeframe of this particular metate is unknown.

The photo of the rock art was not found on our survey but was close to where we were working. It is located in a canyon that has thousands of petroglyphs dating from thousands of years ago all the way to just a few hundred years ago.

What is extremely important to realize is that these artifacts, although very interesting, should not be removed from where they are found unless there is a professional archaeologist in the field to ensure properly recorded information. Context is everything in archaeology. Just because you found a cool Clovis point doesn’t mean that picking it up and taking it home is ok. Even if your intentions are good and you take it to a museum, we encourage you not remove it from its place. Without context, very little (if any) information can be gained from that artifact. Let’s learn more about the past and remember that without proper research, we can know very little.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed! I will post more about my archaeological adventures as they come up!

Welcome

Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog! Let me introduce myself and and the purpose of this blog. My name is Danielle and I am a student of Anthropology focusing in Archaeology. Archaeology of the American Southwest is my passion and when I’m not in class you can usually find me out doing archaeological fieldwork. Currently I’m not in school due to a Fall graduation and a wait period between now and graduate school. Although archaeology is my primary focus, I absolutely love traveling and being outdoors. This blog is to share my experiences through photos and memoirs from my little adventures, whether they be anthropological in nature or just exploring the overall beauty of what our Earth has to offer. I hope to be able to share and celebrate our world’s beautifully diverse cultures, past and present, as well as the natural beauty that we should aim to help preserve.

If you have interest in any of this please continue to look out for my posts! I’m new to WordPress so I’m not entirely sure how this works!