A Bone to Pick

The Adventures of a Second Career Archaeologist

Month: September 2018

How Far Afield…

My classes just started at Oregon State last week. The Intro to Cultural Anthropology class is pretty easy and the workload is light. That’s great because the Archaeological Inferences class is very intensive with a lot of reading and labs with group interaction, which is always interesting when you’re in a distance learning situation. Most online classes require an Introductory post where you introduce yourself and maybe answer a few standard questions. The Intro to Cultural Anthropology class was like that. Archaeological Inferences was a bit different. We had to list the content of our purse or backpack and then another classmate had to make inferences about our lives based on what we listed. I thought that was a pretty fun and unique twist on the traditional introductory post. The person who guessed about my purse was way, way off. She thought I was in my 20’s! The only part she got right was that I’m a mom, though she thought my kid must be between 3-7. Nora was a little offended!

I’m already thinking about next summer and what I want to do in terms of archaeology experience. I’m not going to TAS’ field school next year. It’s in Palo Duro Canyon and that’s just too damn hot for me. I’m holding out for 2020 when it’s rumored they’ll be in Kerrville. I started doing a search for field schools, though it’s still a little early as many of them won’t be listed yet. I would like to work on a cemetery dig. I actually found quite a few, which was exciting, but many of them are 2-3 months long. That just doesn’t jive with me for several reasons.

Obviously, I can’t leave Paul and Nora for that long. I just can’t. TAS is unique in that I can bring my kiddo and she can participate, but that’s not the case for most field schools. That’s the downside to being an old married anthropology student who already works full time. I don’t have the freedom to take off for months at a time, so I’ve limited myself to 3 weeks or less. Some of the field schools start before I’m out of work. Many of them start after, but my spring classes at Oregon State won’t end until mid-June and I don’t want to try to handle digging for 5-7 hours a day and studying for finals at the same time. I also don’t know about internet connection. Some schools are in parts of the world with limited access and that’s not negotiable for my situation. Some of them are really damn expensive, more than I’m willing to fork over to muck about in the dirt digging up bones. It’s a weird situation with a lot of variables involved.

I did find one in Menorca that fits all those parameters. I’m not sure how Paul feels about me dashing off to Spain to exhume a bunch of dead Romans. I think at this point in our marriage, he’s resigned to the fact that his wife is a huge weirdo and he goes with it. I’m going to wait a few more months and see what else is added. Ideally, I would go to a field school in the United States or Canada because that would be much cheaper, but it seems like the majority of the schools I found so far are overseas in Europe.

What’d I’d really like to do is excavate in the UK because that’s where my field of interests are and where I eventually want to study for a PhD. It would be good to start making some connections over there, but ultimately I’ll take what I can get. Experience is experience!

Or maybe I’ll just stay home, save my money, and volunteer at TARL again. That is, if Lauren and Marybeth don’t mind me asking a bunch of weird questions and grumbling that I can’t make the mail merge work to print the box labels! I honestly never figured that out. Excel hates me with a passion. As I’ve said before, I actually learned A LOT at TARL and I know that I’ve only just scratched the surface.  Volunteering at TARL was loads of fun and with Nora probably going to camp, I will be able to put in a little more time in the lab. So, staying put wouldn’t be a bad option, either!

As a side note, I’ve added the option to subscribe via email to blog updates. It’s on the top of the right sidebar, if you haven’t noticed it yet. I usually announce new posts via Facebook or on my Twitter account (@heatherdleonard).

October is Archaeology Month in Texas, so if you’re curious about archaeology events near you, check out the Texas Archaeology Month Calendar. There are a lot of neat events planned all throughout the month of October. I will be attending the Archaeology Fair at TARL on Oct. 20th, but more about that later…

The Road Behind and the Road Ahead

It’s no secret that I love to write. I’ve been writing stories since I was a little kid. In first grade I made a book complete with illustrations, which my teacher published at school. It was called “The Rainbow Family.” I remember holding that book in my hands and being so proud that I had made my own book, just like the books that sat on my shelf at home. I wanted to make more books.

I never stopped writing, though my stories stayed private and were only shared with friends and the occasional trusted teacher. I was told I was a good writer, something I didn’t really believe since I don’t have much self esteem and I doubt myself a lot. Still, the validation was nice.

Years ago, I got the idea to write a web series about archaeology in space. The original story was much, much different but it eventually turned into Gwyddion. To make a long story short, I wrote 10 episodes and there was some interest and an attempt to turn it into a show, but it never happened. I was ok with that because I felt that the story needed to be deeper and more complex, something that cannot be conveyed in web series format. I realized that I did have the basis for hell of a novel series, though. That’s where I am at today.

I also realized that I screwed up a bunch of stuff in terms of archaeology. The experiences I’ve had this year and from watching Time Team have shown me that I need to go back and rework that aspect of the story. This fall, I am taking a class in archaeological investigations that I think will really help me. I will have about 5 or 6 weeks off between terms and I am hoping to write the novel in that time frame, NaNoWriMo style of at least 1,000 words a day. I need to work on some relationships between main characters and revamp my villains. It’s mostly just character work, but it will make the plot deeper and richer in the end.

So why this sudden kick in the pants to finish the novel version of Gwyddion? After all, I’ve been happily procrastinating for 4 years. I don’t want to go into details, but there have been several deaths in my husband’s family in the last 15 months. Two were in the last 2 weeks. I write this blog post while still reeling from the shock and sorrow that surrounds me and my in-laws. I realized that life is too short to keep putting things off. This story is constantly in my thoughts. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about it in some form or another. I always shove it aside and tell myself I’ll do it later.

I’ve decided that now is later.

When my first short story was published in 2013, my husband’s Uncle David told me that he was proud of me and he expected to see more. He passed away last year and nothing more has come out of me except one more short story. It’s time to change that.

I do know that waiting this long was meant to be. There was so much missing from the story that couldn’t be told until I had my adventures and experiences this year. That much I had realized, but I still made excuses to delay writing. I learned today that I can’t afford to wait any longer.

I’m rereading the story in its third and final draft format to reacquaint myself. Here’s what it looked like:

I’ve said before that I don’t know where this road is leading me. Maybe it will lead me to a writing career. Maybe it will lead me to a career in bioarchaeology. I don’t really know. Again, I’m just along for the ride and I want to have fun. My life is half over at this point and I don’t have time to spend the second half doing things I don’t enjoy. This road started before I even realized it did, way back when I got the idea for Gwyddion. Now is the right time to finish this sucker and get it published.

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