WARNING: this is a LONG post.

I’m writing this from a sketchy hotel room in Houston. It didn’t look shitty on Hotels.com, but then again Hotels.com has lied to me before. I feel like I’m in a bad relationship. I kind of want to break up with Hotels.com and go over to Booking.com or something, but then Hotels.com slyly reminds me that I have Silver Status and I have to stay 10 nights a year to get a free night. I’ll admit I’m a sucker and would feel like a bad spouse if I didn’t uphold my end of the bargain, so I inevitably fall for it in a bid for my free night and occasionally wind up in a poop hole of a hotel. Unfortunately, I just redeemed my free night a few weeks ago at a not-so-shady hotel in Grand Prairie. Damn you, Silver Status. Oh well, it’s only one night. Thank God.

Ah, Houston. Really friggin’ huge and pretty much every driver rides your bumper so hard and so fast that it’s like the whole freeway is behind you trying to shag your car at 65 MPH. Listen, I know some people love it here, and Houston does have some good qualities, but DAMN. Every time I come here, I can’t wait to leave and go back to Austin, where they ride your bumper less and wave their middle fingers more. I don’t find middle fingers that intimidating. The only redeeming qualities of Houston for me are:

  1. My cousin lives here.
  2. My sister-in-law lives nearby.
  3. One of my best friends from high school/college lives near by.
  4. This is where I legit first met John Barrowman and kicked off a period of my theatrical life that was insanely fun and exhausting (and I will never do it again).
  5. The Houston Archaeological Society lives here and they are awesome people who put up with my stupid questions, give me excavation experience, can throw a Field School party like you won’t believe, and are generally Good People.
  6. Rice University’s Fondren Library

And #6 is why I’m here. I’m swimming through my first master’s paper for Archaeology of the Highlands and Islands. I’m writing about the Iron Age gaming boards and pieces that have been found on random sites throughout the Orkneys and Shetlands. Pretty cool subject, yeah? It is, but most of the field reports are in print…only in Scotland. UGH. WorldCat is my friend and tells me if those buggers are available nearby. WorldCat told me that Fondren Library has three of them. WOO HOO!!! RESEARCH ROAD TRIP! It’s cheaper to drive 3 hours to Houston than hop on a plane, and anyway…I think the library at Orkney College is closed anyway, so that would be one useless trip.

I’d rather go to the Orkneys than Houston, honestly. But, I have Columbus Day off from work, Fondren Libary is open tomorrow, and I didn’t feel like getting up at the buttcrack of dawn to drive to Houston, so here I am.

I listened to Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess, on the way here, which made the drive incredibly awesome and made Houston a little less sucky. Who’m I kidding? Jenny Lawson makes everything less sucky. I read her latest book Broken after I visited her bookstore Nowhere Bookshop last July. See photos of us at the very end of this blog. I bought the last autographed copy they had at the time and I ate the book up. Ok, no, I didn’t actually eat the book. I read the book. Eating books would be weird, but then…they are made from trees and trees are a plant and you can eat some plants.

I think Houston is messing with my mind and I’ve only been here for 90 minutes. I gotta get out of here. Anyway, Broken was amazing and funny and now I’m reading all of Jenny’s books backwards because…I’m secretly a Time Lord and we do everything ass-backwards because that’s how we roll.

I wrote that last line just to see if you’re still paying attention. Jenny’s stories about her struggles with mental illness and a body that basically wants to kill her reminds me to take good care of myself so I never fall back into the deep, dark place that I was a year ago when I had my mental breakdown. I climbed out of that hell hole and back into the light, battered and bruised, but a BADASS SURVIVOR. My archaeology studies kept me going when it felt like the whole world was crashing and burning around me. It’s important for me to stay focused on what makes me happy so I don’t go back to that dark place: my family, my friends, Doctor Who, and archaeology. Jenny Lawson has become a part of my recovery, now in its later stages. I’m no longer in therapy, but I am still on my Happy Pills (yay Wellbutrin!) and her books make me laugh hysterically and remind me to take care of my mental state. I’m a badass warrior woman like mother-frikkin’ Boudicca for destroying my depression demons. She knows what’s that like and it helps to know that I’m not alone.

And hey, you gotta laugh hysterically when you’re driving in downtown Houston and the amorous Ford F150 behind you is trying to hump your bumper and make illegitimate car babies with your poor, confused Subaru. Do they make birth control for cars?

Anyway, I’ve got a good feeling that because of my situation being an overseas student, I’m going to be getting to know several strange university libraries for research. I really like the idea of creeping around strange libraries and sneaking through the stacks like that freaky ghost at the beginning of Ghostbusters. You know the one:

This crazy bitch. I didn’t post the scary picture of her because it’s scary, but I did look at it. For the first time, I realized she actually looks like a deranged gorilla when she attacks the Ghostbusters. Not kidding. Google it.

Maybe that’s secretly why I want to be an archaeology scholar. I just have a thing about creepy old libraries. I hope Fondren is sufficiently creepy. I’ll let you know, as long as I’m not murdered first by a serial killer hanging around in the parking lot of this shady hotel. I’m serious, next time I have to go to Houston I’m either going to try to work out my abusive relationship with Hotels.com, or I’ll get a damn Air BnB.

I’ll let you know if I was murdered or not.

And now for an apology and something completely different…

I realize it’s been eleventy-billion years since I’ve updated this blog and I’m sorry and I’m a bad writer. I mean…my only consolation is that no one actually really reads this thing, so I don’t even know why I’m apologizing.

But just in case someone other than me, or occasionally my dad (hi, Dad!), is reading this. Um…I’m sorry?

So the rest of this entry is devoted to my graduation in May and my summer frolicking through the dirt at Field School in Kerrville with Nora.


Graduation in May was fun, but I highly recommend against driving to Illinois in one day from Austin. Longest. Car. Ride. Ever. It rained most of the time we were there, but we still had a great time. It also rained on graduation day, which stank, but meh. ‘Tis what it is. Here are some photos of our adventures.

The walls at the Air Bnb didn’t quite reach to the ceiling…Nora discovered she can be a creeper and peer over the wall into our bedroom from the top bunk in her room. Freaky!
Downtown Macomb, Illinois. Yeah, we bad. Seriously though, downtown Macomb is really pretty and has some terrific restaurants and shops!
Nora and Paul and some WIU bulldogs on a wall. Nothing weird here.
Yes, yes I practice safe sex six.
Paul and I discovered this FABULOUS place called the Forgottonia Brewery. Nora thought it was too loud. Here’s the flight of beer that Paul and I shared and we wound up taking some home (I think it was the sour?).
So because of the rain, no one was able to get a great photo of me coming off the stage. 🙁 This is the crappy one that the university took and I got in the mail for Ye Olde “Buy me buy me” photo packages (I did, 2 5X7’s for shits and giggles).
Proof that I’m smart or something. Degree number…four?

After graduation, we went to a rather rainy picnic at a local state park with one of my favorite professors, Dr. Alveshere. It was nice to meet her in person and our kids had a good time playing together.


June bringeth field school, something I look forward to all year. I was so excited to go and we had a great time, despite the saga of the dead air conditioner at our Air Bnb and our host was kind of a jerk about checking out, but whatever. It’s over and done with. I can’t blame Hotels.com for that one, but I’m starting to suspect that Hotels.com is talking about me behind my back to Air BnB. We’re going to be back there next year and I’ve already found a different place that’s closer to base camp, anyway. Anyway, selected photos!


Fabian wanted to go, too. I keep telling her that cats can’t be archaeologists, but she won’t listen. Meh, cats.
I took Nora to a park on our first night there. There were massive oaks. Two minutes didn’t pass before Nora was up a tree. That’s my girl.
God, what a dorky photo. I was at the Historic Site looking for a German dance hall and helping with the Total Station (GPS points). I thought I’d look cool, but that is probably the Dorkiest Hat in Existence. Oh well, better than a sunburn.
I’m an English teacher when I’m not playing archaeologist. Sometimes they overlap. And no, I don’t go around licking rocks…unless I think they’re bones. Sometimes you can’t tell the difference, so you lick them. Bones stick to your tongue, rocks don’t…I realize that just makes me sound way weirder than I am.
Hey, a test unit! I think this was the entrance? I can’t remember. I was on a different unit after this, when I wasn’t screening.
Speaking of screening, here we are…shoving buckets of dirt through a screen. We found a lot of nails…A LOT. And some melted glass, which was pretty cool. The dance hall burned down, so that was one hot fire.
While I was finding nails, Nora was at the Prehistoric Site. She found this nice little mortar. Or maybe it’s a cobble? I can’t remember. Prehistoric archaeology isn’t my thing.
Me at 6:30 in the morning with no coffee. That is why I look so sad.
So another group found one of the piers for the dance hall and that bad boy was burned most of the way down. I got a photo before they pulled it.
Some wonderful soul brought us popsicles. I love that person because it was HOT.
Archaeologists are hard at work.
God made dirt, dirt don’t hurt. After a morning of digging the shower water would be black. This is why I don’t camp. I have to take a midday shower.
Chert. Some more random rocks Nora brought me.
Nora obviously takes archaeology very seriously. 6:30 in the morning and she was hanging upside down playing Pokemon Go. That colorful thing is her sit-upon from Girl Scouts, which cleverly doubles as her dig kit and chair.
So I spent like THREE FREAKING DAYS looking for the northwest corner post of the dance hall and we found it on the last day! The black rectangular-ish bit is the burned-out post.
Frantic digging because we were on a time crunch.
I was tasked with cleaning up the hole and making it pretty for photos.
All cleaned up. I got the walls pretty straight and I was proud of myself for mostly mastering this skill. It actually isn’t easy to do a 90-degree wall.
Behind the dance hall was a frontier schoolhouse. These are the foundations that were uncovered. The school was TINY, like 16′ by 16′.
I had to get a selfie with the schoolhouse. Paying my respects to those frontier teachers. I don’t know how they taught multiple grades at once, but they were the forerunners of our modern education system and my job.


I’m not going to bore you with more vacation photos, but Paul and I ran away to Hot Springs for a week while Nora was at Girl Scout camp. We had a great time and ate the best ramen EVER from a food truck called Tasteful Noods. Nora and I spent a week in San Antonio later in the month. The first half was in a shady Airstream trailer (that was Air BnB’s fault, for once) and escaped to a nice hotel for the second half (when Hotels.com wasn’t being abusive). But, here’s the two of us making a not-really-pilgrimage-to-Jenny-Lawson’s-bookstore-because-that-would-kind-of-be-stalking-and-I’m-not-into-that-I-promise.

Now I feel slightly guilty and like I have to justify myself. Long story short, the bookstore had JUST reopened after being closed to in-person shopping because of COVID. Also, I’m a reading teacher, so it’s ok for me to stalk bookshops (and libraries) in general. Also, I felt like I wanted to say “thanks” to Jenny Lawson in some weird way by visiting her amazeballs shop and buying her book, which turned out to be autographed. WOO HOO!

Nora approves.