I've had 6 years of schooling leading to a B.A. and an M.A. in anthropology with a focus on archaeology and museum training, including an amazing field school in Ohio. All that training barely prepared me for real-life archaeology. I've worked in Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Montana, and North Dakota. I hope you stick around so that I may regale you with my stories of, and adventures in, field work.
Epic Adventure Number 1: Not raging at any one or any thing.
Go teamwork!! (yelled enthusiastically with one's arms in the air)
.....or not, in my case. To be honest, I enjoy teamwork. It means less overall work placed only on my shoulders. At the same time, it gives me someone to talk to and off of whom to bounce ideas. And lately, I have had the wonderful pleasure of working with people I get along with. Even the strangest and potentially annoying people are fun in the field. They help the day go by with...interesting...discussions. So, I enjoy it.
Now let me throw some legit science your way: many pregnant women get emotional. Just read these stories. You see, there are all these crazy hormones coursing through the pregnant woman's body and it is like PMS times 5...I may be conservative with that number, but there you have it!
My emotions seem to range between perfectly normal to raging beast, and there was this one evening at home when I bawled for an hour, at first for no apparent reason....then because I didn't know why I was crying. But, normally I am perfectly normal.
The archaeological epic adventures start when I find myself working outside in the frozen tundra of West Virginia and a breeze hits me. Then I go from calm and fine to grumpy beast.
Life is great!
Then, someone harmlessly says, "wow, I'm tired," and I'm like:
You're tired?! @#$$%@#$!!!!!!!!
In the lab, I may be happy and normal, but then the scanner doesn't want to scan, and/or I can't find a pretty corroded hand-wrought nail to scan, and then the computer runs slow, or that stupid marble won't sit still. No, it just wants to roll around like a marble. Then my poor co-workers ask me how it is going.....
Stupid marble, why are you round?!?!
I know I am being irrational, but dammit I just want that marble to stop rolling. I guess all that's left to say is, "Good luck, World!"
So, the past couple months have been the start of some new changes in my life. Well, not entirely new, as I've done this before, but the next 7 months are definitely going to be epic...cuz there can't be much in the world more epic than a pregnant lady doing archaeology. This terrified me at first. I mean, terrified. For a couple of reasons that I will quickly outline below. First, I was not going to be able to go back to Montana in the summer of 2014. Though I think it would be freaking hilarious for me to be 8 months pregnant and hiking across the plains, I knew my husband would not approve. Plus, you know, my doctors are here in Virginia, along with my husband and 8 year old daughter...so maybe I should stay here. Literally, the first thing I thought was "NOOO!!!! Now I can't go back to Montana!" when I realized the little stick showed positive. I all but fell to my knees with my hands thrown up in the air. It was all very dramatic. But then I got nauseous (as I have been every day since) and the drama ended with me needing to lie down. My second fear, and the one that really truly freaked me out, was the idea that my budding new career was going to be stopped dead the second my supervisors found out. And then even after baby is born, I'm not going to want to go out to the field overnight for at least 6 months. So, I was going to be out of the field for at least a year, and have I mentioned yet that I am nothing more than a temporary employee? Technically they can let me go at any point, which was originally when the field project in November 2012 ended. And the big thing with CRM as a temporary field/lab tech, is that they can just let you go. And it can be very hard to get back in the field once you've been out for an extended period of time. And finding that coveted permanent position depends on one having a crap ton of experience, and a lot of luck. Now, even though my current employers have pretty much kept me working for the past year (excluding Montana), and even though they were calling me as I was driving back from Montana to see if I was available for work, I was still scared that the as soon as they found out I was pregnant they would not let me go to the field. And this fear was based on events that happened with another girl (well, lady) at work who got pregnant, and well, she was moved over to another office within the company, and hasn't done archaeology in over a year. Let's also not forget that in our society, pregnancy is very often looked at as a disability. A pregnant lady can't freaking do anything normal without somebody telling her she's harming her baby. Just take a gander at this story. She's my hero. And then there are all the fantastic mom's I've met who did things like compete in triathlons right up to the end of their pregnancy. Or how about all the women of the past who worked on farms or ranches. There are ethnographic accounts of women having babies, and within a few days, strapping them on their backs and continuing on with the gathering of food. So, I'm going to throw a massive bullshit flag on the whole idea that pregnant women are fragile. So there I was, the second and third week of December, dealing with exhaustion and morning sickness, freezing weather, and snow, and out in the field. "Miserable" barely covers how horrible it was. To top it off, our site was supposed to be from the late 1700s to the early 1800s, and yet we were finding modern trash. It felt like the biggest waste of time, ever. And in the middle of this big waste o' time, I kind of just blurted out to my supervisor, "yeah, so I'm pregnant." He just kind of stood there and gaped. But very quickly congratulated me, and then asked if I planned on continuing to work. When I said yes, he said, "good! Because we'll have work!" Turns out, this was pretty much the same response I ended up getting from our office's head boss guy. Then both of them decided to joke about how funny it would be for me to go out to the field 8 months pregnant, big ol' belly, digging holes and screening dirt....the belly could hold the screen for me.....those kinds of jokes. The point is, my fears were unnecessary. The people I currently work with are pretty awesome and are willing to let me work in the field for as long as I feel comfortable doing so. I plan on working in the field for as long as I can. I'm sure there will come a point where I probably will just give up. Archaeology can involve some hard physical labor, and eventually I'm not going to be able to see my feet, let alone dig straight walls and flat floors. So, here's to 7 months of potentially epic stories of me waddling through the woods! Stay tuned! Umm....so I didn't have any pictures to post this time, so here's the rest stop to visit just outside of Alliance, Nebraska:
Free WiFi?! I'm there!
.....and now just watch.....there won't be any field work until mid spring when I suspect I won't want to go to the field.