Dublin (Or: A Study In Low Light).

This will probably be my last post for a while, because tonight is my last night in Dublin and from here on out, my ability to access the internet is questionable.  I hope you can all survive my absence from your Readers (and/or emails).  Is there a way to schedule reposts of old stuff I’ve published?  Because that might be a fun way of ensuring that no one abandons me in my hour of need.

Anyway, I’ve had a whirlwind two days in Dublin.

I’ve been scoffed at and called a “TOURIST!” by a fat man with an American accent, which means that even Americans find Americans obnoxious in other countries.  (I wrote that sentence to mean that I found him to be intolerable, and just realized that it works the opposite way as well.  For what it’s worth, I was taking a picture of a church I had paid to tour, which is something I’m aware only a tourist does – however, I wasn’t doing anything overtly annoying or off-putting.  That Pierce was a b.)

I’ve walked on or about five gajillion miles, around and around the City Centre.  This walking was obviously entirely because I love to walk and not because I’m totally useless without Google Maps on my phone, okay?

I’ve seen taken a ton of terrible-quality photos with a seven-year-old digital camera I packed on a whim, back when I still thought I’d have my iPhone with me for photographs.  I know.  Right now you’re thinking I’m an idiot for using my iPhone as my primary camera.  Ahaha, friends.  You haven’t yet seen the pictures this shitty point-and-shoot takes.  Are you ready for this?

Trinity College:

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The Long Room, adjacent to the Book of Kells:

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Christchurch:

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Dublinia, Viking and Medieval Ireland museum:

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Oh, how I wished I had my phone for this. This is a Viking outhouse, complete with audio of a man groaning and straining on the toilet. It would have been my first Vine video.

DSC02055DSC02062DSC02067DSC02069I saw Bog People at the National Museum of Ireland, Archaeology Museum and walked through St. Stephen’s Green, and peered through locked gates at Dublin Castle, which is closed through July for government meetings:

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I found Viking ruins near Christchurch (and by that, I mean I followed some directions to see them, not that I discovered them.  That distinction totally had to be made):

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And I toured the National Wax Museum,

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where I took the highest quality photo of the trip thus far:

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I discovered that today was Pride in Dublin:

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Most importantly, I got a wink and a smile and a “Pardon me, love” from a gorgeous Irish man who bumped into me on the street, which means I can pretty much just go home now, because my life is complete.

In all seriousness, I’ve had a great time and have seen a lot, but I’m finding I’m not a huge fan of traveling solo.  Trust me, I am a person who loves being by myself, so it’s not that I can’t handle alone time.  It’s just that in a city bustling with people doing things together, it’s odd and a little sad to not have at least one other person to share these experiences with.  Luckily, tomorrow I’ll meet up with about twenty field-schoolers and be plenty busy with company for the next five weeks.  And then my family comes to meet me!  So I’ll be fine.

I just miss my people.

It Begins!

The other day, my mother-in-law suggested that my husband and I (and all the people I know) download an app called Viber, which is essentially a Skype/AIM/text messaging hybrid that allows people to call/text between computers or smartphones for free all over the place.  She thought it would solve the communication problem I was facing: how does someone who is always connected (i.e. me) not make occasional instant contact with all the people she knows and loves?  My cell phone doesn’t have international capabilities and therefore I won’t be able to call anyone while I’m gone.  Viber allows people to send instant notifications or to make calls (with or without video) from phone to phone or from computer to phone (which is what I’ll be doing).

Late last night, when I should have been asleep, preparing for my early morning flight, the husband and I tested it out, while sitting in different rooms at home:

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Why yes, that is a seven-foot-tall bookshelf, with books stacked ON TOP OF IT. That’s how we roll.

At this point, I feel like I should be a Viber spokeswoman, because I love it so much and have convinced so many people to download it so that I can harass them with messages even from thousands of miles away.  And it’s a good thing too – because right after I discovered, with total glee, that my giant suitcase weighed 49.5 pounds (one whole half pound less than the 50 pound weight limit) and was therefore acceptable, I reached to text my husband to tell him the good news and realized I’d left my phone plugged into the charger in the car.  Excellent.  Just before jumping out onto the curb, I’d gone through a mental checklist of all the things I needed and I was so proud of myself for remembering everything.

Uh huh.  That was too good to be true.

As it is, though, I’m already at the gate, safely through security, with plenty of time to spare, and I didn’t have to totally unpack and rearrange my suitcase in order to get it checked.  So, I guess it’s worked out.

Luckily, I decided at the last minute to pack an actual camera, so I’ve covered the only thing my phone could have done that my computer can’t.  Also, one of the women working here at the gate looks exactly like this

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so that’s a good sign.

Okay – time to board, and spend the next six hours jammed up next to a stranger, trying to sleep!  Air travel is so luxurious.

 

The Supremes.

Goodbye, DOMA and Prop 8! In a move I can only imagine was a going away present for me, today the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and essentially paved the way for marriage equality in California by removing a pesky (read: totally disgusting) piece of legislation called Proposition 8. This is a major win for everyone in the country who believes that personal prejudice or religious belief should not, and cannot, be legislated in the United States of America. I am proud to be on the right side of history. And now I get to attend the weddings of all of my friends!

However, not everyone is so pleased this morning. I made a mistake in reading the comment threads on articles celebrating the decisions and now I must share with you two of the most ridiculous arguments against the Supreme Court’s ruling:

1) “The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman.” Really? We are really, for realz, like actually still arguing this? Okay, let’s. If you insist. There are (at least) two huge fundamental idiocies woven into an argument like this. The first is that the Bible says a lot of really outdated, totally ridiculous shit that has no place in a modern world, like, for instance, that adultery is punishable by stoning, that divorce is not an option, and that tattoos are unacceptable. The world has progressed just a smidge in the last three thousand years, and clinging to one Biblical tenet like a maniacal nutcase while disregarding all the other very conservative prohibitions in the tome makes you a hypocrite. I mean, really. The second huge fundamental idiocy in this Biblical argument is that the United States doesn’t not legislate religion. It’s right there in the CONSTITUTION, you self-appointed constitutional scholars. It doesn’t matter what your religious text says. It can have no bearing on what laws can be established in this country.

Oh, it’s okay because the “Founding Fathers” were religious, and created the U.S. as a nation “under God”? Mmkay.

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Regardless of how they felt individually, the men who established the United States were dedicated to the preservation of the personal freedoms of everyone in their new country, not just those who shared their various personal views. It’s pretty upsetting to consider that the Founding Fathers were actually about 1000% more progressive two hundred and fifty years ago than the people dishonoring their legacy all over the place are today.

2) “In California, we voted for Prop 8, and the Supreme Court can just change our decision? This is the downfall of democracy.” Actually, no. This is democracy in action. One of the purposes of the Supreme Court is to “just change decisions” like this, when it is found that such decisions are unconstitutional. Any schmuck with a petition and some seed money can get a proposition on a ballot in California. By no means is that proposition legal or constitutional just because a bunch of jerks agree with it. In fact, if I had the time, energy, money or actual interest in doing so, I could propose initiatives for a bunch of things that are personal and annoying only to me. For example, I could propose that only people with blue eyes can legally buy sunglasses, because our eyes are more light-sensitive and sometimes, there are just not enough stylish choices left over after some dick with brown eyes buys them up. BOOM. New state law: individuals with brown eyes cannot have access to sunglasses. Or, I could propose that people stop cooking bacon and eggs in restaurants, because the smell grosses me out. Assuming I could get enough imbeciles to agree with me (and/or sign their names to a petition on a college campus just to get me the eff out of their faces), we could be living in a state proscribed by insane laws foisted upon it by evil geniuses like myself.

Your voting for something gross, prejudiced, and unconstitutional does not magically make it acceptable. Being part of a majority of bigoted jholes does not make you a sainted Lord of Democracy. It makes you a fool.

Congratulations, thinking people of the world! Our light just got a little brighter!

Mystery Science.

By the end of this week, I’ll be in Ireland.  I have just (finally) finished buying all the things I need for the trip and I am planning on organizing, washing, and packing all my new Indiana Jones clothes tomorrow (because I just spent ten hours on travel-related errands and loose-end-tying, and I am spent).  In the spirit of preparation, earlier this morning, I almost published a post about exactly where I’m going and why I’m so excited to go.  However, then my overwhelming paranoia took over and I decided not to give so many details.  I’ve gone back and forth over whether or not to reveal where I’ll be for six weeks and I think I’ve settled on not publicizing the precise location until I get back.  If I was going deep into a remote jungle somewhere, it might be different.  As it stands, though, I’ll be staying in a pretty public place, and I want to stay off the grid.

I feel bad about it, because not discussing the details here implies that at worst, I think you’re all murderers, and at best, I think you care enough about me to randomly show up somewhere you think I’ll be.  And, I don’t think you’re all murderers or fiendish stalkers (for the most part, that is).  I guess I just don’t want to be so accessible.

Therefore, I’m going to start a new, currently private blog on which to record all the minutia of my trip, and here I’ll post close-ups of what’s happening and wide-angle photos of Ireland itself, and just leave out the middle ground (i.e. where I am and what I’m doing) until I get back, when I’ll link to the trip blog and you can get the real deal.

I feel like this entire post reeks of delusions of grandeur.  I’m assuming anyone gives a shit where I’ll be.  I’m also assuming that you’ll be devastated that I’m not live-blogging my entire experience this summer.  However, I felt the need to explain why I’m being such a cryptic ahole, especially to those of you who have been reading since the very beginning, when all I did was grossly overshare.

A silver lining? Travel is always rife with annoyance, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to discuss, even if when I’m staying is cloaked in mystery.

Such Sweet Sparrow.

Today in Horrible News: Baby Bird Jack Sparrow died yesterday afternoon.  We had countless people tell us that we were nuts or that his death was inevitable.  We are realists, so we believed them, but it was still pretty damn sad to discover that the little bird who had been chirping and getting bigger and actually growing feathers was suddenly dead, despite eating and moving and pooping all day.  We wrapped Jack in some tissue and buried him in our backyard.  In California, we are cautioned against burying pets in yards, for fear that the decomposing animal will seep into ground water or that some j-hole will dig it up later and confuse this

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DOG skull.

with this

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HUMAN skull.

and call the police.

However, Baby Bird was quite small and I’m assuming his baby bird bones won’t last very long (and if I am an expert in anything, it is in bone biology), and therefore, he got a funeral.  I used a small little ceramic sparrow I had kicking around the patio to mark his tiny grave.  Bleeding heart.

The poor little beast was just starting to open his eyes and was responding to the sound of my husband’s voice.  My husband is really upset, because he had plans to rehab the bird for weeks while I was gone on my trip.  If I’m honest, I’m happy that Baby Bird died now, rather than in a week, when he would be bigger and fluffier and when my husband would be here by himself.

As it is, we gave him several more days than he would have had otherwise and I am content with that.  I just don’t feel good about it.

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The Purge.

I love seeing movies in theaters.  Love it.  I love the ritual of going to the movies in the same way some people love drinking their morning coffee – the product doesn’t even have to be good for me to enjoy it.  If I’ve got popcorn and an ICEE and a giant screen in my face, I will have a great time.  My brothers and my dad and I saw Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, to date the worst movie I have ever seen in my entire life, in a theater, and the shock of how horrible the movie was and that it had still made it to theaters made the experience better, not worse.  Oh my God, it was terrible – and oh so good.

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My husband, on the other hand, has no appreciation for such joys.  He does not suffer shitty movies quietly.  If he’s paying $12 to sit in a dark room with a bunch of loud strangers, he better be watching the best movie he’s ever seen.  Unfortunately, that happens very rarely for him.  He went with me to see Before Midnight because we knew it was going to be amazing.

He refused to see Ethan Hawke’s other current box office success, The Purge, because we knew it was going to be awful.

I enlisted the company of my friend J, who had already endured both Side Effects and Disconnect, two supremely depressing and upsetting movies, with me this year.  We gleefully skipped off to see The Purge, expecting the worst.

And we got it.  Holy canoli.

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The premise: it’s 2022, and all crime in the United States has been eradicated, except for during the annual twelve-hour Purge, when all crime is legal and all emergency services are suspended.  Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey are the Sandins, a wealthy, white couple who have made a fortune selling sleek, modern security systems to their neighbors to protect them during this one night of mayhem.  The Sandins fully support the mission of the Purge, which purportedly helps cleanse the nation’s criminal impulses, until The Purge bleeds out of the poverty-stricken inner city streets and comes to them.

The movie is an obvious indictment of white privilege.  It’s main characters are, for the most part, rich white people who blindly support unchecked violence as long as it is happening to other people (and because it has helped them build an addition on their already massive McMansion in a gorgeous gated community).  They become remarkably less supportive of The Purge after their son, the movie’s only actual human being and therefore its moral compass, allows an injured black man into their house after he screams for help while being pursued by a pack of rabid, psychopathic RKOI, who believe it is their right to murder this man, because he is homeless and “filthy.”  While this theme is played out with zero subtlety whatsoever (see: the homeless black man is wearing dog tags and an Army green coat), it could have made for a compelling story about basic humanity.  However, that’s not the way this cookie crumbled.

My husband didn’t want to see the movie because he thought the “annual Purge” conceit was ridiculous, which is admittedly is.  However, for me, the most upsetting thing about The Purge isn’t its ludicrous plot – it’s the fact that the premise is founded on an unsettling, false “universal” that given the chance, we’d all really love to kill someone.  Instead of maybe exploring why we tend to see certain people as fundamentally “other” (and therefore less deserving of happiness, safety, and ultimately, life), the movie chose to focus its attention on its belief that the only thing keeping most people from murdering their neighbors is the fact that murder is against the law.  The removal of this prohibition, The Purge wants you to believe, would mean that everyone everywhere would enjoy a good ol’ murder.  Your mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers would put on their camo and “go hunting” – for people.  Or, if they weren’t feeling particularly rage-y that year, they’d just pull up a chair and watch live feeds of crimes happening around the world.  So gross.

I know it’s unrealistic to expect a horror movie to make intelligent commentary on human nature or class warfare.  However, it is so obvious that this is what The Purge is trying to do that it is so aggravating that is hasn’t done it well (or really all that thoughtfully at all).  The movie is at once both self-obsessed and totally missing the point.

The Purge‘s one high note?  This dude is pretty terrifying:

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However, even he is a giant caricature, wearing a tartan tie and a prep school jacket as he waxes poetic about his right as a trust-funder to kill whoever he wants.

Jack SpArrow.

Yesterday, my husband and I went to my parents’ house for dinner, so that I could see my parents and my brother The Baby and my grandparents before I leave for Ireland, and so that I could bogart a giant suitcase from my grandfather, in lieu of having to buy one.

Baby Bird was a popular topic of discussion.  My dad, who has been prosecutor for his entire career and who has worked in environmental law forever, taking down animal smugglers and oil spillers, had this to say about our nursing Jack Sparrow out of infancy:

“You know, guys, that’s really nice.  Did I ever tell you about the baby seal someone shot with a crossbow?  They shot it right through the neck with an arrow.  It took hours for the rescuers to catch it and take it to a rehab center.  The rehab spent six months getting the seal, named Arrow, healthy again.  We launched a huge campaign, with a reward, to catch the fisherman who’d shot it.  We put out flyers and misinformation and eventually someone gave us what we needed to find the guy.  When it was finally time to release Arrow back into the ocean, we loaded up a boat with the rescuers and a newspaper reporter and the guy who’d shot Arrow in the first place.  And you know what happened the instant Arrow was released?

“Eaten by a shark.  Immediately.  A huge Mako shark jumped right out of the water and ate him.  God, it was terrible.  The newspaper was there.”

That’s such a quaint, uplifting story, isn’t it?  Thanks, Dad, for the vote of confidence.

Thoughtless Thursday: Procrastination Station.

In less than one week, I leave for Ireland. I’ll be gone for six weeks. SIX WEEKS. I’ll be alone in Dublin for the first two days, then living with about thirty other people at an archaeological site for the entire month of July. (I will eventually write about where I’m going. I think I may schedule a post to publish when I’m on the plane. I just like the suspense.)

My husband, my parents, and my brother The Middle Child are flying over when my field school ends and we’re spending the sixth week all together, traveling around the perimeter of the country. I can’t wait. My husband and I have gone on exactly one other major vacation together – our honeymoon to Scotland to meet all his family – and it was, for all intents and purposes, a bit of a total disaster. So, I’m hoping this trip goes well and inspires my husband to love traveling (at least enough that he’ll come with me to Pompeii – in about ten years, when we’ve saved up enough money to go on another European vacation.)

Before I leave, I have to go buy everything I’ll need to wear to excavate/live out of the country for a month, finish my thesis research (Monday’s the last day!) and take care of a seemingly endless list of small things one has to handle before jetting off to a foreign land (alerting my banks, buying train tickets in advance, getting new contacts [for my eyes], figuring out if taking my phone is worth it, studying maps, etc). I’ve been crazy with the end of school/graduations and also a little bit in denial that this trip is actually happening, so this weekend is going to be whirlwind of prep.

Here’s what I’ve been up to while refusing to believe I’m leaving in just a few days…

Taking a child to the La Brea Tar Pits:

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We let her wander around by herself all morning. Obviously.

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I have an amazing friend who works as an excavator there, so we got to check out one of the deposits up close and personal. I got to exercise my wealth of useless knowledge by pointing out all the different bones.

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I found a new diamond solitaire in the gift shop. You think this is a joke, but I’ve seen some engagement rings here that could totally rival this.

Finding out, on social media of course, that The Middle Child got hit by a car while riding his bike:

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His face! His poor beautiful face! (He’s totally fine. Except for the face thing.)

Reading a bunch of weird crazy-person books stress-purchased from Amazon:

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Scientology, Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints, space travel, the Potato Famine, and Amanda Knox’s memoir. I threw in an Ireland guidebook and some Cheryl Strayed to prove that my brain isn’t all nuts. Just like 70%.

And, of course, taking care of Baby Bird, who we’re now calling Jack – as in Jack Sparrow. I voted for Tweets, but my husband isn’t cool enough to appreciate the social commentary:

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FEED ME.

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Still just as creepy as yesterday.

 

Operation Bleeding Heart Day 2.

In October 2008, when I was a few months out of college and working a retail job that made me feel like a total waste of space, my brother-in-law called us and offered us two week-old kittens he’d found in a garage.

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I jumped at the chance to escape my miserable work life and took some time off for an “emergency caregiving situation” (to this day, perhaps the biggest lie by omission I have ever told).  I spent the next several weeks mixing up kitten milk replacement formula and bottle-feeding these two gremlins

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and then teaching them how to pee in a litter box and then how to lap up milk and then how to eat solid food (my husband helped, obviously, but he was gone most of the day at something called an actual job).

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See? He was there.

These hand-raised monsters are the cats we still have and we have all been bonded by the trauma of raising and being raised by creatures of another species.  We adore them, and for the most part, they tolerate us.  Since we got them nearly five years ago, I’ve probably slept through eight solid hours just a handful of times.  Because this happens:

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And you know what?  It’s worth it.  I’m okay with being the kind of person who would spend seven weeks nursing kittens back to health (even if, at the time, I was so stressed out about their poop schedules I didn’t shower or leave the apartment for days).

Why is this relevant (aside, of course, from the fact that it explains why I’m such a cat lady)?

Yesterday my husband found a living, breathing baby bird in the middle of our driveway, an oddly far distance from any trees.  It looks horrifying – it’s featherless and about a quarter of the size of my palm and it hasn’t opened it’s eyes yet, making it a nestling (thanks, Google!).  We scooped it up on a REI catalogue, which made itself useful for once, and brought the bird inside.

photo 1photo 2Because we found it around 7:30 pm last night and it was too late to call rescues and vets, we decided to build it a little nest and warm it up with a lamp and feed it pieces of water-logged cat food every half hour until we went to sleep, as directed by the internet.  (You know you’re a crazy person when: after discovering that your newfound just-hatched bird friend needs to be feed every half hour from sunrise until sunset, you are just relieved that at least it sleeps through the night.)

photo 4photo 3This morning, when my husband called local wildlife refuges, hoping to find a place for the little beast, they told him that all nestlings delivered to them are “humanely euthanized” …meaning we’re in it for the long haul with this creep, at least until he grows some feathers.  We are way too tree-huggy to surrender Baby Bird to certain death.

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It’s so small. And weak. And helpless. It needs us.

Hilariously, my husband hopes caring for this (mockingbird?  sparrow?) nestling will help him get over his INTENSE LIFELONG FEAR OF BIRDS.

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Mockingbird fledging, from http://www.placeforwildbirds.org

Yeah.  Probably not.

Me Styled Pretty.

Remember that time I became a Professional Beautiful Person (with the help of tons of hair and makeup, and through the lens of a fantastic photographer, Marianne at Marianne Wilson Photography)???

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that photo shoot has just been featured on Style Me Pretty California and I am officially a famous model.  You can all feel free to say you knew me when.

Click here immediately and check out the feature to see a ton of gorgeous wedding inspiration photos!  I’ve linked it twice.  You have no excuse.  (The SMP post also has the full list of vendors/stylists.)

And if you wanted to help me in my quest to be the Most Pinned Forensic Anthropologist In The World, you could also pin a photo to your Pinterest boards.  I know you’ve got them.  Even you, dudes.

I can’t pretend to know better than the experts at SMP California.  However, here are some of my personal favorites:

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This was SO MUCH FUN and I am so happy to have been a part of it.  I’m supremely lucky to get to ride the coattails of so many gorgeous and talented people all the time.

LOVED IT.