I've been wanting a more public blog. Actually, I've been wanting two more public blogs, one to talk about things like exciting places I go and ice creams I eat, and another that's disaster/emergency management focused. But I need blog names and/or witty subtitles.

Anyone have ideas? Also, I've been planning on using wordpress, but does anyone use another platform they really like/hate?

lidol: second chance

Every time, I decide I'm not going.

I turn the alarm off and decide it's not worth it. I'm tired. It's not worth it. There's no good reason for me to drive over an hour for ballet class, of all things. I'm not a ballerina. I think that was established conclusively by third grade, when I was kicked out of dance class for having an attitude problem. I thought this wasn't totally fair, since I would have had a better attitude if they could have made class less boring, but agreed with them on the main point. I didn't have a future in dance.

And that was that, for almost twenty years. Until, having moved to a new area and looking for exercise more interesting then the treadmill, I found myself in a pole dancing class. After a lifetime of thinking that I was the kind of person who was meant to be strong instead of graceful, I found something that made me wonder just why I couldn't be both. I wanted to get better. And that meant more classes and cross-training, from pull-ups to hip-hop to trapeze. And then, finally, to ballet.

I walked in knowing I would hate it, armed with the same sort of grim determination I bring on the rare occasions I decide I'm going to go jogging or drink a protein shake. There are things we do because we love them, and others we do because dammit, they're good for us. And the truth is, ballet will never be a thing that I love. It's too formal, too slow, too repetitive. I'm not overly comfortable with endlessly watching myself in the studio mirrors. More importantly, there's no thrill for me. Nothing like the adrenaline rush that comes when trying a new move offers the possibility of crash-landing onto the mat lined ground.

And still, surprisingly, I don't hate it. I admire the beauty of what the moves should look like, even if I'll never get it right. I find the repetition less meaningless the more I know what I'm doing. It's become a challenge, something I want to do just because I'm not sure if I can. Somehow, every time, after turning off the alarm and deciding there's no reason to go to class, I get up and do it anyway.

The score's been Ballet: 1, Jess: 0 for too long. I'm not going to forfeit the rematch that easily.

New Year's Eve

I couldn't decide how I felt about this year, because I spent most of it feeling like I wasn't doing anything productive. On the other hand, I feel like I'm a much more awesome person then I was last year, so I think that's a win.

I am sorry I was so bad about posting and keeping up with lj friends this year, though. I have plans to work on that. But the actual introspection and goal setting can wait till tomorrow. For now, let's end the year with a meme I've done a few times before:

Tell me what you think my New Year's Resolutions should be! Serious or silly, I promise I will at least attempt them.

Trip Breakdown:

I am in Chicago! This means that I SURVIVED ALASKA.

Days in Alaska: 45

Day length when I got there: 17.5 hours

Day length when I left: 13 hours

Coldest temp: 28F, in Denali.

Buckets of dirt carried: I don't even want to know.

Sod blocks lifted: See above.

Mosquito bites: I stopped counting at 172

Pictures taken: 2,600

Cameras destroyed: 1.5

Planes taken: 11. Only within state borders: 5 planes, about 1100 miles.

Busses: 9, about 850 miles

Trains: 1, 150 miles

Tour van: 1, 400 miles

Car rides with complete strangers: 2, about 30 miles. (Travel rule: It doesn't count as hitch-hiking if they're staying at your hostel. Or if you're in a national park.)

Top speed driving an ATV: 18mph.

Places stayed: 3 hostels, 2 campsites, 1 Quonset hut, one mattress on a friend's floor.

New foods eaten: 8. Yak, bison, caribou, reindeer, cloudberries, crowberries, highbush cranberries, Akutak/'Eskimo ice cream.'

Communities/Towns visited: Bethel, Quinhagak, Eek, Anchorage, Palmer, Wasilla, Talkeetna, Mckinley Village, Kantishna, Fairbanks, North Pole, Yukon Crossing.

Number of these towns where the mayor is a cat: 1

Wildlife seen at close range: 11 bears, 5 moose, 2 bunnies.

Places where I could see Russa: 0

(no subject)

First: our blog. Now with video, since I managed to get through to youtube.

We had a half day today. The wind was a steady 35mph (gale force, standing in place is difficult, anything we don't weight down is torn out of our hands and goes flying into the tundra) but we had to stop when the gusts were going over 50mph (the smaller members of our crew were at risk of going flying into the tundra.) Before the rain got too bad, we amused ourselves by watching the tide run in the wrong direction. A few waves reached our cliff, just a few feet from the western wall of our trenches. It's hard not to picture how easily our entire site will wash away.

Our first day digging a human skull bounced out of a sodblock and rolled over my foot, and nothing has really slowed down since then. This site could easily keep a lot of archaeologists happy for years, and we had less then a month. We have museum quality artifacts that barely get any attention because we've found five more interesting things that day and we have to keep digging. It's triage work, at this point. We leave for the site at 8:30, get back at 7:30 or later, and don't take breaks - that's at least 10 hours a day of moving dirt. The permafrost begins to seem like a perfectly reasonable place to take a nap. We have a progress meeting at dinner - the wind and our raingear don't leave much room for talking at the site - and then sometimes stay awake to watch part of a movie. There's internet in the building where we eat, and I can check facebook and email, but it can take 10 tries to post anything and by evening I'm lucky if I can move all my fingers.

(Go to school, people said. Get a degree, they said. Where did I go wrong?)

This might sound bad, but I should point out that none of it makes me actually want to stop working at the end of the day, or kept me from going to the site on Sunday, our one official non-work day. I can be warm and rested almost any time, but there are artifacts in the ground RIGHT NOW and I need to excavate them ALL.

I think it's time to admit it's not that I just keep running into slightly unhinged archaeologists, it's that a certain amount of manic obsession is a basic reqirement of the profession.

Happy Birthday Tea!

Quick update: I'm fine, in Quinahagak, finally starting to be able to stay awake after dinner, finding amazing things, and havve not been eaten by a moose. Possibly because there are no moose.

Anyway! Today, (Alaska timezone today, at least,) was teaberryblue's birthday! So happy birthday!

I excavated this priceless carving of Fudgie the Carvel Whale for you.

I was going to mail it to you, but then I realized it belongs in a museum.

let me sum up

Now that I am actually doing things, I never feel like I can get caught up enough to post. Highlights of this summer so far include my sister's graduation, going to readercon with teaberryblue and meeting a lot of interesting people, and getting heat exhaustion while working at my mother's fireworks stand. Wait, maybe that last one wasn't actually a highlight. Anyway. Now I am going to Quinhagak, Alaska, for a month to do Archaeology.

(I always kind of want dramatic theme music to play when I announce that I am going off on an archaeological expedition, even when that 'expedition' is taking place by the side of a parking lot or something.)

I leave tomorrow morning! And then I am on airplanes forever. I'm not even getting into Bethel - the last leg of the trip I can fly on a commercial airline - until early Tuesday morning. From there I have directions on how to find the guy who does charter flights to Quinhagak. Hopefully by Tuesday afternoon I will be on the Bering Sea. Really on it - the site is on a small cliff that's being eroded as permafrost melts, so the project has a limited time frame to excavate as much as possible. I will talk more about it once I actually get there!

Now I am finishing packing, having finally acquired all my gear. We were told to pack like we were going to be working inside a car wash on a blustery winter day, which would have been a lot easier if I could have fit the men's sizes. I feel like I'm going to be on The Deadliest Catch.

I'm also stocking up on apps and books for myself, and movies and music that might be fun to share with other people - I'm bringing the ipad. I'd love any recommendations!

(no subject)

I need to remember that being in chronic pain isn't good for me.

That sounds like it should maybe be obvious, doesn't it? But I always think that because it isn't bad pain, I should be able to deal with it. And sure, I can ignore low level aches, and work around occasional, more serious hurts. But doing that day after day for months takes a lot of mental energy. I end up tired and grumpy, and sooner or later I go from evaluating every activity to see if it's worth risking more pain to just assuming I can't or shouldn't do anything. 

I also need to not be ashamed of the fact that I need to type. That's how I communicate with most of the people in my life, and when I can't do it quickly and effortlessly, without needing breaks every few sentences or having to plan days ahead to try for stretches of time when I'm all right,  I'm not going to be happy. I end up wasting my time doing stupid mindless mouse clicky things that hurt anyway, but they're all I can do and it makes me feel semi-connected.

I feel kind of foolish for letting this go on for six months - but I didn't know what else to do, when I went to the doctor and was sent away with advil and an instruction to avoid things that hurt. I don't really have experience with a medical system that includes things like specialists and second opinions. 

Anyway, after my body pretty much completely fell apart by the time I got back from Flordia - it felt like everything from my fingers to my neck was on fire - I went to see a chiropractor. I was a little nervous and kind of skeptical about his ability to help, but he has quickly become one of my favorite people ever. For one thing, unlike the doctor I went to, he actually bothered to try and figure out what was wrong - which turns out to not actually be carpal tunnel so much as tennis elbow and thoracic outlet syndrome, which basically means my collarbone is trying to strangle my shoulder/arm nerves. (Look, you can interpret the medical literature your way, I'll do it mine.)

The process of figuring out the problem areas was actually really interesting - it's kind of bizarre to have someone make your hand go numb by pressing on your clavicle -  and this explains a lot. Like why I've been having awful side stiches at the drop of a hat, and why I am totally fine grabbing onto metal bars and flipping myself any which way even though carpal tunnel is supposed to kill your grip strength, but can't drive a car without problems. And now I am doing things that will hopefully make me better, which I will talk about in another entry because this one has already taken me 3 days. I usually try hard to not complain about my health or my mother here, but for a long time those have been so tied to anything I would talk about that I end up doing nothing, so for now I'm giving up on that.