In exactly 2 weeks I’ll be arriving at the Reno International airport to meet professor John Broughton from the University of Utah. Then spend another 2 hours in a car to our final destination at Eagle Lake, California. You might think the 6 hour plane ride would be the source of anxiety, but meeting a group of strangers and hopping in a vehicle to a place I have never been to do something I have never done is the culprit. Anxiety in this context is an expression of both fear and excitement. I am one to embark on adventure, but there is nothing like the comfort and security of home and a 9 to 5 job. I am aware of and take full responsibility of honoring the commitments and promises I have made, but a part of me wants to stay home and say “fuck it”. For weeks my fear has been much louder than my excitement. Am I doing the right thing? Am I wasting my time? Am I good enough or smart enough? Is this a mistake? You may be wondering why these are even things I am questioning because those of you reading will probably be people in my life that are my biggest fans, supporters, and think highly of me (which I wholeheartedly appreciate). So what’s the deal?
First I would like to admit I am my biggest enemy. I self-doubt, self-deprecate, and criticize myself all of the time. Those attributes are both a blessing and a curse. It keeps me humble yet it motivates me to keep going. Here is my thinking: how can someone who had zero ambition, almost fail 10th grade, a once college dropout, and all around lazy ass have the audacity to pursue a career in archaeology? Are you kidding me? The archaeologist I’ve been around are some of the smartest, adventurous, fearless and diligent people I have ever met. Although I feel like I encompass aspects of those virtues I ultimately feel like it is everything I wish I was and want to be. So maybe that’s why I have pursued this career. It’s everything I have ever feared in myself.
Now that I got that off my chest, lets get into what in the hell I am even doing. June 17th, 2017 I will be taking a plane from Philadelphia to Reno then a car ride to Eagle Lake, CA in Lassen County. We’ll be lodging at the Lassen County Youth Camp. I highly recommend googling Eagle Lake it is absolutely beautiful. The program is through the University of Utah by Professor John (Jack) Broughton. The course is the Zooarchaeology and Field Ecology Field School. What is Zooarchaeology? “Zooarchaeology is the study of animal remains from archaeological contexts to enhance our understanding of the long-standing and complex relationship between past people and animals”. For 3 weeks we’ll be exploring this topic as well as conducting our own research projects. The project I have chosen is best described by Prof. Broughton: “your project will attempt to evaluate the impacts of recent (the last ~decade) climatic influences on Eagle Lake fish populations (especially Eagle Lake Rainbow Trout) through the analysis of modern fish bone assemblages collected from local sites. This might involve change in species composition (relative abundance of different fish species) or the size of individual fish within species”.
I have much to learn since I have little to no experience in this field. Most of my archaeological experience has been historical archaeology dealing with modern humans through essentially the garbage left behind by people. So I am excited to get the chance to learn the skills necessary to study another aspect of the human experience, the animals and the environment that we have lived and continue to live in. I specifically have an interest in the peopling of the Americas and a period known as the Younger Dryas in which many incredibly mysterious events occur that includes both the disappearance of numerous mega-fauna and humans.
So what is this all for? Well, I am attempting to begin a career in Cultural Resource Management (CRM). Basically, archaeologist who get paid. If you would like to find out more information about CRM I recommend visiting the wikipedia entry: CLICK HERE. The requirements for CRM include a degree in anthropology/archaeology and a completion of a field school. I have completed one of those requirements in 2013 when I graduated from Temple University with a B.A in Anthropology. I definitely did not do so well when I transferred from a 2-year to a 4-year school so my GPA kind of sucks and only having two years to understand the ins and outs of this field was not enough time. So as most things in my life, I have to work twice as hard and start this career much later than most. So in a perfect world, I’ll complete the field school, apply for CRM jobs and get hired. Easy peasy.
What I’ve learned so far:
This is most challenging test for how well of a planner I am. How much shit does one person need for 3 weeks? My list seems to expand everyday and I don’t know how I’m going to manage transporting all of this crap across the country and then back. I also learned that having a full time job while prepping for this is exhausting. So much to read, research, and understand while dealing with work. Also, will I ever not be in debt? Is this what people have to do? Fuck me.
I’ll include the course syllabus and some photos of Eagle Lake.
Thanks for reading!