Packing for Israel

I just moved to a new apartment a month ago, and it’s way more space than I’m used to. I finally have some furniture (nice furniture!), except all my books have a home on the floor. I only have about two bookshelves and they fit my cookbooks and my art books. That is about it. Too many books. See?

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Books here, books there, books everywhere! The sad thing is that there are about 400 books in my library here in this apartment, and almost all the rest are at my parents house, sitting there, waiting for me to rescue them and put them on brand new bookshelves. If I brought them all here, the floor probably would collapse.

But in the next couple of days I am leaving on my big conservation trip to Israel. Yay! I cannot wait to see all the archaeological sites which are such a huge part of Israel’s history and rise to statehood. I cannot wait to meet all these new friends at the kibbutz, and I cannot wait to handle such important artifacts.

I decided that I would just use my old backpacking pack to carry everything around; it makes it easier for me to carry archaeological supplies, school supplies, and clothes in easily accessible pockets, and also means I won’t be that person rolling a suitcase through sand. Unfortunately…I have so.much.shit. (Although I am incredibly excited about my new travel hair dryer and my camera charger with European plug-in add-ons).

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Ignore that big, flowery bag. That shit ain’t goin nowhere except the closet.

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Summer, to me, has always represented traveling to new places, eating the cheapest things available (because you are spending all your money on travel), and reading all the things you couldn’t read during the winter because you were too bogged down with schoolwork. This summer has been sort of up and down. I have been going through some huge transitions and it makes me feel completely unorganized. There are still unpacked boxes in my den, I still don’t have a washer and dryer, and now I am about to leave the bedlam for three weeks to go tromp in the desert.

But that is why traveling is so important. It can take you away from those little things in life that were giving you so much trouble, and change your perspective in a minute. You go from worrying about being able to pay rent, cleaning every day, and making sure you exercise every once in awhile to meeting new, different people, hearing stories, becoming a new person in a way. You no longer worry, you just exist, and are happy existing. If I could go to a new country every three months, I would be the happiest person in the entire world.

Of course you get homesick. But that homesickness is also beautiful because it makes you appreciate the home and family you were taking advantage of when you left. Traveling is the best way to become outgoing, it is the best way to understand humanity, and it is (cliche) the best way to understand yourself. Never in your life will you feel so alone or so connected to every human as you will when you are traveling. And coming back is its own reward. You never go back to the way you were before. And it’s a good thing.

Israel, Fantasy, Billy Budd, and Native Americans in NC

My total “goal points” still only equal 2 considering that instead of eating healthy food last night, I came to Raleigh to see my bestest friends and drank a shit ton of beer (the added point is for not watching any TV yesterday). Also ate something that was basically “bread with sauce” and can be considered the greatest invention in history. And, no, I will not retroactively add points for things I did last week (although I seriously considered it); I will be good, and honest, and um…I dunno…just not a shithead. Continue reading for more literary thoughts below: 

On a more productive note, I am spending my day reading, mostly because I don’t have a car now that someone has taken it to work…. and because I don’t have any money to go anywhere, anyway. My research at the Office of State Archaeology got pushed forward until tomorrow, so there’s no work for me to do today except read. 

I’ve been trying to brush up on my history of Israel before I visit the country, so the first priority is this:

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Which I have to admit is really wonderful book. It is easy to read, and starts at the beginning of the Zionist movement, meaning it encompasses almost all of Israel’s tumultuous history. My favorite part (of course) is that the book mentions key archaeological sites, and how they relate to the political climate of Israel through the centuries. I am still in the beginning stages of Palestine’s growth, but am steadily moving through the 1920s.

The second book I am reading is about the occupation of Native Americans in North Carolina. It is a famous book in my field of Southeastern Archaeology; mostly because it encompasses a long temporal range and, yet still is able to make the movement of people through North Carolina fascinating and easy to understand. This book is particularly for my thesis, but if anyone is native to North Carolina, it is a great way to start learning about its prehistory, and the archaeology associated with the state.

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So now for the fun stuff. I think I might have mentioned that as an undergraduate, I majored in English before I majored in Anthropology. I always wanted to be a creative writer (don’t judge me on these blogs- these are casual, assholes). I still creatively write, but if I am being honest with myself, what I really do is just…read.

As most English majors know, being snobby about literature is required as part of the curriculum. They beat it into you that only the studied, recognized authors are the ones that matter, and even as a halfway-independently-thinking adult, it is still hard to break the pattern of only reading classics. To be fair, I have always just enjoyed the classics more. Even as a kid, I read classics before the popular stuff. There are a couple of reasons for this. As a kid (and today), I am a morose. I am cynical. The depressing plots are the most interesting, and, dishearteningly, the most philosophically relatable. For example, I am now reading some of Herman Melville’s short stories, the most notable of which is Billy Budd.

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When Herman Melville wrote Billy Budd, he wasn’t just writing about the sailors on the ocean to stick with a theme. He was really writing about isolation, about being misunderstood and misconstrued and, eventually, forgotten. Melville had a good reason to be writing about this stuff, guys. I mean, he was basically booed from the stage for everything he wrote. Yes, even Moby Dick, that wonderful whale tale. He was constantly being criticized for his writing, and I think some of his friends were even getting sick of his brooding, sullen characters.

Who can’t relate to being poor Melville? Haven’t your friends cut you off for being brooding, sullen, and mad about your greatness going unrecognized? Okay, well maybe yours haven’t, but that’s just because you haven’t hit your mid-twenties yet. Don’t worry, it will come.

So, the last book I’m reading is kind of by accident. My friend lives in a house with roommates, and they have kindly furnished his room for him. In this room lives a tiny little bookshelf full of obscure science fiction and fantasy. I have recently been caught up in the genre entitled “Obscure Science Fiction and Fantasy” and was immediately excited about this find.

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Apparently, they have the whole series just sitting there, waiting for me to read it. Which I am certainly doing. The writing is phenomenal. And I don’t mean in a genre-y sort of way. This guy can write. His descriptions are rich and interesting, and I find myself finishing chapters without even thinking once about the time. Science fiction/fantasy is one of those genres that gets a lot of flack from the surrounding literary community, and as I grow older, I am constantly wondering why. Once I finish this series (which I think is like eleven books), I will definitely give a more in-depth review.

If anyone has any books they want to recommend, and I mean ANY! I am always up for something new. Feel free to post any in the comments.

Indiana Jones and Captain Jack Sparrow

I have been on hiatus for a month, and now I regret it. There are too many things to talk about, and it’s all spinning in my mind like a small, unfocused tornado. The most important news is that my dreams of becoming an archaeologist are on their way to becoming true! I was accepted into the MA program for Anthropology at East Carolina University. Which means, I am officially a pirate. Think Indiana Jones meets Captain Jack Sparrow (minus the facial hair and a few other key components) and you’ve got me!

That’s right, I’m a badass fighter.

Anyway, it’s great news because my dreams seemed to be shrinking on some distant horizon, and I didn’t see any way out of my current situation of aimlessness. But now I have nothing to do but be busy, busy, busy. I have to find a place to live in Chapel Hill in June (when our lease runs out) and then finding a place to live in Greenville, when I go to hit the books. Oh yeah, and they have to be places which will accept three animals. Easy.

As far as New Year’s Resolutions go- I am still not exercising and I am behind on my book list for this month. It’s all well and good though; I am not giving up on any of it. I want to be skinny, and I want to be skinny at graduate school, and I want to be skinny at graduate school while reading one of my 75 books.

I want Jud to look at me and say, “Damn, my woman’s hott.” Because I’m a feminist like that.

Just wrote this post so everyone would know I still plan on keeping this blog. I swear.