Sunday, June 21, 2009

Arcadia Mill update

For the past three weeks I’ve been doing “field work” in the impossible underbrush of Northwest Florida.I use quotation marks around the words “field work” to convey a sort of playful embitterment. If I am not mistaken, this particular brand of pretentiousness was patented in 1993.From it you should be able in infer that my three years of college education have earned me right to make blanket statements about how disappointing everything is. You should also be able to sense that I feel obligated to offer up cynical comments with a half-smile tacked on my face, laughing under my breath occasionally to let you know that I’ve decided you don’t understand what I’m talking about.

A strange and gawky sort of camaraderie has arisen within our little archaeology troop. I reckon some sort of brotherly affection began to coagulate inside each of us along with the realization that we all were mired in the abject misery that accompanies summertime in Florida. The temperature trots on and beyond the 100 degree mark every afternoon and the so-called “air” in this wasteland mimics the general atmosphere of a country club sauna (the sort populated by men whose socks are always appropriately dignified and carefully selected to demonstrate individual flair and personality). On the bright side, I’ve discovered that human sweat is a powerful stain remover. The next time you find yourself coated in human blood, just pump those sweat glands and watch it disappear. Works like a charm every time.

Despite my newly discovered penchant hacking at things with a machete, a implement which must be waved around all willy-nilly if you want to look like a badass (which a definitely do), I haven’t managed to seriously injure myself just yet. I did have a bit of an ugly run-in with a young sapling the other day. That nasty sonofabitch came out of nowhere and before I could smooth maneuver out of way KAPOW! I took a twig straight to the eyeball. But thanks to my cleverly devised and hastily executed blinking tactics or possibly some sort of innate anti-eye-gouging reflex (though I advise you not to bank on Mother Nature with this one 'cause I've got the moves) my eyelid took the brunt of the impact. I’ve grown pretty accustomed to this whole perceptual symmetry thing I’ve got going on, so I’m glad I didn’t fuck it up by losing an eyeball. I still cried a little bit though.

Here's a pictures of the rope bridge I walk over every day. I love this thing...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Patrick and his bro

Pat and Derek being adorable


a few photographs

Kayaking the bayou

Hobo Beach


Monday, June 1, 2009


The road to my parent’s house is lined with mega-churches and fast food joints. However, the connection between the two has never been quite as clear to me as it was tonight. A strange newly erected building appeared in front of my little peepers on the drive home from Derek’s house late this evening. From a distance it resembled a cathedral but upon closer inspection I discovered that it was in fact an Arby’s. This sight, along with my car’s overly zealous cooling system, sent shivers down my spine.

I won’t make much of an effort to sum up the adventures of the past few weeks. Presently I am a languid creature nestled in a burrow I’ve formed out of pillows and blankets and I am quite content.

The series of final papers that I managed to retch out of me at the end of the semester left me sputtering for days in a mist of erudite up-chuck. I don’t know if you’ve ever found yourself literally sobbing from lack of sleep but it is a seriously bizarre experience.

I’m kinda bummed that I didn’t stick around for the end-of-the-year festivities or have an opportunity to say goodbye to all of the amazing people who won’t be coming back next year. I’ve got so much fucking love for all of those smarty-pants.

My good pal, a certain Mr. Timothy Nest, came home with me for a few days after school let out. The Bible Belt must seem pretty exotic to a Yankee like him. Unfettered (misdirected) hatred is our specialty here.

For some reason, homosexual people flock to Pensacola for Memorial Day weekend. It’s great! Great for business and great for the overall mojo of the city. Unfortunately, the city’s thriving population of evangelical Christians don’t take to kindly to them queer folk or their gay money for that matter. So these fundamentalists take it to the streets and explain that what God Almighty hates more than pretty much anything else, is butt sex. (It pisses him off even more than murder, that’s just how much it gets his goat, apparently.) Tim and I joined Derek and Patrick to participate in a counter-protest-protest and to support those brave souls ballsy enough to walk past the hundred or so people screaming at them to “repent now or burn in hell.”

Anyway, I hope Tim had a good (or at least educational) time here in the Panhandle. I was sad to see him go.

I start working my first serious archaeology dig tomorrow. I was accepted into the University of West Florida’s field school for the summer. It’s going to require me to get up early every day and put in about 40 hours of hard labor every week but I'm pretty fucking excited about the prospect of doing real archaeology. When I was working at the Florida Public Archaeology Network my duties were limited to:
1) sorting things –a task which could more or less be summed up as determining the subtle differences between dirt and not dirt (which had several subcategories- such as: cement, brick, and- if you got really lucky- pottery shards )
2) labeling things- sharpies and Ziploc bags are the less Indiana-Jonesian tools of the trade
3) giving "education tours" to third and fourth graders who would un-sort everything I had spend hours meticulously separating into neat little piles. Occasionally they would cut themselves on a rusty piece of metal (roughly dating to the Spanish occupation) and cry a little bit. Sweet vengeance.

I'm going to be working in Milton at the Arcadia mill site, the first and largest early American water-powered industrial complex in Florida. In its hay day the mill was equipped with a mule-drawn railroad (pre-steam-powered engine industrial archaeology= hells yeah!) and a sixteen-mile log flume, whatever that is. This year we’ll be focusing on the archaeology of ethnicity, social structure and community organization in the antebellum South. This is right up my alley. What a lucky little lady I am.