Passing Go

My dissertation is finished, turned in, waiting to be read and critiqued. Now that it is out of my hands I am asked in the morning what I am doing in the afternoon, in the afternoon I am asked what I will be doing the next day. I can only answer that I am planning, that I am structuring a future for myself and that I am looking for other goals to shoot down.

When I come to the end of something I am never as completely pleased with myself as I probably should be. Turning in my dissertation did not give me a good feeling, I did not feel like an accomplished person or someone worthy of praise. So long I am actually able to complete something, this something loses its attraction of having been a difficult task. If I can do it and if many other people have done it then is not as courageous a deed as I had wished when I began. That is the silly thing about me… I am never completely happy with what I have done. I want to keep reaching more goals, mastering different facets of life, becoming a better person and worker. I need to learn to take a deep breath and enjoy the end of a long road.

I am taking my leave from academia. I need to grow and do different things – I feel excited about applying my academic skills in a non-academic setting. I am currently looking for an opportunity to do so – if you read this, please wish me (in all secrecy) the best of luck.

I have, however, been waiting for the chance to start writing for fun again. This blog is my playground and I have an extended recess and, if I am allowed to do as I please, the coming days, weeks and months will see a flurry of content.

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must write…

I’m now working at the University cafeteria.  A couple times of week I run the dishes through the huge washing machine and pick up after lazy students.  One time a week I serve beer, coffee and whatever else “customers” are able to find on our assorted list of drinks.

Am I embarrassed to be washing dishes while working on my dissertation?  A little bit.  Every once in a while I run into someone with a marketable area of study (physics, medicine, etc) and they tell me about the abundance of scholarships they have available to them.  They then pretend to sympathize that I have to wear an apron as I hand them their beer.

I’m not taking any courses so, academically, I’m just reading and writing on my own.  I tried to picture a life in Germany where I was only reading and writing, where I spent everyday in the library – leaving only to purchase coffee.  In this life I could briefly brag about my scholarships before crawling back into my hole – slowly beginning to call my dissertation, “my precious”, and losing what little skin tone I have left (man, I’m going to kick you where the sun don’t shine! Where? Germany?)

I’m actually quite satisfied with having to work.  It massages my sanity and makes this country a much less foreign place.

I do, however, have one academic project that pays and it is a translation project.  I took it on figuring I would just struggle through the translation and improve my German along the way.  I’ve never had to do something so frustrating.  I curse the incompatibility of German and English sentence structure as I cry on my keyboard.

I’m hoping to begin posting much more often again so let us not be strangers.

the archaeology experience

My job at the excavation is a couple weeks from being over and I’m currently looking for work. I didn’t actually think I learned much until I was working with people who were new. Here is a short list of the things I learned, a short list of more useless knowledge I’ve gained:

  • I can place pieces of ceramic within three broad time sets; prehistory, Roman and modern (we didn’t come across ceramic from any other time period.
  • I can tell the difference between colorations in the dirt that are merely geological and those that were caused by humans (most of the time).
  • I can dig you the prettiest, squarest, cleanest hole you could wish for (with clean, rectangular steps if necessary).
  • I can tell you if there was an animal eating the leftovers that the Germanic tribes/Romans buried.
  • I can color with the orange and red colored pencils to capture that orange-red dirt glow (the findings need to be drawn and colored).
  • A hole can never be too deep but is almost always too shallow.

A short list of things I personally dug up:

  • Roman nails! 15 to be exact – most of them terribly deformed but one glorious nail looked brand spanking new.
  • Teeth and bones from someone’s delicious meal – mostly rabbit and pig.
  • An almost complete (but still broken) Roman jug.
  • More Roman brick and ceramic than is necessary and a ton of ceramic from prehistory (we’re talking about the Stone Age).
  • Some prehistorical ceramic with designs etched on the surface.
  • Roman bowls – at least the bottom part.
  • Flint
  • A Roman key – yeah, a key – awesome, no?

A short list of things that were found at our excavation (but not by me :( ):

  • 3 baby skeletons.
  • 2 horse skeletons.
  • Stoves from prehistory – really funky looking things.
  • Bowls with Latin written on them. They were signatures from the craftsmen – “made by person x”.
  • A large piece of marble that most definitely came from a rich Roman family.
  • More to come…

There were plenty of times at work where I would find something and need to take a minute to appreciate the fact that somebody left it there thousands of years ago. I would run my finger over the designs in the ceramic and try to imagine how it was done and when I found the perfect nail I had to run my finger over the head and feel the different hammer strikes. I really enjoy physical labor and it becomes even more fun when there are a bunch of archeology geeks standing around who get really excited when your efforts uncover something interesting. For this last month we were split up into teams and each member of the team has a niche. My niche is dirt destroyer, conqueror of soil and rock, wielder of pick ax and shovel, slayer of sanity.

I’ll miss working outside in the freezing German winter, stomping through the mud, riding the train a dirty, dirty man and I’ll also miss the stress relieving nature of working my muscles to their shoveling capacity.

I’ll take my camera next week and see if I can’t get some interesting pictures.

success is holding a shovel…

indiana.jpgSo I scored a job. As far as I know (how far do I know?) I will be helping Archaeologists dig for things that are apparently buried. I talked with the boss today and was told to wear pants that can get dirty, to bring a rain jacket, that I’ll eventually need health insurance “certified” boots and that I needed to bring food because the work is in the middle of nowhere. I’m going to be picked up the train station and then delivered to the top secret dig site. I start on Friday and am expecting Indiana Jones-esque adventures and mishaps. The only problem was that the diggers in the Indiana Jones’ movies were always the first ones to have their soul sucked out, to be bitten by a snake or otherwise seemed prone to fall from high places. As soon as we find something I’m going to yell, “it belongs in a museum!” and run with the item through the fields as fast as I can. While running my coworkers will (hopefully) be chasing me with spears and shouting…

With this job I’ll earn enough to live, eat and buy a book or two – I’ll also only need to work two days a week which means I’ll have time to accomplish those tasks that currently require my presence in Germany.

This latest development has definitely calmed me down and is, hopefully, the last stressful/pressing issue that I have to deal with for a while. I do, however, have to go back to my most beloved government building in Heidelberg and try to acquire a tax-number so I can receive money for my efforts. As much as I was hoping to get a job at the university in some (any) capacity I am excited at the prospect of doing some nice physical labor.