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Spring Break in the field

Look! I get to use my fieldwork icon again!

UofA is on Spring Break, which means that I had an opportunity to come down to Quito, where I'm planning on doing my fieldwork, and, you know, do some. Mostly that means showing up at local high schools and trying to convince them to let me hang out there with a notebook for three months. In a year.

Yesterday, Monday, was my first chance to do this. It went remarkably well. My first attempt was successful in a whirlwind of confusing smiles that left me breathless (or maybe that was just the altitude?). That same afternoon, I had an appointment with a principal of an extremely exclusive high school (through no skill of my own, rather the guy I'm staying with happens to teach at that same school and made the connection for me) and it went SO well. In another whoa-the-world-is-really-small moment, the principal happens to have an apartment in Takoma Park only a few blocks from my Dad's house. It seemed too good to be true.

It was.

Today the principal called me to say his boss (the school's director) had vetoed me working there.

It's weird what an emotionally draining experience this is. Even before I heard about the rejection, I was already down despite my unexpected successes. I mean, granted, this whole year has been a bad one for me emotionally speaking. And travel is always intense. And the fact that it's a break from my normal grit-your-teeth-and-get-it-done lifestyle means that I am sort of Dealing With Stuff in ways I might not otherwise.

This trip is short. I head back to Tucson on Monday and then to a conference the next week. Just need to keep on plugging away.

Year end meme

Im sure there is an actual year end meme I could copy, but I'm too lazy so here's what I feel like recapping instead:
favorite book read this year: Catching the Wild Waiyuuzee
favorite movie watched this year: Good Dick
favorite tv show watched this year: Downton Abbey
new friend made this year: L, someone I knew before but only really became close to this year
new place visited this year: Seattle, WA and Mompiche, Ecuador
person lost this year: Gran, Evan, Kate 
best accomplishment: went to Ecuador over the summer
worst failure: checking out of relationships

Anybody want to give me theirs? Whether you post in my comments or your own journal I'd be curious to see...


The trip to Quito

I'm writing from the airport in Quito. It's about a quarter to 6 and I'm rocking out to La Roux and Adam Lambert and feeling like a total badass. Do I have any reason to feel this way?

Well, I totally missed my flight yesterday (confused the days and thought it was LEAVING today but it was actually supposed to ARRIVE today) and Guille bought me a new one with money from selling my website and the only spot on the plane was first class. Win for me! Normal me would be distraught that I missed my flight and had to pay for a new ticket. But, honestly, I feel like I won the lottery. I get to go home and see my man! I get to get back to real life! I get to cuddle my dog! I only have ONE stop (instead of the four from the trip down) and I'm a VIP motherfucker.

I have not, despite the sound of the above, been drinking or otherwise taking anything that would alter my mood. I think all of my reasons for being in a good mood are valid, but mostly I have no good reason for feeling this way other than the fact that I am generally the shit.

Pre-Scoping Update

 I leave for Ecuador tomorrow for a month. A month of "scoping" to find a place where maybe just maybe in a year or two I can return and begin a year of intense fieldwork for my dissertation. I'm starting in Quito. If it sucks by the end of two weeks, i'll jump on a flight to Cuenca and spend the following two weeks trying to do what I failed to do in Quito. 

I am nervous. And feeling like an ENORMOUS fraud. I hear that everybody in grad school/academia feels like a fraud at some point except for a few assholes who really are frauds, and that perhaps this is especially true of anthropologists who intentionally go to places where they cannot possibly be prepared to understand how or what they are doing. All that said, I'm pretty sure I know less than those people ever did and that I don't know what I'm doing but FOR REAL NOT LIKE THOSE OTHER GUYS and also I should probably quit and go work at Borders again. Borders was fun! There were lots of children's books!

Of course, in addition to making me crazy and sleep-deprived and somewhat damaging my important relationships, my time in the anthropology department here has been the richest, most fulfilling, most blessing-filled time of an otherwise still awesome life. And this trip is gonna be okay. And even if I come back having alienated all the rich people in Quito AND Cuenca with no site affiliations and no money, there's still Guayauquil! And I'll have a better idea of what not to screw up next time. 

WIsh me luck!

Academic articles online

This is just to bitch, just real quick while my university's library is having ridiculous sign-in issues, about how the pricing model for online access to individual articles from journal is stupid. It makes sense, in a way, that those journal cost 8 million dollars, because schools are buying them to give access to everyone. They can handle (sometimes) the cost. But when you get to one-off copies of single articles, you KNOW it's not an institution buying them. It's a professor, or a grad student, or an ambitious undergrad, or maybe just someone who is unaffiliated with any school system at all but just wants to educated themselves (that used to be me when I worked at Identity). In those cases, charging $34 for a single article is totally prohibitive.

I love Google Scholar and the increasing proliferation of Open Access work. I'm totally in favor of stuff being free. But I don't think it's totally unreasonable to ask for a couple of bucks for the work a bunch of people put into writing and disseminating that stuff. That said, the current pricing model? Redonkulus. No one's gonna do it so it doesn't make any money anyway. 


ouch ouch ouch thesis ouch

Today hurts. I was supposed to have my "final" draft to my committee on Monday but I got my revisions from my advisor on Monday and they weren't cosmetic. Of course, the parts that were crappiest were the parts that I had struggled with the most, and so they were really hard to fix. But, as of right now, all that remains is loosening up my introduction (I am going to write an ethnographic anecdote to begin with too, so that should help), checking transitions, and moving a bit on race from my Informant Overview into the section on Moral Dilemmas.

I don't have time to do all of this before my interview (it sucks how you don't get to just stopping working on other shit when deadlines loom) at 3:15 (it's about 2pm now), but I am pretty sure that I can get this done by midnight tonight.

Which is good, because I only got 2.5 hours of sleep again last night (this is part of my new strategy of severely restricting sleep rather than actually pulling all nighters) and I just don't think I can maintain that schedule another day. Also awesome: I have NOTHING due tomorrow. Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, will be 60% a day of rest, 20% a day of catching up on transcription and field notes writing for my RA, and 20% drinking with friends. Equally exciting, tomorrow will involve a shower.

And because I know you're SUPER interested, here's the first lines of the (115 page) thesis introducing my nifty ethnographic anecdote:

"Beth was a storyteller. As we sat catty corner from each other at the Golf Links Public Public Library, she recounted confessing her pregnancy to her parents with such ease and clarity that I was sure I was not one of the first to hear it from beginning to end. It was a story about being a daughter, first and foremost, but it was also a story about morality, citizenship, and about age. 

She told her mother first."

Break time. Still.

This is the end of my two hour break. My first break since I woke up from my 2.5 hours of sleep this morning which was my first break since really turning it on Tuesday morning. 

My master's thesis is due today. It's 7pm. I've currently got my first two chapters (a combined 32 pages?) and my methods section (about 8) more or less ready to go. I have about 52 pages from other stuff that I need to clean up and make into 3 chapters. And then I need to write my introduction and conclusion. It's too much to do and I'm not going to make my deadline. But I'm gonna do my best and send my advisor SOMETHING. 

Even though it seemed impossible, I managed to hold out belief in my ability to finish this until about 2pm today. Now I don't believe that, but I can't really do anything other than keep writing. 

On the upside, I like my ideas so it's at least fun working with this stuff. :)

Off I go.

MA Thesis Update

I will have another post soon about my trip to South America, but today I am working on my thesis and I wanted to start by posting here on my news.

The big news is that after a meeting with my advisor today, I emailed my committee to see if they could all be down for my thesis defense on May 6th.


That means I need to have the final draft out to my committee by April 22. 

I have been meeting weekly with another medical anthropology writing-buddy for the past month or two so that I would spend at least one day a week focused on writing, and that has helped me make progress. But the biggest progress has come from focusing my final papers for the last 3-4 semesters on the data from my interviews. That's four 15-20 page final papers. Four papers that I thought we pretty good and would help me WRITE  my MA thesis. Turns out, when my advisor read them, she thought they should just BE my MA thesis. Rearranged, edited down, expanded in the right ways, but still, THAT WRITING should pretty much just BE my MA thesis (which should be 60-80 pages). In addition, I've got the 12 page paper I presented at the American Anthropology Association in the Fall.
Even better? The final papers for the two classes I'm taking this semester - one called the Anthropology of Adolescence, and the other called the Crossroads Collaborative: Youth, Health, Sex, and Rights - are going to be the first and second chapters of that thesis. So I'll have those done! 

AND the paper/presentation I'm making for the Society for Applied Anthropology conference next week will be the applied thing that I can give back to the organization that I worked with for observation and recruitment. Awesome-sauce. 
How did this happen? How did this get so far along when I felt like I was doing so little? Crazy ...

Back from South America

 So Spring Break was a whirlwind business trip to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. Not my business, though, Guille's business. I decided before I went that I would not be working too much - just prepping for my SfAA presentation happening not this week but next week in Seattle - but neither would I be tagging along to all of the business presentations Guille would be sitting through. Instead, I would be EXPLORING!

And explore I did. 

We were in Rio for 4 days. The first day was mostly group touring - we went to the Cristo Redentor, for example! - and eating at a parrilla (I forget the portuguese word for that now ...). I had some delicious Brahma bull hump! And the Cristo mountain was so crazy cloudy and misty that looking off the edge looked like in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon on the bridge they jump off at the end. We only got the see the statue uncovered for 30 seconds in the whole hour we were up there. The mist made everybody look wet. But it was warm and nice and everyone was cheerful despite the fact that none of us had seen a bed in 48 hours.

Over the next days, I started exploring places like the Jardim Botanico. I wore my flipflops and took a shuttle to this big jewelers building where I got a tour of the workshop and the gem mining and cutting processes. Then I started walking. I stopped in a grocery store and bought two fresh rolls and a wedge of cheese. Then I walked around a very large lagoon and asked everyone I met the same question: aonde fica o jardim botanico? I didn't actually understand anyone's answer cuz I don't speak portuguese, but hand signals let me know I was on the right track. Eventually I made it. I'd walked about 3 miles and my feet were sore on the bottoms, but happily the flipflops were not rubbing between my toes. Still, I took them off and walked around the gardens in my bare feet, squishing them into the cool mud and sliding them across the smooth concrete in the plant houses. Like the little gazebo holding the carniverous plants. FANTASTIC. Eventually I walked home again, a different way, in the light drizzle along canals and small highways. Sadly, I have no pictures, because Guille kept the camera that day. But it was pretty awesome. You'll have to take my word for it.

More updates soon, but I'm late for an early lunch with a professor. Hopefully she doesn't noticed that I haven't showered since getting on the plane in Buenos Aires two days ago.


Gabrielle Giffords shot

I can't believe that my Congresswoman was shot and killed. I can't believe that it happened in one of her regular events to talk one on one with any community members who walk up.

Fuck Arizona. Fuck Tucson. I want out.


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