Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ravens and Writing Desks (Poe Wrote on Both)

It is already a new year in Germany (the place that my internal clock is still accustomed to). I figured it would be a good time to review the past year. I can use many words to describe the past year: remarkable, awesome, amazing, full, stressful, crazy, cool, fun-filled, bursting, insane, incredible, and now over.

In the past year I have visited 8 states and 5 countries. I added 9 new stamps to my NPS passport. My sister got married (woo!) and both my brother and dad served in combat zones. My mom got a crazy and awesome haircut (provided by hers truly). I crawled through tropical caves in Peleliu and conquered the wild cave tour at Mammoth Cave. I witnessed the most awesome Killers concert. Ever. I worked through tornado recovery and rebuilding. I changed my hair color only four times (5 if you count the hot pink I dyed my roots this evening). I presented a paper at George Wright (and am looking forward to presenting a paper at NCPH in March). I got to visit my aunt and uncle and cousin in Seattle. And my mom in Germany. I also got to go back to NOLA with my best friend. I delivered hundreds of talks at Stones River National Battlefield and saw the Junior Ranger program I helped design go to print. I discovered the answer to a riddle that has puzzled me for years. I helped Post-It Note two friends' cars. I saw my favorite restaurant close (tear). I met several new friends over the course of the year. I finished my graduate coursework and passed my comprehensive exams. I flew over both the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans. I live with no regrets. And can now continue to look forward to 2010 without any.

Friday, December 4, 2009

choo choo

My roommate brought home stacks of paper today- paper printed with several copies of her thesis. She has some spiral bound and a small box ready to be hard-bound. Lucky. Seeing her all of her hard work stacked neatly in white reams of paper encouraged me. "I want that!" I think, I know.

So I got on a writing kick. I revised my chapter-serving-as-my-research-project. She's a beaut. I am very proud of it and started reading source material that will be included in my first chapter. I want to outline! I want to brainstorm! I want this done! I want a pretty, black, hard-bound thesis with gold, embossed letters as a title.

While I was goofing off (and by goofing off, I mean working on my thesis), I was avoiding studying for my comprehensive exams. Blah. I am taking those on Tuesday. I should be counting down the hours by now, right? Like a kid counting down the hours until Santa comes? But instead of stirring excitement, realizing how many hours are left between now and then will only spur a neurotic episode (and I'm trying to avoid those). I just have to be like the little train that could: I think I can I think I can I think I can. So I can eventually say: I thought I could I thought I could I thought I could, holding my degree in hand with the biggest smile on my face and a few tears in my eyes.

P.S. I have had four donuts and a hot dog to eat today. Plus a cup of coffee. And lotsa water. Thanks, Grad School. You've expanded my mind AND my waistline.


So I have found a new way to procrastinate. Flockdraw!

Up to ten people can "collaborate" on the same board, drawing, painting, writing, etc. So go ahead, friends! Create!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

That that does not kill me...

Quick! While I am still in this frame of mind! I received feedback from my thesis advisor regarding an outline. There is hope! Overall, her feedback was positive.

Time is slipping away faster than I had planned. I am struggling to stay afloat here.

I am still freaking out, but it is currently a hurried, spastic type of freak out that makes me work harder. Kind of like the Kanye song (and a theme of my dad... the saying, not the song): That that that that that that don't kill me can only make me stronger.

I only have to make it to the 12th and I will be home free. Then I can sleep until the 16th. Then I will be on a plane going far, far away from this craziness.

the past is such a curious creature (that's why I look to the future)

I am feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work I must do in the next 11 days. I am also too tired to freak out about anything. My studying ebbs and flows; sometimes I feel confident and other times I feel completely ill-prepared. My written portion of the exam is a week from tomorrow (well, technically a week from today, considering the time).

I also have to revise my final paper and submit it, study, create an application packet for an award through NCPH and apply for the poster session, study, make DVDs of some sessions I filmed earlier this semester, study, work, study, pack, and, um, study some more. I would like to also make some Christmas cookies and mail some Christmas cards and crochet another pair of mittens and maybe sleep a little. Those are all just dreams.

My consolation prize: I get to see Germany two weeks from Thursday! And while I am sad that I won't get to see my dad while I am there (he will be in Afghanistan) I do get to see my mom! And hang out with some pretty awesome people for two weeks. And not have to think a bit. Maybe then I can crochet a pair of mittens. And sleep.

Ah, sleep.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

this amuses me

In case you needed a mental break after hours of studying, watch this:

It makes me laugh.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A short zombie-less mix

Let's go away for a while... Weezer

I am currently sitting at a mental intersection, debating if I should just keep writing and wrap up my paper and finish my editing and footnote adjustments tomorrow or take a break from writing and do some rewriting and editing now. Either way, it will be word vomit that will have to be corrected tomorrow.

We will write a postcard to our friends and family in free verse... Weezer

Either way, I know I am spent. I have been working on this paper for 10 hours, minus 1 for brunch with my best friend (at the Hop of I, so I can see my little sister). But I also know that I have limited time, so I should be doing something. I view blogging as a break. Because I can write passively if I want and you caint do nothin' 'bout it.

I think I'll go home and mull this over... The Shins

I am also rocking out to some random mix developed by my iPod.

It's a luscious mix of words and tricks... The Shins

Oh, technology. You make my world go round. I can't imagine who I would be without you. And sometimes I hate you. You complicate life in more ways that one. And yet, the ease you provide in completing tasks help me accomplish so much. I believe we call this a "love-hate relationship."

Sun is in the sky oh why would I want to be anywhere else... Lily Allen

I went to the battlefield today to gather a few more materials and probably only spent 1 hour out of 3.5 actually researching. The rest of the time was spent chatting. Because I didn't want to be rude and tell friends and co-workers, "um, I don't have time for this. I am researching today! Ta da!"

I thought it was a bird, but it was just a paper bag... Fiona Apple

One ranger in particular mentioned to me 3 (three) times that it was a beautiful day outside and it shouldn't be wasted inside researching. I assure you, John, if I had a choice, I would be out, enjoying the gorgeous November day. Alas, I am inside, pouring through books and files, scribbling and typing like a crazy person. Because I am one.

And if the answer is no can I change your mind... The Killers

Ok, I am ready.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Good News: We are going to the Winchester

I am feeling calm and completely freaked out all at the same time. It might be the same feeling that occurs when you do tai chi after chugging a Red Bull. I am making progress on my chapter and on my thesis, but I don't feel like I am doing enough. I also feel like I can't do the same things that I could do even three years ago. I must have eight hours of sleep or I feel like a zombie (and then I need to eat brains because mine don't work right). I used to average four hours of sleep a night and ran smoothly, no problems.

I also have my study questions for my comprehensive exams. Woo! Another layer in my life to freak out about! And because of the deadlines for my class, I have not paid proper attention to studying. If my head continues to spin as fast as it is right now, it will create enough momentum that it will actually lift my head from my shoulders and fly around the room. I'm not kidding.

The end of every semester looks the same. There will be tears, gnashing of teeth, stress, sweat, freak out moments that result in mass-consumption of chocolate, hope, fear, yelling, dreaming, and one day very soon (too soon while simultaneously not soon enough) it will just. End. Like. That. And I will be amazed that I actually lived through another semester and then sleep for a solid four days.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Vegan Zombies Only Eat Grains

I was writing this evening. Writing writing writing, like a crazy writing fool. The smoke from my flying fingers on the keyboard practically blinded my screen.

Then I stopped.

I am not sure why I stopped. I think I got distracted. That happens a lot. Alas, now I can't seem to get my steam built back up. But I have to! I need to finish this! I have little deadlines that contribute to managing the big deadlines. Ahh!

So then I decided to work on transferring footage from my camera to my computer to work on some editing. I figured if I can't be productive in my homework, I can still do things to cross of my "Things to To This Weekend" list. But something about my camera of my computer (or both) is not working, either. I think I am going to give up for the night, pop some popcorn, and watch a movie. I can cry about my wasted time tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Zombies Only Want You for Your Brain

I still have not fully recovered from getting sick two weeks ago. This is ridiculous. My nose has been rubbed raw, my throat is killing me, my ear is throbbing, and no, I do not want any cheese to go with my whine.

Tomorrow I will get back to work. I have my comprehensive exams scheduled and got some of my study questions last week. And like always: I have to work on my thesis. My roommate and best friend turned hers in this week. Congrats to her, but I won't lie. I am jealous of her newly acquired freedom. Her graduate school shackels have been broken! She can fly, if she so desires! Now she has to figure out an employment situation. I'm going to be in that same boat, so even with the freedom comes duties. It's always something.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Zombies never yell "Shotgun"

I suppose I should resolve to post more often. It's a new month, a new start.

I think part of why I don't post more often rests in the fact that I feel like my posts would often read the same way: I am struggling with writing my thesis. I don't have time to do the things I want. I'm tired. I work.

I may have caught the H1N1 virus this week. That was no fun. It definitely changed things up a little for me, but three days of my life have been sucked down the recovery drain. Oh, well. I am back to work tomorrow and ready to start moving things forward again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mammoth Cave Adventures Part 1

In celebration of my best friend's birthday, the birthday girl and I took a weekend trip to explore Mammoth Cave. We went there last year on a last-minute trip so this time we felt more prepared. Elena brought her blow up mattress, sleeping medicine, AND ear-plugs. We also got tickets for the Wild Cave Tour, a big time adventure for these girls.

Our initial plans were to hike Friday morning, canoe Friday afternoon, then go caving almost all day Saturday; we go home Sunday. Our 6 AM departure time got later as the morning went on and we kept remembering to do things before we left (we would be gone a whole weekend). We finally arrived at Mammoth Cave around 10 AM. We secured out campsite, set up our tents, ate some lunch, and were ready to leave to go canoeing by noon. So no hike, but hey- at least we get to canoe!

Nope. Thanks to my metropolitan (mostly West Coast)-based cell phone company, I only got the message that the Green River ran too high that day for canoes and our trip was cancelled while standing in the parking lot of the Green River Canoeing Outfitters. So no canoe, but hey- at least we get to...

Check out the Mammoth Cave Wax Museum right up the road! I was torn between the wax museum and Dinosaur World, but the historians in us won (and the challenge "what are you, eight?" seems to knock some semblance of sense into me... sometimes). We decided we would "Walk through the past."

No trip to the American past is complete without our founding fathers (Ben Franklin sat in a chair in the same room... they were all friends).

A poor representation of Teddy. Though I still applauded the man after watching
Ken Burns' America's Best Idea.

Check out Robert E. Lee. And old Jeff Davis in the back. The Narrator made more mention of Lee's horse than of Davis.

Let us not forget our most popular president! And his wife, who hails from Kentucky! Or the... slave? The narrator did not mention anything regarding the servant figure in the middle of the room.

Elena was help up by the wax Jesse James.

Elena was shot by the wax Jesse James.

No wax museum is complete without a life-sized version of the Lord's Supper. "And that's why we Methodists use Grape Kool-Aid for the blood of Christ."

This one still gets me. Dr. MLK, Billy Graham, and the Pope. Yep, and Bobbie Kennedy. It was like the designers thought of a series of people they wanted to include in the museum, but couldn't fit them into their story, so they stuck them into a room together.

They saved Elvis, and a disproportionate Dolly Parton for last.

Our adventure through the past only maintained our interest for 45 minutes. We then worked our way back to the campsite. And napped. It was fantastic. After our nap, we built our fire, cooked our foil dinners, roasted some s'mores, and tucked ourselves into bed. We wanted to get a good night's sleep before our big adventure.

Hint: When choosing campsites, pick the ones that are undesirable. The desirable ones get chosen by people who like to drink and be loud until 2 AM and boy scout troops who are up and ready for their day by 6 AM. So, really, our good night's sleep was more like a 4 hour nap. In a sleeping bag.

But nothing would keep us down! We were ready conquer Mammoth Cave!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Remember how after I came back from the Pacific I was all torn up and perishing without a vision? I felt like there was too much to see and do and I was just stuck in middle Tennessee.

I just watched the first segment of Ken Burns National Parks: America's Best Idea. And have that very same restlessness reignited. I am ready (yet, again) to sell off everything I own and go explore the world around me. I recently saw a job opening in Palau...

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls. ~The crazy, bearded, insanely passionate John Muir

Alas. I have a paper to finish and a decent bedtime hour to keep. Tomorrow starts another Monday!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

yo ho ho and donuts

As ye may well know, one sunrise ago be International Talk Like A Pirate Day. So me hearties and me did. All captains be gone (Jim was at Chickamauga, John was on annual leave, and Gib doesn't work on Saturdays) so we proceeded to have a swashbuckling good time. 

We practically had to paddle to work, with all the rain that fell. And fell. And fell. Then, the saucy wench Elena and I brought in a box of donuts... of which we consumed almost half of by 9 turns of the hourglass. Then we proceeded to greet fellow shipmates in the proper tongue. "Top of the mornin' to ya!" proved to be the best greeting we could come up with. There weren't any visitors for the first hour of the day. So we took turns wearing the bejeweled pirate patch. The day really started at 9am, when a posse of bikARRRS came in for a brief orientation. They were jolly fun. Then the visitors kept coming steady after that, in spite of the rain (or maybe because of the rain). The influx of people kept the day rolling pretty smoothly. 

I'd say I'm upset over the fact that I will have supervision tomorrow and will have to speak in a civil tongue, but why should I care? Yar! I'll skewer anybody who decides to cross this saucy wench. Then I'll set sail. I can hear the rain still falling... it might be necessary for me to set sail, anyway.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

To Park Ranger Elizabeth

While cleaning out some of my purses/backpacks/assorted totes this morning, I ran across a letter I received at the park a few weeks ago. "To Park Ranger Elizabeth" from Scales Elementary. My very first school-group thanks! I've been sent generic thanks from school groups, but usually they are addressed to the park or to Ranger McKay. The letter made my day, as the visit had made my day the week before. 

I had visited Ms. East's class dressed as a Civil War soldier. The other male rangers were not going to be able to come in that day, and questions were raised about the effectiveness of me being a girl dressing out. I don't fool a lot of people when I dress out. I was only with the class for about an hour, but it was so much fun. 

I used my obvious female traits to talk about Frances Clalin. I walked into the class, introducing myself as Elijah from Minnesota. Eventually, I told the class if they wouldn't tell anyone, I could tell them my secret- I was a girl. They were so funny. "We know!" they exclaimed, exasperated and giggling. I talked about daily life as a soldier. My favorite technique to relate soldier life with their lives is to show them a toothbrush. 

"What's this?" I ask.

"A toothbrush," they reply.

"Right. I need to keep my teeth clean, just like you. Do you know what these bristles are made of?"

(At this point I get lots of very good guesses, ranging from caterpillar fur to horse hair) 

"Ew, horse hair!?" I ask. "Do you want to put that in your mouth?"

"No!" replies the class.

"Let's not be silly!" I say with a playful smile. "I don't want horse in my mouth! That's gross." Then I deliver my next line very seriously. "This is pig hair."

The shrill squeals of the delightful horror from the thought of pig's hair in one's mouth make me giggle with the class. The whole session is fun. That is the idea. The kids have fun and are learning, too. 

I eventually switched out of character entirely to talk about being a park ranger at the battlefield and how the battlefield is a part of the National Park Service. The class engaged with a variety of thoughtful questions ranging from the Civil War to working as a park ranger. "How come you know so much about the Civil War?" one girl asked. (Because I am a dork...). Another asked how did I become a park ranger. That's right. Start cultivating those Junior Rangers early. 

Finding the letter this morning renewed my gratification. "Miss Elizabeth, Thank you soooo much for coming out to school today. Now I am totally interested in the Civil War!" wrote Grace C. Knowing I helped spark a child to be "totally interested" makes me feel all warm inside and encourages me to keep on keeping on. That's what we are here for, right?

Saturday, September 12, 2009


I am sitting at my desk for the first time since I can remember when I am not freaking out about something coming up. I assure you, I still have things that concern me. But the events that I have been in charge of pulling together have come and gone. The exhibit opening went well. The living history program went well. I am going to go to bed early tonight to work on the sleep deficit that I have created these last few weeks. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And (no) Break

If you have been pondering about my hiatus from blogging, ponder no more! I have been insanely busy! Not that I plan on un-busy-ing myself in these upcoming months. In fact, I have recently confirmed that my busy levels will be increased before December. Yay for me!

Again, though, I take a dose of life daily and move forward. I will graduate in May 2010 and I think the only thing that will stop me at this point is Jesus's* return. 

And no, God, that was not a challenge.

Tomorrow evening I am helping/hosting/planning the opening of our cultural landscape exhibit opening. Then this weekend I am the ranger leading the living history programs at the battlefield. Woo. In the meantime I am getting back into the swing of school/thesis writing/researching/living. I also have comprehensive exams to study for at the end of this semester. I have contemplated quitting school and living in a van by the river no less than 17 times these last two weeks. Or living a life like Roxy

On this awesome day of 09/09/09, I am committing to finishing my thesis by early next spring, rocking my comps, and graduating by May 2010 (so I can... do something else). Bring on the day.

*According to Kate Turabian, I have correctly made the Lord's Name possessive. For the record (even though my computer keeps telling me otherwise). 

I Have My Reasons Why

I was biking today, riding along Murfreesboro's beautiful Greenway, pondering decisions. Past ones, ones that I have to make in my near future, ones that I should be making but am delaying, and why I made/make/should think about them. Then Nickel Creek's song "Reasons Why" popped in my head. I think it fits. 

Where am I today, I wish that I knew
'Cause looking around there's no sign of you
I don't remember one jump or one leap
Just quiet steps away from your lead

I'm holding my heart out but clutching it too
Feeling this sort of a love that we once knew
I'm calling this home when it's not even close
Playing the role with nerves left exposed

Standing on a darkened stage
Stumbling through the lines
Others have excuses
But I have my reasons why

We get distracted by the dreams of our own
But nobody's happy while feeling alone
And knowing how hard it hurts when we fall
We lean another ladder against the wrong wall

And climb high to the highest rung
To shake fists at the sky
While others have excuses
I have my reasons why

With so much deception
It's hard not to wander away
It's hard not to wander away
It's hard not to wander away

I think I especially appreciate the part about standing on a darkened stage, stumbling through the lines. Sometimes I overwhelm myself with thoughts about what I should be doing or with the ideas that I should know what I am doing. Oftentimes, though, I have no earthly clue about what I am doing. I am taking life daily (multivitamins, too). I think many people stumble through their own lines on their own darkened stages and that helps me embrace my own stumblings. 

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Life Lessons Part 2

When riding a bike or running, keep your mouth closed.

This keeps the bugs out of your mouth.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Simple Joys

Today felt like an insanely long day while at the same time the time flew by. And the surprising joys filled my day. I started the day by meeting a group of mentally challenged high schoolers that will start helping with community service projects around the battlefield. Initially, I felt a little nervous about the situation. I have not worked with too many mentally-challenged individuals before and did not know how I was to act and interact. As it turned out, I had no reason to worry. These guys had the biggest hearts with smiles to match. Everything was "great" and "impressive." Their expressions gave me a new perspective of Stones River.

Later, a family with three kids, ages 8, 7, and 5, visited from Virginia. I asked them if they have ever been to any other battlefields. Evidently, that was a stupid question. YES! They've been to lots. Well, what was your favorite? The kids listed the battlefields they've visited and I was impressed. Gettysburg, Antietam, Cold Harbor, Bull Run, Yorktown. Out of the mouths of babes, I could not get enough of these little Civil War fanatics. I especially loved the 5-year-old girl- bouncy, curly hair, a dusting of freckles. Bull Run was her favorite. I love families that take an avid interest in their kids' extracurricular learnings. 

The day was beautiful. My programs went well. My sister, bro-inlaw, and friend/practically sister visited me at lunch. The Junior Ranger book will be delivered in less than two weeks. The Juinor Ranger patches and badges will be delivered in less than a month. I will fall asleep tonight in peace, fully aware of all of the simple treasures given to me today.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Life Lessons

Lesson from the kitchen:

Knives are sharp. And should be treated as such. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hermey should have been happy to remain an elf

Hermey the Elf from the 1964 movie "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was nuts. Why did that little guy want to be a dentist? Why does anyone want to be a dentist? Is it the inflecting of pain on others? The shrill sound of the drill in the morning? 

I pondered these questions as I sat in a chair that medieval torturers must have designed with a wire contraption hanging out of my mouth that those same torturers devised. As my dentist began his procedure (he had to re-fill a cavity that a previous dentist messed up), he said, "You will only feel some vibrations. This should just take a few minutes. Let us know if you feel uncomfortable at any time." Ummm. Hello!? I have had my mouth pried open for the last ten minutes and you are about to insert a drill into my mouth that is currently acting as a fountain of spit. Can you please define "uncomfortable"? 

The whole process lasted a little less than an hour. I walked out of there not being able to feel my tongue and my cheek feeling swollen five times its size. In fact, everything looked normal; it was a weird feeling. The numbing medication has worn off and now I can feel my mouth again. And it feels like someone has recently been using a jackhammer in my mouth.

Getting back in the groove

I don't know if I have had a "groove" since this past January. And considering that the school takes half of January off for its Winter Break, I really haven't had a "groove" since last fall. But I am now forcing myself to get into a graduate-student-who-intends-to-graduate-in-a-timely-manner groove. Summer is nearly over and while I am a little sad about it, I have nothing to mourn. I had an outstanding summer that passed by far too quickly. I look forward to this upcoming autumn (of which I will complain about passing far too quickly come this winter, just watch).

So I will start waking at 5:30 am to start my running groove. Evenings are reserved for studying/reading/writing to start my student groove. Eight hours of sleep a night and decrease in my unhealthy food/increase in my healthy food intake (more vegetables, less pizza... especially now that Tomato Tomato is closed) to start physically feeling better. I had all of this going last Fall semester, so I know I can do it. I've just got to keep to it this fall. 

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"I could have been in politics, because I've always been a big spender"

As a swash-buckler of the high seas, I'd only have to worry about... nothing. No thesis. No deadlines. No plans. No schedules. No worries (except that worry about who brings the Dramamine). 

I much rather prefer Tim Curry's sentiment here:

It's how you look at buccaneers that make them bad or good. And he sees them as members of a noble brotherhood.

(And yes, this entry is written as one form of procrastination... I have things to do, but am currently in a I-am-going-to-quit-school-and-live-in-a-van-by-the-river mood)

Friday, August 21, 2009

what's this?

While giving the caravan tour this afternoon, I walked down the trail at the Slaughter Pen. While walking down the rocky trail I started noticing little yellow leaves on the ground. And then I started singing this in my head:

I think fall is around the corner! Woo hoo! I love fall!

While I internally jumped for joy at the thought of autumn, I realized that meant that the end of summer rapidly approaches. Ahhh! Where did summer go!?!

I am still working on the rejoicing and being glad in THIS day. And thankful that I have this day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Destination versus Journey

I know, I know. I have been slacking in the blog-update department. Not for lack of subject matter, just for lack of devoted writing time. I have spent the last half of my summer living (no regrets) and haven't had much opportunity to stop and write. I think of things every day that I want to write about and get home from work only to charge through the evening without writing.

I've most recently been pondering the ideas about destination and journeying. I consider myself a very destination-oriented individual. "Driven," "goal-oriented," and "motivated" can all be used in describing me. But I wonder how much I lose when I focus so much on my destination that I forget that I am on a journey. I forget to stop and smell the proverbial roses. 

Over the last few months, I have worked with several volunteers that travel (and often live full-time!) in their RVs to different parks with the sole purpose of giving their time and learning more about the world around them. These explorers, like Jeanne, the Hurley's, and the Albrights, have encouraged me to think about my own journey (and they didn't even have to verbalize those thoughts!). Great value rests in seeing the backroads while enjoying the limited time spent on this earth. I forget that often as I rush through in order to complete arbitrary goals that I set for myself.

It still amazes me that August is almost halfway over. School starts up in two weeks. Before I know it, I will be ringing in 2010. So I am trying to slow down and enjoy my current journey. It won't be easy, as I want to hurry up and reach my next destination, but I am learning. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer at Stones River

A few summer photos from the battlefield. 

Civil War soldier me.

Skirmishing. On earthworks. The real ones.

A picture of me standing in front of another picture of me.

EMD helping Jim put cannons away on the Fourth.

EMD and SJM writing letters home. "Yours received."

A new fascination of mine

So I have had a fascination with Smokey the Bear since I lived overseas for three years and only watched AFN (or AFRTS) commercials, which consisted of public service announcements, awareness of military living (practice good OPSEC, things to think of when marrying a local national, etc), and history and trivia. One of my all time favorite AFN commercials aired Smokey the Bear singing with his forest friends. I still can sing the song.

My recent discovery of Mr. Bear's birthday prompted me to search for that particular commercial. Upon searching for the particular commercial online, I stumbled across a broad range of Smokey the Bear PSAs, some cheesy, some weird, and even some a little creepy. So I thought I'd share.

I like this one, actually. It isn't as cool as Smokey singing, but it works.

Only You

Can get your Smokey on.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Good news

The exhibit that I have been working on arrived at the battlefield last week.
Like an artist thinks about their works of art, I can see things I would like to improve. But I am proud of it. Those four banners represent blood, sweat, and tears (mostly tears), and many many many many many many many many many hours of my life. So I was very happy to see it as tangible product.

On the day we set it up, we had some visitors from the Southeast Regional Office, to include the SERO cultural landscape architect. They evidently liked it, and it may go on display at the SERO building in Atlanta. That is very good.

The Junior Ranger book that I've been helping work on has also gone to print. The proof comes back next week and the books should be delivered by September 1st.

Things Sam Watkins Didn't Tell Us

Yesterday I pinned up my hair, soaked myself in DEET, and pulled up my Union trousers. Civil War weapons called my name. And by "Civil War weapons," I mean Jim Lewis. And by "called my name," I mean told me to dress out so I could shoot. We had a living history program about the Pioneer Brigade and we would demonstrate both infantry and artillery and do a combined one at the end of the day.

I'm not going to lie. Initially, I did not want to be there. It was humid. I dislike not wearing makeup. I also dislike wearing boy's clothes. Particularly the ones made up entirely of wool. And because of my anatomy, and attempt to use the restroom takes me (at the very, very least) 5 minutes. Frances Clalin never warned us about any feminine issues while dressed like a boy. The idea of firing the musket excited me a little, but I still pouted a bit in the morning. The first program solved that immediately.

We hosted the program in the area next to the Pioneer Brigade Earthworks. The wooded area helped set a different tone than that out on the field. The resonation from the "booms" also echoed much, much louder.

We drilled some skirmishing in the morning before the program started. Skirmishing means moving around and kneeling. Then moving again, and keeling some more. In fact, at one point, we were lying down in the foliage for some photos. I just hoped with all of my might that the DEET I had applied actually worked. When we marched out to our line to kneel before the first program, I set down my one knee and waited. And waited. And waited. The program didn't start for another 10 minutes. Ow. In the time I used trying to not think about the fact that I couldn't feel my left leg, I started looking around at the ground. There were lots of dead leaves, some patches of dirt, and some viney green things. Ho hum... WHAT! Leaves of One. Two. Three. Yep. Poison Ivy. I was kneeling in a whole patch of it. I asked Jim to confirm my suspicions and he just said, "Don't eat it." Aw, man! It was all over my rifle and my wool pants. And I couldn't just leave.

The program started and I shot my musket. I am not sure why I like to shot. I think it's the challenge of loading and shooting well (and quickly). I definitely improved during our second program. We also fired the cannon. The blast from the cannon forced the forest floor to look like it exploded, too. The day turned out well.

I easily have washed my hands 25 times now but residue from gun powder and oil still show. I haven't found any ticks, yet, and I think I am free from chiggers, but I don't know about that poison ivy. Time will tell.

Friday, July 24, 2009


While I have yet to actually move forward with any film projects, MTSU News interviewed myself and Dr. Frisby a while back and made a nice news piece.

Friday, July 17, 2009

raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

I don't consider myself a complainer, but I definitely think I complain too much. About what? Depending on my mood, sometimes nothing and sometimes everything. So, even though it is not November, I thought I would make a (brief) list of things I am thankful for. I am trying to take steps to be more appreciative of what I have been given:

salvation, family, friends, love, freedom, democracy, the right to say/believe/print/dance to whatever I want without persecution, my right to vote, work, school, education (because school and education are totally different), sunshine, laughter, smiles, the nighttime sky, awesome parents, awesome siblings, hope, future, my past (as it helped define who I am today), this moment, technology, history, role models, flowers, mornings, sunsets, sunrises, rain, stars, thunder storms, the ocean, colors (especially pink), my childhood, humor, my hands (to write/quilt/eat/clap/scrapbook/crochet/draw/play piano/high-five with), music, dancing, joy, veterans, adventures, an inquisitive mind, kindness, babies, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, 21st century medicine, naps, hand sanitizer, books, the roof over my head, teachers, inspiration, a full moon (and dancing in it), traveling, blogs, understanding, patience (especially from others), celebration, sacrifice, art*

*this is by no means an exhaustive list. it's just a start.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Struggle Continues

I am contemplating what I should cut out of my life to give myself more time. Time for what? Time for life. School and school-related things consume much of my time. Work also consumes much of my time, but I like my job. I also like sleeping and definitely can tell the difference in my daily functionality depending on how much sleep I got the night before. I also would like to take some time for me. Maybe a kickboxing class? Maybe some sightseeing (Tennessee still holds lots for me to see)? Maybe a movie, as my list of films I'd like to see grows every day.

So what do I remove in order to make more time to do/see/experience the stuff I want? Should I just pedal to the metal for the next year, graduate, then play? Can I make it for an entire year before complete meltdown? Can I lessen my stress over my school and work that I can open up and thoroughly enjoy little amounts of free time?

These are hypothetical (and probably rhetorical). I am writing these after a long 40-hour week (and I'm about to go put in another 2-hours for out Hallowed Ground tour...) so maybe they are just ramblings. I can't plan what my life will look like in a year, as I have no idea what this year will hold. I do know I can enjoy my time now, even the stressed-out, burnt-out, tired times. And I guess I can just plan to the best of my abilities for my immediate future and let tomorrow take care of itself.

Or at least make an effort to do that, anyway.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A meeting with the Bobs

It's amazing how much I can get done if I put my mind to it. It also amazes me how much I limit myself. I have concentrated spurts of productivity when I write. Then I dawdle and do other things and procrastinate. I imagine if I honestly broke down the time I "work" on my thesis, I spend only 30 percent of the time actually writing. I am being productive in the other 70 percent of the time, but I am not specifically writing. Sometimes I shuffle papers around and reorganize the stacks on my desk. Sometimes I write out my lists of things to do (three and four times over). Sometimes I bake cookies.

I love Ron Livingston in the movie Office Space. I especially love his meeting with the Bobs. I challenge any graduate student to honestly say they've never felt like this (those who do are probably lying or suffering from amnesia).

(It has a warning about the rating of the film, but no worries- this clip is clean).

So now that I've spent a decent twenty minutes writing this, I can go think about contributing 5 minutes of writing time to my thesis.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Civil War soldiers don't get manicures*

*Unless, maybe your name is Sam Davis.

Happy 5th of July. It's Dolly the Sheep's birthday (if cloned animals have birthdays, that is). I had today off, but I worked yesterday. It was a fantastically jamb-packed day, too.

Initially, I did not look forward to dressing like a Civil War solider. I don't like wearing that uniform (as it is dirty), and the shoes don't fit (and are ugly), and I don't like not wearing make up (and I do want to try to look as authentic as possible). But, as infantry training remains a part of my job as a seasonal, I trudged to work. I am not sure how I escaped infantry training for over a year, but unfortunately I had. Unfortunately, what? Didn't she just stop complaining about how she doesn't like it? I had a lot of fun training on the muskets. The day was not without its moments, though.

First, my "sergeant" (Jim) reprimanded me for not having my work (ranger) keys on my person (I informed him that I had left them in my other pair of trousers). Then I was issued my gear: a belt, a cartridge box, a cap box, and a rusted canteen). Jim instructed us on how to wear our gear and told us to fill our canteens so we can line up as attention. I avoided drinking from my canteen as much as possible. A) I didn't know who drank out of it last and B) I didn't want to get tetanus. We lined up and things started rolling pretty smoothly... at least for a little while.

I caught on pretty quickly with the marching, although I work with a number of smart alecks and they kept making me laugh. I was rolling pretty well until I Jim handed out the cartridges. As a demonstration, he put one in his mouth, like he was about to tear it for a demonstration, then put it back into my cartridge box. Elena had to point out that I didn't know which cartridge had the germs on it. Which didn't really matter, after every thing was said and done, as every cartridge I used I'd have to tear open with my teeth. Ew. To avoid mouth contact with germs, I attempted to tear the cartridge with my teeth and only my teeth. I tried bending over with my mouth open to avoid having to push any paper/gun powder residue out with my tongue. Jim reprimanded me for that, as by doing so I would lean over the muzzle of my barrel. So, I had to spit out the (sometimes mouths-full of) gun powder. I assure you that gun powder tastes every bit as disgusting as you can imagine.

The drilling part also proved fun, although I chipped three of my nails. I attempted to paint an extra layer of fingernail polish on, too, to prevent chipping. Alas. And while Civil War soldiers didn't have have manicured nails, I am sure they didn't have to deal with the "chest space" issue when trying to shoot. Let's just say being well-endowed makes for a difficult time lifting, holding, aiming, and shooting a musket. I am also pretty sure that I still have gun powder residue in the crevices of my fingernails, even though I have already taken two showers since yesterday morning. I guess that is part of this whole being a Civil War soldier thing.

I am not going to lie. After everything was said and done, I had a blast. I enjoy infantry far more than artillery. I'd almost argue that it made dressing like a soldier worth it (almost... almost). I think that it comes from the challenge of the whole thing. I enjoy being challenged. Listening to the commands and following them accurately was not always easy. I was a little sad when we had to stop infantry training so the rest of the crew could learn artillery. I changed into my ranger uniform, scarfed down some semblance of lunch, then headed out front to distribute visitor survey cards. I'll write more about those later this month.

After my busy, busy day at the park, I ran home to shower and head to the D-Friz's place in Woodbury to celebrate the Fourth with some bar-b-q and fireworks. I had a most enjoyable time. The food was good, the company was fantastic, and the location was wonderful. They live on top of a hill, so we could see other folks' fireworks from that location. The house also sits behind a forest that sits behind a ravine. The noise of the fireworks echoed off of the ravine emphasizing the boom. Additionally, while it did start to rain last night and we had one instance when the rain started falling so hard that we had no choice but to run inside, the accompanying electric storms created some very cool effects. The whole sky filled with clouds that would light up, like God was showing us his own fireworks demonstration. The evening turned out quite nicely and I could not have asked for a better time. Actually, the whole day turned out quite nicely and I could not have asked for more.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Various Visitors

I had a long, yet fulfilling, day today. I worked at the battlefield from 8 to 4:30, then babysat 7 kids from 5 until 11:30. And I am not sure why I am still awake. I think I just need to unwind. But I thought I would record some more memorable visitor interactions from today.

We often go on roves over the course of the day. "We" means the seasonal rangers and the summer interns/volunteers. "Roves" mean going outside, either walking or biking, and greeting visitors. Going on a rove is a way for us to make deliberate informal visitor contacts. We can help orient visitors and give information, always finding opportunities to connect people with this resource called battlefield.

Today, I roved for a little on my bike. The first family I met had driven down from Michigan to visit family in Nashville. We had a spectacular conversation about visiting places and experiencing history by experiencing historic sites. We walked for a little ways (I walked my bike along with them) and chatted about family traditions (especially Independence Day traditions) and the ideas of freedom. The dad wanted to bring his girls to historic sites to help them truly understand the meaning of freedom. I think that the battlefield is an interesting place to try and understand that idea, especially if you are going to look at it historically. What did freedom mean to the slaves and former slaves, during and after the war? What did freedom mean to Southerners, during and after the war? What did freedom mean to Murfreesboro citizens after the Union left? How did the meanings of freedom change according to who you were?

I encountered a five-year-old boy and his grandfather next. The boy had a canteen practically half the size of him strapped to his waist. I asked him what he had been up to and he told me "hiking." Evidently, he went on his very first hike today. He went to his grandfather this morning and stated, "I want to go on a hike." His granddad geared him up and took him around the tour loop and on some of the boundary trails. His bright blue eyes radiated his excitement of his recent adventure. Can I remember my first hike? My family did outdoorsy-stuff and I was a Girl Scout for 8 years (plus helped lead troops for 2 years following that). I don't know if I can specifically remember my very first hike. I imagine my canteen-toting friend will, though.

Later in the day, I had the pleasure of signing in a total of 11 new Junior Rangers. I love to do that, too. And these kids were very serious about becoming Junior Rangers (my favorite!). I became a Junior Ranger at Mount Rushmore when I was 10 years old. I also remember being very serious about my new role as Junior Ranger. Those rangers probably had no idea how important that moment was for me (and, quite possibly, how it affected my later career choices). Maybe one of the 11 today will one day become a park ranger, too.

I love my role as park ranger (even if I am just a seasonal). I consider myself a steward/manager/care-taker/guardian/protector/extraordinaire. I think most serving in the green and grey feel that way, too. My appreciation for the place and historic stuff combined with my love of the histories mixed with my passion for sharing makes this job way too easy and far too much fun.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Child's Play

As a gag gift, I bought a friend the kid's game "Hi-Ho-Cherry-O." It proved fun, as we spent most of our time laughing at the game (and the ridiculous notion that several 20-somethings were playing an "ages 3 and up" game on a Thursday night). Milton Bradley modified some of the rules to allow for a "cooperation" game. In that version, nobody "loses"; everyone playing teams up to fill your cherry basket before the puzzle gets completed.

Later, so another friend could take a break from studying, we decided to play "Sardines." If you don't know how to play that game (as I did not before last night), one person hides and everyone must find that person. Once you find the hidden person, you must hide with that person until everyone "sardines" together. We had a blast, but the challenge was being the first one to find the hidden person.

While we had fun laughing around a friendly game of "Hi-Ho-Cherrio" (as silly as it sounds), we had just as much fun stumbling through the dark. And I wonder about the effects of removing competitiveness from games. This discussion has come up countless times before (even Milton Bradley leaves No Child Left Behind), but how does a little competition harm a child's development? Isn't that the point of playing games? Since I was a kid, I have been told that "it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it matters that you have fun." I'm not going to lie; I have fun competing. And the excitement behind competition rests in the fact that you may win. If you lose, you lose, and life moves on. But what's wrong with having fun while you compete?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Because pictures are so much more fun than words. And because this makes me giggle.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm delaying the inevitable

I am supposed to be rewriting my thesis proposal. I had a phone meeting with my thesis advisor yesterday and she advised that I narrow my focus. Instead of focusing on the whole time period from the end of the war until the present, I should pick an era and use that as a case study. By doing that, I will be able to focus on that period a little better (thereby writing a better quality piece) and I will also be able to place the idea of cultural landscapes within public history. By focusing on the one aspect, too, I will leave material for a possible future dissertation. And I am planning on writing a dissertation (even though my plans change all the time... so for the record, today, June 30, 2009, I plan on going on to pursue my Ph.D.).

Shifting the direction of my thesis is a good idea and will help me in the long run; but now I am trying to mentally shift my thinking process as I plan on how exactly I'll divide my chapters. And my brain hurts. I forgot how hard it is to work for eight hours and then just jump into research (or just thinking, for that matter).

For now, how my thesis advisor advised me to narrow my thesis will help me finish the work in a timely manner. But, I have to restart my engines and start moving a different direction. And that takes energy.

And all I want to do right now is float on a boat in the middle of the big, blue, wet thing.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tennessee VS. Peleliu (Mosquitoes)

Mosquitoes bite me. Even when people around me do not get bitten. In, fact, since I was a child mosquitoes have decided that it was not good enough just to bite me; rather, they eat me.

When I was in the Pacific, the mosquitoes came, they saw, and they most assuredly conquered. Alas, I feel like the mosquitoes here in Tennessee make those of the Pacific seem like wimpy bugs. I have several bites that have persisted for a few days (and I still have that very bad habit of scratching the tops off of my bug bites). And they hurt!

So I've got my complaining of the day out of the way. Now, back to work. I am writing my introduction of my thesis. Evidently, people find it hard to believe that some students actually write during the summer or while they are working or maybe just the time students work during the summer. I've got deadlines! And not much of a social life! I am a graduate student, this is what I do! I'm still enjoying this part, too. Minus the mosquitoes that make it impossible to enjoy doing any reading outside in the evenings.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Art Imitates Life

According to Michaelangelo, "A man paints with his brains, not with his hands." So does Maira Kalman. She has a few works that are inspired by trips around the United States. I especially appreciate this one. I may not necessarily agree with every single line, but I like how she provokes thought. I think the comments are interesting to read, as well.

Actually, I especially appreciate the comments. People are responding to essentially a pice of art. To be expected, the types of responses vary greatly. And I think that is why I appreciate Maira's work so much. She is supposed to be examining "democracy" via travels and design. Regardless of what people think about her, she has the freedom to write what she wants and everyone else has the freedom to respond.

Isn't her work in itself an expression of democracy, then?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Biking Adventures

I don't think people believe me when I tell them that I used to mountain bike. A lot. I am not sure if it is the fact that I wear make up or that I express negative feelings about sweating profusely, but I get incredulous looks a lot when I tell people that I used to be a semi-hard-core mountain biker. Clip on shoes, jerseys, the works. I used to bike for anywhere for one to four hours a day in the desert, sometimes in temperatures that reached into the triple digits. "It's a dry heat" makes it better... I've done my fair share of wiping out on bikes, too; I've done the head-over-the-handlebars-move more than once (and yes, it is as painful as it looks).

I went out on my bike today for my scheduled rove. I biked down to Fortress Rosecrans along the greenway and back mid-day. I knew I was giving the caravan tour at 2pm, so I worked my way back to the visitor center in time to prepare for that. I am not sure what possessed me to make my next decision, but while I was dripping with sweat, racing down a slight incline, I thought, "Why not give the tour on my bike?" Jim has given the tour before on his bike and the van was in use for the afternoon (so I wasn't going to have a place to put the water cooler, anyway). And if you know me, you know that I make a decision and run (or, in this case, bike) with it.

So I gave the 90 minute caravan tour on my bike. I raced between stops, engaged in more conversation at the start of each stop (to allow for me to catch my breath), and enjoyed doing it. Unfortunately, I was not able to carry all of my usual items- no water cooler or artillery pieces for demonstration.

The tour was a personal accomplishment. Jim accomplished it last fall to prove that it could be done. I wondered if I could be an effective interpreter if I was gasping for breath at each stop. I liked the idea of promoting energy conservation (even in small steps, like leading an auto-tour on a bike) and sustainability. And I like biking. I just had my doubts about my ability to do it.

I wasn't as tired as I thought I would be, either. I think I was most nervous about Dr. Frisby ("the D-Friz") accompanying the tour. I know he didn't want to make me nervous, but when a freakin' military history professor accompanies the tour, I can't tell about the helicopter campaigns or the importance of SONAR's use during the battle to fill that time. Ha ha. That was just a joke because I know he reads this. He didn't make me too nervous, after all. And I completed the auto-turned-bike-tour in one piece. I had a good day and will sleep well tonight.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tempus fugit

Why do we say "time flies"? Where is it going? And why did it pick flight as its preferred mode of travel?

I don't know what I would do if I had more hours in a day. Maybe I would attempt more sleep. Maybe I would accomplish more studying. Maybe I'd pick up my room more often (as that is usually the last thing that I take care of when I have a deadline approaching). I do know that I fill my waking hours with productivity and still have more to do when bedtime arrives.

A week from tomorrow will be the halfway point for 2009. Whoa! Where did half of the year go!?! I thought I would be further along in my thesis than I am, but I also did not expect so much research to pop up. And if I stop and think about everything I have done and seen in the last six months, I can seriously appreciate where I am in my life.

My most recent days have been spent running early in the morning, showering and readying myself for work (which usually entails ironing my uniform, making lunch, braiding my hair, and applying makeup- all to my morning soundtrack currently involving elvis, the rolling stones, flogging molly, and of course, the killers) putting in 8+ hours at the battlefield, coming home to eat dinner (that dually serves as a brief mental break), then diving into reading or writing for my thesis before I decide it is time for bed (knowing that my schedule will repeat upon waking). I am still in the "ooo, this is fun" mode. I like writing, I am loving the story that continues to develop with the emerging primary sources, and I enjoy the challenge of trying to rest that story within the bigger context of American history and cultural landscape studies. Maybe this will get old, but for now I will continue working while the irreplaceable time escapes.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Somebody had better make sure that these guys have the correct size of ziplock bags carrying any toiletries upon entering the country. Palau charges extra for the incorrect ziplock bags.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Library Confessions

I absolutely judge books by their covers.

Debates also rage in my head about the usefulness of a book depending on its size. If it is big and bulky, I ponder at its usefulness to my research in relation to its awkwardness of carrying it to my carrel.

I leave my books on a table when I am done. I used to work at a public library and know what those carts at the end of the aisles are for. I just think that the library is too orderly and want to mix it up a bit. Plus, I am always intrigued whenever I see a stack of books. What was the patron before me studying about?

I have consumed snacks AND beverages in the library. SHHH. But I've never written in/torn a page from/dogearred/damaged books in any way. Not yet, anyway. I have also fallen asleep with my head on my desk at the library before. More than once, in fact.

I am not sure if it is the librarian in me or the ranger in me (or the fact I don't care what people think about me) but I have asked people to "shush." Nicely, always nicely.

The library is one of my favorite places, ever. I love the smell of books and the ideas bound between their covers. I love the atmosphere of the library (it is quiet and I can hear myself think and I don't get distracted with home-chores). Even though I am not a fan of germs, I love the feel (to include the paper dust!) of a book.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Thanks, lady.

Tomorrow begins the full summer schedule of programs at the battlefield. Five programs everyday, with six on Saturday. I will be giving my first bike tour of the battlefield 9 am tomorrow morning.

On weekdays, we have been giving talks at 2pm (weekends were caravan tours). Today's talk I had near 20 people. It went well, too. People listened, asked questions, even the kids were attentive. Afterwards some folks hung around to chat. I greeted the last visitor who came up to me with a smile; she clearly had something to share.

"I wanted to let you know that during your talk I saw a spider climb into your blouse. I just didn't want to interrupt your story. So, you probably have a spider in your shirt. It was a good talk though, thanks!"

Thanks, lady.

As it turns out, there was nothing in my blouse. And I'd like to say that I am an awesome ranger and spiders in my clothes do not bother me. But that would be a bold-faced lie. So I am only a semi-awesome ranger. I can live with that.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

This Ranger Does

Last summer I was tagged to be the token ranger in a series of photo shoots for the battlefield. They wanted professionally done pictures with the flat hat in each of them (and ethnically diverse kids... you can't forget the ethnically diverse kids). In preparation for the shoot my boss told me I needed to tone down my make up. He said rangers don't wear that much make up. I replied, "This ranger does."

As I was getting ready for work this morning, I thought of that and thought I would tone down my make up application. I had to swallow some pride (I don't leave the house without some combination of foundation and eyeliner on), but I am always trying to push myself to do better. I figured it would all melt off after a bike ride, anyway. So I chose several lighter colors and didn't use as much as I normally did. Within 5 minutes of me arriving to work that same boss called me into his office.

"You are going to be on TV," he stated.

"What?" I asked, thinking he must mean another news interview like I did a few weeks ago.

"Yeah, a camera crew will be here in 20 minutes and want to interview a ranger, so you're going to do it. It's some independent film thing."

Aw, man! No make up and subconjunctival hemorrhaging residue still remaining in my eye.

So I met the crew, got set up with the mic and lights, and tried to remain calm. There is a reason I stay on the viewing side of the camera. As the interview was about to start the host of the show said, "Don't worry, this will just be on national television." Now, I hang around with a series of people who exaggerate, tell fibs, and use sarcasm like its nobody's business. So I thought she was joking and we laughed it off. Then the camera guy said, "Yeah, it's just the Travel Channel." I laughed again. Oh, those kidders! They are funny and I was laughing; what a way to relieve tensions. Sigh.

Then I realized that they weren't kidding.

"What?" I asked for the second time this morning.

"Yeah, this is for a show for the Travel Channel. It is going to be the pilot episode and we are very excited."

At that moment, any ability to articulate comprehensible thoughts fell out of my head and all that remained was a series of letters, scrambling around my brain.

I didn't necessarily black out, but the twenty minutes after that exist in my memory as a fuzzy blur. The crew assured me that I did a good job (which I know is necessary on their part... I interview people, too, I know how that works...) and packed up their stuff and left. So maybe I'll be on tv. Au natural, red-eyed, and vomiting a jumble of words that may make sense with some severe editing work.

Thanks, Gib, for the heads up.

Living on Battlefield

I live on the very edge of the battlefield. I would bet money on the fact that Civil War soldiers walked where I grilled out last night. But I don't imagine this place as a battlefield. I read an article this morning about a German woman (well, her dog) finding a live hand grenade in Germany. I don't think the average American realizes what remains in Europe in terms of layers of War.

I mentioned to my dad and another SGM friend of his about the untouched battlefield of Peleliu (and some of the other Rock Islands). My dad encouragingly expressed his interest. Then our friend laughed a little and said, "uh, Kosovo. Bosnia." I hadn't even thought of that. Of course, I haven't been to those places and had to live with the idea that land mines surrounded those areas. It was a different conflict, but there are still (very deadly) layers of war on the landscape.

I continue to ponder the difference in battlefields and how people perceive them. Is it just the difference of time? Development? Type of weapons? Societies' exposure to conflict?

Monday, June 8, 2009


I was interviewed today about the trip to the Pacific. It will be in a news piece for MTSU in another month or so. My blood-red eye has not cleared, yet, so that's not cool. But I did get to converse with John Lynch from News and Public Affairs about film stuff and that was exciting. I do love working with film. And I like engaging in conversation about ideas. The meeting today was productive AND engaging. It turns out he is looking into the Ph.D. program at MTSU and will be in my research class next fall. That also excited me. He will bring a lot to the program and I am now looking forward to the class. I think I am going to try to write an article to be published in the class. That's my goal. But I have lots of those and sometimes they don't come to fruition. I like it when they do, though.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Army Brats Rock

I can say that because I am one. I mean, I do say that because I am one. I relish the fact that I an Army Brat, actually. An Army Brat friend of mine posted the footage of the D-Day commemoration ceremony from C-Span on her Facebook today because her dad led the invocation for it. The Macgregors were our awesome neighbors at Fort Gillem before they shipped off to Germany. I like to yell *I know him!* when I recognize people on TV and got to when I watched the ceremony on C-Span (about five and a half minutes into the ceremony). He did an awesome job, too.

Memorial Day (Everyday?)

Before I begin, I would like to state that I am currently on a computer of a friend and neither the arrow keys nor the quotations key work on this computer. So that may interfere with my usual writing style. No major worries, though- the parentheses keys do work.

Americans generally remember June 6th as D-Day (except for Google today, who decided to instead commemorate the 25th anniversary of Tetris). For military historians (and die-hard Marines like John Edwards of MHT), the day is also associated with the success at Belleau Wood during WWI.

I have several thoughts running through my head regarding this, so bear with me. I also have been reading through several works about the idea of memory and the Civil War and I am sure that has had an influence of some of my thoughts. Working at the battlefield also influences how I perceive the world. But as a nation (a baby nation in comparison to most, at that), we have a lot of dates associated with battles, yet as a nation we only remember a few. As far as dates go, June 6th and December 7th probably rank the highest (maybe November 11th, but that was not techincally a battle, it was only related to the Great War (no quotations, so italics will have to do). As for American memory of significant battle place-names, I would argue Gettysburg, Normandy, and possibly Iwo Jima (maybe Antietam? Saipan? Fallujah?--names are usually easier to remember than dates, and I would put money on the average American remembering battle names over any specific dates) rank the highest.

Why are these dates and places important to us as a nation? Why do we remember some, but not all? Why does WWII resonate, but not WWI? According to Wikipedia (a professor*s worst nightmare, I know), there were more American casualties on Iwo than Allied casualties on D-Day. Now, stats are tricky... the first day of the Normandy invasion counts as one day- Iwo lasted over a month. Regardless, why do we remember June 6th and not days in February or March? Why do we remember Normandy over Belleau Wood?

Bill Davenport, a Middle Tennessee veteran of Iwo Jima, came into the visitor center a few days ago. It was good to talk to him and he remembered me (which always impresses me when aging folks remember faces so well). It reminded me about my thoughts when people from that generation walk in. I always wonder what did they do during the war? Did that man fight? Did that woman work in a factory? What did they see, how did they feel? When veterans of any war walk in I wonder about what it was that they saw? Maybe the veteran did not invade Normandy nor storm the beaches of Iwo Jima. It is likely, though, that there is an important day (or several) to that veteran. Another day or series of days that struck a chord with an individual that the nation as a whole neglects to remember.

I should have posted this on Memorial Day, I am sure. Memorial Day allows for us nationally to remember sacrifices and commemorate veteran heroes who have fallen. But living veterans carry their memories of the past with them every day. Fallen veterans remain fallen veterans every day- nothing changes the fact that they served their country, many giving the ultimate sacrifice. I don*t imagine anything being in the media about past wars until December 8th (except maybe on Veterans Day in November), but it will not change the past and how some carry their invisible battle scars with them daily, regardless of the nation*s collective memory.

Because I love Cy O*Brien, I wanted to post an article he wrote about Iwo. I appreciate the essence of the work. (Cy was the veteran who mocked the idea of the Japanese soldiers who stood on the beaches when we were there this past March with the signs that read something to the effect of, Danger-Keep off beaches. He said he would have stayed off the beach 64 years ago if the Japanese were holding those signs then). While the boys in Europe fought a different war than those in the Pacific, I have yet to meet any WWII vets who honestly regard themselves or their roles in the war any better than their brothers in arms.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Research Gold

Today a package came into the battlefield from College Park, Maryland, containing copies of records from Stones River National Battlefield (then National Military Park) from the 1930s. The volunteer who mailed them (the one I referred to meeting by chance a few weeks again) only selected a few records to copy and mail. And by "a few," I mean over one hundred pages. These records are loaded with cool stuff! Lots of fun stuff for researching and incorporating into my thesis.

I was also given a list of potential interviewees for oral histories. That is cool, but it will take time. I may have to delay my graduation just so I have time to work through all this new material (and write a quality work). Let it be recorded that I am actually considering shifting from my plans to graduate in December. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, right? I am only considering this, but the thought is still there.

Mark Twain remains one of my favorite authors. He is loaded with good advice, like, "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society. Or "Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." But I am currently especially liking what he said when he said, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." Hmm.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tourist in my Own Backyard

While I love traveling overseas almost more than anything on this earth, I am a fan of playing tourist anywhere. And Tennessee has plenty to see. Last summer I was too busy working and goofing off to do much. This summer I have a list of places I have to see that are within a couple hundred miles of where I live. I have seen most of the sights to see in Murfreesboro, a few in Nashville, and that is about it.

On Sunday, my brother accompanied me to Fort Donelson National Battlefield. He was very cooperative, considering that he does NOT like historic sites. Then today, I went to Nashville and saw Fort Negley, Belle Meade Plantation, and Travellers Rest. All are Civil War sites.

It is interesting to visit historic sites. I love history and that love has both given me an appreciation for visiting these sites while at the same time taking away from the visit. I am always evaluating the sites. How well did they interpret the site? What do they talk about? What have they neglected? How can this be done better? I do this for myself mostly. I want to be able to work in a place where I share history with an average visitor and they walk away with a better understanding of the place and the history attached to that place. How do I do that? If a site does something well, I want to store that in my head for future use. If they didn't do well, I want to figure out why and how can I improve wherever I work (or end up working in my future)? So I don't just get to walk into a museum or visitor center and remain carefree. I am always evaluating. I think that is why I like theme parks so much. When all is fantasy, I don't have to evaluate. I need to take a trip to DisneyWorld. But I think I will settle for Chattanooga next.

Monday, June 1, 2009

I find...

that I either keep up well in my paper journal or on my blog. But never both simultaneously. I think I don't want to be redundant in the recordings of my life.

The wedding went well. I am exhausted from wedding-ness, entertaining, visiting, traveling, not sleeping, and having too much fun.

I am also coordinating an exhibit. It is mostly designed. It needs one last set of revisions and I will send it to the printers. But I am also in charge of coordinating the different funding sources. So even when I am not working, I am still working. And it isn't even homework. Aw, man!

I cheated a little and pulled out some footage the other day from the Pacific trip. I have too much to do immediately before I can play! But it did remind me how awesome that trip was and that I do want to go back.

My brother is in town and will leave tomorrow. My parents also leave the states tomorrow morning. I am having lot of fun visiting and I love my little bro to pieces, but I will be happy to have an evening to myself. I am going to miss all of my family terribly once they are all gone.

I know this is random, but it is how I think. And I'm tired. And I figured a spacey update was better than none.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Oh, and...

I got my bike pants in the mail. So I will be taking to the roads soon. We've had quite a few storms in the last few days and that has removed the possibility of biking outside safely. And this time I will ride with minimal dorkness.

I should write a book

I am not sure what I would title this work of fiction that would be (loosely) based on my crazy life, but I am convinced it could sell. I used to say that my life could be made into a screenplay for a movie for the Lifetime network. Maybe I'll write that book and then have a major motion picture (loosely) based on the book that is (loosely) based on my life. Because of the nature of a blog, I don't post every aspect of my life's craziness. I am posting to the world wide web. But I have enough neutral craziness to share.

After a bout of tossing my cookies last Thursday, I busted a vein in my eyeball causing half of my eye to look like it is filled with blood (just the white part... it is subconjunctival hemorrhaging). I spent Friday recovering and went to work on Saturday, the day we greeted 843 boy and girl scouts at the battlefield to help put American flags out in the national cemetery. You know you look bad when the law enforcement ranger greets you with "whoa! what did you do! that's disgusting!" and you have another boss tell you that you look like you've stepped out of a horror film. Thanks, guys.

Not only did I play (and am still playing) the zombie ranger, I had to do it on television. I also supposed to be in a wedding on Friday. Yesterday, Jim and I drove to Nashville at some insane hour in the morning for a 2 minute and 34 second appearance on Nashville's Fox 17 "Tennessee Mornings." We were on the road before the sun even thought about piercing the sky. My family assures me that they couldn't really see my eye, so I try to take comfort in that. Now if I can only figure out how I can completely remove the red before my sister's wedding.

I bedazzled a pirate's eye patch to wear at the wedding. My sister thinks I kid about wearing it at the wedding. My watermelon pink bridesmaid's dress clashes with my blood red... blood- I had to do something. It's ok. At this point, I will be wearing my pirate patch along with my leopard-print, 4-inch heels to the reception so I can unsanctionedly dance in my dress that remains far too low for my figure that may be a little busty at a wedding where most of the groom's family are Church of Christ. And I'll do it all sober. My roommate assures me that I am helping my sister out by making her look very good to his family in comparison to me. I do what I can.

And next week, after the majority of the family leaves, I will be able to sit down and really start focusing on the nonsense that I have been told is necessary to graduate. Or maybe I'll just write my NYT bestselling work of fiction that is (loosely) based on my life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Days Off(ish)

I use my days off from the battlefield to get stuff done. That's just how I roll. I accomplish a lot by trading in my days of rest. I've been getting to bed earlier, though, and am feeling like I am finally catching up on sleep. I went through about 700 photographs yesterday and found a few that I will be able to use. I also had my mom (a super research assistant!) go to the Southeast Regional Office of the National Archives in Atlanta to see if they had any CCC records. Alas, they did not. I did find out that there are a few of the records I need in Maryland, and am anxiously waiting for those copies to be shipped to the battlefield. I also got the documents I needed from Fisk via Interlibrary Loan, so that helped me a lot (and I didn't have to make a trip there today).

I think if researchers were to create bibliographies of the consulted works and resources that did NOT end up being helpful, they would create a document as long as their actual written work. I have lots of research bunny trails that I meander down that lead nowhere. I guess that is part of the research fun.