One Does Not Simply…Write About Anthropology

My Time as a Graduate Student

Easter Weekend

DSCN0088As I have stated before in previous posts, it is hard being over 700 miles away from the ones your love. This is the first Easter that I wasn’t with my family.  With school, it would be a hard and expensive weekend to try to visit the family in Virginia. But soon enough I will be able to be with them in May and June for a short time. Brian was able to travel down here for the weekend and he really hasn’t been here since October of last year. As I think about it now, this weekend was really short and it was really hard to see him go today. Not many people can say that they did what we are doing now. Since we first started dating our time together has been limited, he was at TBS and then school in Va Beach and now he is stationed in Jacksonville, NC., while I have been helping taking care of my father and now in Grad School in Florida. I do not regret going to grad school because professionally it was the right choice, I just miss him. But this time apart, as we have realized, has made us grow closer together, built our communications, and our relationship. And as soon as we get married, there is a chance of him deploying. We really haven’t had a break from being apart. I am trying my best to work on my degree so that I can get a job teaching because teaching and anthropology are my joys and passions. But I still has some work to do with it.

So that is my sob story for the day, but a recap on the weekend.

Not realizing that it was Spring Break here for many of the public schools, our plans to try to go to the beach and to the downtown area failed on Friday. We spent a few hours in traffic and turned around and came back home, that night we did go out to theDSCN0111 beach on the base. Saturday, however, we were able to make to the Pensacola Beach where we walked along the boardwalk-ish area, rode of a Ferris (my first time), and had our traditional trip ice creme.

No matter where I go, the anthro-senses tingle and I have a tendency of people watching (which every anthropologists does). People watching at the beach is interesting because it is an area where you can bare all, drink, and the common behavior is to get drunk in public and try to impress by displaying the body   –  and its the norm of beach culture.

As mentioned, today is Easter and I thought I add some anthropology to it. Like all holidays, Easter is gendered female…why? Well think about all that incorporated with the major holidays…gathering of family, preparing food for a gathering or family, and who does this traditionally? The mother or wife of the household. When we incorporate anthropology of food and preparations, traditionally it is the woman who prepares meals that incorporate the bringing the family together and the preparing of the food is usually a slow and all day preparations to ensure that everything is right for the family. So we genderized this food preparations as female, where as male foods and preparation are fast foods like burgers, hot dogs…food that can be prepared quickly like on a grill. Such as the summer holidays – Forth of July.

DSCN0126There is also the giving of gifts. Easter it is giving of chocolate, small gifts (sometimes big gifts) and eggs. Again there is an exchange of gifts, but it may or may not be reciprocal.

When we look at Easter, it is really the reversal of Christmas and signifies the end of the festival cycle. It indicates Spring, the rebirth of life of Earth where Halloween (the beginning of the festival cycle) and Christmas are within the “dead” months of the year. Easter is the time when Christ is born again from death and emerged from a cave that was his tomb, this tomb is metaphorically a womb and creation of life. Caves in Mezoamerican culture are symbols of life and of the womb, thus the symbolism of birth is gendered female. In contrast to Christmas, which signifies the birth of Christ through the womb of the mother Mary. Both holidays symbolize birth, but in two different ways.

I may have left a few things out with that, I honestly have not thought about the gender of holidays in a long time. I do believe that maybe a side project. However, like everything anthropology…there are bound to be disagreements and such but honestly this is just my take on the holidays…more to come.

Happy Easter.

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Day 1 back from Spring Break

It is Monday and the first day back from Spring break, and my mind is still not off of vacation. I would have to say that as far as wedding planning goes, spring break was successful. I wish I could say the same for my school work. I was able to to accomplish about half of what I said that I would try to work on during that week, but time just slipped away from me. Wedding planning seemed to take the main precedence of the time which would make sense because I needed to get everything approved and ordered in time for the wedding. So wedding planning is pretty much 95% done. School work…well I still have my primatology project and paper to work on. That will be my main focus this week.

Other than wedding and school work, Spring Break was a great week away from Pensacola. I was able to spend the time with my parents that I miss so much, especially since time is so precious with my father’s health. And wedding planning for my mother is a distraction from the thoughts, emotions, and stress of my father’s health. She has been the shinning star in finding all my venues, that are local, and setting up all the appointments during last week.

During that week I was also able to see many of my friends that I had not seen since before I first left for Florida. Half of whom are in my wedding, and the other are attending and will be advising me through my thesis process.

I was really happy to spend two weekends in a row visiting with Brian. It has been so hard being separated for him especially when he is my rock that I lean on all the time. Our time together, when we do get to see each other, is so precious. This time away and distance has made us grow as a stronger couple and built our relationship to be stronger. This past weekend was one of the best to be in NC with him and just spending us time. It will be such a relief when we will be able to do this all the time.

Well it is time to get my butt in gear and my head back into academia. Primatology project is the goal of this week.

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From the Heart – the reason I go to Grad school & my Goals

It is the last day of January and the semester is moving along quite well so far. Lately I have been reflecting on my goals and reasons for going to grad school and my goals in general for life. Many of create goals based upon hope of gaining a better opportunity for a job and hopefully a career to have a comfortable living style. And yes that is a very valid reason due to the economy we live in. But for me it is different, it is much more than having a career and having a comfortable life style. I have created goals bases upon the expectation and hopes of others as well as influencing others as I progress through my degree.

When I graduated from UMW, I honestly did not know what I wanted to do with my degree. I had so many interests but not enough money to pursue them, especially going to grad school. So I decided to pursue some of my interests by just keeping up with anthropological readings and working on side projects with friends while I worked to make extra money to maybe and hopefully get into grad school one day. I did that for about two years. At that time, yes my goals was to go to grad school to advance and have a better opportunity at finding a good paying, stable career to live the rest of my life comfortably. It was also the hope of my parents, my father especially. He wanted me to get a Masters degree and get a career, although he didn’t agree with my choice of a career in anthropology he wanted me to get a Masters regardless. So I worked 2 jobs both in the aquatic field to make extra money at the same time I was studying for the GRE and searching graduate schools. I also met my future husband during this time as well.

Then everything in my world changed.

In October of 2011, my father became seriously ill. He was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and the doctors said that he would have about 2 years if it remained untreated. And that is what hit it, made me realize that I needed to accomplish the goal of going to grad school and achieving my masters for not only myself, but for my father. He wants to so badly see me get my Masters. The reasoning for my goals changed, it is for him. My goal is to finish my Masters within the time that has been given to him. That time is until this coming November. My goal is to hopefully be done with the course work by the end of the Fall 2013 semester. And that has proven to be a lot of work. A full time grad student is 9 hours (3 classes), I take 12 hours and do as much research as I can working on my masters thesis in the time that I have when I am not working on course work. Due to living expenses I am working this semester at the university pool to be able to continue to going to school.

I have never in my life wanted or worked so hard for something, and this is not for myself. It is for my father. To see his goal achieved through me by gaining my Masters degree. I find that I work harder and much more focused when I think about what I am doing and who I am doing this for, and it gets me through the rough times.

I am getting married as well so I can have my father walk me down the aisle and give me away to the man that I love and I am going to spend the rest of my with. I want him to be there and to be apart of the next chapter of my life.

With all this said, I could have not done any of this nor have gotten through these past months and this past year without the aid and love of Brian. When my father got sick, he was there and understood what I was going through. All the raw emotions that were so hard to handle at times and still have when I think about my father. Brian lost his father when he was 15 years old to cancer and knew and understood what I was going through. He was there when my emotions got the best of me, he was there and forgiving when I made mistakes due to being blinded by my uncontrollable emotions. He helped me learn to control them and has always listened when I need to just let my emotions out. He is my crutch in life. He is the one I lean on when I need help or when I just need someone to listen. He is my best friend and soul mate, I could not have asked for anything more.

If it were not for Brian, I would not have been able to live and go to school. I have the little money that I was able to save up from working, but as many of us know the cost of expense of living. He provides extra support in paying for my rent and my trips back home to Virginia and he is so selfless. He would give up our precious time together for me to spend the time with my parents. We met only a little over a year ago, but it seems like a life time of knowing each other. And he is another reason I wish to meet my goal of being done by the end of the fall semester. Being over 700 miles away from him is hard, but we have both discovered that this has built and made our relationship stronger as well as our love. I want to be able to see him every day when he gets off work and be with him every waking moment of our lives. But he has been so understanding of my goals. It is very hard knowing that after we get married that we both have to be separated so that I can go back and finish school and he has to go back to work. We are giving up a honeymoon due to the lack of expenses we have for that. But you have to be willing to sacrifice.

With the always depending potential for deployment, we cherish the little time that we do get to spend with each because it could very much be the last until his return. Although with all his support, like I have stated before I have to go work on top of school to be able to make enough to pay off expenses. He had wanted me to just be able to focus on school and not have to work but we had to realize that it just isn’t possible at the moment.

Even though Brian makes a great living that could support me for the rest of my life had I not gone to grad school, I would not have the need financially to go to get a career. But as I have stated before, I am doing this mostly for my father because I love him and I want him to be proud and see that I have accomplished his goals. I will have to admit that I would feel greatly accomplished when I am done. But again not for just myself. I see this as a way to help others better their lives as well. I have always enjoyed teaching. I have been a swim instructor for 10 years and CPR, First-aid, and Lifeguard instructor for 6. And I have enjoyed teaching individuals to are willing and want to learn to help them be better prepared in life. I see having a Master’s as doing just that as well. In anthropology we learn why we are the way we are and acknowledge other individuals and cultures. I want to be able to teach what I have learned to other who share the same interests, need to be culturally aware of other countries (such as military deployments), etc. I would even volunteer my time if it meant being able to provide, influence, and educate another individual to hopefully better their life.

With all of this I can’t forget to acknowledge my mother who is my idol. For the past year she has been my supporter as well as the rock of the whole family. With my father being ill she has had to drop all her wants to support and help with my father and the family. My father is no longer able to drive and has many appointments during the week between local doctor visits to MRIs and visits at UVA (2 hour drive from where they live). She drives him, takes him to his appointments, and sacrifices her wants and needs to support my father without complaining. She has also been helping with my wedding planning by visiting and talking to local vendor, as well as picking up the financial expenses as much as she can so that I don’t have to be stressed out about it. I have been trying to keep the wedding as simple and inexpensive as possible, but I have no means of being able to pay for it nor does Brian due to helping me pay for school. At times I have considered of not doing a wedding so that my parents did not have to pay for it. But my mother wants me to have a dream wedding and she helps out in any way she can. It is hard being over 700 miles away, paying for school expenses, and trying to do most of the wedding planning. I am so thankful for her and I wish I could contribute more or have other help.

Meeting my goals and being done by the end of next fall would allow my father to see me married and have my degree. It would also allow me to be closer to home to be able to help my parents, help drive my father to his appointments, and allow my mother to have less stress. So here is to crossing my fingers and long school days ahead. But I hope it is all worth it in the end.

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