Friday, February 15, 2013

A Tale of Two Days

Wednesday was one of the least fun, most wretched trip days in Greece so far.  Upon disembarking from the bus in Piraeus, the ancient and modern port of Athens which is just a few kilometers away, we were told to watch our step and look out for "syringes and human excrement."  Our professor wasn't kidding - never, ever have I seen so much shit, in so many colors, textures, and sizes, in one day of my life.  I even considered taking a photo, but since I once unfriended someone on Facebook for posting photos of her baby's poopy diaper, I decided to spare you all.  But consider this a background theme of the day. 

Then the wind and the rain started.  Sheets and sheets, which would stop just long enough to instill hope for a rainless future, only to start again.
The low point was standing in the pouring rain looking at the very scanty foundations of the Arsenal of Philo (which, bizarrely, doesn't have a wikipedia entry for me to link you to) in the middle of a building plot, listening to a presentation...before we realized that not 20 feet away was a perfectly good roof to stand under.
From under the roof.
Wait, I take that back: the low point was during our lunch break, when we tried to have a picnic on the bus, and the bus driver kicked us off, at the high point of the rain, because he had to move the bus.  We huddled together in a doorway, passing around hunks of bread and jars of peanut butter. 

But, like most things in Greece, the discomforts were balanced by pretty incredible archaeology finds and spectacular views. 
Crashing waves, the ancient fortification wall, modern city; the island of Aegina comes into view at left as the clouds clear.
Block for standardized measurements such as a foot, a hand, and a cubit (because, you know, everyone's fingertip to elbow is a different length).  So cool!
The other bits were fairly normal, but the hand was HUGE!
But also, this.
And that was going to be the end of this post, but I had a pretty spectacular day today, as days in the library go, when several things I've been working on for a long time finally came together and could be crossed off the list, including submitting an abstract to a national conference next fall, completing the handout for my presentation on Crete next week, and getting preliminary permission to stay in Greece for the summer to complete a museum studies requirement and play around with glass (more on that, hopefully, in a bit, provided it works out). 

But the most exciting, scariest, and monumental was finally sending my first ever article for peer-review to a journal editor for publication consideration.  On my final read-through this morning, I was feeling nostalgic for the journey this piece of scholarship and I have gone through together, from my first playing around with the idea and collecting data early in Fall 2011, complete surprise at the structure which emerged from the data, the first seminar paper it generated, its submission and eventual acceptance at an international conference last March, playing with more charts and ideas, experimenting with various visualization softwares, the second seminar paper, a summer of figuring out images and phrasing which would be appropriate for other people to actually read...  And, holy cow, is that last one a scary step: it's a long jump from a seminar paper with an audience of one or even a conference paper, with an auditory delivery and a lifespan limited to 20 minutes, to conceiving an article which anyone, anywhere, at any point in the next several decades could read and even use in their own research.  This, of course, is the ultimate objective of the whole academic discipline - to produce the kind of work people will read, cite, and internalize, which will contribute to our overall understanding of and appreciation for the human condition - and for me, the culmination of many years of writing, learning, thinking, and training as a student to become a scholar.  I feel totally, completely, 100% ready to make this jump, and I am damned proud of the article I sent off into the world today.

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