My first blog, my first post. Manohman. Blogging, amirite? What am I even doing? I know these template-thingies are supposed to make it all simple and obvious, but I still manage to struggle with it. I won’t let that stop me, but please excuse the mess while we are under construction, and, you know, learning the ropes. To be clear, this is a blog about Paleoanthropology, most often focusing on Neandertals. I will NOT be talking about the “paleo diet,” which, from what I can tell has absolutely zero to do with how ancient peoples actually ate and seems to be a misunderstanding of human evolution (that we “finished” evolving at some point in the past).
I started this blog now because in just three days I get on a plane to go to France to dig up Neandertals!! I will be away from my precious family for ONE WHOLE MONTH. Although I was quite an adventurous traveler in my younger days, and have even lived in several countries, this will be my first time away from my six-year-old daughter and my partner/her daddy. They will be fine, of course, but being apart will be so so so hard. We are a small and very tight-knit little family. Thinking about being away from them, especially my little girl, feels like reaching inside my chest and ripping out my heart. And doing it VOLUNTARILY. Geez, what am I doing? Never mind the blogging thing, what am I freaking doing with my LIFE??? Sometimes I wonder. I try to just roll with it. I try always to Yes-And everything that comes my way (once an improvisor, always an improvisor). But it can be a scary tightrope-walking way to live.
Meanwhile, I have a million things to do before I leave, both getting myself ready and getting my family ready. As you can see, I’m a list-maker, always have been. When I’m anxious I make lists of big picture things, smaller goals, things to do just today, things to buy, people to call, things to pack, etc. I think it comforts me, but it is also possible that it makes me crazier. I do know that crossing things off of lists feels amazing. Will I get all these things done? No. But I hope to get the important things done, at least. And make sure to get some sleep, get rid of this cold once and for all (finals did it to me again), and spend some quality time with my two loves before I’m gone.
I am heading first to Saint-Cesaire where, for three weeks, I will participate in excavating the site there. My professor, Dr. Helene Rougier, and her colleagues have worked here before. It is a rich site where Neandertals, Paleolithic Homo sapiens, and even medieval people have been found. We are of course looking for more Neandertals. Professor Rougier recently presented a paper in which she presented evidence that the Neandertals there engaged in cannibalism. Why? Well that’s an interesting question, one that we may or may not be able to answer but of course will try. In any case, I’m sure I will discover many exciting rocks, tree roots, and deer bones. I’m told we will rotate between excavating and lab work. There is an interpretive center there as well, also known as a museum, where what we know about how Neandertals lived is on display. Unfortunately, the website for it is in French only (I plan on bugging people there about getting an English version up), but definitely check it out anyway, as there are lots of pictures and some crazy video of a “Neandertal” running around to Benny Hill music. I’m not kidding. See for yourself.
The fourth week I will be at Bordeaux University to be trained in how to read microscans of Neandertal teeth. My Master’s thesis is a study of the microscans of three Neandertal molars. It is “original material,” meaning they have never been studied before. Microscans of teeth are Super Duper cool, just trust me on this. More on that in a later post.
So back to getting ready to leave in OHMYGOD THREE DAYS. Okay, breathe Vivian. So how did I do on my first time out into the Blogosphere?
PS – I haven’t yet figured out how to insert non-English language characters, so apologies for missing accents and such.