Friday, July 24, 2009

universal truths

Well into the field season for this year, and even starting to contemplate the end of things in a few weeks, I've had some thoughts regarding fieldwork in general. This is my first time in this particular field area and with this particular project, but I find that there are some things that never change when you're in the field.

1. As a vegetarian, my food staples consist of, in order of importance:
potatoes
bread
rice and/or pasta
peanut butter/jam/processed cheese
cauliflower (this one I find interesting. Why?)
junk food (coke, chocolate bars, local shitty biscuit-like foods. keeps you going)

This is why I bring myself supplements and energy bars; always a good idea. Also, about now I'm having some serious cravings for TOFU.

2. No matter where you are, get a handful of guys together on a project and they will become obsessed with their facial hair, eventually organizing some sort of shaving event in which they often decide to sport mustaches as a group.

3. Hygiene standards shift drastically, so that not stinking is just about good enough for any occasion. Having clothes that look clean is a bonus.

4. After the first month I start to make lists of the foods I will eat on my first few days home. People start to discuss the foods we can't get, making conversation a form of slow torture.

5. I never get any of my "real life" work accomplished, even when I have manuscripts to work on, stats to run, classes to prep. The "few weeks from the end" point that I'm at now is when I start to think things like "holy shit I have so much to do when I get home!" And yet I never learn, and it happens again the next time around.

6. I spend way too much money because I'm spending it in foreign currency - this is true no matter what the exchange rate.

7. I run out of books to read and have to scavenge from other people, project libraries, and hotels that we pass through. I usually end up reading drivel that I would never touch at home at some point, just because it's something to read.

The project continues to go well, with some decent pilot data taking shape. Hooray for productivity! And weekends in hotels are also nice - especially the large meals that go with them. After this weekend I should be well recharged for another week in the sun.

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