Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oh, Wayne, Be My Muse

"and I know, I'm solid like an elbow cast.
And my future will be better than my past. Weezy!
You could love me or hate me,
I swear it won't make me or break me.
I'm goin' where ever the money take me,
until they funeral and wake me, and don't wake me.
Cause I'm sleepin', I'm dreamin',
I know that there's a better way cause I've seen it, lord,
but this faster money is so convenient.
And I need it, say I need it."

Humans of many times and places have been cremating the dead for thousands of years. Archaeologists, therefore, have encountered many situations in which societies practiced both inhumation and cremation. From a bioarchaeological perspective, only studying the non-cremated remains leaves a void in understanding the entirety of that society. The same questions being asked and answered about the inhumation burials need to be asked about cremated burials. Surprisingly, little research has been done on identifying and understanding fire-related changes to a skeleton outside of the archaeological context. This is the concern of my paper.

Mississippi Academy of Sciences is going to be held in Hattiesburg this year. I'm giving my first conference paper. I'm really very happy about this opportunity, but I'm more afraid right now. Especially, since I'm still writing the paper and working on the PowerPoint. Elayne Pope is going to be in the same symposium as me. She is the Dame of Flames and the scholar on whose work EVERYTHING I'm writing about is based. The lady who is a forefront forensic anthropologist, a pioneer in studying gunshot trauma and fire trauma on the skeleton and I'm delivering a paper before her based on her work! I'm one of two undergraduates from Southern Miss giving a paper; this is a rare opportunity for us. It can be done, yes, but it doesn't happen very often.

I turn to music, like many others, to inspire me. I spend 20 minutes trying to create the perfect playlist for the mood I'm in before I begin to write. Without a doubt, Lil Wayne's The Carter III is going to be on my list. He has such confidence, such strength, that it helps me write. He's not the only one, just the main one. Bob Marley is another: "It was a buffalo soldier in the heart of America. Stolen from Africa, brought to America. Fighting on arrival; fighting for survival." Jacqueline Du Pré's rendition of Sir Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor is the greatest work to ever reach my ears. She is the greatest without words. I have various playlists from various times and places by various artists and various genres. Music keeps me going, even at 3:30 A.M.

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