Thanksgiving has come and gone and with it, everyone’s hashing of their thankfulness. A lot of people do it on that day, but I like to do it a few days later on my birthday, November 30th (If you want to be cool and do something for me for my birthday, go through the ASP website if you do your holiday shopping on Amazon.com, use the link provided on their website. A portion of the proceeds go toward primate conservation.) I can’t really put something like this on Facebook or Twitter, and nor do I really want to. So, instead, I’ll put it up here.
I do it on my birthday because I think it puts it into perspective that a year has gone by and I like to make sure I become a little wiser and more grateful for my life.
This past year, I’ve had an acquaintance (a brilliant young man who would have been a fine foreign language educator), a relative (my great-uncle, Terry, who I remember as a really sweet and caring man), and my significant other’s cousin (an amazing individual with unbelievable aviation talents) pass away. It’s been sad and the end of October and November have been kind of shitty–but above all else, I feel grateful to be alive and to have known those people which inspire me to make me want to do something meaningful with my life–be it in animal law, anthropology research, or whatever, I just want it to have some positive effect in the world.
I’ve been struggling with some of my classes, but even so, I’m still grateful to be taking them because they are helping me to think outside my normal line of thought and enlighten me to the world–even if I’m going to be kicking and screaming the entire way. So, as much as I hate them, I am grateful for having the ability and the experience of having them.
I’m grateful to be a white, middle-class woman at a R1, Big 10 university where my potential goes as far as I’m willing to carry it. I’m at a university where I’m privileged to be able to have a National Primate Research Center, a primate library, a fantastic anthropology department, and even more phenomenal peers to help me educate myself and learn about the world around me. I have an outstanding advisor that teaches me every class about something new and exciting and reinvigorates my passion for being a compassionate individual. I have a mentor grad student in the department who was the one that really gave my life a purpose and sparked excitement for the first real time I can recall, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.
I’m grateful to have support from fellow bloggers; specifically, a few worth mentioning who’ve been extremely supportive and passing on my links and encouraging me to get better are: AlbinoMouse, A Primate of Modern Aspect, DNApes, and time travelling. One, of very special mention, though, is The Prancing Papio, who I like to consider like my fairy blogfather and one of the greatest new friends I’ve made over the past year while educating me and reminding me in so many ways of why being a primatologist is really the best thing I’ve found in my academic career and why I want to continue doing this for the rest of my life; not to mention being a real great ape in passing on my writings to Four Stone Hearth and other places.
I’m grateful to have a really great family–I don’t think they really understand what I want to do and that’s OK. They’re all generally supportive and some have taken interest in what it is I want to study. My dad, in particular has been really great about supporting me in primatology, especially when I decided to try my hand at field research. I’m grateful for my friends who have been really awesome about putting up with my primate adoration–especially over Facebook whenever I see they put pictures up about primates at zoos they visit and I word vomit all over about it.
From a Mauss-ian perspective, the people I’ve listed have given me the gift of love, emotional support, and above all else–tolerance. I’m not quite sure my reciprocation is up to snuff with returning, but I like to think I help enrich their lives and help them become better people, so maybe that’s the addition to the gift I can give in return.
I intend to make this a two-part series, but the second part will have to be a little later–it’s the end of the semester and there’s work to be done. Next part will be more monkey business–I promise, but this time around, I wanted to give some credit where it was due. (And pimp off the ASP’s work.)