Field Note #2 — Packing for Fieldwork (Sketchbook)

My flight to Quito is less than a week away what the f

… And I have not yet figured out what to bring to the field.  As per usual it looks like I am leaving my packing to the eleventh hour.  I’m convinced I don’t know how to do it any other way.

But this time, I can’t get away with just stuffing a couple of (hopefully clean) shirts and shorts into a backpack a few hours before take-off.  I need to be prepared.  I gotta anticipate for stuff.  I have to plan in advance. 

But planning in advance?  Not really my style.

In fact, over the past seven months of writing my proposal and drafting a “data collection timeline,” I have been contradicting myself with a voice in my head preaching that nothing is going to go according to plan.  After hearing it from my advisors so many times, I’ve come to understand that that’s pretty much the mantra of anthropological research: things just won’t go the way you think they will. 

You have no idea how much comfort this brings me.  I’ve talked to members of my cohort about this and the lack of control over how our projects will play out seems to make them anxious—but for me, it’s relieving to not have the pressure of having it all figured out and instead have freedom over where our projects will take us. I’m a total sucker for this romantic idea of stumbling upon data serendipitously, much like bumping into a potential love interest at the grocery store and dropping an apple and having them pick it up for you and say, “I believe this is for you.” 

But this is a risky game to play in research.  Maybe this approach works for finding a partner (unconfirmed) but the IRB needs a little more structure than that, and sometimes you have to play by the rules.  So I guess that means it’s time to get packing even though it’s super early—four whole days before departure!

But not today.  Today, I am avoiding the crippling sense of panic creeping up on me about how unprepared I am for the field—for all of this—and decided to just doodle about it instead.

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