cygnoir.net

Homesick.

crisper

Over the past two days I’ve had three different conversations about my life in Scotland. By the time I got in my car to drive home, I was deeply homesick for it, mostly the friends and coworkers I miss, but also mundane bits like Christmas Eve in Waitrose, random herds of curious horses, learning how to ride the bus in a foreign land, and frost-covered moss. I was thinking of that moss when I encountered the frost-dusted leaf in this photo.

Homesickness is generally expressed as a one person, one place phenomenon, but I have experienced waves of homesickness for every place I’ve ever lived. I even yearn for Alabama from time to time, especially the late afternoon summer thunderstorms that shake the magnolia trees, all slick green and heavy cream. Does it make me feel fickle sometimes? Sure. Someone once excoriated my use of the word “favorite” because, in his words, “They can’t all be favorites.”

Can’t they?

Writing from: a quiet study in Portland, Oregon. Listening to: “Trains” by Poppy Ackroyd.

Day 278 of Project 365: Portland or Scotland?

The weather today has been blustery in between light bouts of rain, and I am missing Scotland something fierce.

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I wanted to say more on the topic, but I’ve just used my last articulate impulse on mustering my rudimentary Italian to help a new Second Life resident who I discovered crouched on my sofa, dressed like a swashbuckling vampire. I think we may have had a discourse on gender and avatar appearance … but I am likely overestimating my linguistic ability.

Still, when there’s a vampire pirate crouching on your sofa, it’s only polite to try to talk to them. Non è vero?

Writing from: my study in Portland. Or is it Scotland? Listening to: bits and pieces of NFL commentary coming from FunkyPlaid’s study.

Day 247 of Project 365: Missing Scotland.

The heatwave dissipated quickly, leaving behind the merest hint of autumn in the air. A few rainy days in a row were enough to wrangle me into heartier outerwear, and as I attempted to shove a wee bag of blueberries into one of my jacket pockets, my fingers caught on a couple of pieces of paper.

I drew them out and smiled. Two tickets from Lothian Buses, dated last December.

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In this endless and perhaps ill-conceived push to move ever forward, I had not allowed myself anything more than the briefest of glimpses in the rear-view mirror at the landscape – that stark, lush, unforgiving and breathtaking landscape – that had just been left behind.

This is home, and that was home too. The heart bounces between the two like a pinball made of feathers. Things fracture and spin off. That’s okay too.

Writing from: my study in Portland, sort of. Listening to: “Low Hymnal” by Told Slant.

https://open.spotify.com/track/2CUjmgzr23GQ6Hv5DECrbC

Day 24 of Project 365: The way home.

[caption id=“attachment_91922” align=“aligncenter” width=“687”]Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset Processed with VSCOcam with p5 preset[/caption]

A few weeks after moving here, I kept asking FunkyPlaid what that big group of buildings looming over the city was.

Half a year after moving here, I had finally figured out what it was.

A couple of years later, befuddled tourists started asking me how to get to the castle. Me! I could hardly believe it. I must have looked like I knew where I was going, but the truth is that the only place I knew how to get to without thinking and without checking on the blue dot on my phone was home.

This is home to me. This has been my home for four years. This will not be my home tomorrow. All of these facts take their turns flitting into and out of the “inconceivable” box in my brain.

I am ready to leave, and I am not ready too. That’s the best time to go.

Writing from: a home, my home, in Edinburgh. Listening to: all of the subtle noises that I won’t hear again.

Day 21 of Project 365: Dark Tower.

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Pictured is not Dark Tower, the awesome electronic board game I loved as a child, but rather The Black Tower, the delicious dessert at local Thai place Passorn.

But now that Dark Tower was mentioned at dinner, I cannot get it out of my head.

Nostalgia is dangerous. It can seduce us with claims of an unblemished past, suggesting that a portal to this past is within our grasp. But I know – as we discussed over dinner – that the experience of playing Dark Tower now is not the same as the memory of playing it thirty-five years ago. Still, I enjoyed peeping into the portal with this commercial.

www.youtube.com/watch

I wonder which memories of my time in Scotland will trigger that nostalgic impulse. There will be plenty lurking about my subconscious, I’m sure. Certainly one of them has to be skirting the Links, chatting away with Gav about a story I’m struggling to write.

Writing from: a chilly kitchen, now that the lounge is devoid of furniture. Listening to: that clock that never keeps the right time, still ticking away.

Day 12 of Project 365: The church of Savour.

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When I eat, I am present. Thoughts do not intrude in this space, reverent as they are in the church of Savour. Tonight’s service was Highland venison loin, shredded beef cheek, smoked celeriac, and parsnips.

I wonder if someday I’ll have the resolve to try a vegetarian diet. Then I have dishes like this one and put it off for another day.

There are particular foods (sushi) I miss from the States, and I look forward to having some of them (burritos) soon. But I’ve had some stellar meals in Scotland, and this one at 63 Tay Street was high up there. If you are near or passing through Perth, go there. They’ll take care of you. What a joy it is to be handed a menu and told, “Whatever you choose, we’ll adjust it to be gluten-free for you.” The vegetarian in our party did not lack for mouth-watering options, either.

The dining companions, not pictured, are also highly recommended, but probably wouldn’t appreciate me offering their conversational services. Your meal at 63 Tay Street will be BYOFOIE (Bring Your Own Friends Or Intriguing Enemies).

We won’t call this a goodbye meal, either. Thinking is for later, maybe for the plane ride, or even later. Just look at the food. Focus on the food. It was delicious.

Writing from: a cold and mostly-dark lounge in Edinburgh. Listening to: “Awake” by Tycho from Spotify.

Day 10 of Project 365: The Ormiston Yew Tree.

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Choosing today’s photo was more difficult than usual but I settled on one of an ancient yew tree that John Knox purportedly preached under because … well … that. Knox is not pictured, but I did leave in a human and a wee dachshund for scale.

This is the magical Ormiston Yew Tree. It is difficult to find, so I am glad that I had a local guide in the aforementioned human, my friend Juliana. Accompanied by her two darling dachshunds, Juliana and I have gone on a number of East Lothian adventures over the past few years, always followed by delicious home-cooked meals. While tromping through the sopping undergrowth today, my heart ached to think that this outing would be our last one for a while. Saying goodbye to dear friends is part of this whole moving-away process, but I still haven’t gotten used to it.

Day 8 of Project 365: One last 5k around Arthur's Seat.

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Shortly after moving to Edinburgh, I met an extraordinary woman named Laura. She is extraordinary because she somehow picked up the pieces of her life after her son Joshua took his own life at only twenty-two years old. And after she picked up those pieces, she forged ahead to found the Joshua Nolan Foundation the very next year.

Tomorrow will be my last 5k race around Arthur’s Seat, at least for now, and I’m running to raise awareness for the Joshua Nolan Foundation. The Joshua Nolan Foundation works with their partner counsellors to fund counselling sessions for people who have been identified as ‘at risk’ of suicide. If you or someone you know has been impacted by not having access to this kind of support, please consider donating to the Joshua Nolan Foundation.

And please think fleet-footed thoughts for me around 10:00 GMT tomorrow! I’m a bit creaky but I want to finish strong for such an important cause.

Day 7 of Project 365: Wee swan.

In my haste to submit a story for critique by my writing group, I almost forgot all about Project 365. That means you get a hastily-snapped “here is something on my desk” photo.

While my friend Sharks was visiting last month, we spent some memorable days tooling around Edinburgh, chatting and poking our noses into various places. That whole week was charmed: the weather was good, we got on well, and there were plenty of magical moments like finding this wee black swan. She was in a type of shop neither of us normally ventures into, one with a cutesy name and frilly brassy shabby-chic knick-knacks. But there she was, and now here she is, and fond memories will come to mind every time I see her.

I would need a whole tiny menagerie to remind me of all of the wonderful things I’ve experienced in Scotland. I’ve been so lucky.

Intrepid as the bee.

[caption id=“attachment_11036” align=“aligncenter” width=“687”]2014-07-13 14.38.55 Edit Intrepid as the bee, indifferent to an indifferent world.[/caption]

There is more writing news on the way, but today I am just thinking about bees.

Haze and howl.

Smacked down with a jagged little head-cold. Some bits from my phone, remnants of my desultory search for spring …

A mark on a lamppost.

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A squadron of daffodils besieging the links.

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A shrubbery unconvinced by spring’s opening argument.

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Bad ideas for Christmas Eve.

There are many things I would not recommend that you do on Christmas Eve. Almost all of them revolve around shopping. And yet there I was, in the middle of a good-sized grocery store called Waitrose, cradling an amaretto-flavoured soy latte in one hand and a wire basket in the other, when I was introduced to the full-on HPM (Holiday Politeness Morass).

In case it isn’t clear by now, I deeply appreciate living in a polite culture. After decades of the American “everyone’s your friend, the kind of friend you have no compunction about treating like total garbage if it means you are first in line” faux-niceness, I find the whole British orderliness not only refreshing but salutary to my sanity. After returning to the working world, I realised just how crucial this is, and how miserable I was when dealing with the American public every day.

Here is where I will pause to say that I know that a good amount of my readers are part of the American public and might take this personally. I would urge you not to, of course, and instead attempt to espouse a trait of my sociologist father’s that I have always admired: the ability to consider both the cultural veracity of a stereotype and the personal relevance without taking either as an affront. I’m American, and because I live outside America, I am confronted with my Americanness every day. Some of it is good, and some of it is not so good. I try to take zero of either side as a personal value judgement.

Anyway, back to my story. I got off the bus too early (a common mistake I make on new routes, as if getting off one stop too late is somehow worse) and walked through a very nice neighbourhood, peeking at the brightly-lit Christmas trees through front windows. I was feeling only a little sorry for myself, but mostly looking forward to an evening of cooking and watching holiday films. Thus distracted, I entered Waitrose with no sense of trepidation at all. In fact, I was glad to be there: they have nice food and it was blustery crap outside.

This was my first mistake.

Then I noticed the HPM.

It first manifested as a cluster of trolleys and wire baskets clutched by niceties-muttering poor planners like myself, so I was not afraid. Then I noticed the Waitrose worker in the middle of all of this, wielding a price gun above a pile of packets, the contents of which I still have not fathomed. Whatever was in them was more valuable than gold to the HPM as it seethed and swarmed – really gently, and congenially – at the centre.

I decided to go around this, to go somewhere else. Anywhere else.

But this was happening all throughout the store. Apparently prices were being marked down as closing time approached and, as the saying goes, supplies wouldn’t last.

Earlier, I had the bright idea of making meatloaf for dinner, an idea that was quickly revealed as the worst idea on the planet, ever, as I dared to enter the meat aisle for one minute. The HPM there was too strong. I saw two shoppers get stuck in a cycle of darting forward to grab a packet of beef mince but averting as the other was darting forward for not the same packet but one merely nearby. Fierce apologising began, and then the furtive darting forward again, only to bump hands this time, which set off another flurry of apologies.

You know how this would go down in America. Grab the meat, maybe even the sleeve of someone’s coat in the process, and get the hell out of there. You might open your bags at home to discovered you had inadvertently taken someone’s mitten or small child. Ha ha, you’d laugh. What a crazy shopping trip! And then you’d give the small child some potatoes to peel and start cooking.

So stunned, I scuppered the meatloaf idea and went for a dairy-free, wheat-free, gluten-free cottage pie ready-meal. You can bet there was no HPM hanging about that area.

I also might have grabbed a few other things, like crab paté, that I didn’t really need but wanted. At the till, I chatted with the cashier – another Americanism, but it’s a tough habit to break. As we struggled to fit all of the purchases in my bag, I gave a little sigh and said, “I guess I’m eating my feelings this Christmas.” This earned me the first outright laugh I have ever received from a cashier, which I counted as an early Christmas present.

My second early Christmas present was discovering a completely awesome shortcut from the “faraway” bus stop to our flat. Some cottage pie and crab paté later, plus FaceTime with family, and I’m feeling all right. I hope you are feeling all right too.

Writing from: the lounge, next to the tree. Listening to: “Ghostbusters” on the TV. So much better than any holiday film I had planned.

The miracle of sweatpants.

My red fleece sweatpants are evil. Wearing them is basically the antidote to any productivity I might muster. As soon as I changed from sweatpants to proper grownup clothing today, I got a ton of stuff done. But listening to Patton Oswalt talking about the miracle of sweatpants made me laugh a lot.

Today I am having a day of expat feelings, so I am going to talk about something I love about living in Scotland and something that annoys me.

I love hearing SSE (Scottish Standard English) every day. In fact, I have done tireless (read: not tireless) research to bring to you the absolute best (read: or just really good) sentence to hear in SSE: “Will you tell the girls about the murder rate of squirrels in third-world countries?” I also love hearing the following words: dreich, guddle, drouthy, numpty, outwith. I hope I didn’t offend anyone by writing this. At least I didn’t say …

Haggis. I am vastly annoyed by the punchline to jokes from non-Scots being, “Haggis!” And I love haggis, so it’s not like I object on culinary grounds. It’s just such a lazy joke, like responding to anything Italian by saying, “Spaghetti with meatballs!”

Hm, now I’m hungry.

[caption id=“” align=“alignnone” width=“500”]Haggis, neeps & tatties @ The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (Leith) Haggis, neeps, and tatties. Delicious.[/caption]

Writing from: bed, one electric blanket, two kitties. Listening to: Patton Oswalt.

This'll do.

This'll do. My new friend R and I went to the Royal Botanics a few weeks ago. I haven’t been in a photo-taking mood for a while, but I took my dSLR just in case. Of course I forgot my macro lens and my tripod, so I got fifty blurry shots of pretty blooms and bees doing their thing, and then this one.

So yes, I am a walking cliché.

Inclement.

Yesterday, FunkyPlaid and I walked downtown on some errands. As we left our flat, we both remarked on the loveliness of the day, blue skies barely clouded, and yet somehow we still managed to get caught in a short downpour on Princes Street.

This confirmed my suspicion that Scottish clouds just dip their bellies in blue paint from time to time.

19.365: the city & the city

Today as I sat and hammered out some metadata at my volunteer post – which was exactly six times more exciting than this sentence sounds – the building shook. After a twelve-year stint in California, I am no stranger to shaking buildings. It just hadn’t occurred to me that the wind could shake a building as much as the ground could.

I hopped off the bus in an unfamiliar part of town just so I could figure out my way back, and with the wind it ended up being a little more exciting than I expected. Thank goodness for the steadfastness of the lamppost I clung to as my boots slid out from under me. Hello again, Chicago! I used this excuse to scamper into Tesco and consult blue-dot on the map, which sometimes lies. The walking directions home took me in what I was sure was a large U-turn, but now looking at the map I suppose it was the most direct route.

A lot of navigation here is like that, which makes logical sense in a city-planning-over-centuries way, but I just like to pretend that the bus I’m on is involved in a very slow car-chase, always trying to shake that persistent cop on its tail.

Celsius is much more satisfying for reporting temperatures. Fahrenheit insists it is 37 degrees, which is many numbers, but Celsius says 3. That is about how it feels. Just a few degrees among the lint in your pocket, instead of 37, which is a feast of grapes for lunch, or an impressive spate of paper clips on your desk. Hell, you could make a paper-clip necklace with that.

In other exciting news, I’ve been overpaying my bus fare by exactly 30 pence every time. I swore the sign said £1.60. The tickets piling up in my purse each say £1.30. Another awkward social situation explained!

HIDWtS: Thanksgiving in Scotland.

This Thanksgiving edition of How I Decide Where to Sit is dedicated to reviewing all the rookie mistakes one can make when riding public transit in a new city for the first time, because it is kind of like what the Pilgrims did when they– no. Even I can’t torture that metaphor. It is dedicated to rookie mistakes because I made them all today and I need to laugh about them with you.

  • I waited thirty minutes for a bus whose arrival time as reported by the phone app was stuck at "21:39" before giving up and walking to a stop of a different bus that seemed to be showing up every ten minutes.
  • I assumed that the stops for the line going inbound were in generally the same place as the stops for the line going outbound.
  • I forgot about the driving on the left side of the road thing, which means I was waiting on the wrong side of the street for the inbound bus.
  • I thought I could easily cross a simple little two-lane road to get to the correct side of the street, but finally gave up and walked all the way around to the subway (underpass) so I could cross without dying.
  • When I finally boarded the right bus, I was so set on sitting up top that I was forced to sit on the very back row, which is almost exactly like the rumble seat.
  • Despite much rumbling, I fell asleep. But woke up just as the bus approached the landmark nearest my stop!
  • I disbelieved my gut telling me to walk THAT WAY home and instead listened to the little blue dot of the GPS which lies.

So really it was like riding public transit for the very first time ever! That is the spin I am going to take because I am in denial, denial that moving to a new country, even if you (sort of) speak the language, means not knowing how to do anything very well for a while and just sucking that up because the alternative is hiding in your very nice flat all the time and pretending to buy postage from the cats just so you get better at counting out the different coins. Not that I have been doing that at all.

[caption id=“” align=“aligncenter” width=“500” caption=“Lothian Buses 991 SN57 DBX, by Ingy the Wingy”]Lothian Buses 991 SN57 DBX[/caption]

Anyway, I had thought about doing some sort of Thanksgiving meal here, but the more I pondered approximating turkey, stuffing, cranberries, and the rest, the more homesick I felt, and then I felt disappointed about feeling so homesick. My stomach sold the rest of me out for the memory of pumpkin pie. Yesterday’s vegan baking experiment of pumpkin mini-muffins did not do the trick, although they were tasty. (I used this recipe, with a ripe banana in the place of the eggs.)

Homesickness aside, I am extremely thankful for this new home, for my family and friends, and for owning a lot of candles because this place is very dark just now. I think I will go roast some chestnuts.

HIDWtS Rating: We just debated taking turkey legs to the chip shop that will fry anything. Do you think they will do pumpkin puree?

[box type=“shadow”]I used to ride a shuttle to work. It was a really nice shuttle and the first time I had ever had that luxury, causing me to overthink pretty much every aspect of it, especially where to sit. And now I overthink where I decide to sit in every open-seating situation, so I’m writing about it in a series called How I Decide Where to Sit.[/box]

Bluster.

I like St Andrews more each time I visit, and I already liked it a lot the first time. There are great people there, and books and learning and junk, and also videos of sneezing pandas. To commemorate my deepening affection for this place, here is a really fancy postcard that it took me all day to make.

cheap postcard

Or my iPhone did it in about two seconds.

Walking to the market last night, I was gently picked up by the leaf-addled wind and set down a few yards in front of where I started. Since it was generally in the correct direction, I saw no need for alarm. This happened about four more times on the way there and back.

Bluster. I forgot about proper bluster! Such polite people excused themselves as they bounced all over the walk. Every once in a while, I caught a glimpse of someone’s head suddenly spasming backwards. The old leaf to the eyeball, I nodded knowingly. And then got a leaf to the eyeball.

I don’t know how I got it into my head that Scottish people don’t eat chocolate chip cookies, but I had, and so I was craving them horribly. Then I found chocolate chip cookies in the market. Gluten-free ones. Why did I ever doubt Snackland?

The part I hate, the paying part, happened. I couldn’t postpone it any longer. So I milled around near the line for the till until the nicest-seeming clerk was free, then stampeded her. She was, in fact, very nice, and so I bought groceries in a non-humiliating fashion for the first time since arriving here. This also had to do with the use of my debit card instead of fumbling through a too-deep wallet for unfamiliar coins. I’ll take the sad little victory, thanks.

Will it ever seem natural for me to say “cheers” instead of “thanks”? The Midwestern “a” that haunts my “thanks” makes me cringe. I will try to be understood and to fit in – trousers, not pants – but some words still seem affected when I say them.

Sometimes the world is so beautiful I forget to be self-conscious. I am just an awed human in an ancient place, and it feels wonderful. Then I realize, as I did last night, that while gaping at the stone spires silhouetted against the flannel sky, a small line of drool has escaped the side of my mouth.

Nice to meet you, world. I am all class.

Mental map sutures.

O, look! It is a photo of the castle! Another photo of the castle! And not at all because it is one of the only places I can recognize in the city! No, no, not that.

castle shine

Actually, it is a photo of the castle because I watched FunkyPlaid take a picture of the castle with the moon just so and I had to take one too. But his is better. But I took one too. So, you see, I am twelve.

The exciting part is the part that has no picture, where I somehow recognized not just the castle but a whole string of things – including Starbuxen and libraries, yes, okay, so I am predictable – and was able to recognize them not in some arcane card-flipping memory game but in the actual field, the actual walking-about time and needing-to-navigate time, the pertinent time, the errand-running time of today.

There were lots of errands! Some of these errands were less errandy than others, like our visit to Transreal Fiction. It is as glorious as I expected it to be, and despite just transporting hundreds of books across an ocean, we left this excellent shop with several more.

Along with all of those books, our kitchen arrived, which manifested itself (after FunkyPlaid’s careful unpacking) in an evening meal of garlic courgettes and balsamic-mustard glazed salmon fillets. I did not misspell that last word; it is pronounced as it looks, to rhyme with billets. Also, zucchini are called courgettes, which perhaps should offend my Italian sensibilities. (It doesn’t.)

courgettes and salmon

Today’s exciting linguistic moment in marketing is “flu jab”. Get your flu jab today so you don’t get sick!

Visiting St Andrews.

Due to an international banking error -- those are fun, let me tell you -- we do not have a car yet. FunkyPlaid wanted to show Mike around outside the city, so he rented a car and the three of us sped off to St Andrews.

I hate being the little old lady in the front seat, clutching her purse, but there I was, incredibly nerve-wracked by the seemingly arbitrary rules of the road. I loosened up a bit with the M90's standard highway-ness. Still, it is embarrassing and disappointing to be so thrown by UK driving.

Our visit was entirely worth the stress, of course. 

Not only did we get to show Mike around, but we ran into another friend from the store who is a first-year at the university. Small world, indeed. We all ended up in the Central for lunch, where we were joined by FunkyPlaid's advisor, two other PhD candidates, and a prospective history student. The prospective student was staying in Edina, so we gave her a lift back to the city and she stayed for supper. Or dinner. I am confused by the difference. But Mike made delicious risotto and veggies, to which I added some basic balsamic chicken bits, and we enjoyed a nice evening meal together no matter what it might be called.

During our short jaunt around St Andrews, I envied Mike his dSLR and for the thousandth time wished I had not entrusted my own to a shipment along with all of my winter coats and hats. Some cameraphone shots will have to suffice for now.

Packing highlights.

Although this is hardly my first day of packing for Scotland, it has been a long one, filled with Kleenex (yay, head cold) and boxes I never unpacked from my last move and lots of stuff I simply do not know why I own. And now, some highlights!

Weirdest discovery: my very first mobile. I tried to sell it nine years ago, but I guess that didn’t work. I will be donating it through Call2Recycle.

Packed for storage: my entire poetry library. I may regret that, but it will give me a good excuse to use the public library system while I am there.

Thing I thought I would want to keep but don’t: my high school yearbook from senior year. I contacted my school’s alumni association to see if they want it. (Thanks for the idea, Unclutterer!)

Books, books, books. So very many books. Would you like some books? I have some up for swap at PaperBackSwap and Goodreads. If you are looking for a particular book, you are welcome to check out my library on LibraryThing and make me an offer.

HIWDtS: Bye-bye, lady.

Every once in a while, I encounter the N-Judah Greeter. He is a sweet man who says hello and waves to everyone who boards the train, and says goodbye and waves to everyone who leaves.

Most people avoid catching his eye, because that is his signal that it is okay to wave and talk. He spends a lot of the time in suspended animation, looking expectantly at each new passenger, hoping for eye contact. As soon as the person looks up, he waves and exclaims, “Hello!” Women get a “lady” tacked on the end. If the person does not respond, he repeats himself a few times, then stops and moves on to the next person.

If you, like me, respond, then there is a short script:

“Hello, lady!” “Hello!” “Where are you going?” “Home!” “OK, lady!”

On the way out, there is a similarly enthusiastic send-off. If it happens to be a Friday, as it was when I last saw the Greeter, he waves and says, “Bye-bye, lady,” then adds, “Have a good weekend!”

The Greeter has a thankless job. Because he is friendly on Muni, he is mostly treated like a hostile stranger. I have learned to take my enthusiastic greetings and send-offs where I can get them, because I never know when it will be the last time I see a place.

Except now I know. I know when my last Muni ride will be. I know when I will close the front door of my home for the last time, when I will drive to SFO for the last time, when I will get on a plane with my bags and my cats and fly over this giant place to a dream.

My beloved FunkyPlaid and I are moving to Scotland. Now that I can type that, it is real to me. He leaves in just over two weeks to get settled and start his PhD program, and I leave in just under two months with Zen and Torgi in tow.

Almost eight years ago, FunkyPlaid made this trip alone. I drove him to SFO and dissolved at the security checkpoint. I joked with him the other day that I won’t be crying this time, but who am I kidding? The moment is too big for me not to cry.

This departure is a culmination of so much planning, hard work, imagination, and passion, bolstered with support from our dear friends and family, and sprinkled with a bit of good luck and great timing. Most days it is difficult for me to picture the end result because there is still so much to do, and I find my motivation in knocking things off to-do lists. But every once in a while, I look up from the cardboard boxes and think of the adventure about to begin.

Bye-bye, lady.

[box type=“shadow”]I ride a shuttle to work. It is a really nice shuttle and the first time I have ever had this luxury, causing me to overthink pretty much every aspect of it, especially where to sit. And now I overthink where I decide to sit in every open-seating situation, so I’m writing about it in a series called How I Decide Where to Sit.[/box]

domino effect

I gave up and ordered a new camera battery charger. The old one must be somewhere, but I have no time before our upcoming trip to Scotland to sort through all of my boxes. Believe me, there will be some serious purging of useless belongings happening when I return.

My handy countdown widget tells me that only 23 days remain until our trip. It is so paltry to say that I am excited to see this beloved country, this heart-home of my beloved, and to meet and re-meet friends far away. I am beyond excited. Every time I read a page in a guidebook I start bouncing in my chair and have to put it down.

I know that no small part of my excitement stems from a frantic need to be Not-Here for a short time. Living in San Francisco has become exhausting, and because this is such an amazing city I know my fuse must be particularly short.  I have not had a proper vacation, even a weekend getaway, in almost a year.  I also admit some weariness around the subject of American politics.

So I avoided the topic as much as possible over the weekend.  FunkyPlaid and I actually had an entire weekend to ourselves, and it was excellent, only marred by the news of David Foster Wallace’s death. Others have been much more eloquent than I could be, than I have tried to be multiple times tonight in eulogy.

This perfectionist phase of writing silence does not suit me. In part, I am paranoid because I know that not everyone reading this thinks well of me, and so instead of inciting critique for whichever turn of phrase I keep silent.  We then encounter the usual “you can’t control what other people think of you” argument, which leads me quickly to the “yes but why NOT” denial, usually appended with “especially when I haven’t done anything to THEM” tantrum.

That doesn’t matter. None of it matters. What you think of me, what I think of you – in the grand and happy quilt of meaning, we’re not even stitches.  I don’t write here to be loved; I write here because I am compelled to connect through words. If our connection involves your loathing or disdain, so be it.  It is what it is, and nothing more.

And to think this all began with a lost piece of technology.

grateful for travel

I can hardly sit still long enough to write this entry – today FunkyPlaid and I bought our tickets for our trip to Scotland this autumn!  We will be there for just over two weeks, and it will be my first time in Scotland.  FunkyPlaid lived there while he earned his graduate degree in Scottish history, and he has been there many times, so I will have an excellent guide.  My visit to Scotland is also laced with emotional symbolism; FunkyPlaid and I spent two rollercoaster months getting to know each other before he moved to Edinburgh, and I was more than a little envious of his big adventure.  Existing in Edinburgh with him will bring that part of our history full-circle.  It will also be a litmus test to see if I can stand to live there in the future when FunkyPlaid moves back for his doctorate, although truthfully I can stick it out anywhere for a few years.

I am so grateful for the ability to and predilection for travel.  Ever since I was born, my parents instilled in me a great love of seeing new places which has only grown.  Today at a gathering of friends at the Palace of Fine Arts, someone was talking about visiting Zanzibar, and I immediately thrilled at the thought of being there someday myself.  I hope to get to see as many places on my long, long list as possible.

(This entry is part of one month of gratitude.)

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.