We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. — Anais Nin

I’m not gonna lie. This is definitely a problem of mine. Being a writer never helps. I’m constantly wrapped up in daydreams, some less realistic than others. And I am always wondering, ‘what if?’ And so, for the fourth time, I’ve moved halfway across the planet.

Yup! Back in Japan. Back to blogging. I’ll be better (again I say this. I will TRY this time.)

But this time I live in the country. I’ve never lived in the country! I’m a city girl, through and through. I know you know. Even if you wouldn’t say it to me, we both know you know.

And now I live in city about the size of my suburb, surrounded by Strawberry fields and a ring of mountains in the distance. It’s not helping with the daydreams.

Fortunately, I’m so…what’s the best way to say this….confident, yet mildly terrified and stressed out about driving, that I’ve been super aware of what I’m doing in the car. (Yes, I have a car. It’s rental, it’s tiny, like shorter than I am, and it’s boxy and I kind of hate it, but love it too.) And I have to have a car, not because its the country. There is a train; compared to Yokohama, it’s a pathetic little thing, with trains every 20/25 minutes and only two directions to go in. But as we have already established, I am a city girl, and Yokohama spoiled me. Anywho, I NEED a car because I have 10, TEN, 1-0 schools. TEN!!! Wait, one more time, 10!!!!!!!!!!

Yup! Three elementary schools, 6 kindergartens, and a nursery school. Yeah….yup. I don’t know how to get to most of them. But that’s what GPS is for. (I do know how to get to the ES I go to almost every day. So as far as that goes, I’m good.) But two of the ES are straight up in the mountains. Like, they don’t think my little-motorcycle-engine car will make it up the road if it snows. (I learned to drive in snow…I’m not too worried about snow, but if there is ice, I’m not sure the car is heavy enough to keep it from sliding down the mountain.)

But because it’s in the mountains, there are cows! Yeah i know that doesn’t make sense. It’s Japan, what do you want? COWS! And this farm/kids education place/? that makes really, reeeeeeeeeally good ice cream. It’s really good! I will try to stop there like every week when I go to that school.

(I’m only half kidding.)

Other than that….classes haven’t started yet. So, I dunno? People seem cool so far. And the kids all seem pretty nice. I don’t have the preteens this time, thank god. I’m planning on making posters all day tomorrow. Prolly about the months. Cause English really had a field day with naming months. Japanese did the smart thing and used numbers; first month, second month, etc.  To the kids, it probably seems like English just smashed random letters together, stood back, and said ‘that’ll do’. So I’ll be thinking up some way to make it easier to remember…if there is one?

Mmm. Yeah. I’ll post again soon.

“The internet to me is kind of like a black hole, and I never really go on it.” — Jennifer Lawrence

You know what fixes that. WHEN THE INTERNET NEVER, EVER WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is now the start of the third week that the internet in my room has not worked. This is the fourth time this has happened. They just “fixed” it yesterday. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. “Fixed” it. I am obviously loosing my mind. This is ridiculous. I have to either live in the kitchen or never speak to the outside world. I know I should post more about what’s happened. But over the Christmas break I had the flu. So that’s what I did. I laid on the couch in the kitchen (INTERNET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and stared at hours of David Suchet’s mustache in Hercule Poirot on Netflix. No I’m not proud of it, but I had a very high fever and that’s about all I could do. And I was pretending homework didn’t exist. But I did it, classes have resumed today, nothing too crazy. I’m not sure what’s going on at all, but when I figure it out, I’ll let you know. (We’re doing video games this semester. And genre, finally. Should be good.)

 

Anywho, I need to send a very angry email, scary angry email, to the internet provider.

“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.” — Mark Twain

(Good thing I’m a writer. And insane. Well, just a little bit.)

I know, I know! I’ve not written in ages!! Days! Weeks! Months! maybe not months. Actually, I’m not sure how long it’s been. So I’ll try to make this one count.

What have I been doing? Do I even know? A lot of school work, which is why I’m here so that’s all well and good.

I just had my first assessments due. Which is basically like midterms, but a different word, because, of course. Can’t use the same words as those crazy Americans. Or the same grading scale. (Why? What is D1-5, P1-5, F1-5 First of all, why do you need to number the Failing grades. I think just failing is pretty much all you need there. And then whats passing versus distinction. WHY IS THAT A THING???? What happened to percentages……..’cause seriously I think the distinctions start at 77%….That’s a C. A high C, but a C.) I don’t know what grade I got yet. Or, ever, because I don’t understand the grading obviously. We’ll find out soon I guess. It’s only 30% of the total grade. But still. Meh.

One of them was a research plan for a novel. Maybe that’ll get written at some point. Maybe not. I might get my feedback, and all it’ll say is, no. Don’t. Naaaaah. Hopefully it doesn’t. But at least that book has a plot.

The book I’m developing for Creative and Editorial Development……..doesn’t have a plot yet. BUT! I know what to do to get a plot. It’s a near-future speculative science fiction. I’ve spent a lot of time looking into viruses. Which is a form of procrastination. I don’t have a plot though. Had no idea what one of the characters wanted. But now I think I might. Maybe. She’ll get there. Whatever. I’ll work on it. Part of my grade in that class relies on figuring out a plot. Oh! And my mentor thinks it should be around 80000 words. I just looked at her….like okay. Sure. And I’ll invent a new math at the same time. I don’t have to start writing it yet. But if I want to use it as my major project for the summer, I shouldn’t start writing it yet. Otherwise, my mentor will tell me to start a new project. Because as helpful and motivating as she is, she’s also a little bit…..over enthusiastic; and mean. Not mean mean. But you get it.

That’s been my life though. Look up science stuff. Pretend I have a plot. Figure out plague statistics. Cry a bit (not really. not yet. I have not yet hit the wall….which I think is a good thing). Then look up more stuff. Ask people in my flat about science stuff. Because they’re scientists. It’s a lot of research. Ugh.

Then there was the research plan for the other book which was, funnily enough, also a lot of research. So many books that I should be reading. Or articles. Or movies. Whatever. I’ll get around to it. I’ve got a pile sitting here from the library, and then like four from home. I’ll get it done. But it was my birthday recently! So you know, I had to celebrate!

I mean, seriously. It was a good birthday. Nothing got too crazy. I had fun. The people I’ve met that celebrated with me are amazing. They’re gorgeous people. My flatmates decorated the kitchen with balloons for me! It was great. I did tear up a bit at that. And now we get to escalate from there for everyone else’s birthdays. There’s a couple more weeks before the next one, but I think we’ve already got a plan. It involves balloons and Saran wrap. (Which again, isn’t called Saran wrap….I don’t even know what it is called; cling film?)

Oh and then my mentor offers editing services for short story contest entries and there just happens to be a scifi contest coming up, due date in January, so we’ve decided (I mean, yeah, I know I need to do this) that I can use the contest as a minor character/world-building development exercise. MORE WRITING. What did I expect though? It’s a Creative Writing MA……

Oh, we started doing this psychogeography thing….I don’t get it and I don’t like it. So my plans for tomorrow are to go get lost in Edinburgh, pretending I can walk routes from Cleveland here. Which obvi I can’t. But that is apparently what part of this psychogeography thing is? Who knows. That’s what we’ll find out next week. I’ll try not to get arrested.

What else? Not much. Making plans to do things over breaks. Like driving…? to the Isle of Skye in summer.(OMG OMG I CAN RENT CARS NOW!) I super want to come home for Christmas, but monies….. it’s just so expensive. I’m gonna keep looking for tickets though. More procrastination!

I can’t remember if I’ve done anything else….is that bad? I haven’t really been anywhere outside of the city. And even that is usually within walking distance. I’ve had the remnants of a cold for the better part of October. It’s just a cough. But it’s annoying. And I want it to go away.

But I’m having fun. I really like it here. If you’re planning on visiting, let me know. I only have classes on Thursdays and Fridays, so I have time to hang out. I mean I have homework. But it’s what it is. I do like it here. I dunno why. It’s cold and gray; so is Cleveland. I can’t understand some people still. People can’t understand me. I ordered a latte the other day and got a cappuccino. That can’t just be me though. Oh, and NO ON UNDERSTANDS WHAT I’M SAYING WHEN I SAY MY NAME!!!!!! So I guess I’m Siam now; Nice to meet you. It cannot be that hard, can it?

If you wanna know something specific, you should ask me. I’m often distracted by the two novels I’m supposed to be writing. ❤ ❤ ❤ Love you guys!

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” — Neil Gaiman

Except from the sounds of it….there will be several tomorrows, all in a row, for about the next 12 months.

Well but some of that might just be scare tactics. I’m not sure. But everyone seemed very convincing.

On the other hand at the end of it, I should be an effing amazing writer! Like super awesome! I hope. We shall see.

But back to the post. ANOTHER Neil Gaiman quote, but what can I say? The man has a way with words.

So I’ve found someone else on the floor in a different flat who’s in my class, which will be helpful when either of us hits this mythical wall they speak about in hushed tones. And there are some other writers, mostly screenwriters, but a writer is a writer when it comes to us versus them….

I don’t know how things will go, I only have classes on Thursday and Friday, which has really been messing with my sense of the day of the week. But I’ve been looking for jobs and that will hopefully help. If I can ever get my Residency card. Still not here yet. So angry about that. But I’ve emailed them and hopefully they’ll figure out where it is. I don’t understand what is going on. But it’d be nice to have a doctor and health insurance and a library card and maybe even a bank account.

Other things…other things…! The ghost tour was okay. The beginning wasn’t all the fun. Mostly a history lesson about the royal mile, which was okay, whatever. If you like history and all that. But then we went into the old vaults and that was not cool. Not cool at all. Freaking terrifying. But not because there was anyone there, jumping out at us. Just because they would turn off the flashlight and it’d be pitch black or the tour guide would suddenly yell or stomp her foot or all three. Not cool, guys. But that could just be me.

Internet service sucks. It’s so slow. I’m gonna start complaining about what BS it is. Seriously. It’s a joke. WTF.

And laundry is ridiculously expensive. OMG!!!! That’s gonna be a complaint too.

But that stuff is boring. I can’t say I’ve done a whole lot of interesting things yet. I’ve been trying to get some last-minute reading in, and that last story idea was eluding me. I made something up. It’s not good. But I do have vampire summer camp councilors and mentally unstable girls to write about, Not in the same story… although…. ^^

Sorry I don’t have a lot to say. God, I just want to write already. But I don’t want to write at the same time. Like I need to save it for class….which is ridiculous. But this wall they whisper about is intimidating. And I don’t want to hit it, though I don’t think I’ll have a choice. It’s a very demanding program. That much I think we can all agree on. Which is good. Because that ‘s what I want. I want something to engage me and interest me, not bore me to tears. I won’t be bored. I’m sure of that much at least.

Now go, and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make good art.” — Neil Gaiman

And that, dear friends, is exactly what I intend to do.

Now, will all of them be glorious, amazing, and fantastic? I don’t know. Will they be interesting? I hope so. I really, really do. But I AM in Scotland, so they’ll at least be different; right?

YES! That’s correct. I am in Scotland. For what, you ask? For graduate school. Which will hopefully be a lot more fun than it sounds. Grad school. uh.

But it is off to a pretty good start. Nothing crazy has happened. I didn’t get lost in an airport. It was a pretty easy flight, actually. It was a very quick trip from London to Toronto, like we went up and then immediately started back down. And then the wait in Toronto was a bit melancholic. I thought it’d be easier this time. And it kind of was, but I think a lot of that just hasn’t hit me yet. It’s on the way though, I’m sure. And part of it might just be that Scotland, for whatever reason, feels closer than Japan. Weird, but true.

So the flight to Edinburgh from Toronto was delayed, which worked out better for me, even though sleeping wasn’t happening. I dozed a couple of times, only to wake up because I was just so uncomfortable. And customs was a breeze. I don’t have my complete visa yet; I need to pick that stuff up later, but I just wandered through the queue, and was waved in. I guess that was immigration. There really wasn’t any customs; it might have been too early for them.

So then i got my keys and that was a little bit of a mess. I was just there so early. And then I got to my flat. (hee hee, flat) It’s a lot bigger than I thought it’s be. 8 rooms total. And the kitchen is down at the other end of the hall, which is fine, but I feel like the hallway just echoes noises as I walk down. Maybe it’s just like that in the hallway.

And the roommates I’ve met are all super nice. So far 3 girls (although there is another one somewhere) and 3 boys, but there is an empty room that might be another guy. Two of them are in similar programs to mine on the same campus, but not actually in my program. I’ll meet all though people later I guess. Thursday is the first day of class.

But we’re going on a ghost tour around Edinburgh on Monday evening. Why am I doing that? I don’t know. It sounds interesting, but also like a terrible idea. I don’t do scary. I think it’s supposed to be terrifying. Yay. (Read that as flatly as you can.)

Other than that, there isn’t much to say. What have I done so far….slept. I need to get on this time zone. And I’ve done some welcome stuff at one of the campuses. And I’ll prolly join a club or society or whatever. But that stuff is later this week. Mostly slept. I’d like to go to sleep again, but it’s kind of…the middle of the afternoon. And I need to buy groceries. Because eating is a nice thing to do.

Until later, then, when I have some ghost stories to tell, or a society to chat about. ^^

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand” — Albert Einstein

Finally. Here I am. Gatwick airport on the way home. It really doesn’t feel like it’s been a year. Over a year, actually. But that is not the point of this post. Although I could probably write several hundred words of rant about some of the lovely people in the airport. This one, the one in Edinburgh….just great, great airport employees.

But instead, I will share some of the things I learned from my week here in Scotland. Most of it is about history or random stuff that the tour guides told me. But I find it all really fascinating.

So of course, if we’ve talked recently, you know that the second I set foot in the highlands, I’ve been enamored with them. Maybe you didn’t know that…now you do. And it’s the whole thing; the rocky hills, the lochs and glens. The highland cows, hairy coos, the thousands (millions?) of sheep. Everything. It’s gorgeous, and I’m sure when it’s actually green, or purple actually, it’s even more beautiful. The castles! Although there are a ton of castles all over Scotland. Like seriously, a ton.

Anywho, I spent three days in the highlands. The first day I went to see Loch Ness, the second Loch Lomond, and the last day back over towards Loch Lomond again, but also to Loch Fyne and Invarary.

The lowlands, where Edinburgh and Glasgow etc. are is pretty too. Stirling castle and William Wallace, which the tours guides all made very clear, is not the same person as Braveheart, nor did he wear a kilt, nor was he a highlander. Oh! The Kelpies! There is a fabulous statue near Stirling…I think, of these two huge kelpie heads. It is one of my favorite things I saw. (Kelpies are white horse, beautiful, that are sometimes mermaids that drown people and then eat them. So that’s fun.)

But here some of the things I learned, besides the history of William Wallace and how he was not Braveheart: Robert the Bruce, whose heart was Braveheart, Rob Roy, Mary Queen of Scots, James the Ist…who then became James the IVth? And some more general stories of the various clans and history of the people of Scotland. Oh! And Mac is son of but Mc is second son of….

Also, and I’m not sure if I really believe these, I heard the origin stories of the terms blackmail and armed to the teeth. Or I should say black meil and armed to the teith. Right, so blackmail. This is a part of the much longer story of Rob Roy, who was basically a cattle thief. But at some point he realized that stealing cattle was not making him enough money. So he went around to the landowners and told them that for a small fee, protection money, he would protect their highland cows from thieves, ie he would stop stealing them. Also, if someone else stole them, he would go out with his expert cattle thief-gang and get them back. So here’s the blackmail part. The highland cows were originally all black. It was only after a crossing with some less shaggy breed of cow that they all became gingers. AND meil is apparently the old Gaelic (pronounced more like gal-lick) word for money. Then there’s Armed to the teith. There is a village somewhere near the border of the highlands and the lowlands, where the lowlanders and the clans people used to meet to trade and sell and buy supplies. They would arrive in the morning, buy what they needed to buy, the go with whatever money they had left, or whatever money they had made that day, and proceed to drink a whole bunch of whisky. According to the tour guide, they would then get in a lot of great, messy, bloody fights. Then rinse and repeat. The village, unsurprisingly, didn’t like this very much. So they set up a check point just outside the village, where you would have to turn in all your armaments, swords, guns, knives, etc., before you could go into the town. Hence you were armed (up until you got) to the teith. And teith sounds a lot, identical even, to teeth. So there you go. Again, I’m not sure if I believe that. I mean why not, it seems to make sense. I certainly don’t know any other reason for these saying to exist. I guess I choose to believe it, until something forces me to actually look it up and check it out.

And I almost forgot! You know “You’ll take the high road, and I’ll take the low…”, right? I mean telling someone to ‘take the high road’ comes from that doesn’t it? I’m not sure. I’ll possibly look that up. But, what I think I knew, but probably had never heard was the song it comes from. Which I think is called On the Banks of Bonnie Loch Lomond. But really, I am not sure about that. I also did not know that the song was originally a letter from a Jacobite imprisoned by the English…yes. And for sure, the song is super dark and deeply depressing when you know the back story. So it’s a letter right, from one Jacobite to his family back up in the highlands, I think. But he gives to his friend, also a Jacobite, I think, who has somehow been released from jail, because the first guy has been sentenced to hang or be executed however they did back then. I guess beheading was still big? Mary Queen of Scots got it real bad with the beheading.

Back to the song. Here are the lyrics as I understand them, not to be taken as fact, but as I listened to the song and then remembered it. Words may have been changed or left out, but the general ideas are still there.

You’ll take the high road, and I’ll take the low, and I’ll get to Scotland afore ye.

But me and my true love, shall never meet again, on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

So some break down: high road – land of the living, low road – land of the dead as in underworld low, I’ll  get to Scotland afore ye – time is apparently immaterial to the dead, the rest of the song – he’s dead, so of course he’s not gonna meet her…not unless she dies too. So not a cheerful song. But the versions of it I’ve heard are beautiful. There’s more, this is just the chorus, but I did not catch the lyrics to the rest of it. I think it’s just more stuff about Loch Lomond and Ben Lomond. Very catchy though.

That’s the majority of the fun facts that I learned. Of course there was a lot more history. Particularly the history of the fight for independence. Lots of William Wallace and Rob Roy and Robert the Bruce (although Rob Roy doesn’t really fit that category). Some more stuff about various clans whenever we went through a particularly interesting/important/relevant glen. But I am not sure about which clan did what, so I don’t want to get it wrong. And a little about James the first/fourth and his mother Mary Queen of Scots. And some stuff about Whisky/Scotch.

It was really interesting. Not having studied any of it in school in America, particularly when you’re focused on the other side of the world (cough cough Japan) it’s pretty cool. I really, really liked it. And I can’t wait to go back, but I know that most of my time will be spent studying in the city.