“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.

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“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” — Albert Einstein PART ONE

Subtitle: Adventures in Airports

Once upon a time, a specific time in fact, there was a girl. This girl’s name was Samara. And one day she woke up. Well, she woke up almost everyday, In fact, it was so close to being every day that we might as well just say she woke up every day. But there was one day in particular upon which she awoke that we are talking about. It was a Sunday, and it was early.

Earlier than usual, but there was a very good reason for this. It was after all the day she set out on an adventure. An adventure?! you may be thinking. And the answer, as I just said, is yes. An ADVENTURE!

To where? would be your immediate response, quickly followed by, For what purpose?

To the frozen north! I would respond, and then for further clarification, Hokkaido, the northern most island of Japan. If this still did not satisfy your curiosity for knowledge of exactly where this adventure was to take place, I can only suggest you look it up on a map. I mean really.

But why? you’d scream, the need for knowledge tearing at your very being until tears fall from your eyes. Why would she go there?! What is the adventure? WHAT IS IT!

A little taken aback at this show of emotion, I would first: clear my throat, second: hand you a tissue, and third: say the following,

TO SKI!

in a very loud and kind of important announcement like voice.

For to ski was she going. Downhill or across country would she ski. She would ski in the morning and then again in the afternoon. At least, she planned on doing so.

But we are ahead of ourselves in the story and need to backtrack. It was Sunday, she awoke early, for an adventure. She gathered her bags and (after turning off the lights, heater, and checking that everything in general would be alright, locked the door and) set off. She walked and for meters and meters to the train station, and then took a train minutes upon minutes to a bus stop! From there she bought passage on a bus bound for the airport!

This was however her first trip within (domestically, by air) a country to which she was foreign, and she was not sure of the correct procedures. Not wishing to offend, and perhaps delay her trip, she was cautious.

Why was she cautious? you ask. Was there a dragon or giant troll to defeat? A magic spell to break? 

Again, I would clear my throat, this time a little irritated at the intrusion on my narrative! And say, with a stern look in my eyes:

It was still early. In fact it was…three and a half hours early. Having grown up in  country where air travel had become a complicated dance of government issued paperwork, large sums of money to exchange as a bribe for more official papers and the need to wear easily removable outer layers and shoes, she was prepared. She had forgone the easily removed shoes in favor of sturdy walking boots, but she was prepared to remove them when necessary to prove her worth to the guardians of the flying machines.

However, upon entering the airport, she found that she was TOO early.

The shock upon your faces says it all. Indeed, she was two hours too early. Still, she check in her more cumbersome baggage, and set off on a mini quest! To find a warm cup of coffee!

Have succeeded, quite easily and quickly, in finding coffee she sat and waited, ten, twenty, thirty minutes. Still here flight number had not appeared. She began to worry.

All she had was a piece of paper that said, in a script that was new to her, e-ticket. What this strange ticket was, she was not sure. There was not seat number, no gate information. She asked, but was assured that she would be granted passage, at the appropriate time. So she returned to the seat to wait. Another fifteen minutes passed.

We are skipping a lot of time here… you mutter. And yes we are, I agree. But unless you would like every detail of the pinteresting (I’m sorry I had to!) way in which she distracted herself, it is not that important to the adventure!

Soon, she saw the flight number appear on the announcement board. She join the queue to enter into the belly of the beast, so to speak. As we have covered there is no beast here, just a metal flying machine weighing thousands and thousands of pounds and consuming the long-dead liquefied remains of actual monsters.

Slowly, she moved closer and closer to the guardians of the flying machines. And was surprised to find that not only were shoes left on, but so were coats and scarves. She grew wary. Her ticket, this lax guardianship, would it be alright?

She approached the first guard and handed him her ticket. He took it, scanned it, and gave her the information she had been missing! A seat number! A gate! Huzzah for the first guard!

She slid her remaining baggage along the metal chute, removing all electronics from her carry on belongings and prepared to be asked to remove her coat as well. Instead the second guard waved her through, and when the sensors did not beep, let her pass. She felt relief and moved ahead, to await the arrival of her backpack.

However, she could not get away as smooth as this! It was an adventure after all. Something must happen to give our hero a fight!

As so, the third guard approached. Her baggage had been sabotaged?!

WHAT?! you exclaim. The horror of such action against our hero bringing rage and fear into your eyes. When!?

But I will not keep you in suspense. The third guard took her bag and again ran it through the metal scanner. The adventurer behind her had passed a bottle of water through the same scanner and had proceeded easily. What could be causing such an exertion with her bag? Had she not complied with their unreasonable decrees. That no liquid above 3.4 ounces be obtained, and that no fragile or explosive or dangerous items be included with her belongings?

She was sure she had! But wait! She had packed carelessly the night before, scoffing at the seriousness of her adventure in favor of the pursuit of making pancakes! What if in her hurry to cook dinner she had indeed included something she had best left at home?!

The backpack returned along with the third guard. She asked permission to open the bags and look, in person, at the objects within.

The small bottles of liquid and creams that our hero had fretted over were passed by. What could it have been? What could be in her belongings that would cause her to be delayed from her adventure?

Her pen case was taken.

It was scanned a third time, and the third guard returned.

Her pen case! Of course! in her absent-minded packing she had left her pen case in her bag. The scissors, collapsible as they were, were still inside. Would they be taken? If that was all that was wrong, she would gladly give them up.

The third guard took them, and pulled out a measuring stick. She examined the scissors carefully, and pronounced them acceptable.

What! Our hero thought. She was allowed to keep her scissors? Could it be?

But the third guard waved her on, and she hurried away.

Oh! you say, relaxing back into your seat. The muscles you hadn’t known you were tensing relaxed at the easy resolution of this first test of our hero. Good, I’m glad. 

And so you should be. For, to be sure, this stage of the adventure is not over, and our hero only awaits being called to the gate. Unless some heretofore unforeseen  foe should appear, all will be well.

But this is not the end of our hero’s adventure! This, friends, is only the beginning.

What will happen? Will she ever complete the quest? What kind of skiing with she be able to accomplish? What awaits our hero in the frozen northern lands? Stay tuned, friend. Stay tuned.

“Don’t tell me the sky’s the limit when there are footprints on the moon.” — Paul Brandt

Thank you Aunt Sue for bringing this quote to my attention. I love it! It’s wonderful, and sarcastic (or is that just me) and true, and fabulous, all in one awe-maze-tastic package. Love it, love it, love it. Of course to some extent I do this for every quote I find that perfectly fits the topic of the day, but sometimes you know, these things sneak up on you, and you just have to share how magnificent it is. Magnificent might be a little strong here…delightful? Delightful!

But back to today’s post. So there wasn’t a prompt for today, again. This blogging 101 challenge wants me to like, snaz (snazz?) up my blog, and like personalize the features and stuff. How dare they, right? And the Daily Prompt just didn’t strike my fancy. Which left me a little lost and drifting in the infinite sea of internet daily prompt websites.

I abandoned that path, and decided to write about something that did interest me. Which then meant my brain decided to forget absolutely everything that I found interesting. It acted like it had woken me up this morning, and as punishment for not immediately giving it caffeine decided to get rid of some files and make more room for storing lyrics of songs from the late-nineties.

‘Oh, you don’t need these files labeled interests did you? And hobbies? No one has those anymore. DELETE!’

‘Oh, look, words? You like being able to form sentences…hahaha. Not today!’

‘What’s this? It’s labeled important…hmm, whatever it is, it must not be necessary. BURN EVERYTHING!’

This went on until I gave in and drowned it in a latte. Thankfully, my brain had not emptied the trash folder, and I could just restore everything. So finally I had a topic for today’s post! Although it might be one unfamiliar to a lot of you. NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is a fun word to say. Try it, it’s pretty effing entertaining. But in case you want more information, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Get it? NaNoWriMo. Hee. Fun.

Anywho, it starts on November 1st – a mere 22 days from now. That may not seem like such a big deal to you, but have you tried it? I tried it for the first time last year, and it is intimidating. Very much so. The goal is to have a novel by December 1st, at least 50,000 words. That means, with a little math, you need to write on average 1666.67 words a day. That is a lot of words. So far this post is only 446 words long. So like just under four of these a day, about the same thing, so that by the end of it you have a semi-understandable story.

Let’s just say that last year did not go well for me. I got so behind that it became impossible to catch up. This year that will not happen. Unless you know I start to hate what I’m writing and decide to switch topics again, like last year. Hopefully it won’t. That was just a terrible decision last year.

If you try to do it this year, don’t make that mistake. I don’t care if you wake up on November 20th and realize you are writing about a heard of cats fending off invading ferrets riding turtles with blueberries and peanut butter. Stick with Mittens and Spot and their crew for another ten days, you’ve almost made it. Plus, who doesn’t want to read that book. You can totally do that if you want, I have a different idea in mind. It doesn’t involve cats, or turtles, or peanut butter…I think.

And still here I am at only 627 words! There are over a thousand more to get to the daily requirement for NaNoWriMo. A thousand! I suppose I could go into a very detail description of the turtles and the cats and exactly how the peanut butter and blueberries are being used as weapons, but I prefer to leave something to the readers’ imagination. If I have to spell everything out, it loses the magic, doesn’t it?

On second thought, don’t take my idea. I may need that.

(P.S. I think my Word program had forgotten the difference between it’s and its. And it’s making me question my grasp of the English language….)

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”– Lao Tzu

But try telling that to the person shoving you in the train. I doubt they’ll be very receptive.

It has been my experience that people in the train stations here are very much the former. Large groups of extremely stressed people, mixed with some distracted cell-phone screen watching zombies. Maybe, just maybe you might find a human connection of some kind, if you could get anyone to shut off their phone, or put away their book. Because everyone in the train that doesn’t already have someone traveling with them, is on their phone, or pulls a book out of their bag and starts to read. No one wants to make eye contact, no one wants to talk to strangers.

A week ago the trains were running late. And everyone was packed into the train, like they called the people whose job it is to push you onto the train. It was wall to wall people. Ridiculous amounts of people in this train, and still (still!) people were reading or on their phone. Like a guy’s phone was in my face space. I was breathing on the screen, fogging it up! But god forbid they have to look at each other or admit to themselves that they are pushed up against everyone around them.

Plus there’s the fact that those fleeting, interlocking human stories that the prompt is talking about only really happen in movies. I have never seen anyone in a train station, airport, or subway that is there just to talk to people. Public transportation is horrible. It smells, you have to be squished into a metal contraption and breathe air that other people you don’t know have just exhaled, and it is anything but comfortable. No one is at their best on public transportation.

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness” — Allen Ginsberg

I don’t take credit for the quote today. The title of today’s post is the prompt too. Do you follow Ginsberg’s advice?

I’d like to think that I am starting to. I want to. I think that people that can actually dance to the beat of their own drummer without a care in the world, are some of the most successful people today. Maybe not in terms of wealth, but just in life. They truly enjoy what they do. Everyone should have something like that. Even if you don’t love your job, you should have a hobby or something that you can do that is one hundred percent you.

And so I guess my point is that especially since college, but even that last year or two I was trying to do exactly that. And since living on my own, I’ve become even less apologetic for who I am. That’s my problem. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to live with it. I do. My best friend and I agree; we aren’t social butterflies. We’re social bats. We aren’t pretty flowers. We’re cacti. And we love it. We click. We have three conversations at the same time, over months. It’s the best thing in the world, and I hope that everyone can have something like that.

I am not saying that that means I am rude to everyone, spouting what I think all the time, without apologizing. I’m saying that I like Top Gear, and I like Castle. I love Firefly, and I watch The Vampire Diaries. I like reading. No, I love reading. I hate people taking pictures of their food all the time. Unless there is a very good reason for it, and I mean super special occasion, just eat it. I eat vegetables raw, and I love shopping. I like colors, but I like things to match. I like walking, and roller coasters. I love yoga. But at the same time I want to be a runner too (I’m definitely not yet, I’m working on it…slowly. My lungs don’t seem to agree with me yet.) I will point out if you say something incorrect, not to show off, or to put you down for being dumb, but to point out that you are wrong. If you’re being rude, I’m gonna call you out on that. And that’s only partially because I’m kind of awkward. I like being awkward. But I’m also trying to listen to other people more. I may not like who they are, but that’s fine. I don’t have to. I just want to know what makes others tick (selfishly, so I can use that later in my writing career. Evil smile, followed by manic laughter…optional.)

So I wholeheartedly agree. Don’t hide the madness. We should celebrate uniqueness now more! Creativity comes from the crazy; I firmly believe that. You just don’t always have to be crazy. Let it out at the full moon.

“We all have a hungry heart, and one of the things we hunger for is happiness. So as much as I possibly could, I stayed where I was happy. I spent a great deal of time in my younger years just writing and reading, walking around the woods in Ohio, where I grew up. ” — Mary Oliver

This is supposed to be a post in a media that I don’t typically use. I’m not sure what to do for that so whatever follows…just keep that in mind. Also, threw some Ohio love into the quote today. ❤

I have a feeling I’ll be distracted by Pinterest. Ah-ha! I’ll share some of my favorite funny pins!

Okay. So glad I did that. I’ve been laughing at these for like an hour now. Still have more to go through, but my battery is dying and I don’t want to lose all this copy and paste work I’ve done.

“Concentration is one of the happiest things in my life.” — Haruki Murakami

Another ten minute free-write time.

Okay, so it’s free-write time again. A stream of thought with nothing to direct it, but wherever my brain may take it.

I just spent the past hour and a half watching a musical of Sinbad in Japanese. It was interesting, even if I had very little idea of what was going on. I don’t really remember that story very well. But there was a lot of singing. They had maybe one or two lines in between all the singing. It was crazy. And that is why I can’t do this right now. It was crazy hot in the gym with all the fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. And all the windows closed and the lights and everything. I do not know how the actors and actresses could do it. Twice. They deff did that this morning for the younger grades too. So my brain is like fried. It’s Friday too, I think I just need a break.

Thankfully I can go home, and kind of let my brain just shut down and go into sleep mode for a bit. Not too long, cause I got things to do tonight. Cleaning. Blogging. Etc. But for a couple hours or so I can just sit there and listen to a podcast or watch some TV and I won’t have to translate anything or plan anything. Or try to look busy when there is absolutely nothing I can do while sitting at my desk.

Maybe that’s why this week was so long. Monday was an all-day desk marathon. And those are terrible. Okay. Ten minutes.

Okay so there was more to that ten minutes, but it was ramble-y and I’m tired so it wasn’t very interesting nor did it make much sense.

So instead I’ll put something else down here, but I’m not sure what.  This week has been terrible as far as the prompts go. I just don’t know what to write for them, or what to do for the non-writing ones. (The ones I usually do the daily post for.) Maybe by next week it will be better.

I think at least part of the problem is that I am trying to get up earlier so that I can start running in the mornings. Which I could do at night, but in the morning just seems like that would be the easier time to do it. Actually, about 3-5 in the afternoon is the perfect time to do it, but I don’t think the school would let me go on a run while I’m supposed to be watching dust collect on my desk. Maybe if I tried to join the track and field club, but then I might need to come to practice on the weekends. And go to the meets. And go every day. And that is just not what I’m trying to do. I don’t want it to be that serious. I just want to run two or three mornings a week. Anywho, so far, the alarm goes off and I’m just woken up about an hour earlier than I’d like to be. I don’t actually get up, I just sleep in between the three or four alarms I have set after that. I think that is a serious problem as far as the being tired during the day thing goes.

I’ll figure it out. Somehow. I think I just need to do it. Stop giving myself excuses for why I can’t and just get up and go. Or I need to try it once.