Firstly, I apologise for my long, loooooong absence from the blog scene. Ever since finishing my thesis, I have been tossed around from living arrangement to living arrangement, responsibility to responsibility, and from one event to the next like a ship in the middle of a storm. While I feel like I spent a LOT of time having nothing to do since the end of August, I also realize that there was a LOT going on, both in my life and inside of me. Plus, I haven't felt inspired, or the writer's itch in a while. And no one wants to read about my months-long work on the Kim-shaped dent in my red leather sofa, do they? So first I'll give you the basic "What is going on" stuff:
September brought the end of the Edinburgh Festival season...I enjoyed doing Theatre review for the intense two weeks I did it, then there was a major lull until just a few weeks ago when I started reviewing again. I'm hoping to do 1-3 performances a month from now on, and if you want, you can see my reviews here:
September also included the visit of my dear Family, and Auntie Peggy. We did all the normal stuff in Edinburgh, visited Glasgow, met some of my closest friends, and spent a few days in the Highlands at my friend's family cabin. It was a nice trip, and I loved being able to show them my life here AND drive a rental car :-)
Outside a Scottish Pub-Kim, Peggy, Derek, Mom, Dad
Bridge over the stream on our hike in the Culags, Northwest Scottish Highlands-Kim, Peggy, Derek
Urquart Castle ruins and Loch Ness
I have also re-entered the world of dance by taking an advanced tap class this term. It's so nice to be able to dust off my old tap shoes and get back into the rhythm of dancing. Tap is definitely like riding a bike, and I love the class! We are dancing in a show on Dec. 6, which will be my first time on stage since 2002! I'm sure my Mom is looking forward to getting a DVD of that. :-)
At the moment, I am living with my friend Yara. My good friend Lucy was our third roommate for Sept. and Oct., but now Miss Lucy has left for her PhD fieldwork, and the landlady hasn't found anyone to take the room. (Both Yara and I are fine with this, and really like living together.) She's in her second year of law school (aka she has no life outside of studying) so I am the non-law part of her life, and she is the much more logical part of mine :-)
Tres Amigas-flatmates Kim, Yara, and Lucy
I have found an internship and a paid job and I am really enjoying them both! The internship (not paid) is with an organization called Social Justice Scotland. They are a think tank that are looking at social breakdown in Scotland from five different pathways that have been seen to be major causes of social breakdown: Family breakdown, Worklessness, Indebtedness, Educational Failure, and Addictions. These include dependence on welfare, gang activity, alcohol, healthcare, etc. It's really fascinating, and I have been taken on as a Research Intern. I get to go out, interview people and grassroots organizations working in these areas, and contribute to the research report that will be sent to the government when it's completed. I have also been able to attend meetings and meet people in the shadow cabinet (part of Parliament), meet really interesting, successful people working in the public, private, and voluntary sectors, offer my idea and suggestions and have them accepted and used. Plus, this will probably lead me into a great career doing something I'm really interested in: using research in order to understand sociocultural issues and finding answers to problems.
The managing director for the Internship, Heather MacLeod, also works for Eli Lilly & Company, a pharmaceutical company that does Investigator instigated clinical research. I have been hired to do final reports on all of their clinical research projects from studies based in Glasgow (although most of these studies took place on the continent). So I do both the internship and the paid work from the same office, and my supervisor for both is the same woman. Luckily, she is lovely, and very nice, and I really enjoy working for her.
Beyond that, a lot has been changing around me as well. Three of my closest friends have now moved away from Edinburgh, making me re-evaluate both my relationships with some people and what I want to look for in mew acquaintances. The three of them leaving was really hard at first, especially because I still didn't know what I was going to be doing in the next few years, and I was worried about not getting a job (thus not getting a visa and having to leave the country), not passing my Master's (which I did, finally found out last week!), and I lost three of my main support systems. I found myself getting irrationally upset about a lot of things throughout the past few months. I feel bad for Yara and Lucy, who had to deal with most of my freakouts as they lived with me. Things are better now, I've realized that I can control whether or not certain things will upset me, and how I will react to them (yes, it took me 25 years to get this). Plus, finally finding a focus, and a purpose here has made a HUGE difference. For the first time in months, I am passionate about something, and excited to be involved with things that I'm interested in, and that I enjoy.
People keep asking me why I moved here, and when I think I'm going to move home. The answer to why is, of course, my education. And although I do not think I will return for the PhD, unless I someday work for a company that wants to fund me to do Doctoral research; the education I have gained, and continue to gain from working in a different economy, meeting new people, reacting to new experiences, and learning more about life, and friendship, and my own self is worth the 8,000 miles, I think. And that partially answers the second question in my mind. Could I learn just as much in America? Yes, I'm sure I could. Could I do good work there, and be a good friend, and enjoy wonderful things? Yes, of course. But there is something magical about Scotland that I can't really explain. It is something that draws the eyes and tugs at the heart. There is a LOT wrong here-there is pain, and suffering, and ignorance, and bigotry, and old wounds against older enemies. But there is also a history of hope, and strength, and beauty, and the passion and drive to create, and to succeed. And there is the land. And the cities. And there is beauty here that you cannot fully appreciate from a photo, or from a well-written narrative.
Scotland is rugged, and poetic, and screaming for creation, begging you to be inspired, and crying to move forward, but still clinging onto the past with both hands. Over a year ago, I wrote about the differences I saw here between America and Scotland. Now I could write an entire thesis on the differences, disparities, oxymorons and juxtapositions I have learned to notice over the past 14 months just within this land of 5 million people.
So in answer to these questions, I came to learn from a university, and I am staying to learn from a country-from its people, its places, and its energy that ebbs and flows with the times and the seasons. And hopefully, I will be staying to make a difference.For how long, I don't know. Two years, five, ten...I can't say. But I do know that to leave now would leave me unfulfilled-empty, and being here makes me feel that I'm doing something real, and it's something I love. I am choosing to make my decisions, and live my life like the following quote:
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Harold Whitman
And I am lucky enough that what makes me come alive is people. Their lives-and all the good and bad within those lives is what makes them real, and shapes their culturally relative views and decisions. Here is where my inspiration stems from. To study humans, and write about them. Will I write a report that will help millions of people improve their lives? Or will I write a novel based on my experiences? I don't know yet, but sometimes it is better to not know-because then you can jump in with no apprehensions, misconceptions, or subjectivities. So here I am, the new version of me. Confident but not cocky, and ready to move forward and change the world, one revelation about human nature at a time.