Saturday, 17 April 2010



Things, they are a changin'

Last Monday I started a new job. As of 9 am on 19 April, I am the Executive Officer at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. In this position, I will be working with the CEO and President, programme managing various projects within the multiple committees of the College of Surgeons, running a few groups of my own, and traveling to meetings and events across the UK as a representative for the college. It is a proper, full-time job, with a nice office for myself, lots of vacation days and lots of opportunities for movement within the college, or into new things with the contacts I will make. It's not exactly what I saw myself doing, but I'm excited and looking forward to the new challenge! So far I like it, the people I work with are all really wonderful, and there is definitely a lot of work to do, but I think I can handle it.
The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

I wanted to stay with the Social Justice Foundation, but because they couldn't get their funding settled, I had to find something else. And now that I'll only have to commute for 15 minutes on the bus within Edinburgh, instead of 2 hours to Glasgow, I'm even more excited!


So now that I'm a full time worker again, and I don't have to worry about things like making the rent, I'm feeling much more confident about life in general. Spring has come with some nicer weather...By "nicer" I of course mean that for every three sunny warm-ish days, there is only ONE rainy cold day! What an improvement!

Soon I'll be looking for another flatmate, as Yara will be leaving at the end of May to move to New York to take up a position on the UN Security Council! I'm starting to get sad about her leaving, but c'est la vie, we all move on eventually. I'm just glad that I have been able to find such a good job, so that I can enjoy the next month until she leaves!

So life continues to shine on, as it should, in the most (un)pleasantly unexpected and anxiously anticipated, deliciously surprising ways.

Until Next Time...

Kim x

Monday, 29 March 2010

Paris, Ma Chérie!

Bonjour ma famille et mes amis!

Paris: City of Light, love, and my 26th Birthday!

at 6:10 am on March 20, 2010, My friend Yara and I were taking off from Edinburgh Airport, whizzing our way south to Paris for a lovely 4 day vacation. I'm lucky that my birthday falls right at the end of Yara's courses, before she has to start manic studying for her 8 law school exams. I'm also lucky that I have a friend/roommate who is up for the adventure!
Yara and I and the famous tower
Me, Carine, Yara and Roy at my birthday dinner at "Le Loup Blanc" (the white wolf)

We stayed with a longtime friend of Yara named Carine, who is a Lebanese transplant to Paris. And as I soon found out, there are a LOT of Lebanese transplants in Paris...Because Lebanon was a French Mandate for years, there is a strong French influence in Lebanon, including the schools, architecture, place names, and food. And until recently Lebanese were easily able to get French passports when they moved to France. So I actually spent my entire vacation with a group of Lebanese. They were all lovely, very nice and accomodating to the tourists, and spoke perfect English (thank goodness as my French has definitely fallen to the wayside) along with French and Arabic. When they fell into speaking either of those languages, I was able to let my mind and eyes wander, seeing things and noticing parts of the people and places around me that I usually would have missed. So overall it didn't bother me if I had no idea what they were talking about, I was able to get lost in my own little bit of Paris, which is a pretty cool place to be. And It turned out that this allowed me to take some really amazing photos, which I'm glad for, since I rarely focus on the artful composition of pictures, preferring to fill my pics with the people I want to be in each one.
Some of the Lebanese: Yara, Cyrille, Carine, Roy

Paris is a very flat city, with a hill in the north east in the region called Montmartre being the only uphill walking we did. And it was worth the walk! At the top sits the famous Sacre-Coeur Basilica, one of the most breathtaking buildings I have ever seen.
Sacre-Coeur Basilica
Paris is a large city, but you can literally just walk in any direction and see interesting things, both the "tourist attractions" and the more off the track, real places that a bit of willingness to get lost leads you too. This was how Yara and I found a great little shop for breakfast in the Latin Quarter that served crépes filled with cheese, ham, and an egg, The Hôtel de Ville, a hidden gated park, and a shop where I found a beautiful present for my wonderful mom.

This being my second trip to Paris, and Yara's first, we definitely made our way through the entire city. The Eiffel Tower, Champs-Élysées, Notre Dame, The Louvre, Moulin Rouge, Sacre-Coeur, along with a picnic in a park, an hour and a half wait for the best food ever at a locals-only restaurant, and coffee at the café from the movie Amélie.
Photobucket Inside the entrance to the Louvre
Photobucket View from the Parc des Tuileries
Photobucket Outside the Café from Amélie.
Photobucket The street I want to live on: The street of Bakers!

It was an amazing trip, and I'm so glad I was able to go! It enhanced my memories from my last trip to Paris with my Grandma in 2002, and gave me some amazing memories to build onto my mental picture of Paris with. Sleep deprivation in a bar in the 3rd arrondissement, walking in the rain through the Parc du Champs de Mars, learning random words in Arabic, eating the best Camembert in the world, and singing silly songs on the metro.
Happy Birthday to Me!

I'll write more when I have more interesting shenanigans from life in Scotland. For now, you may have realised that yes, I did get my visa (and passport back) to stay here for two more years. Luckily, or else I would have had to hitchhike to Paris! Work is a tad up in the air, but more on that next time...

Lots of love and Bisous! (kisses)


Friday, 15 January 2010

New Decade

November, December, January...speeding along like the train I so often ride these days, blurring the landscape of my life into a melange of colour. Before it was a sea of greens and blues, now it has become a sea of white, shadowed with blue and grey since the entire United Kingdom has been snow-blanketed for weeks.

November wound down with an American style Thanksgiving, complete with an herb-roasted turkey and an international mix of friends. I was the only American present, surrounded by a Lebanese, Mexican, Canadian, Polish-Canadian, and a Kenyan. It was a lot of fun, and nice to share the tradition with non-Americans who had never experienced it before. And Thanksgiving also corresponded with the arrival of the Edinburgh Christmas carnival and Market! I love it!
Photobucket Panagia, Tim, Alicia, Yara, and Tanya at Thanksgiving
Photobucket Edinburgh at Christmas

The first weekend of December I headed down to London to see Adam's new life and to go see Regina Spektor in concert. She is AMAZING! It was a really fun weekend, and a good way to get me into vacation mode.
Photobucket Adam and I at St. Pancras Station in London

My Dance show was the day after I got back from London, and was so much fun! I really missed the rush of dancing on a stage for an audience!
Photobucket Ready to Perform!

After all this plus working hard at settling into my job, including interviewing some really fascinating people, I boarded a plane and flew south and west for a lovely three week trip to California. I arrived to torrential rain, ironically. Three days were spent in the Bay area visiting family who I hadn't seen in a long time, and the rest of my time was dissected into family-friends-sleeping-work. It was a great trip, and much less stressful than my last visit, since I had more time to do the things I wanted to do.
Photobucket Darleen, Shawn and I
Photobucket Christmas Party with Friends

Christmas was great, especially since I hadn't been with my family for Christmas for the past two years. For Christmas dinner I made a Mexican Feast (since I miss real Mexican food so much in Scotland) including home made chicken mole, salmon and shrimp ceviche, chilis rellenos, mexican beans, rice, salsa, guacamole and chips, plus Mexican chocolate pudding. It was a delicious feast! And I ate as much of the leftovers as I could before heading back to the UK.
Photobucket Grandma and I
Photobucket The Fam
Photobucket Christmas Feast

When I arrived back to Edinburgh just in time for New Years eve, I found myself arriving in a winter wonderland. Fat snowflakes fell fast and thick to the ground as I walked to the airport bus. It took forEVER to get home, with all the ice and snow. I have never seen a major city covered with so much snow in my life. I met up with my cousin Stephen later that day, then with my friend Chris and his girlfriend Stephanie. We all went for drinks at a pub on the Royal Mile, then up to the top of Calton hill for the Bells (midnight). They shoot fireworks off Calton Hill, and you have an excellent view from the top across the city and of the Castle, where even more fireworks explode from at midnight. It was beautiful, and exciting. there were so many people, and everyone was yelling out HAPPY NEW YEAR at the top of their lungs.
Photobucket Stephen, Stephanie, Chris and I on NYE
Photobucket Happy New Year!
Photobucket Fire Art Installation on the Royal Mile January First

A few days later I returned to work, and I've been settling back in. The snow and below freezing temperatures have made it hard to motivate myself to leave the house, much less motivate me to take the (slowed and delayed) trains to Glasgow. Luckily, it has FINALLY warmed up to a balmy 46 degrees (7 celsius) and the snow has started to melt.

Photobucket Frozen Britain taken by satellite

I just sent in my application for my next visa, so please pray and send good wishes my way! I really want to be able to stay here and work for the next two years!

Besides this basic play by play, I don't really have much to add. I'm just trying to plan as far ahead as possible, which tends to be about three days in advance, seeing as work is continuously changing and all travel plans are on hold until I get my passport back with the decision of the UK Border Agency!

I'm reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy right now, and I read a quote last week which I really liked:

"...if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts." ~Anna Karenina

...something good to keep in mind when we are faced with different people and different choices...we must all act as we see fit, and never judge others for the choices that they make in their own lives. Recognise that love for one is lust for another, logic for one insanity for another, understand this and the world will be a more peaceful place.
Photobucket Calton Hill