Sunday, 18 November 2012

Where has she been? Oh right...

...Reading everything under the sun on the anthropology of Curanderismo, and Mexico, and diabetes and herbal remedies for diabetes, and applying for funding and going to lectures and getting a job and trying to organize my bills and my flat and my life. WHEW. Sorry for the long delay, but the last two months have flown by! Before I know it, I'll be back in California for Christmas, contemplating the paradox of using the A/C when there are Christmas Carols about 'snow' and 'frightful weather' blasting from the radio. I have discussed this at length with the British. They do not understand. And the mention of THIS guy by an Australian recently sent my supervisor at work into a tailspin:

"Santa CANNOT wear sandals! You have ruined Christmas for me" (Direct quote)

But for at least one more week, it is still Autumn. My all-time favourite season! I love the colours, I love the scarf and sweater weather, and I love the fact that it leads right into the holiday season, from Thanksgiving through New Years! I do NOT love the freezing cold rainshowers, or the sporadic hurricane-force winds, but I accept that these things come along with the falling leaves and the chilly days that necessitate the use of aforementioned scarves and sweaters.

Here are a few pictures of Edinburgh this fall:

Sunrise and mist over the Meadows
Autumn leaves scattered over the Bruntsfield Links

Infamous Edinburgh 'Haar'-creepy yet amazing

As I said, it's been a busy few weeks. Along with university work, I have started another part-time job. I'm working as a server at Wedgwood the Restaurant. Located on the Royal Mile and serving amazing, locally-sourced food, it's a good job-but the hours are LONG. I've finally gotten used to working until midnight, but with everything going on I'm exhausted! November 2 I submitted my last funding app for this year and now I have a wee break until January! Whew! Of course, I came down with a wicked cold a few days after submitting. C'est la vie! I'm still trying to get rid of the cough! 

But I have been doing some new and fun things since I've been back. I've spent time catching up with old friends, meeting some new ones through university, and re-acquainting myself with Edinburgh. I like living in a different part of the city. Morningside is lovely, and relatively flat! And a completely different type of people live here-lots of families and granny's out shopping and mums with babies in buggies (please, don't call it a stroller! haha). I also finally got around to contacting my family in Vienna. I haven't seen or spoken to them in over a decade, but I remember them all and I really didn't want to completely lose contact with that part of the family now that my Grandmother is gone. So I wrote a letter and mailed it off, and last Saturday I received a call from my (Let's call him an Uncle) Uncle Freddy. He is my late-Grandfather's cousin, and one of the kindest people I've ever met. It was wonderful to hear from him, and he was so happy I had contacted him! It really made my day that such a simple gesture had made such an impact on both of us. I am definitely planning to visit Vienna in the next year to re-connect with everyone!

On a less emotional note, every year Tesco, a large grocery store chain, holds a wine fair in Edinburgh. For less than a tenner, you can sample loads of different wines, go to workshops to learn about different wines, and have a generally good time while getting slightly sloshed on a Saturday afternoon. I went with this fab group of folks: 

And we had a great time. This was before we had imbibed too much.  :-)

 Sauvignon Blanc Master Class

So it's been a wild ride the last few months. But returning to the wonderful Autumn-I want things like pumpkin and chai and roasted root vegetables. But instead, the grocery stores here have been selling Christmas candy and Christmas cakes for the last month and a half. I'm sorry, but late September is WAY too early to sell rum-laden cakes covered in royal icing and holly motifs. I do have my eye on those Lindt reindeer though...But I'll abstain until after Thanksgiving!

Dear Waitrose: stop freaking me out!

Unfortunately I'll probably not be able to have a Thanksgiving this year. I have to go to an Anthropology pre-fieldwork training weekend over Thanksgiving weekend, and because of that, I have to work ON Thanksgiving. Sigh. Maybe I can pull a wee something together next week. But after Thanksgiving everything has Christmas written all over it. I'M NOT READY! I HAVEN'T HAD ANY PUMPKIN PIE YET! Sad face. Don't get me wrong, a free trip to the Highlands is always great, but in actuality:

1) I have to take time off work. And I'm poor.
2) I have to sleep in a hostel with 50 anthropologists. I hate sharing a room with ANYONE. And all anthropology all the time drives me mental.
3) This happens to be the ONE weekend my good friend Adam is visiting form Paris. And I'll miss seeing him.
4) The weather report for Comrie this weekend includes rain, rain, and temperatures topping out at 42ยบ.
5) The sun sets these days at 4 pm. And there is no pub near our hostel. What exactly are we supposed to do with ourselves in the evenings?!?!

I'm not feeling very positive about this experience. Hopefully it will amazingly exceed my expectations and I'll be able to rave about it in my next post. Besides, what with all the horrible things happening in the world just now, (Cough, Israel-Palestine. Get your ish together and stop bombing each other, Cough) I need to focus on the good to come. The Edinburgh Christmas Market, pre-Christmas wedding, Christmas with family, Hawai'i in January, Weddings and trips to Hamburg and Vienna and Italy and St. Petersburg in 2013, and fieldwork in Mexico next autumn!

So i'll get me some of this to toast the dark, over-anthropological weekend to come:

And leave you with a sunset picture of this lovely place I live in:

Have a lovely week!

Kim x

Sunday, 30 September 2012

There and Back Again

Greetings from Lovely Edinburgh, the city I can't seem to escape no matter how hard I try! :-)

I know it's been a long time since I wrote-but I didn't feel much motivation while I was living back at home in California. Yes, I did a lot, but I didn't feel very motivated to write. Before I jump into an update on my life as a PhD student, here is a wee 2012 update:

I was lucky enough to find a job straight away in Simi Valley at a restaurant called Market Broiler. I worked with great people, made adequate money, and was able to leave with 2 weeks notice when I needed to return to school. The hardest part, as always, was leaving new friends! Thank goodness for the internet! I met some fabulous people there, and I'll miss seeing them all on a weekly basis!

Kori and I at the beach

Brittany, Me and Britnianne

I lived with my parents again-which was easier than one might think. I cooked for them, they let me stay in my old room and use my Dad's truck to get around. A good trade-off, I think! :-)

The Fam Whale Watching for Mom's Birthday

I took a few trips while in the USA too, which was nice. In January I road-tripped to Las Vegas to see my Auntie Hallie for a few days, then continued on to Union City to see my friend Amy for another two days. Lots of driving, but a lot of fun as well! Plus, since I hadn't been driving much for the past three years, it was a welcome change!

Our Vegas Hotel-Paris, Paris

In April my brother and I flew to Seattle for a few days to see friends and family up there. it's always nice to see the Morgans and my friends-and Seattle with a bit of sunshine! July brought a girls trip to New York City. My mom, Aunt Peggy and Aunt Marilyn flew East for my Mom's first trip to the Big Apple. We spent a lot of time sightseeing and visiting with my cousin Autumn, and seeing my Yarita before she moved to Hamburg to start a new job with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea!

Auntie and I in Seattle

All the Ladies at Les Halles in NYC

A week later, My Dad and my friend Bryan and I conquered Mt. Whitney-the highest peak in the 48 States. I say 'conquered', but in reality, that Mountain kicked our butts! Yes, we did it, and yes, I'm glad I did, but NEVER AGAIN. It was the hardest thing I've ever done. If childbirth is worse than that, I will definitely NOT be having any children! A few weeks later, my Mom and I had a stay-cation in Los Angeles. We got to stay at a nice hotel and do all the touristy things that I had never done, while spending time with each other. It's so easy to look afield when you want to go somewhere and experience something new-it's easy to forget how much great stuff is less than an hour away from where you live!

Bryan, Dad and I atop Mt. Whitney-15,505 feet!
View from the top of Mt. Whitney

Mom and I having drinks at the top of the Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown LA

Lastly, one week before leaving to return to the UK I went back up to the Bay Area to celebrate my friend Amy with a 3 day Bachelorette extravaganza! There was wine tasting, Horse Derby-ing, food, drink, and a lot of laughter. All the girls were amazing, and I can't wait for her wedding this December!

Ok, now, how did I end up back in Edinburgh? Me, the wandering girl who gets itchy for a new place every 2 years? Well-it was more practicality than anything else. Yes, I have friends here and I am comfortable in the city blah blah blah. But really, Edinburgh has the best options for funding for second year PhD's. And as I was unable to secure funding this year-it was that key issue that saw me flying north from London in the middle of September, instead of staying in the Big Smoke, which I had previously hoped to do.

Returning to Edinburgh has been easy, exciting, and frustrating! When I got here, I instantly felt like I had only been gone for a short time. I was staying with my good friend Siobhan and her great fiance Corey, who really helped me feel at home. I fell straight back into an Edinburgh frame of mind, with no bumps or bruises along the way. I immediately started school, having arrived during orientation week. It was nice meeting the new cohort of Anthropologists who I will be sharing a lot of time, tears, joys, and theories with over the next 4 years, and it was nice to be able to start thinking critically again! At the same time-it wasn't really new or exciting. I already KNOW the University and Department here. I have the insider info from living in Edinburgh, from having completed my Masters here and from still having friends within the department. I have also been able to see and reconnect with many of my friends here, which is always nice! Still a few more to go, but I'll see you all soon! I promise!

Siobhan and I

The hardest thing about the last few weeks has been trying to get everything sorted for my flat! I finally found one that suits my price and temperament in a part of Edinburgh I've never live before: Morningside. It's a beautiful nice area filled with families and well-off old ladies and JK Rowling. My biggest goal for the year (besides, you know, getting funding) is to bump into her at Waitrose, the posh supermarket across the street from me. I'm not sure what I would say to her, if anything, but I still want to see her! Anywho-I'm living on my own, which is really nice. What is not so nice? Waiting another MONTH to get internet installed in my flat because there is a ridiculously inefficient monopoly in place in the UK that is stopping me from being able to do any sort of online ANYTHING when I'm home. Blah.

Moving on. I have started to notice a few things that I never really noticed when I lived here before. Firstly, there are LOADS of Bluejays in Edinburgh. I see them everywhere I go. Have they scared away all the Pigeons? Or is this some sort of South Edinburgh phenomenon? In Leith there were Pigeons galore, cooing on my roof and eating scraps off the sidewalks; whereas in Morningside and at University I get lovely Bluejays, who are quiet and not scavenge-y! Well done Bluejays! I approve!

My view as I walk to University

Secondly, There are so many people on the streets all the time! I know walking is a big part of daily life here, and I know that it definitely is NOT in Southern California, but I never fully appreciated just how many people walk here. You are literally never alone on the sidewalk, which is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing when it's a bit late at night and you feel safer knowing other people are out and about too, and a curse when you're running late and there are 30 old ladies and schoolchildren blocking your every move. It's like living in a video game where the only goal is to get from point A to point B without 1) being hit by a cab, 2) bowling over a 6 year old, and 3) while keeping your belongings from getting waterlogged if it's raining.

Lastly, the weather changes so much faster than I remember! In the last week, I have twice been walking and watched the weather go from Sunny, to overcast, then pissing rain, then sunny again within 20 minutes. Not fun when you're walking to school. Or home, or outside in general. I'm still waterlogged from walking home from the gym today.

Overall, I'm enjoying being back in the UK and I'm really enjoying being a student again! I am continually reminded by the things I read in the news, in articles for my research, and when I walk the streets just how complex and insane Humans really are, and just why Anthropology is such an important discipline. The ability to look at the cultural milieu of a place, process what happens there, and come out with a useful social commentary that better explains WHY we do things and WHAT effect certain social norms and political processes have on society as a whole is a still-underestimated but wholly useful tool. I hope you're listening-you Congressmen who think the Social Sciences are  unnecessary programs to fund in Universities! Long live educational freedom!

Back in Uni-Reading Reading Reading

Until next time, I hope that you've enjoyed the return of my soliloquy, and I hope you all have a wonderful week!

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