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!