Journaling: Limbo

So I created a blog where I could feel free to write about anything I wanted to, just to have a space reserved for myself without feeling like I need to only dedicate it to one thing — because we’re all a mash-up of a bunch of little things, and trying to manage a million blogs for each of those things can be overwhelming, especially if sometimes you just want to write.

And yet I’m still sitting here, not knowing what to write because I keep thinking, “eh, no, can’t write that”.

Sure, I’m still writing outside of the blog, which is good, but what really is the point of having the blog if I’m just not using it? What’s the point of connecting it to social media if I’m not using it? What’s the point if at the moment, I have nothing to say?

I know a good part of my frustration is personal. I’m dealing with a lot of professional issues that still have not been resolved after years; personal stuff that also hasn’t been resolved in years; and I feel very stagnant and unmoving, but also not knowing how to move forward because nothing feels right.

Then I look to places like this — online anonymity (or somewhat-anonymity, I guess, since I did technically put this on social media for a time) — as an escape from the crap I can’t deal with in my daily life, but it doesn’t make it better. And I’m constantly thinking of ways of reinventing myself, thinking I’m a step closer to who I am and who I want to be, and I’m not.

Which then makes it sound like I’m unhappy with myself and who I am — which isn’t true. I like my love of Scotland, and I’m happy I have it and have that as a vision for my future, however frustrating it is to not know how I’ll get back there. I like my love of my spiritual stuff, which I know I don’t talk about here, but we honestly just live in a world that seems so quick to judge everything and so I choose to keep some things dear to me close and not share it. I like my writing and I wish I wasn’t always so frustrated with the world around me and my own personal/professional issues, and just wrote more.

I’m a work in progress always, and I need to remember that’s not a bad thing. I just hate feeling in limbo and not knowing where to go. But there’s usually a purpose and something to be learned from limbo as well.

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Vacation Mode

I’m in vacation mode at the moment. And, yes, I know that shouldn’t mean I’m not writing (which it doesn’t necessarily!), but I am spending less time on blog stuff in order to enjoy my time off and away.

And enjoying my time off seems like I’m mostly just sleeping…

But that’s okay. I need that, too.

I’m going to pop into city centre in a wee while and enjoy this lovely day.

Generations

Just a short while ago, I saw someone share a post on LinkedIn about “Why Generation X is the Most *INSERT ADJECTIVE HERE* Generation”.

Comparing the generations isn’t something new to the career world. We’ve got at least three different generations currently working together, and with that, comparisons come up.

But being someone in the working world — and especially being the youngest generation in that working world (a millennial) — I am getting so sick of all of the generational talk.

Not because it’s not helpful and informative, but actually for the opposite reason. If the conversations I’ve heard would offer advice in working through and with the differences of each generation, and how we can respect and understand each other better, but also reminded us not to overly indulge in stereotypes, the working world might grow to be more productive and even kinder.

Unfortunately, what I see more of is general comparisons, trying to dictate who’s better than the other, putting down the younger generation, and really just dealing in stereotypical thought patterns, which isn’t helping anyone grow or succeed.

I’ve witnessed this both in articles, videos, and opinion pieces circulated on the internet, but also in my own working environment. I once attended a meeting where we listed the thoughts we had on each generation — the baby boomers, generation X, and millennials — and we tried to discuss each in both positive and negative stereotypes. I did not leave that meeting with a better understanding of how my baby boomer colleagues work so that I could work with them better, and I can’t imagine it helped genX managers understand their millennial colleagues working ways either.

Because in dealing with stereotypes and taking all of these internet think-pieces to heart, you forget about individuality of each baby boomer, genXer, and millennial. Not only do stereotypes have a tendency to hurt each other if that’s all we’re following in the working world, but they also tend to pit us against each other, so that certain generations are thinking their way is right, better, superior, to another generation’s, rather than encouraging us to find more productive ways with working with each other’s unique characteristics.

So can we stop trying to insist that any one generation is better than another, and dealing only in stereotypes existing for each generation? None of us are growing or working together — neither in the working world or even, I imagine, in our personal lives — when this is how we engage with one another.

Get to know one another on a personal level, and if you have to, ask if this is how you can work better together. Because when we work together in a more respectful and harmonious way, we improve the workforce as a whole.

The Twelve Dancin Princesses

The Twelve Dancing Princesses – by the Brothers Grimm.

Written in Scots/Glaswegian.

Hover over the bold text for a comment from the narrator.


Wance thur wis a King wae twelve daughters. They aw slept in twelve beds in the same room; and when they went tae bed, the doors were shut and locked; bit evry mornin ther shoes wer found tae be broken and worn thru, like they’d been oot dancin aw night; and naebidy cuid figure oot where or how they were oot.

So the King sid tae the land tha if anywan cuid figure oot the secret ae where they went and how they left, he wuid marra his choice ae daughter and be the next King; bit if wan tried and didnae succeed efter three days, he wuid be put tae death.

A king’s son soon came. He wis fed and entertained, and it night he wis taken tae the chamber next tae where the princesses slept in ther twelves beds. He wis tae sit there and watch tae see where they went tae dance; and, tae make sure nuthin happened wae’oot him seein or hearin, the door wis left open. Bit the king’s son soon fell asleep; when he woke up, aw the shoes ae the princesses wer full ae holes like they’d been oot dancing aw night. It happened the next night and the night efter, so the king ordered fur him tae lose his heid. Efter him came many others, bit they aw hid the same luck and aw lost ther lives the same.

Noo, thur wis also an auld soldier who hid been hurt in battle and cuid nae longer fight, and he passed thru the country where this king ruled. He met an auld wummin in the woods as he travelled, and she asked him where he wis aff tae.

‘Ah didnae know tae be honest, and Ah dinnae know whit tae dae wae mahsehl,’ he sid, ‘bit Ah hink Ah might like tae find oot where those princesses go tae dance aw night, and mibbe Ah kin become king mahsehl.’

‘Well,’ sid the auld wummin, ‘tha’s no hard task: jist dinnae drink the wine the princesses gae tae ye, and wance she leaves, pretend tae be asleep.’

She gae him a cloak and sid, ‘If ye put this oan, ye’ll become invisible and ye kin follow the princesses wherever they go.’ The soldier decided he wuid try his luck efter hearin aw this. He went tae the king and said he wuid take up the task.

He wis verra welcomed and goat the guid treatment tha aw the others before him goat, and goat fine royal robes. He went tae the same chamber it night. Jist as he wis aboot tae lie doon, the eldest princess gae him sum wine. He didnae drink it, bit threw it oot in secret. Then he laid doon and pretended tae sleep wae fake snorin anaw. When the princesses heard tha, they aw laughed.

‘This lad might huv done a smarter hing than lose his life like this!’ the eldest princess sid.

They aw goat up and goat dressed in ther fine claithes. They skipped like they were ready fur dancin awready.

‘Ah didnae know how ye kin aw be so happy when Ah feel right nervous,’ sid the youngest. ‘Ah hink sumhin bad’s gonnae happen.’

‘Haud yer wheesht, ye babby,’ sid the eldest. ‘Yeve goat tae much ae the fear. Huv ye furgoatten how many others huv no caught us yit? And this lad wuid huv slept enough e’n if Ah hidnae geen him a sleepin potion.’

When they were ready they checked the soldier wan mair time, bit he wis snoring awa and didnae stir a bit. So the eldest went tae her bed and clapped her hauns, and the bed sank tae the floor, and a trapdoor flew open. The soldier watched aw ae the lassies sneak doon the door wae the eldest leading. He goat up and put oan the coat tha the auld wummin hid gave him, and followed. He stepped oan the youngest lassie’s dress.

‘Aw is no right!’ she cried. ‘Sumwan took haud ae my dress!’

‘Naw, they didnae!’ sid the eldest. ‘Is no but a nail in the wall.’

They kept oan goin doon the stairs and foond thersehls in a grove surrounded by trees wae leaves ae silver. The solder broke aff a wee branch tae take wae him, and made a lood soond wae the branch breaking.

‘Ahno sumhin’s wrang—did ye no hear tha noise? Tha’s nivir happened afore,’ sid the youngest.

‘Naw, is jist oor lads, shouting fur joy it oor comin,’ sid the eldest.

They came tae another grove where aw the trees hid leaves ae gold, and then anither where the leaves were pure diamonds. The solder took a branch fae each, making a lood noise each time, which made the younger wan more and more feart. Bit each time, the older wan jist said it wis ther princes mad wae joy. They kipt oan til thur wis a a great loch wae twelve boat and twelve handsome princes, who were waiting fur the princesses.

Wan lassie went tae each boat, so the soldier went tae the boat wae the youngest. As the prince wis rowing, he sid:

‘Ah didnae know how, bit Ahm rowin wae aw my might and we’re no getting oan as fast as usual. Ahm quite tired; the boat seems verra heavy the day.’

‘Is ainly the heat,’ sid the princess. ‘Ah feel verra warm tae.’

Oan the other side ae the loch wis a castle wae lots a music playing. They landed the boats and went tae the castle, where each princess danced wae his princess. The soldier, bein invisible, also danced aw night. When any ae the princesses hid wine by her, he drank it aw up, so the glasses were always empty. This, tae, made the youngest sister more feart, bit the eldest still quieted her. They aw danced oan till three in the morning, and ther shoes were aw worn oot, sae they hid tae leave. The princes rowed the lassies back ower lock, bit the soldier sat in the boat wae the older princess. When they goat back tae the opposite shore, the lassies promised tae be back the next night.

The soldier ran up the stairs afore the lassies and laid back doon. The twelve sisters came back verra tired and they heard him snoring in his bed.

‘See, noo, we’re safe,’ they said. So they goat undressed, put away ther fine claithes, and went tae bed. In the mornin, the soldier said nuthin aboot whit hid happened, bit wanted tae see mair ae this adventure, and followed the lassies the second and third night. Each night wis the same: the lassies danced until ther shoes were ripped tae shreds, and then returned hame. Bit oan the third night, the soldier also took a gold cup tae show where he hid been.

When the time came, he wis taken tae the king and showed him the three branches and the cup. The lassies stood ootside the door and listened tae whit he sid.

‘Where dae my twelve daughters dance it night?’ asked the king.

‘Wae twelve princes in a castle under the groond,’ said the soldier. And he told the king aw aboot whit hid happened, showin him the branches and cup. The king called fur his daughters and asked if it wis true. The lassies knew they were caught and cuid no deny whit hid happened. Sae the king asked the soldier which ae the daughters he wuid huv fer a wife.

‘Ahm no sae verra young, so Ahll huv the eldest.’

And they were married tha verra day, and the soldier wis chosen tae be the king’s heir.

MORAL:
THUR IS NAE MORAL. WHIT KIND AE SHITE STORY IS THIS? ‘STOP MAH WEE LASSIES FAE GOIN OOT AND YE KIN MARRA AND PUMP WAN AE THEM’. WHIT WIS E’N THE HAIRM AE THEY LASSIES GOIN OOT AND DANCIN?

OR IS IT JIST THA THER DESTROYIN AW THE SHOES YE BUY EM AND YER CLEARLY A VERRA CHEAP KING COS YE CANNAE SPARE A COUPLE ROOMS IN YER CASTLE FUR TWELVE DAUGHTERS, THEY AW GOTTAE BE IN THE SAME ROOM, SO NAE MAIR FUN FUR YER DAUGHTERS COS THEY KEEP SPENDIN MONEY OAN NEW SHOES, YE CHEAP BASTART

AND THE SOLDIER YE MARRA YER DAUGHTER AFF TAE ISNAE ANY BETTER CONSIDERIN HE’D BE AS DEID AS AW THE OTHER ‘KINGS’ SONS’ IF HE HIDNAE TOLD AN AULD BIDDY WHIT HIS PLAN WIS AND SHE HIDNAE GEEN HIM A CLOAK AND ADVICE

Fuxache…

A Master’s Abroad – What Studying Abroad Did for Me

It was spring 2012 when I first applied to the University of Stirling to join their Publishing Studies postgraduate course for the approaching autumn. 2011 had been a terrible year for me and I felt stuck, so I had promised to make 2012 my year. 

It also helped that I had told a cousin the previous summer that if I ever got a Master’s Degree, I would go to Scotland to earn it. The country called to me, silent but with fierce urgency. That same cousin had reminded me of that promise at the start of 2012, and assured me that despite my reservations, no time would ever be perfect for such an endeavor, so I might as well look at the very least.

Before I knew it, looking turned into acting, though I still called it “just looking”. By summer, I had my acceptance, and my mind was made up. I was going to a beautiful university in the heart of Scotland, perfectly situated for popping into Edinburgh or Glasgow when the desire arose or conversely exploring the glorious Highlands. 

Never has a decision been more important in my life, never has one affected me as greatly, and never have I made one that so many loved ones disapproved of (don’t worry; they eventually came around).

But there were a lot of concerns that those around me voiced when I spoke of my desire to attend school in another country. They talked about expenses and costs. “Why couldn’t you just attend night school in the US rather than leave the country?” There were concerns about culture differences and even fears of safety—which is a fair concern, being that I was a twenty-something single woman traveling alone. What would I do if after all that time and money spent, I still wasn’t able to get a job even with a Master’s degree?

Well, you can’t fault people for trying, and you certainly can’t fault people for having fears. We are human beings, after all, and fear does play a big role in our genetic makeup.

 I didn’t want to live just by fear anymore. I’d spent so much of my youth playing everything safe, taking little to no risks, and essentially felt like I’d done everything by the book, the way everyone wanted me to.

Scotland was my selfish choice. It was the thing I wanted solely for me, and I made the leap with my full heart and soul.

My story obviously didn’t end when university did, though I occasionally speak as if it did. But the Publishing Studies degree opened a lot more doors than I realized it would. 

As a student, you have hope for the future, but there’s also some weariness as well. I was earning my Master’s two years after earning my Bachelor’s, having graduated during the recession and being unsuccessful at finding work in that time. It didn’t take long for all the fears I’d heard before to catch up to me.

Would I be able to handle myself and the workload? 

Would I still be stuck after earning my Master’s? 

Where would I go from here? 

Question 1’s answer came easily after classes started. Like most things, courses are all about the effort you put in, and luckily I’m a pretty hard worker. While I won’t deny that there were times where it felt overwhelming, it was well worth it. If you apply yourself and take the work seriously, you can handle it, while still making time to explore and have fun.

Question 2 wouldn’t be answered until after my completion of school, but very soon after, I recognized that things were already different. In November 2013, the same month I had returned to the United States, I had my first interview. While I didn’t get that position, or the second I interviewed for, it was already an improvement: with a Bachelor’s Degree, I hadn’t even been able to get interviews. This, to me, said I had something special on my resume that I didn’t before.

Question 3 is an interesting one, as it’s one I still ask myself to this day. But where did I go after university? 

The third interview was the winner. After the holidays (pro-tip: many publishers do a hiring freeze during the holiday season), I scored an interview with the company I work with now, and after a few different interviews, I was offered a position as an Editorial Assistant. I accepted immediately, enthralled to have an offer after all these years.

Fast forward to 2018, and I’ve seen more than 4 full years with this company. I’ve moved from working in the Editorial world, to now working as a Digital Producer, having been promoted in September 2015. This is where I am now.

I consider myself very fortunate to have had this experience in my life, and it’s one I’d recommend to anyone who has even had the thought pass through their brain for a fleeting moment. So if studying abroad is something you’re considering, what are some other questions you may be having?

Well, you might be having a lot of the concerns that my family had before I left for Scotland, and I think those are important to address. Fear is a reality in life, and fear can and will hold you back from anything you seek to do if you let it. But often times, fears aren’t actual issues—at least, not always in the present moment, which is exactly where you need to be when making a decision like this. Sure, you’ll inevitably think about what possibilities the future will reveal upon earning a degree in another country, but the fear of negatives will halt you before you even send an application.

The first one I’ll address is time and money, and believe it or not, I actually consider the time and money to be a perk of getting a degree abroad. It can take up to two years to earn a Master’s Degree in the United States, which is not just a hefty amount of time to dedicate to a degree; it also adds up in terms of costs. These time and money expenditures can go up if you’re choosing to do a degree part-time as well.

I earned my postgraduate degree in a year, with taught classes being broken up into two semesters, an autumn one and a spring one, and my summer dedicated to writing a dissertation. This saved me time, and with it money. I only paid for one year of schooling, as opposed to two, and while it was not cheap, it was certainly less expensive than most degrees in the United States.

I did pay more for my course than my British and European classmates, but I attribute that to the fact that I also had to pay in for things like the National Health Service, which would allow me to visit the doctor, receive medication and prescriptions, and also visit the dentist if need-be. This is a thought that may fall through the cracks when thinking about studying abroad—especially if you’re an American used to health care system here—but luckily it was something I didn’t have to think about, as I believe the extra money you pay towards your degree goes to that as well.

Another concern that people noted to me was culture differences and safety. Culture differences can be a major thing depending upon where you go, and they are definitely something you should consider when you’re deciding where to apply. For me, in studying abroad in Scotland, there wasn’t too much of a culture shock. Sure, there were different types of food and slang to get used to, but nothing that impeded my ability to acclimate to my surroundings and dive right into my degree and meeting people. There were no language barriers, though it did take some time to master translating the Scottish accent (especially Glaswegian, which is a language on its own), so my transition was smooth. But we’re all different people with a variety of interests and places that call to us, and your might be one that is very different than what you’re used to. In that instance, the internet is your best friend: study, ask questions, and learn everything you can before you break out the books for your new degree.

Safety’s another thing you’ll want to think about, and again I cannot stress the importance of doing all your research before you leave. I’d even recommend doing the research before you apply. But I’ll also state this: I’m a believer that a lot of safety does depend on you. Glasgow has a bad reputation for being a dangerous city, and yet it’s the city that I consider home. I adore Glasgow, its people, and I’ve never felt unsafe walking those streets—even in times when I was walking in a bad part of Glasgow.

But equally I always try to be aware of my surroundings, pay attention to who and what’s around me, and I stay alert. Growing up near New York City, but never having been a big fan of the Big Apple, I compare any place you’d go in the world to there. When you think about safety, think about how you’d be in any other city, even one’s you’re familiar with: do you ever go in there and not pay attention to your surroundings? More than likely not. Even if it’s a place you go to with regularity, you know there are some streets you’re safe on, and other areas you avoid. Take that mentality with you no matter where you go.

Finally, there was one last concern people had for me before I left for Scotland, and that was on what I would do if after earning a Master’s degree, I still couldn’t get a job. Which is honestly a silly fear. We cannot always be so fearful of the future that it stops us in our tracks from doing anything in the present. 

Even if earning a Master’s degree didn’t get me a job, I had gained so much from my time there that I would never have considered regretting the decision.

But maybe it is a genuine concern of yours, so I’ll say this to ease your worries: earning a postgraduate degree abroad gives you something unique to add to your resume. Being able to show that you’ve not only been to another country, but lived their for a period of time while earning a degree adds to what you can present at an interview, and it’s likely something that many other applicants won’t have.

Tied hand-in-hand with that idea, earning a postgraduate degree abroad just helps you grow. If you’re already thinking about getting a postgraduate degree anyway, why not add a little something extra to your experience by traveling to another country for it? I guarantee that it will not only spice up your resume and skills, but you’ll gain a lot from it as well. You learn more about what you can handle and take on, and you have an opportunity to see the world from a whole new perspective and place—literally—and that opens doors not just for your career prospects, but for the person you’re going to be in the future.

Or maybe taking a dare like studying abroad will open up a door you wouldn’t expect: maybe you’ll find the place that you would like to call home. In addition to earning a Master’s Degree, that’s the other major thing I gained, and while I’m still unable to live in the place I call home, I do travel back-and-forth between the States and Scotland several times a year. I’ve become the go-to person for my friends and family who are thinking about traveling there, and I’m always happy to give them tips for getting by and recommendations of where to see. I’ve helped an American friend find her way to a place to grab food at 2am while she was there and I was Stateside. Even family members who previously questioned my desire to travel abroad have mentioned that they wouldn’t mind spending the holiday season with me in Scotland once I’m living there.

My point is you never really know what doors could open for you by taking a big leap—whether it’s across the country, across an ocean, or even farther. 

Seeking Magic

I believe in the Loch Ness Monster. That might’ve been a given, being how in love with Scotland as I am, but I have ever since I was a kid, and I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of her. This was solidified by a dream I remember to this day of being on Loch Ness, and seeing her rise out of the water. She was a plesiosaur, and that is what I believe her to be.

Many could argue I had this dream because I was obsessed with the film Magic in the Water for approximately a week when I was a kid (I went through many obsessive phases). But I don’t care; I believe in Nessie, and that image of her has stuck with me for my entire life, so thusly, that is what I believe her to be.

Now, I’m no stranger to skepticism and — yes — I am fully aware that the likelihood of there being a prehistoric beast living in a loch in Scotland to be slim to none, but the point of believing in things like these — for me, anyway — isn’t always about being right or correct.

It’s the same reason why people are still waiting for their Hogwarts letter, or see dragons flying in the sky or lurking in the woods. It’s why people sit at a window waiting for either Peter Pan or the Doctor, or why we get so wrapped up in films about superheroes.

There needs to be more to life than just what we see with our physical eye. There needs to be more than just facts and logic. It’s about magic and imagination, and believing there is more to the world than we can see or understand at this time. 

But it’s also about admitting to ourselves that there are mysteries in life and they make life both beautiful and amazing. Think about how we’ve explored more of our solar system and universe than our ancestors even realized existed, but so much of our oceans remain a mystery. That alone should spark the imagination to question “what’s here now, that shares this world with us that we don’t know about?” Let’s not pretend that there haven’t been times when science told us “not possible” or “unlikely” or “extinct”, only to later be proven false.

And that is not an argument against science. I love science. I love the things we discover, new cures and treatments, and advancements that we make. I want our scientific knowledge to keep growing and improving because with it, so do we.

But I don’t think we should sacrifice some of the beauty, mystery, and fun of life for science. Imagination and fantasy are some of the things that make life enjoyable. They bring us laughter and joy. They help us solve problems in creative ways. They make room for the things in life that matter — art, love, passion, and excitement. There’s room for all to exist without trying to extinguish the other.

So I don’t care what arguments there are for Nessie to not exist, or not be a plesiosaur. I care about what she means to me, what she meant to my childhood, and how she’s a symbol of my imagination still living — and no argument against her is going to dissuade my inner child (just the same way you will never convince her that Lance Bass is not the most handsome man in existence; she’s pretty stubborn).

Let’s fight for imagination, mystery, and magic just as hard as we fight for science, logic, and facts. They can all exist for their own different purposes, but never remove the possibility of possibilities.

The Traveling Musicians

The Traveling Musicians – by the Brothers Grimm.

Written in Scots/Glaswegian.

Hover over the bold text for a comment from the narrator.


An honest farmer wance hid an arse tha hid been a guid servant tae him fur many year, bit wis now gittin tae be verra auld, and evry day it wis mair and mair unfit fur werk. His maister wis tired ae keeping him and thoat tae put an end tae him; but the arse, who knew sumhin wis up, took himsehl away, and left tae go tae the great city, fur he thoat that mibbe he might become a musician.

Efter he hid travelled a wee while, he saw a dug lying oan the roadside and pantin like he wis knackert.

‘Whit ur ye tired fur, pal?’ said the arse.

‘Here,’ said the dug, ‘my auld man wis gonnae knock me oot cos Ahm auld and weak, and kin nae mair help wae the huntin; so Ah ran away; bit whit kin Ah dae fur werking?’

Here noo!’ said the arse, ‘Ahm goin’ tae the great city tae turn musician. Mibbe ye cuid come wae me, and see if ye can dae the same?’ The dug said okay, and they went oan tagither.

They hid no gone far when they saw a wee cat sitting in the road looking verra sad.

‘Mah guid lass,” said the arse, ‘whit’s the matter wae ye? Ye look like yeve been greetin.’

‘Here,’ said the cat, ‘how kin Ah be happy when my ain life’s in danger. Am getting auld, and Ahd rather spend by time layin by the fire than chasin the wee beasties aroond the hoose, bit mah mistress goat hold ae me and wis gonnae drown me. Ah wis lucky tae get away, bit Ah dinnae know whit tae dae aboot livin noo.’

‘Here noo!’ said the arse, ‘Come wae us tae the big city. Ye must be a guid night singer, and cuid make a fortune as a musician.’ The cat liked the thoat, and went wae them.

Soon efter, they were passing a farm and saw a cock perched oan a gate, and screamin oot wae aw his might.

‘Yaaaaas!’ said the arse, ‘ye are a beltur wae that noise. Bit how is it tha yer greetin so loud?’

‘Here,’ said the cock,, ‘Ah wis jist sayin we shud be huvin guid weather fur oor washin, bit mah mistress and the cook dinnae thank me fur it, and they ur sayin theyll cut mah heid aff the morra and make broth ae me fur guests oan Sunday!’

‘Here noo!’ said the arse, ‘get yersehl wae us right quick. It will be better than stayin here and huvin yer heid cut aff, nae doobt. And mibbe, if we kin sing in tune, we kin get up a concert, so come wae us.’

‘Aye!’ said the cock. And the four ae them went oan ther way.

Bit, ae course, they cuid no reach the big city in the first day, so when night came, they went intae the woods tae sleep. The arse and the dug laid doon under a great tree, and the cat climbed a few branches up. The cock thoat he’d be safer the higher he wis flew tae the verra top ae the tree. Afore he went tae sleep, he looked oot aw aroond him tae make sure evryhin wis right, as he always did. He saw sumhin bright a bit aways, so he called oot tae his pals.

‘Ah hink thur’s a hoos no far aff, fur Ah kin see a light.’

‘If tha’s true,’ said the arse, ‘we best be makin oor way thur, fur these urnae the best lodgins in the world.’

‘Asides,’ said the dug, ‘Ahd like tae mibbe git a bone or two, or mibbe a wee bit ae meat.’

So they walked oan tae the spot where the cock hid seen the light, and when they came close, it became bigger and brighter, until they came tae a hoose in which a gang ae robbers lived.

The arse, being the tallest ae them aw, walked tae the windae and looked inside.

‘Whit dae ye see, Donkey?’ asked the cock.

‘Whit dae Ah see?’ repeated the arse. ‘Here, Ah see a table spread wae aw kinds ae guid hings, and robbers sitting aboot it aw happy anaw.’

‘That wuid be a guid spot fur us tae stay,’ said the cock.

‘Aye,’ said the arse. ‘If ainly we cuid git in.’ So they talked tagither tae figure oot how tae get the robbers oot ae the hoose, and they came up wae a plan. The arse stood up oan his hind legs wae his front legs oan a windae; the dug got oan his back; the cat run up the dug’s shoulders, and the cock flew and sat oan the cat’s heid. The arse brayed, the dug barked, the cat meowed, and the cock crowed; then they aw broke the windae and fell intae the room wae a loud crack. The robbers, who hid a wee bit a fear by the openin concert, were now hinkin that some goblin hid broke thru the windae, and they bolted oot the door.

Wance the robbers were gone, oor travellers sat doon and split whit the robbers hid left, aw excited like they wuidnae eat again fur a month. When they were done, they turned oot the lights, and looked fur where they wanted tae sleep. The donkey laid doon in sum straw oot in the yard, the dug laid oan a rug by the door, the cat curled up oan the hearth by the warm ashes, and the cock sat oan a beam on the roof. They aw fell asleep quick fur they were tired fae their journey.

Bit aboot midnight, the robber saw the lights were oot and tha hings were quiet, and they thoat mibbe they’d run away tae quick. Wan ae them who wis braw and bold, went tae see whit wis goin oan. He foond evryhin still, so he walked tae the kitchen and tried tae find a match tae light a candle. He saw the glowin eyes ae the cat, bit thoat they were live coals, so he held the match oot tae light it. Bit the cat didnae get it, so she jumped oan his face, spat and scratched. He hid the fear, so he ran tae the back door, bit the dug jumped up and bit him oan the leg. When he went tae the yard, the arse kicked him. And the cock, who heard aw the noise, crowed wae aw his might.

So the robber ran back tae his pals and told them aw how a witch wis in the hoose and hid spat it and scratched his face with her bony hauns; how a man wae a knife hid hidden by the door and stabbed his leg; how a black monster in the yard hid beat him wae a club, and how the devil hissehl hid sat oan the roof and yelled, ‘throw the bastart up here!’

Efter this, the robbers nevir went back tae the hoose, but the musicians were verrra happy in ther new hoose, and likely still live thur noo.

Why Scotland

I’m sitting here on my couch. It’s quiet. No one else is here, save for my cat, who is curled up next to me. I have a hot cup of Earl Grey with Lavender tea, which has given my tea biscuits a comforting flavor. It’s starting to feel like autumn outside with a coolness in the air. A breeze passes through the window, one not laced with sticky humidity. I have no obligations except to that which I choose.

I am in heaven. There’s something in that cool air and lush green out the window that is familiar and comforting to me, something that blankets me, and I’m called to pick up my phone and look at Instagram, just to see some nice images. The ones that catch me in the moment are of Scotland. I follow so many Scottish accounts, so there are always a myriad of images to take in. Normally, it is Glasgow that catches my eye, for it is Glasgow I consider home. But today it is Edinburgh that steals my sight, and I’m swept away in a beautiful image of Scotland’s capital.

The cool air of autumn embracing me, and lost in the images of the nation I so desperately want to call home officially, I feel something within me. A growing warmth in my stomach that spreads outwards to the rest of me. I know this feeling. I can feel it every time I see pictures of Scotland – anywhere in Scotland.

It’s one of the ways I know that this is right, this sense, this belief of mine. I’m not wrong in my love for Scotland, a country I was not born in, but definitely took root in me.

Of course, I have reasons that others would find more practical. My love of the people, the climate, the feeling and atmosphere, the politics, to name a few.

But this feeling I get inside of me – the warmth that swells merely at pictures, that doubles and intensifies when the plane lands back in the solid, wet ground of Glasgow airport – from that moment, it consumes me. When I’m there, when I walk the streets of Glasgow, I am never without a smile, for that warm feeling I get when I see pictures takes over when I am there in the place I feel most at home. It sustains me and fuels me.

I’ve been asked to describe this feeling of home before, and I cannot accurately do it. I’ve been asked for reasons, for physical things I can describe that keep me so tied to Scotland that I cannot see any other home in my future, but I can never satisfy, for there is no answer.

I think this is because people believe home is simply where you live, where you work, where you exist, where your family and friends are. For many people, it is, and many are happy with this.

But to me, home is a feeling, a sense of right and happy, where you are comfortable and feel most like yourself, the place you want to go home to at the end of the day.

For that’s the biggest reason Scotland calls to me: that feeling. The physical, I could go elsewhere for, but I can’t a feeling everywhere.

Dougie Maclean said it best:

Oh, but let me tell you that I love you,
that I think about you all the time.
Caledonia, you’re calling me,
and now I’m going home.
And if I should become a stranger,
know that it would make me more than sad.
Caledonia’s been everything I ever had.

Making Science Accessible

This is a few weeks old, but did anyone else see John Oliver’s piece on Last Week Tonight about Gene Editing? In case you’re not familiar, there was a segment on a man who believes that gene editing should be as easy as an app — in that, even if you don’t know what to do/how to work it, you should be able to download and use it. There was a lot more to the segment, and a lot of points made, but this was one that really stuck out to me. And it prompted me to write this.

No.

Flat out no.

Think about how many people — both those who aren’t super tech-smart and those who are — accidentally download a virus or break their phone from not being able to use it. Now, translate that into someone who is trying to edit their genes without understanding the risks and complications of it, just because they want something like bigger muscles without doing the work.

The potential for people hurting or killing themselves, creating new diseases, and various other developing issues among the human race is way too great, and the reasoning of “everything should be accessible to everyone” does not balance out all of the risks.

Then also consider the fact that the whole world is becoming more litigious by the day. Any problems that one comes across, they are certainly not going to hold themselves responsible. They’ll hold everyone else accountable.

“It doesn’t matter if I don’t know what I’m doing, I have a right to do this; it’s part of my freedom.”
“Oh, but I got hurt and it caused me a lot of problems — I think it’s the scientists fault for not doing more tests and telling us how it worked, so I’m going to figure out how to sue.”

This, to me, is not the right way to make science more accessible to the public. Accessibility does not — and should not — mean that every little scientific development should become immediately available for public usage.

I would rather see science be made more accessible by bridging the gap between complicated scientific theories and the common citizen, the people, the laymen. Have scientists and writers team up so that when press releases go out, they explain new discoveries in a way that the average person can understand. And don’t just highlight the interesting stuff: show how complicated it is; explain the theories and what was done to test this; show how they can see it in their everyday lives; and ensure that it is written in a way that everyone can understand.

Do we not simplify scientific concepts and ideas for young people during their studies? Why should we not do the same for our adults, our working people who are not dealing with scientific studies and advancements on a daily basis? 

If we want people to openly accept and understand science, that starts by making scientific knowledge — not all of the processes and machinery — accessible to the average person’s way of thinking. Constantly putting it on a pedestal and telling people “it’s too complicated, you’d never understand” doesn’t work and has never worked. It only further alienates people from scientific discoveries and knowledge, and then we get angry when people don’t want to vaccinate their kids or believe in climate change — because we’ve gotten arrogant and full of ourselves with scientific knowledge, and insist that people should just believe it without understanding it.

Isn’t that the attitude most atheists get angry with theists about?

“Believe it even if you don’t see it or understand it?”

In that sense, you’ve made science a religion, and insist that everyone believe in your faith, but again still do not want to take the time to ensure that everyone understands the complexities of it.

If can work on promoting science, its discoveries, and theories, in a more positive and understanding way, by changing the way we communicate it and explain it to the common people, we encourage both the belief in science and a greater understanding of the world.

When we act in arrogance, no one wants to listen or to potentially learn — not because they are disinterested or even too dense to understand; perhaps they do want to learn and understand more. But anyone going in with a confrontational attitude, and a cocky, assuming tone is not going to get listened to because essentially you’re just being an asshole.

Teach people, educate people, simplify things so that those who are not scientists can grasp the concepts. That is how you make science accessible, and keep people connected; not by making new scientific advancements available to the public without the public’s understanding of the complexities.

Let’s stop acting so disconnected from each other. The world has become too happy to just insult and call anyone who goes against their own thoughts/beliefs ignorant. It’s time to change that.

Journaling: Not Rushing

I’ve been on a writing streak for the past few days. Not with the Glaswegian writing, which I anticipate I’ll get back to sooner or later, but with a novel that I took a break from working on for quite a long time. I have a first draft of it done, but I wanted to have some distance on it, so that I could do a “rewrite-edit” of the entire thing.

Then I got caught up in building up a completely different novel. That one actually took shape relatively quickly, but again taking some distance from it now, too. It’s very related to current events going on in the world, but I also feel like I need to adjust my thinking and approach on it thus far. The stuff I wrote months ago still works, but its shape and tone and possibly even the story needs work. And I often think that the best way to do that is by taking a bit of distance – which is why the need for so many different writing projects (several blogs, various novels, short stories, poems, Glaswegian translations).

At least I don’t get bored.

But I’m back to working on a few scenes from this first novel I have a draft of. Actually, it’s technically scenes that wouldn’t even occur until Book 2 of that three-book series I have planned out.

I know people would criticize the technique. Hell, even I was quick to judge it, and I was the one actively doing it.

But I think back to an entry I wrote more than a month ago – If Something Calls to You, Go to It. I feel the same about this. For some reason, I couldn’t get those scenes out of my head, so why not jump into writing them? It serves to get content written and saved for when it will be used, and in the mean time, you’re getting the experience of active writing.

Even writing here, one could argue that I’m not completing the open pieces, and that it’s wasted time. But so long as you’re engaging in your craft, why should it be considered wasted time? All the various practice adds up.

So a story or novel or poem does not get finished today. Maybe it wasn’t meant to. Maybe tomorrow you get the inspiration on the last piece you need – the piece that will make it perfect. There doesn’t always need to be a rush.