09 May, 2009

So many things...

Let's face it, I'm a terribly disloyal blog writer. Part of the reason, I suspect, is that a previous middle school experience (called Xanga) put me off broadcasting my opinions over the internet. I'm back in my flat in Edinburgh, sitting here listening to Oasis and sipping hot chocolate with a little Kahlua. Where to begin?

My stay in the United States was frustrating. I had too little to do, and I don't think I reckoned on how long a month actually is. And while I did my best to visit AU, such adventures generally consisted of my sitting in the garden near Hughes for hours because everyone was either too busy or incommunicado. The other part of it, I think, that was painful for me was the sense of being outside. I've been gone for three months, and have therefore lost at least some of the rhythm of life at American University. Not even the rhythm--it was like this understanding on my part that so many of my friends were leading these separate lives in which I had no part, and while that feeling manifested itself as homesickness while I was in Edinburgh, while I was home it was just heartbreaking. There was nothing I could do about it.

I spent a lot of time playing video games. The Force Unleashed is at once fascinating and utterly baffling--it's a button-pushers game with some really cool effects (I especially like using Force Grip to drop people over precipices) but then the whole thing is cutscenes and hack and slash. Never thought I'd miss the stupid messenger missions from, oh, every other game I've ever played, but there you go. Sometimes I even play GTA just to drive around (well, and run people over, but that's more often accidental).

My return to Edinburgh was preceded by a colossal fight with my mother, a visit to Borders (for the first time in over a year, and people REMEMBERED me), and my utter terror at taking an overseas flight by myself. My dad dropped me off at the airport (and when I say dropped me off, I mean he stopped the car, got out, gave me a hug and my backpack, and said good-bye). I was, I confess, a little flustered; when I went to San Diego he at least walked me to the security checkpoint. I then found out that there had been some kind of breach, and the security wasn't even open--there was just this massive, stagnant line of tired travelers. I was rather pleased with myself that I could pick out a few words of Arabic from the guy in front of me, but my back ached and I was already so nervous. When I finally got through security, I had to walk to my gate, which involved going up and down a bunch of escalators and those moving walkways that always make me feel vaguely like a Jetson.

The entire plane ride was turbulence. Just stomach-clenching turbulence. I slept maybe one hour in the whole plane ride, and I'm not sure if you know this, but Heathrow is a nightmare. It's a lot of escalators and ramps and signs. I tried calling my parents but I was a) exhausted and b) confused by a payphone. I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington and got lost on the way to my hotel, where it turned out I wasn't allowed to check in until 2. So basically, I had to kill five hours of time when I hadn't slept in nearly 24 hours. What does one do in this situation? Answer: The British Museum. I remember lots of shiny pottery, which I believe was the Chinese ceramics section, and a whole Korean house. I'm sure I saw other things but I had to sit down every five minutes and by the end my vision was literally wavering from exhaustion.

The following day I went to the Portrait Gallery, the National Gallery, and a play. The Portrait Gallery is spectacular; it houses a lot of very, VERY famous portraits, including Branwell Bronte's painting of the Bronte sisters, and portraits of Tudor monarchs. Trafalgar Square is a beautiful, beautiful place and I think that's the problem with London--it's just too huge. There are parts of it that are simply gorgeous, like the region around Russell Square, all soft and lush, and then there are parts that are noisy and dirty and confusing (like Piccadilly Circus!).

That night I saw Three Days of Rain. Not only was it probably one of the more interesting and funny plays I've seen, but it was phenomenally well-acted. Of only three actors, one of them happened to be James McAvoy. JAMES MCAVOY! It was brilliant, I was too absorbed in how good his acting was to even be remotely starstruck.

I'm back in Edinburgh now and as it's a day that ended in "y" it was of course raining today. I should be studying but my first exam's not for another week and I therefore don't want to deal with it.

Oh, I should probably mention that I applied to direct a show for next year. King Lear. I didn't get it accepted (for reasons I refuse to go into in a semi-public forum) but it gave me an idea: I really think that what AU is missing, club-wise, is a medium through which people can express themselves. Okay, that's not exactly what I meant--there's a lot of self-expression at AU, but I mean a drama club where it's EXCLUSIVELY student works. It can be expanded to include poetry readings, hosting open mics, doing ten-minute plays, but the whole point will be displaying people's creative literary and dramatic art to the campus and the world at large. This is of course going to be a lot of work for me, and I'd have to have some kind of advisor, but I do think it's a worthwhile idea as I want to be a playwright and my capstone is probably heading in that direction anyway.

13 April, 2009

Forgive me

Forgive me, blogger, for I have sinned. It has been over a month since my last posting. I am presently back at home in the good ol' US of A, with its sunflower seeds and sunny days and cheap(er) currency. My mother came to visit me in Edinburgh--it was an...interesting experience. On the upside I saw a highland bull named Hamish, Loch Ness, and the spectacular Three Sisters of the highlands. I also found a great bar on Nicolson Street that made a Ferrero Rocher, which was hot chocolate with hazelnut liquer, and was amazing. More recent good news: went to AU and met with my Honors adviser--there's a decent chance that my capstone will be year-long and play-oriented! Possibly my adored trilogy. I'm trying to work on the third play but so far it isn't really taking off. I think I need to find the key to unlock it, instead of plodding along writing depressing monologues and one-liners. I do like the idea of Faith as a telemarketer, though--it has so many hellish possibilities!

08 March, 2009

Music and Dance

Tonight I went to a proper Scottish ceilidh (pronounced "kay-lee", like the Firefly character) with two friends. It was possibly one of the most fun things I've ever done in my life. There was a band playing music--I think there was a guitarist, a fiddler, and an accordion. It was a little bit like square-dancing--a lot of people grouping up into couples and spinning. There were quite a few men in kilts, with sporrans. I think I even saw one man with a sgian dubh, which is a type of ceremonial knife that men stick in their stockings so that only the hilt shows.

I'd write in significantly more detail but at the moment I'm exhausted.

25 February, 2009

Don't know what to say, really

Clearly I am a very bad blog writer, in terms of intent vs. reality. I have not written for roughly two weeks. I guess that's a bad thing, but since last time I wrote I've been to Stirling and Linlithgow, so those have to count on my List of Things I've Done in Scotland. And on Thursday I'm heading off to the Borderlands. Which should be interesting/awesome/picturesque. I've decided that Scotland may very well be one of THE most beautiful countries on the planet. It's just mind-boggling how I can look out of the library window and see an EXTINCT VOLCANO just over the top of eighteenth-century buildings. Edinburgh's so dark and remarkable and stunning; part of me misses home so much but part of me never wants to leave this place. And it's not even the places I go to visit, it's just being here and living here and walking through cobblestone streets.

I think one reason I'm homesick, though, is that I feel that I've lost the thread of life back at AU. I can see people on Facebook or talk to them on AIM but there's a lag there that, in some ways, completely breaks my heart. And I stayed up all night last week finishing that play because I thought maybe it would help, maybe it would make me feel connected, and that I could do something to affect people's lives three thousand miles away, but it didn't. I'm not saying that no one cares about it but just that I'm starting to realize that maybe I'm not as important, in the whole scheme of things, as I thought I was, and that's troubling. I so often feel as if I'm on the outside, staring in, and I hate it. I want to be a part of things, I want to be inside, instead of out here. But I don't know how to do that.

11 February, 2009

More than a month

I've been here in Edinburgh more than a month. In that time, I've been to class, Malting's, the National Museum, the Three Sisters, Glasgow, the Castle, the Vaults, Elephant House, and Manchester. But that's a MONTH and I feel like I've done NOTHING. And like I'm running out of time to enjoy myself. And yet, it's cold here, I'm consumed by work, and it's not all fun and games. Seriously. I had to write two papers this weekend, which amounted to 3,000 words (roughly 12 pages, double-spaced). I've had reading every night, and I'm trying to work on my play, which is in the second act and stalling, and while I'm sure Edinburgh's nightlife is fabulous I'm not for getting drunk and sitting in dark rooms with loud music. And the odd part is that I'm happy just being here--walking out of the library and seeing Arthur's Seat looming in the distance, stumbling down ice-lined cobblestone streets, listening to Scottish lecturers. So I've got these two conflicts: I'm delighted that I'm here but I don't feel like I'm doing enough and I don't know how to change that. I'm going to Stirling this weekend, though, so that should be beautiful.

If anyone is still reading this, please comment because otherwise I forget about it and I think writing in a blog is a good idea.

03 February, 2009

American Food!!

Good lord! It appears I am reluctant, somehow, to update this more than about once a week. It has been more than a week, in fact, though justifiably I've not done anything much worth noting. I did go to Manchester this weekend, though, which was absolutely lovely--I got to see Chester, which is this charming English town with a medieval wall, and downtown Manchester, which looks very much the way Life on Mars would like us to believe. I kept expecting (hoping, maybe) that John Simm would run around the corner or something. I got to see my uncle, which was nice, and of course I brought American food back for my flatmates and myself. Campbell's Double Noodle Soup has never tasted quite so good.

I've been trying to write a bit every day, but so far not much good has come of it. My play is progressing (slowly) and though I've touched on the important bits regarding structure and so on, there seems to be something missing that I haven't yet found. The part I keep having to remind myself is that no matter how much I think I know, I'm still feeling my way through my craft and that doesn't mean it has to be perfect on the first go.

I'll write more when I'm not quite so knackered.

24 January, 2009

A week later...

I've often found that my intentions to be a loyal writer have failed me. All of this week, for instance, I kept telling myself: you should update your blog. You should update your blog. You should update your blog. So the saga of my life since my last post:

Sunday I came to the realization that my zipper on my coat was broken, this being a euphemism for the reality--i.e., that I, in an effort to unzip my jacket, effectively broke my coat. All right, I said to myself (I'm an optimist), I'll just go to a tailor on Clerk Street tomorrow, hand it in, wear a sweatshirt all week. How bad can it be?

I wake up Monday and head off in search of the tailor. It started to rain very lightly when I walked outside, but I just put up the hood on my (dad's) American University sweatshirt. It rains frequently in Edinburgh, so I didn't think much of it. Until it began to snow.

Here I am, trapped on Nicholson Street, in a blizzard. In my sweatshirt, my now-drenched broken coat on my arm. When I arrived at the tailor's, I could barely speak. My pants were soaked through, my sweatshirt was soaked through. I handed them the coat and ran to the library, where I tried to warm up.

I didn't get my coat back until last night. In the meantime I tried to keep myself warm by layering up, which can be pretty torturous.

Tuesday was, of course, Inauguration Day. I skipped a Classical Literature lecture to stand in the corner of the Teviot Union's crowded Sports Bar to watch it on a big screen TV (b/c it was five o'clock here!). It was, in all likelihood, one of the most momentous experiences of my life. And heartbreaking that I wasn't there to see it in person.

Today we went to Glasgow, a beautiful city that is significantly bigger than Edinburgh as well as considerably more industrial. There was a museum (pictures on Facebook are pending) of art and native wildlife, as well as a Science Centre, and Glasgow Cathedral, which had the shrine of St. Mungo. I don't know who that was, but his tomb was pretty impressive. The whole place was positively gorgeous, and the necropolis...I don't think I've ever seen anything quite as beautiful as that cemetery. The moment we walked through the black, wrought-iron gates, I felt tears fill my eyes. The hills here are so green, and the tombstones looked so solemn, and behind the hill of the necropolis, the setting sun threw orange light against them like a blaze of fire. From the top, you could see all of Glasgow spread out below us.

I've been working a lot on writing. I'm still writing the FWIW prequel, but until I can determine what I'm willing to relinquish in order to make it a coherent and well-moving play, it's going to be stuck where it is. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I'm also thinking of adapting King Lear by turning it into a modern drama with limited moral culpability.