I have successfully completed and passed my Masters course.

I totally have two degrees now.
ladytroubadour: scrap of blue sky with clouds (Default)
( Oct. 25th, 2010 06:39 pm)
I have finished and handed in all of my work, including the dissertation.

Maybe soon I'll be a Master of Folklore!
To some special ladies in my life, here's a Cute Thing I found that I think you'll all enjoy. Love you!

Happy Mother's Day (US) everyone!
I bought myself a birthday present:

ladytroubadour: scrap of blue sky with clouds (Default)
( Mar. 10th, 2010 10:48 am)
I came, seeking identity, needing
to find my Self among throngs of another Self
that I could no longer understand. I came
because I was running to someting, away
from something, because I wasn't whole.

And I've unclothed many layers of Self,
and layered many more. And I have
scars and scarves and a new pair of boots,
and these protect me from the world.
For one such as me, who never has worn
powders in colors, I find
new comfort now in shades and shades;
shadows over my eyes to hide
shadows under my eyes,
a new face, because I cannot shed the old faces.
I am finding my identity
the further I sink under cover.

I came, because I thought I wondered how
to save the world, to give to the Pool of Knowledge.
After all, we are mostly water in our particles.
If I could open a vein and pour in new wisdom,
maybe I could save myself from drowning.
The only things it turns out I ever really
wondered, were things I thought were selfish things.
I wanted answers,
but I was afraid of the questions,
for every question turned in upon itself and became
seven questions more.
The seventh son of a seventh son
of the meaning of Who Am I.

When I am dust,
will it mean more that I tried
to give the world a message, in hopes
to ease its pains? Or is it more
to have been here alive, in this moment,
living as I live and loving as I love?
Today this is the best thing I can ask,
tomorrow this trite question pales before that of
which flavor of microwave pizza.
One moment I am on my knees before Shakespeare,
the next I'm blowing bubbles in the park.
Except when I am in the shower,
naked before my Self,
looking at each piece in turn to better
clothe it in foam. Then
I forget, because you have to keep on your toes
to dodge the fickle temperatures
of gods and central plumbing.

I think that I am like these grains of rice:
cheap, and wholesome, and easy to cook,
and ready enough to be mixed with whatever.
But the handle snaps clean off the pot,
and interrupts my grains of thought,
and I eat from a cracked plate,
and I wonder if that's a metaphor too.

So I am only writing this to tell you
(though I should be reading theories),
that not only are there no
easy answers, there are no
answers in the world.
But maybe you will find a way
to ask the same old questions,
such that no one's ever asked before,
and when that day comes
they give you a diploma.
Or so I understand.

Stream of consciousness poetry, like life,
is said to be a futile endeavor.
And yet, more people, probably, will read this poem
than my dissertation.
1. A crumpet is nothing more than an English muffin.

2. Non-alcoholic beer tastes like how a skunk smells.

ladytroubadour: scrap of blue sky with clouds (Default)
( Oct. 30th, 2009 03:09 pm)
I made a short video tour of my cozy wee room. A few people have been asking for pictures, so I did 'em one better and videotaped the whole shebang. Which, er, makes for a short and somewhat dull video, but hey, you didn't ask to be entertained, just to see the room. ;)

ladytroubadour: scrap of blue sky with clouds (Default)
( Oct. 25th, 2009 08:49 pm)
I've had a lot of requests to post photos. I no longer have my own website, so uploading any significant number of photos is currently a giant pain in the butt. But here are a couple to tide you over until I post a larger sampling!

These were both taken in Edinburgh.

This is the infamous Covenanter's Prison in Greyfriar's Kirkyard. Sorry about the bars, that place is closed to the public with the exception of the ghost tour. The big gaping-open structure is the Black Mausoleum, and I've been in it at night, because I took the ghost tour.

I took this shot while cruising the Royal Mile with my cousin, but I honestly don't remember what this castle is called. The Castle?

Later I'll remember how to do a cut in DW and maybe this will stop stretching your friends page out. For now, I gotta go to bed. See you again soon!
ladytroubadour: scrap of blue sky with clouds (Default)
( Oct. 17th, 2009 03:10 pm)
It's getting colder in Dumfries!

My mother sent me a care package with some decorations from my room, and the place certainly looks brighter now. I'll need the cheer because I'll probably start spending more time indoors now!

I've found fresh ginger at the grocery and now am once again enjoying ginger tea as I always did back home. It's perfect for the cool evenings.

The leaves are changing and the air is crisp and fresh. The sun still spills in my window, but my spider is now sadly absent and though the glow brings the same joy it no longer brings the warmth.

There is a storytelling festival in Edinburgh later this month that I'm determined to attend!

Not much to report this week. Life continues. Autumn progresses, winter looms. For once I do not mourn the loss of warmth so keenly. That may change, depending on how cold it gets here! But for now, it's enough of a novelty to be seeing a Scottish winter to take the sting out of the season's approach.

If Scotland was a man, I would ask him to marry me.
Oh hey wow. I was totally supposed to update this once a week, and have utterly failed to keep that up. I am very sorry to anyone who was waiting on news of my adventures. That elusive master's knowledge and getting in the experiences to write home about have been taking up the time and energies I had intended to reserve for writing here. I promise to try to squeeze it in more faithfully from now on.

Anyhow. So you know that song, "Auld Lang Syne?" Yeah the one everyone sings on New Year's Eve. Robert Burns totally wrote that. And about a gazillion other poems and songs.

Robert Burns resides in Dumfries, so he's pretty big here. Well okay, what's left of him resides here. In an impressive and startling white mausoleum that is always lit, smack in the middle of a beautiful, ancient-looking mazelike churchyard where all the other markers are made of dark sandstone and look old, weathered, cracked, moss-and-vine-covered, or otherwise really really neato.

Yeah we're bffs, Robert and me. I visit him now and again and he's a really good listener. He doesn't talk much, though.

Didja know that if you go over to the Globe, which is a little pub hidden down a tiny side street, you can get a really awesome coffee with Bailey's in it ask to see Burns' effects? And an obliging fellow with ancient skeleton keys will take you to the room he used to sit in by the fire? And then upstairs, to be shown Burns' own four-post bed? Cuz yeah, you can do that. And it's historiffic.

There's a museum that I'm determined to track down. Also, his house says "Burns' House" on it in huge black letters with a giant arrow and that makes me so happy.

There's a statue of him in the town center, and a statue of his wife and one of their children across from the churchyard.

Burns Burns Burnsity Burns. He's all over Dumfries! It's actually pretty cool. I like people with a bit of poetry in their souls. Dumfries has a bit of poetry kind of injected into its heart. It attracts a certain aura of romance.

Guess what I have on my desk right now? A conker! Are you asking what in the bleeding world a conker is? I sure was when someone talked about them to me. A conker is a horse chestnut. I think there are horse chestnut trees in the USA but I've never had the opportunity to see one, nor to play with a horse chestnut. THEY ARE NIFTY. They have a beautiful color and a smooth feel and I've been just kind of turning it over in my hands. It's too bad it's going to shrivel up like a bean because if I could dry it hard somehow and keep it like this I'd paint a tiny face on it and keep it on my desk. Kids play with them, tie them to strings and strike them together, have little tournaments, whoever's breaks first lost.

They apparently are said to repel spiders, but I hope not because I took an instant liking to the huge spider that lives in the corner of my window (on the outside of the pane). She spins beautiful webs all over my window for me and eats all the little bugs. I am going to be sad when she either dies or hides away for winter. I will miss my daily dewy macrame displays. Sometimes I call her Lady (don't actually know if the spider is female but I thought the big ones usually were so I guessed, also there are a couple of mini copies of her that hang about, I'm assuming either children or would-be suitors). But mostly I just call her Spider.

That's my update for today. I gotta read more about Brownies! (The household spirit kind, not the eating kind!)
ladytroubadour: scrap of blue sky with clouds (Default)
( Sep. 28th, 2009 02:23 pm)
I just wanted it generally and publicly known that I really love my program and my teachers. I wish my classmates didn't live so far away/ weren't so busy because I'd like to be seeing more of them. These are totally My Clan.
He is no longer the hottest muscleman selling some sort of product. Yes, Mr. Clean's bald head glows brighter with jealousy when he gazes upon the glory of:


Now, that's some hot cereal. Why yes, I select my breakfast brands based solely on whether or not I'd like to make out with the various guys in kilts heaving a shot put around on their boxes. Doesn't everyone?

Also, you can see my sweet little cafetiere, which keeps me in coffee each morning without breaking the "no heating elements in yer room" rule.

Sexy oats + coffee = blissful morning.
Good times. I'm going to like this year very much. My classmates are interesting and friendly and my class seems exciting! I am now officially a real folklorist.

Happy happy happy. Later I'm going to the library to fuss about. For now, I'm having a coffee (how'd I ever live without a cafetiere?!) and updating the world on my life.

Today I got up really slowly and a bit late, so I think I'm going to start setting my alarm until my body adjusts to a new schedule. I think I'll aim for out of bed by 9:30. If I can manage earlier, swell, but I do like to stay up till the wee hours and with current class in afternoon I can afford to coddle my body's natural tendencies a bit.
So I went to town to get a bank account. Ended up making an appointment since they were about to close. Decided to walk back.

On the way I passed a sort of hole-in-the-wall, two-woman operation that proclaimed they sold fish and chips. I decided that sounded way better than cooking, so I walked in and noticed on the menu: haggis, with chips (my friends back home know these as fries).

I jumped at the chance to taste this native dish I've heard so much about at last. She fried it up, put it on top of a bed of potato-y goodness, slathered the lot in vinegar and sprinkled salt on top. I threw in a pickled onion, just to complete the junk food glory. I've never had one, but I like pickles and I like onions so I thought what the heck.

I ate the onion first. It was really, really good. The chips were amazing, even better than the ones from the county fair. Finally, I dug into the haggis.

Okay so all the people who teased me about haggis can eat their words because it's freaking yummy. It's kind of like sausage, and kind of like meatloaf, and kind of not like either, and fried in a casing, or is that breading? Maybe it is the sheep-stomach part. I dunno.

No wonder dear old Rabbie Burns died at 37, if this is how he was eating. A delicious meal, but very heavy, and doesn't sit gently on the tummy after-- you need a rest, not something to eat before you go out for a jog for sure. I hadn't eaten lunch at all, but still couldn't even finish the chips after the haggis was gone. I probably could have halved it and saved the rest but I don't know how well it reheats.

I don't think I'll be having it often, but I am not the slightest bit sorry I had it. Verdict: Yum! Tastes like fair food. If you're in Scotland you should definitely try it before you complain that organ meat is way too exotic and sounds yukky.

Um, leave it alone if you can't handle something rich and fried though. My tum will likely tell me stories about this meal tonight. IT WAS WORTH IT.
ladytroubadour: scrap of blue sky with clouds (Default)
( Sep. 18th, 2009 01:29 pm)
In General:

Scotland is magnificent. Twice as beautiful as the pictures. Every direction I can turn my head is so breathtaking that I find it hard to catch my breath. The people here strike me as warm, a bit stoic, and generally affable. Dumfries is a somewhat small town with a bit of a slow and easygoing pace, a little drowsy sometimes but makes up for it in beauty and serenity. Glasgow is a big city that moves at an almost frantic pace but is vibrant with life and seems to have a certain jovial tone. Edinburgh is smaller than the latter but larger than the former, and balances the energy between the two with a kind of quiet-but-connected feel. I could easily see myself living in Edinburgh. What a place. The people live right on top of history, and there is a certain sense there that the past is still part of the present.

Scotland is magical. There's really nothing else I could say that could capture it in a single word as eloquently. Scotland has a magic and I am caught in its spell.

On Fresher's Week:

Let me give you a word: busy. No wait, let me give you four: Oh My Goodness, BUSY! I've been to almost every event and informative tour, plus walks to town to shop for food and necessities and to generally have fun plus hanging out with the folks in the dorm until the wee hours and on and on. Hardly any sleep to be had but lots of activity, which is why here on the last day of this mania I was forced to skip out on the festivities and take a nap. Apparently there is a physical limit to how much my body can tolerate of taking on a frantic pace with little sleep or food. I've had a quiet day just now, while the dorm is silent as a tomb so I can only guess the others are partying again. How on earth do they do it?! It was scant amount of years ago that I was their age. Hell, Paul's older than me at 32. But I just can't keep it up forever. I love company and being social, but I'm still an introvert and I need my batteries recharged!

But don't think I haven't enjoyed every moment. I decided early on in this adventure that I'd jump at the opportunity for every new experience. Each new food or drink, each new person to talk to, each thing I might not have done before. I felt apprehensive when I beheld the door to the Black Mausoleum, knowing I was about to get the pants scared off me with a tense story and creepy shadows, but I took a breath and I walked right in. I was a little intimidated by the scene at the club and didn't have as much fun as I'd hoped, but everytime someone grabbed my hand or caught my eye and waved, I came over and wiggled to the music. When a game of football started up I ran and kicked and ducked and laughed at mysef. When there was a movie in the dorm upstairs I watched it, when there was drinking and loudness I sat in and listened for a bit (still searching for a drinkable alcohol, I've tried a few things but so far still pretty sure alcohol mostly tastes like fermented barf).

There is much to be proud of in my little compact body, which, while short and leaning well into the rotund, is a sturdy little thing and has held up very well to a good deal of liberties being taken with it this week. As I've long suspected but never properly tested, I'm not built for short spurts of heavy activity, but I have a lot of stamina and I can walk for ages before it wears me down. After a summer of almost no exercise, I've only been a bit sore and stiff from a solid week of nothing but walking and largely on hills. My legs don't go fast but they eat up the miles like it's nothing. It's a quiet victory in a lifetime of being assumed to be very unfit and ugly because I don't meet certain standards of attractiveness and athleticism and grace. My body is not wrong nor bad nor diseased, it's a lovely litte design that does its job and serves me well. It doesn't attract much attention, but then, it doesn't need to. I do that bit well enough on my own. ;) I don't feel I am close with anyone here yet, not properly, but there are people who smile when they see me, and that's my favorite compliment (though when Bom told me I am very good-natured and he likes the way I laugh, I liked that too).

On My Friends in the Residence:

There is something to like about everyone here, for all they're so different. Lots of international students, and I love learning about the different languages and cultures. Everyone's generally quite happy to hang out, to share a beer or a cab or some food, watch movies together, laugh, sing. A bit of general college rowdiness of course but so far nobody seems to be out of control and everyone has been getting along. I'm enjoying getting to know them all. I hope I'll have a few closer friends, maybe even at least one proper Friend (it is hard to come up with words for relationships when you are the sort of person who generally likes nearly everyone unless they really blow it in some way), but if nothing else I can tell already I'm going to have no trouble establishing a warm association living with everyone here. I'm very grateful, as room-mate troubles was a key worry for potential disaster and it is seeming to be averted neatly.

I'm going to be a warden soon (think RA), which I'm very pleased with. Needed the income, for starts, but more important I am glad for the responsibility. I think having so many others to look after will keep me from feeling homesick or frightened as much as I might otherwise.

I'm the only American in the dorm for this particular term, and the only female in my flat. No one in my flat is a native of Scotland. Around the whole dormitory there is a good mix though and we all hang out together for the most part.

Some Thoughts About Journey and My Current Place in the World:

I'm so glad to be here. I still do feel a wee bit out of place, a post grad in an undergrad world, but I still feel this was exactly the way to find my place. I look with eager anticipation to the road ahead. Despite the challenges and headaches that lie before me I know this will be a year I'll remember forever, a real beginning in discovering who I am and what I'm doing with my life next.

I'm glad you're on this journey with me. I'm glad for everyone I've ever been touched by or who has ever been touched by me. Thank you for being a part of my life. I love you all, more than you will probably ever understand.

No really, especially with all the complaints I get about being so rotten at keeping up with everyone! ;D I do tend to keep only a few truly close, and I know that vexes some of you, but I wish there was a way I could explain to you how you're in my heart despite my weird needs for certain amounts of distance. To me, when someone is part of me, the distance doesn't matter. And maybe I haven't seen or talked to you in a long while, but once we meet again I don't really feel as if we were ever apart. Two nights ago when we saw a film the first thing I thought was how much Kori would have loved it, and despite not being able to call her and tell her so, the thought made me happy. It made her close. Bah, it's hard to explain! But you are with me, yes, even you family members I don't see or talk to much, yes, even you, family friends who rarely hear from me, and yes, even you, reading this, who all know exactly who you are. I appreciate you. I do. I am just... ah me, I am my own, and trying to find my place in the wide world, what to say?

Namaste, blessings, and love to all of you. Even the ones I have yet to meet.
ladytroubadour: scrap of blue sky with clouds (Default)
( Sep. 16th, 2009 04:15 pm)
So much to say, but too much tired to say it all! Just a quick update until I have some breathing space to type something proper.

I am sorry for my absence from the 'net since Saturday!

The internet was not working here in the dorms for some time. It was really something to discover how dependent the world at large and specifically myself is on the internet. I was isolated from my family and friends, unable to do some important things for school and unable to tell everyone I was okay. Also, at night, if I wasn't ready to sleep yet things were a bit dull. ;)

OH MY GOODNESS so much to tell... this is the best decision I've ever made for my life, just ever. I am in love with Scotland.

I am the only girl in my flat! The only American in the dorm! The only full time Folklore student! There's tons of international students here which is super awesome neat. I am loving sharing information about all our countries together. So much is different here but I'm shocked by how much is the same. I am going to look up a good biscuit recipe... THERE ARE NO BISCUITS HERE. Holy crap. They call hard crispy cookies (like Oreos, which exist here) "biscuits" and what I know as a biscuit does not exist. Which is sad because it's one of my fave foods. I'm going to ask my mom if she will send me some Bisquik!

So far my best friends are Rachel from England and Bom from Thailand, though I'm also finding Paul to be a nice and very interesting fellow, he's originally from Oxford if I remember aright.

Everyone seems fairly friendly and likable though I think some people are surprised by my enthusiasm. That's predictable though, happened in the States all the time. ;)

My one wish is that there were more post-graduate students. Other than that it's wicked awesome. Do not get me wrong, the undergrads are all wonderful, lovely young ladies and gents. I enjoy their company. But it's not quite the same as people who are in your same situation and share your life experience... even older undergrads at least have that comfort with student life to the point that they, you know, loosen up a bit... the folks here mostly have that freshman stiffness where they're not quite sure how much of themselves they're willing to let on to others yet, how much to let go... that place where you realize it's okay to get silly, you'll still be able to be serious again later when you need/want to.

So, as you can see, some things are just the same the world over. Like Starbucks. You can't escape it!

I got a job as a warden, which is their name for a resident assistant, basically. I was really happy and excited and grateful to get offered the job! For one, I will really need the money. For another, it'll be a great way to keep busy and involved, and I think that having the responsibility to look after others will keep my mind from any thoughts of possible homesickness.

Though homesickness hasn't been such a big deal, truth be told. Sure, I've had an episode here and there (which I expected), but I cry for a minute and then I'm done. There's too much to love about what I'm doing, too much excitement about my future, to invest much involvement in moping.

Today we went to the main campus at Glasgow. Oh my. I admit I experienced some jealousy. I had to remind myself all the advantages of going to the smaller campus, and how much I am looking forward to my folklore program! The big campus is SHINY. And oh my, so busy! I think you wouldn't have an instant's lonesomeness in a place like that. I see why my pal Michael counts it as his favorite city in the world, it's just hopping, exactly the place for a people person like him.

The jury's still out but I think that I might prefer Edinburgh. Glasgow seems like it'd be a fun and exciting place to live for a bit, but as far as livable long-term, I'm thinking the general size and pace of Edinburgh is the perfect balance between the bustling megalopolis of Glasgow and the sleepy small-town feel of beautiful Dumfries.

Bla bla bla. And what a pack of disjointed thoughts complete with shitty writing this all was. But I just needed to ramble some kind of update so you all know I'm doing great and not in fact dead. Also I dunno how to cut DW and can't be arsed to look it up just now, so Wall Of Text is yours free with purchase today!

It's ten here, and I'm beat. More later. I may or may not edit or otherwise lock this post... this was supposed to be something of a nicely-written thing, you know, keeping appearances up for the folks back home. ;)

CHEERS, (lots of people say that here)
The tour of Greyfriar's Kirkyard, after dark, in the Covenanter's Prison, was beyond incredible.

Also, I am in the exact right place in the world to be getting this degree, and could well become a storyteller instead of a professor (or in addition to).
Oh my goodness lord Edinburgh rocks the socks right off my hocks.

Now that I'm well rested, well fed, and stuffed to the brim with adventures, you get an update with some substance. :)

Click here for rambling! )

Well it's time for me to be off to bed! There's more wonderfulness to come on the morrow, so I've got to get rested up.

A special note to those close to me: if you are at all worried about my welfare, stop that nonsense posthaste. I have never, ever been better. Ever. This is the epitome of my life's experiences to date. Be happy for me. Be elated for me.
ladytroubadour: scrap of blue sky with clouds (Default)
( Sep. 10th, 2009 06:04 pm)
I'm far too tired to give even what little I've seen of the city the full attention it deserves. The trip was pretty exhausting (I don't think anybody much cares for eight hour flights), and I'm determined not to sleep until it's bedtime Scotland time, to get acclimated to the new time zone ASAP. So Cara took me to see a few sights after dinner.

Rendezvous with my cousin went smoothly, by the by. She and her betrothed are both lovely people. It's so nice to have this opportunity to get to know them a little and see a bit of Edinburgh into the bargain. I've been really grateful, to have someone to meet me at the airport was wonderful and they're incredibly gracious hosts.

Anyway I am here in one piece and have already taken at least a dozen photos! Edinburgh is old and very beautiful. Greyfriar's kirkyard is amazing and I can't wait to get a better look at it, especially at night.

Well I feel fried. Details of the flight and my first impressions to come. Just wanted concerned parties to be posted on my intact status. ;)

Edinburgh smells of history and cooking and Scottish air.
Um. Wow.

I'm leaving. The country. In the morning. First time on a plane by myself. First time overseas. First time away from the family and friends where they really, seriously, are NOT in reach. Out on my own. I won't even have my dog Eppy, who has been my fur-shadow for the better part of ten years now.

I'm so excited. And it seems very fitting, as a budding folklorist, for me to be making this journey. So many old stories talk of the protagonist "going out into the world to seek their fortune." I AM GOING OUT INTO THE WORLD TO CREATE MY PLACE IN IT.

This is so awesome and scary and amazing and neato and just HOLY FREAKING CRAP YOU GUYS.

Also, I hope I am someday able to be the sort of person who doesn't like to mark their personal space with artifacts and colors and things, and can just live comfortably with a toothbrush and a clean shirt, because packing was a freaking nightmare. We didn't even have time to bake a pie.

Also also, this immunity mix-it-in-water drink, which was "designed by a teacher!" and tastes like something that ought to star in a B horror flick titled The Return of the Revenge of Tang, is the most vile swill I've ingested in a long time. If I should so much as sniffle after this public transport adventure, thus rendering said ingestion a futile endeavor, I will find this teacher, and I will pour a bottle of the junk on her head.