Assortment

A picture-happy post, to make up for my lack of photos the past few days.

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I took this photo of Younger Hall this morning at around 7:30 AM. The sunrise made me happy. Younger Hall is the music building, and right now I’ve got my window open and I’m listening to a symphonic band rehearse… lovely. (No really, it is.)

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For everyone who did not believe me when I said that Dr Pepper was a carbonated fruit drink. (And Coca-Cola is a vegetable flavour drink. I’m serious! Felicity’s Diet Coke said so!)

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I went down to Castle Sands again this afternoon to do some reading and the tide was coming in. “My” ledge is the second one from the left, the one with a patch of green on it, but today I sat on the first one to have a quick getaway if the tide came in faster than I expected. I wasn’t too worried though.

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The view from said second ledge. Now you see why I don’t get much done down there. Well, I did today, because I turned so I wasn’t directly facing the horizon.

There, pictures done, Happy?

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Latin today was once again intense. I have a week to memorize the cases and some vocabulary. Oy. And to finish reading Piers Plowman. I have tomorrow off, so it’ll be a working/errands day, and then class again on Thursday. I went to the first rehearsal today of the Renaissance Group. It’ll be hard work getting back into sight-reading but the music was fun (albeit a challenge) and I signed up to audition formally on Friday. I’m nervous!

First Day

It’s been a long day. Got up early (I’ve become a morning person) and talked with Megan before going to my first class, Latin. I must say, I’m pleased with how often Megano and I have gotten to talk now that I’m 6 hours closer to her in time. Anyways, Felicity and I were early, which was a good thing too, for soon there were more students than there were seats at the table. When Maxwell-Stewart arrived, he didn’t bother with any introductions, but immediately launched into an explanation of the Nominative case in Latin. This is going to be quite a class. The man himself is formidable enough—tall, bald, always wearing a kilt—let alone the pace he’s set with the first day.

Following meetings, a field trip to the rare books room in the library, a break for lunch and a mostly successful grocery trip, was my next class: Research Skills. Another large class, all English PGs, and will take effort to stay present mentally at 3 in the afternoon. I never did like the practical side of scholarship, but it’s something I’ve got to learn if I’m going to do anything at all in this field. This class has quite a few people who’ve already got their masters degrees, so I feel rather small, and because of my time period, out of place. Dr Tom Jones said it quite accurately: “Well, those medievalists, they’re different from us. They have beards, smoke pipes, and talk about dragons and that sort of thing.”

I talked with Megan again after class which helped cheer me up a bit. I wanted to try Tesco again for a missing ingredient, but before I did I took up Piers Plowman and went down to Castle Sands. It was empty, and the tide was half in. I climbed up onto my ledge, read a little, and just sat, reveling in how incredibly blessed I am to have such a view. It started to rain, and I still needed to go to Tesco, so I got up to leave. As I was walking up the stairs, I turned just a little and stopped. Before me was a perfect rainbow, visible from one end of the arc to the other, complete in its red orange yellow green blue indigo violet, so close and solid that I could have walked across the waves to reach it. I stood there, being rained on and not caring, because there was God in the beauty of his promise, a brilliant reminder, “I am faithful,” even when I haven’t a clue what I’m doing.

I waited until half of the rainbow faded, took another step up the stairs, and the rainbow was gone. But for those eternal moments I had the most perfect view.

Timetable

Fall08_Schedule.xls

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Being in the choir isn’t official yet, but I’m hoping it will be my extracurricular outlet for my sanity this year. I’ll need it: I’m a grad student and I’m taking four courses, auditing a fifth, with a sixth (Old English) starting after Reading Week in November. I’m trying not to freak out about this.

I told myself that I would choose one day of the week to be my sabbath/no-school day. I’m trying to decide whether it should be Friday (the day immediately after a hard week) or Saturday (so I can have a weekend). I’m leaning toward Saturday right now but I may end up letting it be fluid. As long as I get my one day a week. Getting out of town about once a month would be good for my sanity, too.

This afternoon, Ginger, Felicity and I were sitting at Castle Sands and we saw a flock of swans come around the castle, fish for a little while at the pool since the tide was in, and then continue down the coast. It was lovely and none of us had a camera.

Daughter of now

Daughter of heaven Oh, daughter of now
Drifting away and don’t make a sound
We’ll cry when we hear that you ran from this town
She’s gone to a new place now
She’s gone to a new place now

–“Daughter of Heaven,” Kate Rusby

I went to my first favorite place today to journal: a ledge at the base of the ruins of the Castle, out of the way of tourists, overlooking the sea. This is what I wrote:

So many people from “before”—for there is a definite moment that separates my life before Scotland and my life in Scotland—have asked “How is Scotland?” It’s the same question that they would ask if I were on holiday, and so I find it hard to respond. I came here with the intention of living here. How I came to find myself here is a story so full of happenstance that I know I am here not by any ability of my own. The past few weeks, and still today, I have walked half in a daze, following with faith the steps laid before me. Even now that I am here with classes starting–finally–two days from now, I am not really sure what I’m doing here, but I’m going to do it anyway. I know that I am headed toward something and this is the way to it, whatever it may be.

In short, from the first glimpse of heaven’s fingers brushing the green earth, I knew I belonged here. The sight of the sea is intoxicating. It draws me toward its neverending horizon, pulling me to seek it out when I take a walk, even if my destination were elsewhere. (It isn’t hard, I live two minutes’ walk away from the sea.) The vast expanse of the sea inspires, how somewhere a Divine Will said “this far and no farther” and the seas obeyed. Even as I watch it with wary eyes, I am assured by the water mark that the waves will not rise up and wash the town away. I have grown used to the crying of gulls and of pipes on the wind, forming a backdrop to life here. The addition of RAF planes and the tolling of bells, the smell of clementines and of Fairy Detergent, only complete the sense of familiarity I have with this place.

I watch the fishermen on their boats and the couples skipping rocks and feel not the disinterested detachment that had plagued me for months. I am still an observer, perched on my ledge, leaning against the castle wall, but I feel more present. That’s what it all comes down to, a niche into which I actually fit.

Scotland is where I smell the freshness of the sea and the perfume of roses. It is where I taste the smoothness of tea that still warms my spirit. Where my old friend the wind still toys with my hair. There is a blend of familiarity and newness which has kept it from being a shock to my system and yet continues to drive my wanderer’s feet to the cobblestone streets for some exploring.

I’ve tried to gather my thoughts in a coherent fashion, but I’m not sure how much I’ve succeeded. I have seen so much, heard so much, felt so much, thought so much, that it is impossible to put it all down except for in the scattered recesses of my memory.

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I hope this adds to the posts I have already written. I was out at the castle for an hour and I wonder in how many tourists’ pictures I have been. I must have looked very picturesque in my plaid brown skirt and striped brown cardigan, hair being blown about, the castle behind me, journaling. I felt quite Romantic. And that, perhaps, is my absolute favorite thing so far: the castle and the sea.

Ceilidh


The Flying Scotsman ceilidh

Tonight I went to my first Ceilidh, hosted by the Christian Union (CU). Pronounced kay-lee, it’s traditional Scottish dancing and it’s SO MUCH FUN. I danced about half of them, or tried to. It was incredible how many people there were! Everyone was flying about and changing partners and just having a blast. Each dance left you winded and thirsty, and it was so hot. Whether your partner was male or female there was a 50/50 chance of them wearing a skirt (a kilt, I know, but I was still amused!). The fiddler caught my eye during one of the dances I sat out and it happened to be none other than David P. He’s related to some friends at my church in Texas, and spent part of his gap year with them. I didn’t expect to see him here since he graduated a couple years ago. We got to chat a little bit, but then everyone who wasn’t helping clean up was kicked out so Felicity and I had to leave. But maybe some other time, if he comes round again (or I escape to Edinburgh). Needless to say, I will definitely ceilidh again!

Today went from blah to very good, so I’m glad. Felicity (now nicknamed Indy, by our new friend Jim) and I are excited that we’re going to be in the same Latin class. We also are (most likely) going to have another class together, too. Huzzah!

A picture of Market Street, since today was another unusually sunny day:

I now exist

At noon today I met Dr Rhiannon Purdie, my supervisor, and my classmate—yes, singular, there are only two of us—Sam, from Georgia. She put our modules in the computer and we now both exist and are “valid.” I have a better idea about my courses now and because there are only two of us, the staff are pretty flexible about how we’re going to do things. For instance, most of our courses are listed in the computer as being second semester courses despite our taking them first semester, so that we have more time to do our essays and don’t have to turn them in by December. We’re also allowed to audit any course the University has to offer, which is quite exciting. I’ll be sitting in on Dr Purdie’s undergraduate Arthurian Legend course this semester before deciding what my Special Topic module will be. For our Paleography course, we’ll be getting to work with real, actual manuscripts! She also said that by the time we’re done with Old English we would be able to teach it. And because both Sam and I expressed interest in learning Latin, she’s going to ask the Latin professor if we can join the class.

Yesterday the School of English held a symposium for the new postgraduates to orient ourselves to the School and gave tips and previews to what’s in store for us: research, writing, conferences, networking. That and the advising today, realizing I’ll be able to read an Anglo-Saxon manuscript from the Bodleian when this is all said and done, opened my eyes a bit more that I’m on the track to becoming a scholar, that in some ways I already am one, a “junior colleague”. It’s a heady rush of intimidation, excitement, and befuddlement. Nonetheless I’m eager to get my hands on a copy of the B-text of Piers Plowman and trudge my way through its Middle English (our first assignment for our bi-weekly course, which Dr Purdie said to get a start on now!).

Edit: Prof Maxwell-Stewart said that he was happy for Sam and I to join his class, so… I’ll be learning Latin—finally!!

GY79

This is Gannochy House. No, it isn’t very pretty. It houses 80 or so students, mostly PGs. It’s divided into two buildings (I’m in the one pictured), connected by the Common Room. Each floor has its own kitchen, which serves as the common area, because there’s only one Common Room for the whole building. Bummer, I know. Now, for some quick pics of my room:

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a) Taken from the corner with my sink.
b) My desk and notice board. This is the only area we are allowed to put anything on the wall. I’m in desperate need of a calendar for the last 3 months of 2008, so if anyone wants to cut up a calendar they have and send it to me…
c) The one place where I’ve broken the rule. (I so wanted to put up my “medieval ladies” above my bed, agh!) Since Sarah has Sophie (see photo on right, a blast from the past, our room at the Vines), I put up MGMOA’s “Salmagundi Club” exhibit postcard, another partially clad impressionistic woman standing before a mirror. I’ve decided to name her Verity, for truth (Sophie comes from sophos, meaning wisdom).

Anyways, that’s my room. I like it. It reminds me a little of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, like I should be putting milk on my windowsill.

P.S.
I’m also desperately in need of some twisty ties. I can’t find them anywhere! My bread and frozen veggies would like to be tied off properly. Since you’ll be sending me cards anyway, could you spare a few…? 😉