Monday, August 16, 2010

8/16/10:: You're Telling Me a Fairy Tale

Here is the math.

If I wake at 6am to have enough time to shower and drive to work before 8am, and if after a long stint of traffic I arrive home from work at 6pm, I have spent 12 hours of my 24-hour day consumed with work. Of this remaining 12 hours, according to tradition, I will sleep 8 hours away. On a given work day then... I have only 4 hours to live my life.

You can only imagine then how pressing it is to use these few precious hours in a way that is both relaxing and fulfilling--and these two things rarely come packaged together in the same activity. I read a lot now. I watch a lot of films. I relish little trips to town to buy myself small pleasures like gummy bears or a new novel. And you can bet I'm wearing dirty clothes because I almost never have the heart to waste these hours doing laundry.

Well anyway, a lot of this time is fittingly spent wondering what I
should be doing rather than doing it, whatever it is. And as a true American through-and-through (despite however much I wish to deny it) I want myself to do things that are both self-bettering (productive) and pleasurable. An American might easily interchange the word "pleasurable" in that sentence with the word selfish-- I don't think an American ever really does anything pleasurable without feeling guilty about it. Pleasure usually means naughty, naughty means guilty, guilty usually means selfish, and if we are selfish, we probably aren't bettering ourselves, are we? As much as I've tried to beat this mindset out of myself, I can't. It's who I am because I am a product of my country. I was raised this way.

At any rate, when I try to think about this imaginary, magical, elusive activity that will make my day seem like it was well-spent, my mind always drifts back to Scotland as I tend to view that as the manifestation of both the most educational and pleasurable experiences of my life. I also tend to think of reflection on the past as an important activity for self-improvement. Conveniently, daydreaming about Scotland is also one of my most reliable private pleasures.

It's funny though that when I consult my records (my writing on Scotland--in this blog specifically, though not exclusively), I mostly wrote very surface and action-based reports. "Today I went here, and I drank this much, and I met this person, and it was good. End."

But of course, this is rarely where my mind goes when I think back to Scotland. I find the most pleasure in thinking of the little things... stretching my mind, if you will... by challenging myself to remember the tiny details of what I like to consider my secret second life there.

I'd like to perform this activity now, but this time through writing. I will write a different but very true story about Edinburgh.

------

It's a Tuesday morning in March, and it's around 10:30am. Sunlight and street voices are simultaneously pouring in through my only window which is next to my bed where a night stand should be. It's enough to wake me because I don't use an alarm clock anymore, and I've had my window open since I arrived in January. I squirm in bed, wriggling out of my red satin sheets like a snake losing its skin. I can hear bagpipes playing, and they are coming to me all the way from Princes Street. I try to imagine all of the people pushing past one another in front of the shops there, and it makes me hesitant to get up.

When I finally sit up in the small patch of sunlight hitting my bed, before my feet even hit the green shaggy 70s carpet, I light a cigarette in my underwear. My hair is sticking up, and I stare out at Edinburgh castle through my window-nightstand-portal. I smoke, and I think about what my classmates are probably doing at the studio. Should I bother going in today? Is there a point? I text the girls to meet me for a coffee down the street instead. I stand up and water my petunia before I turn my laptop on for music. This time of year I was probably listening to The Smiths on repeat.

My clothes are all scattered on the floor, and it doesn't take me long to match up an outfit... almost everything I own now is black. I pull my tights on while I'm still puffing my cigarette. I feel like a French girl in an old burlesque show dressing room. I'd never considered myself a grown woman until my time in Edinburgh, and now there is no confusion. Men here think I am an exotic creature for some reason, and I have a new liberated and dominating attitude toward sexuality because of it. In ten more minutes, I am out the door. The air seems misty like it always does in Scotland, and the pavement is covered in pink and white blossom petals. I breathe deeper here because I am irrationally convinced the air is healthier. Girls in scarves are scurrying around the college, and a boy in skinny jeans is riding bumpily over the cobblestones on a bike. The double-decker bus blows by on the corner, and a stray cat walks beside me up the sidewalk.

Lindsey is already on the corner, and she is harboring a devilish grin. We start laughing before I even make it to her. We have lots to gab about on the way to the coffee shop, and I experience the joy of uninhibited, giggly girl talk the entire way down Lauriston Place.

I start almost every day this way in Scotland for six months straight. It's so simple that you think this could happen anywhere, but it doesn't. It's the Edinburgh Daily Special on Keir Street.

2 comments:

__s c h v e e said...

the reflection on your entries you typed while in scotland runs very similar to mine when i was writing in charlotte. i was much more surface-topic oriented too.

i thoroughly enjoyed reading this entry. i caught myself smiling at the computer screen. it's wonderful to get to know you that much more, kelly holla.

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