Stop the world, I want to get off.

Every time I get online, something awful has happened. I know news is like that – constant and overwhelming and often bad – but I feel like it has accelerated in the last few months. I am blissfully lucky, not having been affected personally by any of the terrible things that have gone on around the globe. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have a legitimate right to comment on it – I am outraged and heartbroken, yes, but it is in a way that lets me carry on with my day regardless. I am unaffected on a regular, personal level, however upset I might be on behalf of those who are. But there are thousands around the world who are intimately traumatised by all of it, who have woken up to news of terror and death and violence and shocking persecution of the most vulnerable people on this planet and are forced to accept that it is part of their experience now, that they cannot close their eyes and concentrate on something else to distract them from it.

Just as we are processing the several violent incidents in Germany, 4 Corners screens a story about the disgusting treatment of children in Australian juvenile detention. Just as yet another bomb goes off in Iraq, a murderous rampage takes place in Japan.

And we don’t get it. Instead of looking at the destructive global society we have created for ourselves, we are zeroing in on ‘solutions’ that actively won’t help. How can anyone in their right mind believe that stopping Muslim immigration is an answer to Australia’s problems? Ignoring for one moment the fact that a law like that would not be out of place in the Third Reich, it appears that people have forgotten Martin Bryant, the white perpetrator of Australia’s deadliest massacre since the days when Indigenous people were routinely murdered by the government. Those in power consistently paint asylum seekers and refugees as a threat to Western society. People fall over themselves to insist ‘all lives matter’ when confronted with the possibility that maybe the plight of black lives could use our attention a little more right about now. One Nation is back in the Australian Senate. Somehow, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for the US election. Every day brings an avalanche of discrimination, hate crime, and unstoppable abuse directed at everyone and anyone for their race, gender, appearance, age, sexual identity, religion, disabilities, ANYTHING.

I am so tired. I’m going to have a cup of tea and watch something comforting on television and maybe have a little cry. It is that easy for me to take care of myself amidst this shitstorm of never-ending bad news. I wish it was that easy for all of us. I wish all of you nothing but peace.

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Another wee update…

Working proper grown-up hours (not even properly full-time, just a little over 30 hours a week) is the best thing ever. I love it because I have money, and a routine that I never obtained in Australia, despite my best efforts. Having set hours and not having to scrape and scramble for casual shifts is so much better for my mental health. I’m just a wee bit tired while I’m getting used to it. However, I’ve still made lots of time for socialising – meeting friends for cake dates, doing book clubs, wine and cheese nights and catch up dinners at the pub, Skyping besties, Harry Potter trivia and all sorts of lovely things that remind me why I was so overwhelmed last year. I was working and socialising too much, but I think I am learning how to strike a balance over here, working and playing and making sure I have enough sleep and time to myself. It’s a learning curve, but it’s working. I also have an appointment with a counsellor booked soon. It is more pre-emptive than anything else because I’ve been feeling so good over here, but I think of it as a bit of a tune-up.

Sean and I finally used the voucher that my parents purchased for my birthday. It was for a restaurant on the Shore called Roseleaf and it was brilliant – really cosy, cute décor, with old-fashioned hats and books and even a typewriter surrounding the tables, and lovely dishes. The menus were inside old editions of National Geographic and I ate more food than was strictly sensible…we went for a long walk afterwards to digest.

We’ve had our first proper visitor (“proper” meaning someone who is actually staying with us in our flat) and it’s actually been less claustrophobic than I anticipated. Unfortunately, our guest has been sick as a dog, culminating in a late-night appointment at the hospital to try and sort out this mysterious illness that’s kept him pretty much bed-bound for five days. Thankfully, he’s on the mend and yesterday we drove out to Kelso in the Scottish Borders to get some sort of use out of the rental car that was booked before he became ill. Kelso is a lovely little market town – it has an enormous ruined abbey that I will definitely be back to check out (it’s free to go in, but the gates were locked when we walked past). We met lovely Bec and her lovely fella for dinner at a pub that was extremely cheap compared to anything in Edinburgh, and had some really delicious meals. We walked through the town square and out past the abbey to the River Tweed, one of the most expensive and renowned salmon fishing spots in the UK. The sun was setting and everything about the way the light was moving reminded me why I picked Scotland and why I love this place so much. We drove back in the dusk, and were just commenting on how dangerous it feels to drive in country Australia at this time of night (because of the kangaroos), when a deer jumped out onto the road! We are fine, and Sean didn’t hit it or anything, because the deer hopped out of the way of the car, whereas a kangaroo would probably just throw itself headfirst at us. We also saw rabbits and what I think was a dead badger, but a deer on an asphalt road was a first for me.

Because I can’t resist a bit of good old-fashioned study, I’ve signed up for yet another online course, but this one is run through the Scottish Government Library and focuses on social media, copyright, information searching and evaluation etc. A lot of it will undoubtedly cover things I already know, but there’s a few bits and pieces that look interesting to me, and it all counts toward the professional development scheme I’m enrolled in back in Aus. It is less of a time commitment than the other study I have done this year, which is probably a good thing now that I have so much paid work to be getting on with…

 

Six months away!

A few days ago (the 29th of June) marked the six month anniversary of leaving Australia. In some ways, it has absolutely flown by. I never anticipated time would move this fast. And then other days I wake up and think back to Melbourne and it seems like a lifetime ago! The only thing for sure, is that it has been so much easier than I thought it would be. I steeled myself for a really difficult emotional transition that just…hasn’t happened. I am certainly not complaining, it’s been really nice to not have a hard time.

For those playing at home, we sort of killed it at Harry Potter trivia. By “sort of killed it”, I mean we got 32 out of 35!! But we still came fourth (winning team got 34, and two teams tied at 33). This competition is fierce and bloody and I love it.

I’ve leeched all the money from my bank account to buy tickets for the Edinburgh Book Festival, and, after a few days consideration, forked out an atrocious sum for the Bronte Society annual conference in August. I don’t regret it – it is Charlotte’s bicentenary this year and it will be amazing – but it is more money than I would ever usually spend on a two-night holiday. I also now have to wait until the end of July to buy Fringe tickets/extra book fest tickets/anything at all, because I need to conserve my cash!

Game of Thrones has finished for another year and I am BEREFT. This television show just gets better and better as it goes along. The only other show I can think of that does that is Parks and Recreation. So much to talk about. So few friends who want to talk about it at length. The struggle is real.

Huh. Brexit. The less said about that the better, because Mum asked me not to swear so much on social media and I don’t want to disappoint her. Similarly, regarding the Australian election. I’m writing this at 3am Australian time while they are still counting those DARN votes and everyone has embarrassed themselves and the whole country is going to hell in a handbasket. Hooray.

HAPPIER STUFF THEN:

  • We had a lovely day with a friend from Melbourne trooping up and down Leith and the New Town
  • I went to the Isabel Dalhousie Lecture at the National Library. Juliette Wells, an American academic who I have seen speak before, talked to us about the 1816 Philadelphia edition of Emma, the only edition of Jane Austen’s work to be published in America in her lifetime. The lecture was also introduced by Alexander McCall Smith (the fellowship being named after one of his characters) so it was cool to finally see him in person.
  • I had proper haggis, neeps, and tatties for dinner last night, and it was so delicious but WAY too much food. I should not have finished the entire thing.
  • We had another free ticket to a film festival event but we arrived late. Instead, we revisited a lovely wine bar that I’d been to with the book club and had a couple of drinks and had a super evening!
  • We ended up in a parade for Pride Edinburgh 2016 today. It was fabulous – so many people, dogs, rainbows, musicians, dancers, and organisations showing support for the LGBT community, including churches, banks, unions, and political parties. Love, love, love.

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