Welcome to the Other Side of the Pond. I have arrived and survived...due to some luck, some miraculous intervention, much muscle power, and many many British Pounds Sterling. I hesitate to relate the entire journey from painful beginning to happy end (as much for my own still-delicate psyche's sake as for the attention-span of my valued audience). Here are the highlights:
1. No word from the visa people until the MORNING I DEPARTED. After asking for St Anthony's intercession ("Anthony! Let them find the d*** thing! ...I mean the blessed thing!") said small bit of paper arrived in mail and Thomas More and Sobbing Spouse pulled out of the driveway moments later in the car loaded with many sweaters and a very-vaccinated pooch.
2. Very vaccinated pooch and owner were duly checked onto their flight (tears from owner once again) and Thomas More abandoned them. Saintly Mother met MoE in airport and we flew across The Pond. HOWEVER, discovered upon arrival that Very Vaccinated Pooch had arrived in the UK ONE DAY TOO EARLY!! Marley spent the night at Heathrow to finish up his quarantine. (This could have been much worse. They could have sent him back...or kept him in quarantine for another 6 months...or euthanized him!)
3. While Marley served time, Saintly Mother and MoE had a lovely time in the London Tube system dragging MoE's bags (140 lbs+) up and down stairs. Permanently damaged my spine.
4. Upon arrival by rail in Edinburgh, MoE pulled out of the station in her hired car and WITHIN 10 MINUTES crashed said car into another car in a moment of panic. Very sweet Fresher boy from Uni Edinburgh agreed not to prosecute. (*Note* My father does NOT know about this.)
5. Somehow drove out of Edinburgh and into Fife with no other problems. Arrived at Anstruther. Walked to address of flat, tried key--which would not open the door! Stood outside in the Scottish damp with a severe case of jet lag and little brain to speak of, trying the door again...and again...until suddenly the door opened and an ancient man appeared in the fading light, gazing bleary-eyed out at us. "Who are you?" Apparently we had the wrong address. ....Found correct door, went inside.
6. Father arrived in Edinburgh. Father's bags did not arrive in Edinburgh. We drank beer and ate shortcake outside of Edinburgh castle.
7. I bought this awesome car. (Well, "awesome" is not quite the word.) Drove awesome car to St Andrews for the first time. Awesome car broke down on first trip to St Andrews. It just fizzled. Fizzled and died. Into St Andrews I came, the grand conqueror, the World Traveler, the car fizzling, literally ROLLING into the Royal Burg of St Andrews. (385 Pounds Sterling later...it works great!)
"No Problem" side of the road indeed.
But beyond these small difficulties, and the difficulties of no internet, bad phone connection, being always lost, always out of Pounds Sterling and lonely for my husband...
beyond these things... Scotland is a fabulous place. The light shines today on the stones of the cathedral ruin, on cobblestones, the long beach below the cliffs. I run along the coastal path in the morning from one fishing village to the next. People say "lovely." People drink sherry and port during the day. And beer. And gin and tonic. Students walk around the town wearing scarlet academic gowns. Ridiculous. Ridiculous.
Keep posted folks! My brain will settle in time. The wonder I begin to feel with develop and I will explore the Kingdom.
God bless you, wherever you may be...
St Andrew! ora pro nobis!
pray that the poets may be filled with language, with Joy, with clarity and strength.
I was a bit concerned for my poor husband's eating habits in my absence. Oh poor little Thomas More! What will you eat? Let me plan menus for you and email them over the sea so you won't waste away after my departure!
I received this email this morning. What do you think? I think he's doing just fine.
"I made sea scallops tonight. I breaded them with flour pan fried them and served them over pasta with the pan sauce I made by deglazing the pan with port. I had raddicio with with oil and balsamic vinegar as my vegetable and I tried to roast some pears for desert. The were not the right pears, but they still tasted pretty good."
I made it in one whole piece. With dog and with most of my brain. Unfortunately I have no internet access in my flat for the moment, which makes extensive blogging difficult. To my faithful readers: I will return within days to give a more indepth account of my adventures to date. Right now I am glad to be sitting in a coffee shop in St Andrews, surrounded by people who I don't know (yet) drinking a latte and listening to Sufjan Stefens.
I wanted to post a link to this store, AS SEEN ON APARTMENTTHERAPY.COM! a true haven for those of us who loved and now miss Domino Magazine, and all designy-types who happen to live in lovely Kansas City!
I am also proud of my personal connection to Retro Inferno, which is owned and operated by my dad's friend Rodney Parks.
I am selling my car here in North Carolina. This is a very sad thing, for I have gone many places in my car, which has served me well from Kansas City to Chicago to North Carolina. It is a 2001 Honda Accord, which has become the official "Car-which-Conscientious-Fathers-buy-their-daughters" and (I might add) a car for which daughters soon thank their fathers heartily. My Accord has never broken down on a road-trip (more than I can say for Thomas More's VW Jetta), it has great gas mileage. It's held its value. Wise father it was who bought this car for me in days of yore...
So we posted the Accord on Craigslist and Lo! less than 24 hours later I received a call from (we shall call him) Garry Wise. I soon learned that Garry is--can you guess?--a Conscientous Father, looking for Solid, Safe transportation for his Dear Daughter, who is only just 16. Mr. and Miss Wise took the car for a spin as I waited, feeling sad and fond of the old thing...
If Mr. Wise buys my Accord for Miss Wise I will be in possession of enough $ to purchase another car for myself (in Scotland!). Now, despite his fears to the contrary, I am, in the end, my father's child. It is true that, in my natural habitat, I gravitate towards the impracticle, the aesthetically pleasing and the expensive. But give me Grace, I plead! I am a poet!! an Artiste!--and if one is a poet and an Artiste, one cannot be purely practical from one's foundation up! I do not claim this lack of practicality/propriety/responsibility as a virtue. I endeavor to be a better person--I do!--without loosing whatever it is that allows me to write weird poem-things.
Thus, I am still my engineer father's child. And as my father's child, I recognize the wisdom of the Honda Accord school of thought (i.e. Safe, Solid, Economical, etc). So the other day, with this wisdom firmly fixed in my mind, I accordingly (ha!) scoured Auto Trader UK in search of an Accord-esque vehicle for under 3,000 pounds. Here are some of my finds: (Look! It even LOOKS like an Accord!)
2001 Vauxhall Omega (subsidiary of GM) 68,000 Miles 1,750 pounds
Or this: 2001 Vauxhall Astra 68,000 miles 2,995 pounds (and it's "Flame" Red!)
I was very proud of finding these rational cars which were oh-so affordable and dependable and having-of-four-doors and under 100,000 miles. Blithely I tripped up to my dear Thomas More to show him my reasonable finds! "Look Husband!" I said, "though I am a Poet and an Artiste, and though I am dragging you and the dog thousands and thousands of miles away from family and jobs in order to pursue (????) my Artistic Fate, my True Vocation, my Literary Destiny (!!!)....despite these things--I can still be practical and rational! Look! I have found Accord-esque vehicles in the Kingdom of Fife!"
I said these things to my Best Beloved. Yet he was strangely unmoved! "Why, all of a sudden" he said, "do you want to be Practical and Rational in this small matter (car), when this whole Scottish Adventure, this "Interesting Experience" is so fundamentally, irredeemably unpractical, irrational??" He paused for dramatic effect. "What else is on Auto Trader?" At which he left the room stared at the computer for half an hour.
He returned with an alternative to the "School of Accord." I will call it "The Wild Clan of Romance":
1989 Jaguar XJ XJRS V12 Engine! 78,000 miles Only 1,050 Pounds!!! (That's like, less than $2000!)
This is what my husband brought to me. "Go forth, wife, and buy me a Jag-yew-ah!" But...but...Thomas More! It will guzzle petrol like Grendel guzzles Geats!! "I care not! It will also devour the road and ride the wind!!" But Thomas More, it will break down in the Highlands in winter in the snow and we will have to walk 20 miles to the nearest town and get it towed... "I care not! What is this Journey but an Adventure, an "Interesting Experience"! Why deny ourselves this supposed jaunt through the Highlands in winter? this romp through the fens and the spinnies?? AREN'T YOU A POET? AN ARTISTE?? DON'T YOU CARE ABOUT BEAUTY??"
So I submit this quadry to my readers, be ye few.... to which school do YOU subscribe?? (Honda...Jaguar...Honda...Jaguar...)
In a mere fourteen days I will (Visa willing) be moving to the United Kingdom, landing in London and train-ing my way north to the Kingdom of Fife, there to pursue (another) Masters degree-- this time in Creative Writing, specifically POETRY. I will be a member of St Leonards College at the University of St Andrews. I will be walking past this every day:
And I will live in a little fishing village on the Firth of Forth: Which is less than a mile from this:All of this is quite an Adventure, certainly an Interesting Experience, or so I am told. It is an adventure which I have contemplated for many years with great yearning and hope. But now, two weeks from Blast Off, my approaching Adventure is causing much apprehension. Visa letters, moving house, selling cars, leaving husband, toting dog, catching planes and (not least) writing Great Poetry for marks--all of these things have contributed to my current dithering, figetting and generally fretting state. In this state it is nearly impossible to do anything productive including (but not limited to): sleeping, eating, writing complete sentences (let alone making poems), and speaking coherently to humans (I still seem to communicate quite effectively with canines). I walk in a daze of excited frenzy. I have completely lost any composure I might have had, which is a shame.
Because of my gradually gathering panic, I have been loathe to blog about my upcoming Adventure (i.e. "Interesting Experience"). Every one I meet asks me: "When are you moving to England???" (smiling down at me with vague parental pride). "Not England," I say, slightly annoyed, for this has happened to me 12 times today already... "Scotland!" "Oh yes," they reply, smiling with slightly less benignity, "Scotland! Will you be playing GOLF in Scotland??" "No," I reply. "What an Interesting Experience!" quoth they, "what an Adventure!!" And these statements are indeed true. However, I have grown tired of discussing my future Adventure with every person I meet. Especially when I feel (as I do now) great apprehension about this so-called Interesting Experience.
Who knows what will happen to me in Scotland? Will I discipline my muse? Will I learn Latin? Will I master Old English (I think not!). Will I make friends? Will I know, when the time comes, how to open a bank account? Buy a mobile phone plan? Pay my electricity bill? At nearly 26 years of age, I am a very defficient grown-up. And I am sad to leave my lovely husband who always takes care of me (cue the Andrea Bocelli..."Time to Say Goodbye!!!" la la la la !!!)
But there it is! There is no looking back! etc. etc. Off I go into the Wide Blue Yonder! there to succeed, or fail...
It matters not. God is sovereign: I must do my Litte Job--and do it as well as I can.
St Therese of the Child Jesus, Ora Pro Nobis.
"Love! That is what I ask. I know but one thing now - to love Thee, O Jesus! Glorious deeds are not for me, I cannot preach the Gospel, shed my blood...what does it matter? My brothers toil instead of me, and I, the little child, I keep quite close to the royal throne." St Therese of Liseeux.
"And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not!" Jeremiah 45:5