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I’m supposed to be writing an essay right now. So naturally, I’m blogging.

In a week, I will have been here for two full months.

In a week, I will be on a plane heading to Greece, Spain, and England for two and a half weeks.

It’s overwhelming knowing that I’ll be leaving in three months. A new batch of interns started working at the Parliament this week. Today I was stuffing envelopes (and getting carpal tunnel) and the staffer I was working with asked me how long I’ve been interning at the Parliament. I’ve been here for two months. I can’t believe it. To the new interns, we’re veterans, you know? We were here during the Fringe, during September recess, and the referendum.

The thing is, you don’t feel all these things when you’re living them. Actually living through things is highly uneventful and unexciting. But when you think back on all the things you’ve done and experienced, it really adds up. I know we always complain about not having work to do, but when I really think about my experience as an intern at the Parliament, it’s a great experience.

Sure, the workload (for me) is kind of light, and I do spend a lot of time just organizing my email, but I’m still spending time doing things and learning a lot about Scotland. And menial work wise, I’m really good at tying balloons and stuffing envelopes now. You know how you always see your boss or someone who is highly successful stuffing envelopes extremely quickly and efficiently? These are the experiences they had. Everyone started off stuffing envelopes. You have to get through these things in order to move to where you want to be.

The Parliament is great. It’s such a modern, progressive building. And the thing is, it’s designed to be progressive. I work on the third floor. But today, I had to go up to the fourth floor. I never go up to the fourth floor. So I get in the elevator and it’s going up. And I’m in the elevator and there are two MSPs in there with me, also going up to the fourth floor. And they were like, shaming me for wasting energy for going up one floor. It was all in good humor, but that’s only something that would happen in a place where the government is so green. And the actual MSPs are practicing what they preach. It’s fucking amazing. (But for the record, I am never making that mistake again.)

Working at the Parliament is great. I charge my phone there, I check my email there, I can scan and print things, I get a badge… Mostly I’m just really psyched about the badge. And there are important people there all the time. Last night we went to see a talk by Gandhi’s grandson. And they provided food, so I didn’t even have to make dinner. And I’m doing it again tomorrow for lunch so I don’t even have to bring food tomorrow.

And now that Iain’s gone, I get to move into the actual office (I’ve been working in Angus MacDonald’s office this entire time). But now I get to do actual work and provide actual input into the workings of Colin’s job. And it’s like, awesome. My opinions actually matter. I’m not just getting coffee and picking up dry cleaning. And the new desk is so much better. It’s shocking how much of a difference ten feet to the left makes.

This is one of those moments where it’s like, I’m already missing it even though it’s not nearly over yet. I know I will be devastated when this internship ends and I have to go back to the US. I’m leaving for October recess next week and I don’t come back until October 29th. And then two weeks later I’m going to Dublin, and the week after I’m going to Amsterdam. And then three weeks later, the program is over.

FUCK. I really like working there. And it’s like, being in Europe, I could literally just book a trip to France for the weekend. And it’s not a big deal. And I fucking love Edinburgh. Scotland is fucking amazing. The national animal of Scotland is a unicorn. This place is ridiculous. I also lowkey think I’m Scottish. They have to accept me as their kin. I’ve even started saying “hiya.” There’s no going back now.

Posted on October 1, 2014  ·  with 1 notes
Filed under: #photography  #it's pronounced edinbruh  

I was in the same room as Matty Healy. Granted, so were about a thousand other people, but I really felt the connection between me and Matty. He is absolutely amazing. I love watching him perform because he gets so into the music. He’s literally performed these songs thousands of times but he still puts so much into it. And he engages the audience and tells us to put our phones away. If you watch his interviews, he makes it very clear that he is actually really uncomfortable with the fame and he just wants music to be an outlet for young people, much like it was for him. God, I love Matty Healy so much. He’s just so honest. Like when he came back out for the encore, he was just like, “This is just something performers do. I’m not really gonna leave.” I don’t know. He’s just so raw and so passionate about his music. Just watch one interview and listen to him speak and you’ll just think, this guy is so down to earth and talented and so intelligent. His brain is ridiculously amazing.

I just really love The 1975. I love their aesthetic and their sound and everything about them. I especially, especially love their lights. The frames are just so freaking pretty. Combined with the smoke effects, what you get is a silhouette of the band and it’s just so damn amazing. They’re also so good live.

Manchester is such an amazing place. I had to stay at the train station through the night because the next train to Edinburgh didn’t leave until 6:30 in the morning. So we got there at 11:30ish and Sarah left at like 1:30. Which meant I had five hours to kill in a train station. Let me give you a piece of advice. Do not stay in a train station overnight. Going in, I kind of had an idea what I was getting myself into. But it was way colder than I expected. And I was way more tired than expected. And the seats were way more uncomfortable than expected. And there was a surprising number of people in there with me. Manchester Picadilly is a really nice train station.

So I was there, half nodding off, when this guy sitting a couple of seats over from me stands up. And he walks a couple of feet, and his eyes are closed. So I’m like, okay this guy is totally sleepwalking. Then he starts stumbling toward the platforms, which are outside, and I’m just watching him. And he walks toward the door and walks into the wall and stumbles backward. He was like holding his head and he was totally bleeding. And then he continued to stumble away! I didn’t see him for another four hours.

Anyway, then this forty-odd year old dude sits near me and starts talking to me and I’m like, well fuck. See, people from SF just don’t do that shit. Like, chances are, people who talk to you on public transportation are either crazy, trying to kidnap you, or both. But it’s not like that here. People just talk to each other and try to get to know each other. Anyway, I mentioned that I was there for The 1975 concert, and we started talking about how the entire punk movement basically started in Manchester. Joy Division, The Smiths, Oasis, and The 1975 are all Manchester bands! It’s just so interesting because The 1975 and Oasis couldn’t be more different (Matty Healy is a sweetheart and Noel Gallagher… isn’t). But it’s just so amazing that so many of my favorite bands started in Manchester. And I was there, where it all started, you know?

I think being in Europe (and especially Edinburgh) puts me into the mentality of like, this park bench is probably older than my country and therefore this place is historically and culturally significant. But Manchester isn’t like that. It’s really the first ever industrial city—so when industry went, this amazing music movement developed. And that was what, the 70s? I don’t know. I used to read about that stuff all the time. Counterculture, you know? What I would give to have been at Woodstock. But that’s beside the point. I like knowing where my favorite bands come from (not geographically, but culturally and socially) and what influenced them. I spent many an hour on Wikipedia researching these things. Who knew it would come to use at 3am in a train station?

Manchester is so influential in that regard. Think about it. All of these bands came from the same geographical place. Isn’t that fucking serendipitous? Without the shittiness of a post-industrial Manchester, punk wouldn’t exist. Without The Smiths, there would be no Oasis. Without Oasis, there would have been no Britpop invasion in the US, and there would be no grunge movement that developed in response to it. Which means no Nirvana. And where would we be then? Even taking The 1975, though Matty is always trying to differentiate them from the “Manchester band,” they are a Manchester band. And The 1975 really is something special.

So without Manchester, where would we be? Literally, two of my favorite bands of all time are Oasis and The 1975. Consistently ranked. So what the fuck would I listen to? Manchester is fucking amazing.

Anyway, my train was scheduled for 6:33am. So at 5:30ish, I went to Starbucks to grab a pumpkin spice latte because I was freezing. I never go to Starbucks. This was probably the first time I bought something there in years. So I leave Starbucks and check the train schedule. Manchester to Lancaster, Platform 14. Okay. I get to Platform 14 at 6:23. Train cancelled. What? It literally took me two minutes to walk to the platform. The train somehow got cancelled during that time. Fine. I go back to the desk and ask. Next train to Edinburgh is at 7:45. Great.

I go back to Starbucks for the wifi. At this point, the station has a lot more people and is getting pretty busy. They play French music at Starbucks. I feel like I’m in Hugo. I get on the train at 7:45. I immediately knock the fuck out. I wake up an hour later, feeling very nauseated. I had forgotten that I don’t go to Starbucks because coffee makes me nauseated. I hate coffee. I hate Starbucks. I hate cancelled trains. I love Matty Healy and I love Manchester. I also feel much more at home when I start to hear more Scottish accents on the train.

Life lesson? Don’t sleep in a train station overnight.


Posted on September 19, 2014  ·  with 1 notes
Filed under: #photography  #it's pronounced edinbruh  

So we didn’t win. Which is… disappointing but not devastating. I went out to a bar that was open throughout the night. Sidebar: Only eight bars out of the entire Edinburgh were granted an extended liquor license. Which is extremely stupid because they know people are staying up to watch the results. It doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, only one bar in the entire city was going to be open all night. All of the other ones were closing at 3am. So we went to the bar and it was filled with Yes supporters. It was really nice. Everyone had a seat and it wasn’t too loud or cramped.

And so when they started announcing the results around 2am, No was in the lead. It was like, 46-54. But it was like, three really small districts so it’s not like the numbers mean much. So starting off, it was already like, No was getting more votes in absolute numbers than expected. We knew those three districts were going to be No, but we didn’t expect the margin to be so wide. But then Dundee came around. Dundee was Yes by a huge margin. It was absolutely amazing. It pushed the numbers to 49-51. Everyone in the room exploded and started cheering and applauding. And it was so overwhelming, but in a good way. It was so happy and so passionate and it genuinely felt like we had a chance.

But then we started losing more and more districts by tiny margins, but these numbers add up. Everyone kept saying that Glasgow was going to turn the tide, but to me, it seemed like they were counting too much on Glasgow. It’s 10% of the electorate, and I know it’s a lot, and Glasgow was a Yes, but not by a wide enough margin. So by the time Glasgow was announced, the cheers were way less enthusiastic than they were for Dundee. And soon enough, it became obvious that the numbers were just not enough. We kept on losing district after district by small margins, but the numbers just kept adding up. It became obvious that we weren’t going to catch up.

It wasn’t like there was a single turning point where we were like, really close and head to head and suddenly lost. It wasn’t like that at all. It was more like a gradual, slow, plateau into acceptance and complacency. When Nicola Sturgeon came on and said that no matter what happens, we will still be working for Scotland together, it kind of signaled the end of it. There was no point where we were like, fuck. we fucked up. that’s it, it’s over. It was more like, slowly, we realized that we weren’t going to win and we just had to accept it. And no one was making a huge fuss about it and getting angry. It was more like, everyone slowly trickled out of the once-packed bar. So I got home at 6:30 in the morning and knocked the fuck out.

I kind of feel shafted. Like, it was right there. We had it, and it slipped right out of our fingers. 45-55! If it were like, 20-80, it would be like, okay the people have spoken and they don’t want independence. fine. But it’s like, nearly half of the people voted Yes! And the turnout was 87%. That is ridiculously high. So we could have had it, we really really could have. I can’t imagine how devastating it must be for the MSPs and the campaigners.

I don’t know. I feel like I’m always going to be bitter about this. To have it so close and have it pulled from right under you. I went down to Parliament today and there was a bunch of people gathered outside playing bagpipes and holding the Scottish flag. It was really sad. If we had gotten independence, there would be massive celebrations. But now it’s just like, well now what? I don’t know. I’m kind of upset at how not upset people are. I mean, I know deep inside people are upset. But where are the riots? Where are the crowds?

It also doesn’t help that it is so gloomy today. I don’t know. Let’s just take this as a day of mourning and reflection.

Things that tickle me.

Alright. Today is September 18. The past month of my life has been leading up to this day. The past two years of of the SNP has been leading up to this day. It’s really hard to compartmentalize everything I’m feeling right now, but I’ll try my best.

If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you may know that I have been wavering my allegiance ever since I got here. But here’s what I’ve realized. The issues and the campaigns are completely different. Issues aside, the No campaign is absolutely horrible. They are absolutely horrible at advertising and their attempts at it are actually disgusting. There was that horrible tv commercial of that mother who didn’t have enough hours in the day to think. There was the entire RBS scandal. It’s just absolutely horrible. It’s kinda like, if Yes wins, there will be celebrations because it will mean that everything they’ve worked for has paid off and they’ve achieved this amazing thing. But if No wins, there really won’t be celebrations for a great thing that they’ve achieved. It’s more like, yeah we’re gonna remain the same.

Which is also a problem with the No argument. The thing is, the No campaign is saying that they’re going to work with Westminster to change things and make everything better. But if I’ve learned anything about Scotland, it’s that Scotland has been bullied by Westminster for the past three hundred years. So it’s kind of like the fact that David Cameron waited until, what, last week to come up to Scotland and campaign. This campaign has been going on for two years but Yes has always been trailing. And the second it seems that Yes is viable, they immediately flock up here and make promises. It’s like, where were you for the past two years? Where were you for the past three hundred years?

So I’m honestly really scared that the No vote will win. All of the polls have been saying that they’re in the lead. And I’m honestly very scared of what it’s going to be like walking into Parliament tomorrow. This will make or break the SNP. What will this mean for morale? I’ve been here for a month and I have three months left. What’s happening today will set the tone for my work for the next three months. It’ll set the tone for Scotland for years to come. Millions of people will wake up tomorrow and their lives will be completely different. 

It’s kind of terrifying. I almost didn’t want this day to come. I mean, I’ve been complaining about the referendum and saying that I’m over it and that we’ve spent so much time discussing it and everything that it just needed to happen. Everyone is exhausted because of it. But looking back at the last couple of weeks, it was a whirlwind. I came here knowing nothing about the referendum and became so immersed in all of it and learned so much about the issues that it’s kind of hard to let go of. Because after today, so much of it doesn’t matter anymore. Salmond is always saying that no matter what happens in the vote, we will be working together as Scotland (I’ve also noticed I refer to myself as part of the Scottish people now. I also say we when I’m talking about the Yes campaign).

But this issue has literally divided the country so much that I don’t know if we can bounce back from it. And of course saying that we’ll all work together is something a politician would say. Tomorrow, I’m going to walk into work, and it’s either going to be awesome, or extremely awkward. SNP takes up the entire entire third, fourth, and fifth floor of the MSP building. I can’t imagine what this referendum will say of the next election. Everyone here is just so goddamn passionate! I’ve been up since 8 this morning canvassing, and I’m not the earliest one up. People woke up to vote at 7am, when they opened the freaking polls! This is goddamn important to them. I’m almost jealous that I don’t get to vote.

It’s a whole other world here. I know everyone, on some level, knows that there’s a referendum today. But to actually be here and actually know the issues and read the literature on it… I can’t even describe it. I know I’m going to look back on this after I leave Scotland and think, wow. I was freaking there when the vote happened. And it was absolutely, breathtakingly amazing. I already felt a lot of that when I was walking around today. I guess I just don’t want to look back and think, the most exciting time was before the referendum. It should be the work that comes after. It should be how everyone banded together and created an amazing thing.

They say we’ll start to get an idea around 3am. Here’s to not sleeping tonight!

Posted on September 18, 2014  ·  with 1 notes
Filed under: #captain's log  #it's pronounced edinbruh  

"The Jump."

EH3 9QY.

Posted on September 17, 2014  ·  with 1 notes
Filed under: #photography  #it's pronounced edinbruh