Flares of Creativity

Howdy guys!

This week contains a lot more footage as opposed to the usual word count.  I am not sure if I will continue to supplement the blog with the vlog, but I do enjoy both processes!  In any event, there’s some great photos paired with even better stories this post, and I hope you guys enjoy.

Class Update

Gaelic:  I had my second in-class test this Wednesday.  I feel pretty good about my performance, and I’m hoping for an 80 or higher.  The relief I feel after the fact is quite substantial considering how much effort I put into studying for this thing.  Now all I have left is the final exam on May 2nd – more than a month away.  Wow, here’s hoping I can keep up my knowledge up the language while I am adventuring during that time.

IPDA:  Now that my Gaelic test is over with I have begun my research paper in earnest.  This Thursday alone I managed to get all of my lit review done for it, which should be the hardest section of the paper.  All I’ll really have left to do upon my return from this trip to Skye is to run my data and put it into the paper.  The goal is to finish it before my birthday on the 2nd, but if I can’t the due date isn’t until the 6th anyway.  Still, not having any work to worry about on my 21st sounds like a damn good time!

Poli Thinkers:  It’s official – for my final in this course I am going to focus on Simone de Beauvior, Gandhi, and Frantz Fanon/MLK/Malcolm X.  This is mainly due to the fact that I can see the interconnectedness between them (and the fact that I’ve actually sat down to read their texts).  In the weeks to come I’ll sit down with their works again and dive into some secondary source readings, but for the time being it’s nice to have direction.  Also, I got a 62 on my Locke essay.  Solid B+.  Could have done better, but I am happy with my work.  At this stage of the game I’m more concerned with adventuring anyway.  I’ve come to accept the fact that maybe I’m not as smart as I think I am, yet that is not to say that I don’t aim for the highest marks every time I commit to something.  I am a damn good student, it’s just that when you study abroad you find it really hard to, well, study.

St. Patrick’s Day

Oh St. Patrick’s Day – what a wonderful cacophony of drunken mischief and mayhem.  What would my time abroad (and so close to Ireland) bring me upon this magical day?

Not much I’m afraid.

Let me begin by saying that I had no official plans to “celebrate” St. Patrick’s other than by waking up and drinking all day.  Concerning that goal I was successful.  From an Irish coffee in the morning to 15 hours of Guinness fueled delight I delivered to my liver a steady dosage of poison that kept my head at a buzz all day long.  But what was I to do with myself in my festive state?  Everyone that I knew was either busy or had class till late in the afternoon, so I was left to my own devices to figure out how to enjoy myself.

My hopes lay in the lanes of Cowgate.  Yes, the purveyor of hedonistic desires was open all day long starting at 9 a.m.  Why not travel down and see what’s up?  I said to myself.  By noon, I was dressed, buzzed, and stumbling down to see who happened to be lighting it up.

Unsurprisingly Three Sisters was the hub of the alcohol induced mayhem on Cowgate.  I looked up and down the street to see if there were any other establishments opening up their doors, but alas, I found none.  Quite literally every drunk/soon-to-be-drunk/college student had made their way to TS in hopes of being part of the swath of Bacchus-worshiping fools.  I was one of them, and soon found myself at the back of the queue.

Talk about a monster line.  With TS bursting at the seams with people the line to get in stretched at least a quarter-mile down in the direction of Haymarket.  Since there was no way to tell people in TS to leave to make room for others, those of us in the line were at the mercy of the bouncer’s discretion.  So, having no better ideas I stood in line and openly drank along with my fellow festive kinsmen.  I also found a fun hat on the side of the road (they were handing them out all over town) and I promptly put it on to immerse myself further into the day.

I must admit, I am going to miss openly drinking in public when I go home.  It’s just so much fun.  I had never seen someone chug a bottle of wine in front of the authorities until this day – I’m glad I have.  For now, I might as well enjoy the opportunity.

Back to the matter at hand though.  Fourty-five minutes into my first wait at TS I had moved approximately 5 feet forward.  Nuh-uh, I was not gonna wait for 7 hours just to get into a club.  Also, my seal had already been broken, so I had to pee.  Swallowing my pride, I left the line and booked it up to Frankenstein to find a bathroom – the bar was open, but dead (hah get it?  ‘Cuz Frankenstein is de- ah screw it).  Guess folks don’t want to spend an Irish holiday at a monster themed bar.  In any event once out of Frankie’s I wandered back down to Cowgate to see what else I could find.  When I crossed TS again I decided to try my luck and jump into the line about halfway in.  To my surprise I succeeded without incident.  Considering my options I decided to wait again to see if the line picked up.  It didn’t.  Another half hour gone by and I cut my losses a second time.  I was without a place to go, but at least I had a few Guinness in my bag.

I wandered around town casually filming and drinking and just enjoying the day as a whole.  I’ll be honest: it sucked without company.  But, all my friends were busy so I made due.  Finding nothing else of interest I decided to try to find MacSorley’s Bar, an Irish joint with a high reputation.  On the way there I passed TS for a third time and decided to jump the line AGAIN.  I succeeded AGAIN.  Now I was fifteen feet from the entrance.  Would this be my golden opportunity?  The answer, sadly, was no.  This time around the bouncers were visibly pissed with the crowd, and their overly-aggressive shouts of “MOVE THE FUCK BACK” really killed my buzz.  Considering it was a mob scene inside and I had no squad I cut my losses a third time.  I did find MacSorley’s, but it just didn’t feel right without any company.  Instead, I walked home and drank some more.  Whence back I cut together my footage and made this vlog during the afternoon.  Enjoy!

As day turned to night I continued to work back up my buzz until it was time to really hit the town.  Allison and Sarah came over to hang with Lawson and I; pregaming and just having fun all the while.  McKenna joined in as well and soon our squad was effectively getting sufficiently drunk enough to go out.  We messed with each other’s Tinder profiles … well that was the majority of what we did actually – it was extremely entertaining to watch Lawson double fist iPhones and judge copious amounts of people.  Eventually though, once we had polished off our drinks and taken enough photos with one another we finally set off out into the night.

[Note: I don’t have any pictures from St. Patrick’s Day.  Why?  I truly don’t know.  Just didn’t feel right.  I did film a bit though so I suppose that works.  Also, when it gets to be late and everyone is getting turnt I tend to put my camera down – that is unless someone does something hilariously dumb.]

Since I was selected to be the pack leader (how and why I cannot remember) it was up to me to guide us to a location.  Having struck out on MacSorley’s earlier I decided that it would be would a try to get in.  I had heard numerous good things about the place and read that it was one of the top recommended bars to go to on St. Patrick’s Day.

Apparently others too had heard of the place, and upon our arrival we were greeted by a queue.  We decided to give it a few to see if the line would move but after fifteen minutes we realized that we would be going nowhere fast.  Considering this as well as the fact that all of us had to pee I decided to bring the group forward and move on to our next destination: Dropkick Murphy’s.

Along the way to Dropkick’s we passed by Greyfriar’s Kirk.  Wanting to see some paranormal events Allison recommended we go in.  Having no objections, but wary of my own experiences here, I led the way.

We quickly stopped by George MacKenzie’s mausoleum.  He did not rise to my taunts, nor to my knocks on the door.  How rude.  But, that was just the appetizer as the real event always seems to be located at the Covenanter’s Prison.

Our ragtag group made our way to the black gates that guarded the section.  I recalled the time Bridie, Chris, and I heard the bottle smack against the wall.  Little did I realize we were in store for another unsettling event.

Seemingly out of nowhere a figure in a black trenchcoat came forward from the middle of the graveyard.  Silently he moved past me to the gate, where I heard the jingling of keys and the turn of a lock.  Without a sound or a glance in mine or my companions direction this figure went through the gate and locked himself inside.  I have no idea who this man was, or why he dressed the way he did, or why he was locking himself into the Covenanter’s prison.  I do know that all five of us saw him do this, and that he did all of it without a sound.  A few moments later we looked inside the prison to see him sitting on the side of the tombstone – or, perhaps it was just a shadow; I cannot be sure.  Whatever/whomever this guy was he properly freaked out the rest of my crew.  I was a bit take aback but quite honestly too drunk to feel any unease.  All I know is that it was a very strange event and to a random observer it was quite unsettling.  Needless to say we booked it out of the kirkyard and huffed it to Dropkick’s.

Once at DM’s, we were again forced to queue.  We figured we might be able to wait this one out, that was until the pub crawl showed up.  I guess they were a priority as all 200 of them were able to jump the queue.  Frustrated and just wanting to dance/drink I decided to dash all hope of trying to get into an Irish bar.  The effort just didn’t seem worth it.  So, we crossed down into Cowgate and hopped into the first place without a line: Bar Bados.

Tucked underneath George IV bridge, Bar Bados is quite literally just a basement with lighting and a makeshift bar.  They didn’t even accept cards.  Not that it mattered, seeing as our main goal was the restroom.  Yet, with time at the place we realized we could have a bit of fun.  It wasn’t that crowded, and the music was good, so we decided to give it a chance.  We drank, we danced, and we had a pretty good time.  Eventually though we wanted to move onward to bigger and better things.  Thus, we crossed the street and waltzed into Espionage.

As Espi, the source of many a good time for myself and the others of API.  I still have flashes of when I thought I got drugged here, but those are more positive memories nowadays.  It was time to make some more.  Being the fearless leader that I am I guided our group up to the second floor where we posted up in the infamous red section where I always seem to end up.  Across from us was a group of people, probably a few years older than us, who were also hell-bent on having a good time.

Then it happened.  I don’t know why, or how, but I got roped into a pole-dancing competition with one of the girls from the other group.  Well… fuck it I thought to myself, how bad could this be?  Before I could grasp what was happening the girl was twirling and grinding on this pole and everyone was cheering her on.  After taunting me, I found myself at the center of everyone’s attention.  Shit … shit shit shit.  I took a deep breath, grabbed the sticky pole (yay) and went for it.  I won’t even attempt to describe what I was doing, mainly because I don’t even know how to describe it myself.  All I know is that people were cheering and that for a time I felt like Magic Mike.  On and off the girl and I switched turns, and after a few rounds of battle I called it and played hypeman to determine the winner.



“HER!” Cheers

“ME!” Cheers

On it went until it was clear that her friends had the larger vocal capacity.  I had lost.  Ah well, I guess I’m not cut out for a life on the pole.  I congratulated the victor, and both our groups got back to partying.  For myself however, I went to the bar to get a stiff drink.  After that level of shenaniganry I felt like a lot of things in my body had to die in a flood of rum.  I purchased my shot and walked back to the red section.  Upon my return (and too my genuine surprise) one of the guys from the other group had his shirt off and was giving us all a private show on the pole.  This was happening.  Did I also mention he was approximately 300 pounds or more?  Yeah … there was a lot of jiggling going on.  Think Chris Farley at Chip & Dale’s, now with a pole.  Yup, that was my reality.  Wasting no time at all I downed my shot and did the only thing I could do: enjoy the show.

It was with a sorry lament we had to watch our new friends leave, but with their departure we had the red section all to ourselves.  Thus, we cut loose and danced around like the goons we admittedly had become.  It was also at this point that we realized that there was a drag show going on just around the corner on stage.  WHAT IS GOING ON TONIGHT? was the predominating thought inside my mind.  Then it hit me.  It’s St. Patrick’s Day.  Nigh anything goes on St. Patrick’s Day.  This would include Lawson dancing shirtless on the pole and myself stripping a little for our female friends (sorry buddy, I can’t not include that.  It’s too damn funny!).  But, with great effort comes great tiredness – it was time for us to head out.

On the way back home we passed by TS which finally didn’t have a line.  We decided to take a detour and see what was up.  As expected the place was MOBBED.  You couldn’t move two inches without getting up close and personal with at least three other people.  With just a stupid about of discomfort and claustrophobia our group quickly ditched the plan of hanging out here and retreated outside.  Admittedly we were all beat, and so, with nowhere else to go and no more energy to expend we stumbled on home.

It took all of five minutes of hanging out back at 5/5 to decide that we wanted food.  Specifically burritos and shakes.  As luck would have it, there is a restaurant in Edinburgh called Burrito n’ Shake.  It’s like we had been planning to go here when all of us were drunk or something.  Though exhausted we summoned our reserve energy in the name of food and hit the town in search of a late-night snack.

Twenty minutes later we arrived at the food stop in question.  I was so very excited to devour a roast chicken burrito, but they were out of chicken … OUT OF CHICKEN?!  NOOOOOOO!  I was upset, but maybe they had beef.  OUT OF BEEF?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  I sank into depression.  My options were severely cut by this place’s lack of resources in the wee hours of March 18th.  Lamentingly I ordered a simple strawberry shake and a bowl of nachos.  My shake had no burrito, and so I was sad.  At least the nachos were a decent consolation prize.

My friends and I sat and chatted for a while, but once our food was gone we all were ready to tap out for the evening.  Dwindling on empty we made our way home were we all said goodnight and quickly went to pass out for the evening.  It had been a long, good day of drinking.  While I may not have gotten into all the places I wanted to go to or make as many memories with my friends as I thought I would I still had a fun day.  I drank, I danced, I filmed, and I may or may not have witnessed the most vivid ghost ever in history.  For this day, at this juncture in my life, I don’t think I could have asked for anything more.

Photo Ops

While I have mentioned it numerous times I simply cannot do proper justice towards how much I am enjoying taking photos and filming vlogs.  Something about the process has ignited a spark that has been long dormant within my creative mind.  As such, I find a distinct need to take more photos and film more events that I pass by every single day.  Such was the case for the two days following St. Patrick’s day.

In truth, I had no intention to vlog on either date.  Frankly, I just wanted to get out of my room and wander about, expelling toxins from the holiday along the way.  I will link the videos below, and that will be the major content of this story instead of my words here.  Yet, I still think it necessary to provide a context for both videos, if but only for the fact that you may understand a little of what has been going on inside my head lately.

March 18th:

Today was all about recovering from the solid 15 hours of drinking I did the previous day.  While I woke up without much of a hangover, I still felt it necessary to get out of the house.  I needed to backlog some photos for Instagram anyway, so with the day being nice it was a ripe opportunity to get some work in.

I headed out around noon time in the general direction of North.  I figured I could make my way past Prince’s Street and find the Botanical Gardens.  Upon looking at Google Maps I noticed this little photo icon next to this “Dean’s Village”.  Who was I not to seek out this place?  So that’s what I did, and a half hour later I found myself down by the river in one of the most picturesque scenes that I have seen to date!

Passed by this scene on the way out.  I was awestruck.
Dean’s Village
Playing in the leaves
This massive bridge overlooking the Water of Leith.

Without knowing it, I had found the Water of Leith walkway.  It was at this point that I started to film, as I was overcome with a feeling of spontaneity.  I walked down to the river, took some photos, and enjoyed the pleasant stroll along the water.  Eventually I found myself in Leith.  I decided to save the gardens for another day, for I was alone and would like to go with some company.  In the video, there are a few spots where you can tell I feel a touch distraught.  Let me say now that I feel fine, I was just having a rough day.  Uni is stressful, and some of my interpersonal relationships are more complicated than I care to admit.  Ah well.  In any event, I think the footage turned out great for the day, so I will let these edited photos and vlog speak for themselves:

A little bird I happened to pass.
Ahhh, greenery.
Portrait on the River
I’m pretty proud of this shot.  I’m getting better at using the timer.  This resulted from only my second attempt!
River Shot
More greenery!
Thankfully, I did not get swept away.

March 19th:

While I was not hungover this day, the weather was once again agreeable to having an adventure.  That being the case I decided to do something that I always wanted to: climb the ravine going up Arthur’s Seat.  Again, I had no intention of filming, but as soon as I walked out the door the urge to do so hit me very hard and very unexpectedly.  As for my hike, the goal was simple – climb up the cliffside, and then come down the backside to St. Anthony’s Cathedral, a ruin on the Northern side of the park.  Along the way, the wind proved to be really quite brutal, but I digress, what do I expect at this point from Scottish weather anyhow?

The climb went fairly well and easy.  It reminded me of traversing White Rocks back home, something which I need to do again upon my return.  I played with my shooting style and got some neat clips to edit with later in the day.  My real pride and joy was from all the photos I took.  I have edited the best ones here:

This shot is far and away my favorite of the day.  I cannot believe I landed it on my first attempt!  Setting the timer, climbing down the ravine, and getting into position all in ten seconds is hard work, but I pulled it off and could not be happier with the result!
The view on the Eastern side of the plateau.  It may be edited, but yes the water was that blue.
Hiking down the Northern side.
Looking up
Lucky shot, the lighting and lack of traffic could not have been better!  Though I like my Instagram edit better.
This I took on the plateau, though higher up than the earlier image.  Very excited to get this image.
Taking a second
Looking up towards the St. Anthony ruins.
The beginning
The beginning of my journey up the ravine.

These photos go through a secondary edit before going up on my Instagram, so check them out here if you are interested in my photography!

The vlog came out pretty good too if I have to toot my own horn.  Check it out below!

I don’t intend to let my vlogs speak entirely for me in the future, but man are they a nice addition to my growing stable of records that I am keeping.  I have passed the awkwardness of just holding the camera in front of my face, and I can edit without cringing from listening to every word that I say.  I don’t really know how often I will produce these, but I do enjoy the process quite a lot.  Youtube is a fun interface and it always feels nice to hit the “publish” button.

The same goes for Instagram, but I have a rule for myself now that I must post once a day.  A lot of thought goes into what picture I choose, how I edit it, and how I caption it.  Call me a “like-whore”, but it is extremely gratifying to see my phone light up with positive feedback after a posting.  Personally, I’ve noticed a substantial increase in the content I’ve been putting out in the last few weeks compared to what I originally was producing.  To be honest, I feel professional.  In fact, I am enjoying it so much that I am seriously considering investing in a DSLR.  Who knows?  Perhaps my path in politics has shifted from the public office to that of a Nat Geo photo-journalist (THAT WOULD BE SO UNBELIEVABLY COOL)!  So … yeah, cameras are fun … and stuff.

So that’s that.  Hope y’all enjoyed the vlogs and my photos!  Trust me, there are plenty more to come.

Land Ho!  SIKE

This past Wednesday [Note: it is currently Tuesday at the time of this writing, but I am going to use multiple tenses here as I am talking about events that are in the future for me at this point in time but will have passed by the time this post goes live.] we were scheduled to take an afternoon trip up to North Berwick.  Scotland, however, cares not for our revelry in adventuring and decided that this week would be a good time to bring down some quite awful weather.  As such, and in hopes of better times to be had by all, Tara postponed this trip to next week.  The forecast for those days indicates near 60 degree temperatures and partial clouds, but I know better at this stage.  When concerning the weather in the U.K. anything is possible.  Yet, a nice day at the beach is preferable to a miserable one so I will not complain.  In the stead of this journey it will give me time to finally (hopefully) get going on my research paper.  I have all the data, but have been waiting to start it until after my Gaelic test which takes place this Wednesday (coincidentally I would have had to leave from that course right to Waverley, so the change of date is also welcome in that regard as well).  Here’s hoping I can get a good chunk of it done before the weekend trip to Skye comes around – for now we have 3 trips all in the course of one week.  From the 24th-26th we will be in Skye, the 29th at North Berwick, and the 1st at Loch Lomond.  Considering my research paper is due the 6th of April I really need to get moving on it.  While I look forward to the adventures ahead their placement is not beneficial towards my paper getting done.  Regardless of that though it will get done, but I would be lying if I said my stress level didn’t spike just a smidge today.

My Ernest Endeavor

While I still enjoy reading Lawrence of Arabia, his almost 700 page Seven Pillars of Wisdom has not been proven to be a quick read.  As of now I am roughly 170 pages; through two of the ten books included within.  Recently, I also purchased a few books at Blackwell’s, including The Fall of Arthur and The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien and Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.  I cannot recall if I have mentioned this on this blog or not, but TSAR is one of if not my favorite books that I have ever come across.  My first exposure to it was during Mr. Keagy’s CP English 10 (or was it 11?) course back during my high school days at Poultney.  I remember at the time that I was just getting ready to take the SAT, something of which Mr. Keagy routinely grilled us upon to make sure we were ready for.  On my first attempt I scored an 1880 (the scores had changed to being out of 2400 at this point) – my second attempt landed me a 1920.  Anyway, this is not about my SAT scores.  This is about the class where I was first introduced to two novels of many that changed my life and the way I view literature as a whole.  The first was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  As it happened our reading coincided with the release of the modern film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  Some of my classmates went to view it at the cinema, but came back with the popular response that the book and even the original film are much more entertaining.  Though I had not seen it I could not disagree, as the journey of Nick and his friend Jay Gatsby sucked me into a much simpler time where my imagination could run wild.  Again, TGG is not the point of this story.  What is, in fact, the point, is the novel by Hemingway known as Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises.

Throughout school I have read numerous texts: textbooks, thousands of peer reviewed pieces of academic lit, newspapers, web articles, and scores of films and other media.  Yet, like all students my dedication to thoroughly read these texts can be fairly summed up as “half-assed”.  Oh, don’t act like you were any better at it than I was.  Ain’t nobody got time to sit and flip through 200 pages on the rise of the three revealed faiths or what routes slaves were traded upon in the 17th century.

[I actually did read 200 pages on the three revealed faiths (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) in one sitting while I was still attending Plymouth State.  The textbook was loose-leafed however, which meant that all the pages were not connected.  I had to use only two damn key rings to hold it all together, and I sat on my bed for hours flipping each page one by one so as to not tear them apart.  Pro tip kiddos: if you see the words loose-leafed on your textbook reqs you had best find another solution, otherwise you are going to hate every second of your literary experience to come.]

TSAR changed the game.  For the first time in my life I was completely drawn into an assigned text.  Every word captivated me and drew me deeper down into the depths of Hemingway’s style.  My mind exploded like a supernova with such imaginative force that I thought I had left behind in my childhood years.  Colors seemed brighter; words oozed with a poetic force that reverberated all throughout my chest; concepts, people, and places built themselves up on a foundation of real experience and intrigue that only Hemingway could provide.  The words tattooed themselves into my psyche, where they remained flickering like coals on a still summer’s night.  That was, until, four years later, and I happened to stumble across a copy while I was in Blackwell’s the other day.  In an instant it felt like someone had threw gasoline on the embers that still burned on inside my dormant mind.  There was no question – I had to own this book.  And so now I do.

Despite the fact that I am forever ingrained with the imagery of this novel inside my head, I picked up for a more venturous reason.  Yet, I will not say why until next week.  Simply put, it’s part of my BIG plans.  If you know the literature then you can probably guess what that means in relation to my goals here.  Thus, to facilitate my ambitions I have set aside Seven Pillars to be returned to at a later date.  To be blunt, Jake’s tale is much more relevant to my current adventures than that of L.O.A.’s.  My apologies Lawrence, but one day soon I will return to your side in the lands of Arabia.  For today though and the days ahead this section is hereby devoted towards passages from TSAR.  The first passages I am picking are not from Hemingway, but from Ecclesiastes and Gertrude Stein.  In fact, they come before a single word is even put on paper by Ernest.  As far as I can tell (or remember from high school), these passages contribute to the namesake for the book, and thus cannot be overlooked.  So here we begin.  New grounds on an old story that will have a say in what my future comes to bring upon me.  The epigraph from Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises:

You are all a lost generation.”  – Gertrude Stein in conversation

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abideth forever … The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to the place where he arose … The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to its circuits … All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.” – Ecclesiastes

Parting Thoughts

I’ll keep this brief.  From Friday to Sunday the API crew is going on their big trip to the Isle of Skye and Loch Ness.  It is currently 11:39 on Thursday and I just remembered about half an hour ago that I wouldn’t be able to finish the blog on my computer tomorrow, so here I am now.  So if you tune in for next week’s post, it should be damn good.  As for this one, I hope you enjoyed my adventures on St. Patty’s Day, my wanderings about town, and my insights on one of my favorite books.  But for now, I gotta go and get some rest.  If there are some typos or grammatical errors, it’s because I didn’t give myself time to proofread, and for that I apologize.  It’s going to be a long weekend, and I’m going to need the energy.

Until next time,

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

See you soon.

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