More Than This Provincial Life

Musings on Life, Travel and Literature

“I think I’ll paint roads

on my front room walls

to convince myself

that I’m going places.”

—    Lemn Sissay, excerpt from “Going Places” (via fenestra1)

(Source: coffeeghostss)

you, as poetry


if you were a poem
I’d fold you up and
carry you around in my pocket,
I’d kiss your opening lines
when no one is looking and
I’d read you out loud
to the man on the street
who says that the world is ending
and I’d read you silently
to myself when I
begin to agree with him


As soon as we talk, I want to go back. Not back to you but back to some place. Back to a way of life so far from what there is here. Here it is bleak, plain, cold. Here there is just me. Here, you are not. 

So much has changed in such a short time. It is hard now to think about the past. Our past. They say that I should not. I try not to, but there, in spite of it all, you are. 

It is this new world that we live in. This thing, this World Wide Web, made it so that there is no space, no breadth or length or width that can keep you there, me here, and them far.

Doubt. I think that is what they call it. A thought that a thing or a place or a you is missed; was left. A thought that, in the times where what was real and what is in the mind got mixed up and lost, I was wrong. 

And so you send me words and I send you thoughts though I try not to. I will not call. I will not write and you are the same. But this World Wide Web binds us so that we must be joined. There is no ‘not joined’. 

That is the cause of the pain. That is why I must go back. Not to you but to the place where you are. A place where I can hide and run. Not see or hear or feel you. 

Here, in the space where I am, you are not you. You are a sketch, you are words, but you are not as you are there. There, I can not be me. It is not for us to be at all. 

And so I must go back. But then, I must not. These are just the grounds on which I make my self trust and fall for the pull of you and your place. In truth, you do not feel it as I do. If you did, you could not be there. 

We talk and I want what I do not say while you say what you can not want. At least, what you can not let your self want. You do not know the change, not in the same way. You did not leave. You kept hold and curbed your want when you let me go. You could have stopped it but you did not. 

I blame a them that are not named, the way that you once did in the time when you were more than words on a screen. The ‘they’ are not real, or, if they are, they are not at fault. It was me and you and no one else. Choice, not fate. 

Now, you live your life while I sit and wait. Here, in this white room with its four walls, the stream of blue and the face or two that stop by the glass, I sit and I stare at the screen where your words will be and we will talk and want to go back. But the place is not there and the you and the me now are not the you and the me that were. We can not go back.

My last creative writing assignment of the term (before I write my dissertation) was to write a monosyllabic story. This is genuinely the hardest task I’ve probably been given, considering my penchant for throwing big words at things to make them go away/seem fancy/look like I spent a lot of time on them (ahem. all of my essays). I think I’m proud of what I came up with because it seems like a good mix or reality and fiction, but then I have no idea if it makes sense to anybody but me. It’s going to be an interesting class. Especially considering that since it’s the end of the semester we’re all meeting in the pub 3 hours before class actually starts for a Christmas party of sorts. Teachers idea. This is what I love about being back studying in Scotland again. 

I missed my uni’s Study Abroad Fair…

because of my terrible time management skills so here’s my pitch:

Go Abroad. Do it. It might seem a little scary and lord knows the application process is kinda long and daunting and stressful but you’re not going to be thinking about that anymore once you have your acceptance, you’ve packed your bags and you’re ready to go. 

Meet new people. People from all over the world. Those connections and friendships will last you a lifetime and one of the first things on your mind when it inevitably comes to an end will be: When can we meet again and where? When can we go back? That ‘we’ is what university and travelling, particularly the combination of the two, is ultimately all about. Find your people and know that no matter how much distance there might be between you you’re always going to have that fantastic experience and your friendship will last the long haul. 

Travel to exciting places that you never expected to see, not in this way and not at this age when- let’s face it- you’re not often in a position to afford all the fantastic things that suddenly become available on your doorstep when you’re living in a foreign country. See as much as you can, though be respectful of the budget you know you have to live on. Go somewhere with new friends and make memories that form a friendship. Go somewhere alone and experience the rush of being out in the world completely free and completely able to do anything you want. Go somewhere with old friends and marvel at how different things have become from the days you spent sitting in school or cafes dreaming about where you might one day end up.

Remember the people you couldn’t take with you. Nothing says extremely close friendship like swanning off on an adventure for a year and still having your friends there for you when you get back. Thanks to modern technology you practically can take them with you in your pocket, but the moment of reunion when you’re physically back in the same place still feels pretty fantastic. Don’t forget to keep in touch and to learn about what’s happening back home just because you’re not there. These people are the ones who will make everything okay when you eventually come back and you’re going to need them still to be there. 

You also have to learn that it’s okay to miss people, to be homesick and to have down days. Things won’t be perfect every second just because you’re in an exciting experience. Be honest about it and accepting of your own feelings and the feelings of those around you and you’ll find you’re never really alone in them.

And the same goes at the other end. It’s okay when you are home to miss the experiences you had, to miss the new people in your life, to miss the place that was briefly your every day. It’s going to mean so much to you and change you in ways that may be too small to notice or may be glaringly obvious. You’re not only allowed but encouraged to let this happen. 

You still have to study and work a little but considering that’s the thing that sent you abroad you can’t begrudge it all that much. You’ll be studying and learning things in a new way, or learning things you wouldn’t get the chance to if you stayed in one place. You mind find something you prefer; something you love, or you might find that really the way you do things back home isn’t so bad after all. Either way, this isn’t going to be the facet that makes your year anyway, it’s just something not to forget about. 

So go abroad. Travel, make friends, eat, drink, be merry, learn something, share something, take pictures, write letters, collect postcards, do something you never thought you would, remember to keep doing the things you love, experience and all the many many other cliches that are attached to travelling. Cliches are cliches for a reason, so go somewhere different and find out why. You won’t regret it. 

“Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”

—   C.S. Lewis (via pureblyss)

(via pilgrim--soul)

Puppet Games

You pull the strings, 


that no one else, not even I 

can see 

until without knowing, Mybody becomes


You twist and wrap Me 

around You


are Your handsandarmsandlegs,


Until nothing is separate anymore. 

Singular, You pull

Me closer so Mybody touches 


and You get more control

More strings spring from our contact, 


I let you play these Puppet Games

I welcome them in 


I welcome them in space where no one else has been

Save You and I 

and Our invisible strings





                                                                                                          A snap.

Today was national poetry day in the UK and I was really busy and forgot until just now. (Although I did spend my evening at a spoken word/poetry reading entitled Fuck the Patriarchy so I’m pretty sure I did my bit). Anyway, I thought I’d post a poem I once wrote that I liked because it’s rare I write poems and even more rare that I think they’re any good and never that I share them with other people.

I find myself constantly torn between wanting to skip ahead to the part of life where I’m successful enough at the thing I love to do that I don’t have to stress about it or support the dream with things I’d rather not be doing, wanting to be about five years old again, and ultimately knowing that I don’t ever want to stop being a 20 something student who still has all the possibilities open and just gets to spend evenings eating crisps and reading children’s stories companionably with my flatmates

“A Friendship Between College Girls Is Grander And More Dramatic Than Any Romance”

—   Girls

It’s been a while since I updated this blog and I promise I really am going to finish writing up my travels and eventually get them all uploaded. Part of me thinks (or knows) that I’m dragging my heels because really I don’t want it to be definitely ‘over’. I know that as long as I’m still working on things I still haven’t left that life behind completely. Because who would want to? 

I love Scotland, I really do and I love my life and my friends here. I wouldn’t give up my flat for anything and I’m looking ahead to this year with a lot of excitement (as long as I don’t think about the actual work). But I’m also looking back. I’m nostalgic already and I miss America but most of all I miss the people and the travelling and all the fun things we experienced together out there. 

This video, made by Marie the Pamplemousse, perfectly sums up the kind of experiences we had. There are a lot of adventures and nights the two of us spent together, or with friends, and a lot of her own adventures as well. But to me, this is what the year abroad was and so I’m borrowing it to share with you, to be nostalgic over, and to increase my excitement at the winter reunion up ahead this New Year’s Eve. Because it’s not over, it doesn’t really have to end at all, things are just a little different now. 

“Last year we all were Strangers
This year we’re Life Long Friends
I know that this location,
Is not where our Story Ends”

—   Cut, Print, Moving On 

It Began in Chicago

The Second City is definitely an accurate name for Chicago. If New York City is the love affair that you always go back to, Chicago is definitely there to tempt you away for a while. It’s not a perfect metaphor and it doesn’t work for all things but more than any other place I’d been or have been since being in America, Chicago seemed like the city to challenge or to rival New York. The food, the culture, the parks, the people. It was all there and it was all inviting and intriguing and something that made you want to be a part of it.

We flew to Chicago ridiculously early after very little sleep in airports and on public transport, met up with the people we were staying with and then spent a leisurely afternoon enjoying the only sunny day of our time there in the park. We met up again with our kind hosts and went out to try proper Chicago deep dish pizza, which was as good as it sounds and there was way too much of it. Then for an incredibly early night and a well deserved sleep. Or, to borrow some words from a far better writer, “I arrived in Chi quite early in the morning, got a room, and went to bed with a very few dollars in my pocket. I dug Chicago after a good day’s sleep.”

The next couple of days we spent really exploring all the sights of the city, from hours spent in museums to hours wandering the streets just taking it all in there was never really a dull moment in Chicago. I particularly enjoyed the pretty and expansive Lincoln and Millennium parks and the streets of Old Town. Maybe it’s too many years spent between Edinburgh and Glasgow but there’s something calming and peaceful about older cities that just appeals to me. Even knowing from first hand experience the impracticality of living in old buildings, there’s little else I’d prefer (although the beautiful floor-to-ceiling glass windowed 26th storey apartment we stayed in was pretty amazing too).

The Sears Tower (Willis. Whatever) was a landmark we couldn’t miss out on, no matter how touristy it may seem, and the views of the city from the top were fantastic. It was the big attraction we all wanted to see and the last real must we ticked off our list. It meant a couple of more relaxing days, wandering around areas we liked and ticking off all the Chicago food experiences we figured we had to try. The second deep dish pizza we shared was out last meal all three together- Marie, Jyoti and I- which was a little bitter sweet but even better than the first. It hadn’t been immediately in Albany that Marie and Jyoti and I had all joined forces but as the year went on and the three of us became closer together (mainly due to tumblr and tequila it has to be said) I was really glad these were the girls I was starting my travel adventures with. Marie and I had started talking about Chicago over Christmas break when we were both home and up late at night with our jet lag and I think I always just assumed I would travel with Jyoti and I was right. Contrary to popular expectation, we made it safely through 7 different cities together over the whole year which I think sort of proves we can function as real adults when we have to, even if we don’t want to all that much.

We didn’t spend all our time in Chicago in the one place; taking advantage of the slightly longer time we had there we moved out for our last couple of nights to stay in wicker park. Much like the contrast between the boroughs of New York, the difference between here and downtown was palpable and I’m really glad we explored somewhere a little less business meets tourist and maybe a little more typical for most Chicagoans. It was an undeniably hipster area and I may have accidentally found myself buying an unneeded but otherwise awesome pair of sunglasses in buffalo exchange, but that just added to the up-and-coming sort of atmosphere that I love to get from a city. Yes downtown in the business district really feels like ‘we’ve arrived. This is everything we worked for’ but it’s the places that are still striving, dreaming and aiming that I love. Just like the people working out in a completely glass fronted gym across for a delicious cupcake shop, the area seemed to want something more for itself which to me is what a city should be: a reflection of the people who live there; each area differing based on the ideals and the aims of the people who flock there.

So that was Chicago. The first stop on the last six weeks of my time in America and a place I definitely want to return to one day. A dynamic city with something for everyone and, never to be forgotten, really, really good pizza.

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to Albany was strange. I always knew a little in the background of everything I did that it was only for a year, less even. I wasn’t making roots and settling in to a new chapter of life in the way I had been when I moved to Glasgow. To listen to any of my friends and family from back home, I was taking a holiday from my real life for the year. And while I understand how study abroad is a lot like taking a holiday from your real life, I think that’s also a way for the people you leave behind to normalise things. It’s not a moving on or a change, it’s just a break. Everything will go back to normal eventually.

Except this time, that’s not the case. I gave 9 months to living in Albany and it’s a place I’ll probably never go to again. Yes of course I had a good time there but it was a small and quiet city with little to really bring me back to visit. What made the year wasn’t so much the city itself but the amazing people I met there. Although I still have just a little longer in the US, I’ve finally had all my goodbyes and my ‘til next time’s and ‘we will see each other again I promise’ and ‘I hope we’ll see each other again’ and all manner of variations with those amazing people and it feels weird.

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“So we beat on, Boats against the current, Bourne ceaselessly back into the past.”

—   The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald