a bend in the road

Hello to friends on both sides of the Atlantic and to a special few afloat in the Pacific!

Here’s a small update about my life in the United States.  It’s been one year since I walked across the stage in McEwan Hall and got wacked on the head by the hat made from John-Knox’s-but-also-not-John-Knox’s-pants-which-did/didn’t-get-sent-into-space (it’s a long story).  I was awarded a Masters of Arts with Honours in History and Archaeology, First Class from the University of Edinburgh…  and a lot has happened since.

In August, I started a masters program and was working part time at a local bike shop.  I enjoyed my time, but ultimately decided what I wanted was in Scotland.  So, I applied back at Edinburgh with the intention of starting the Architectural Conservation MSc this September.

In January and February, I had my first ever break from studying!  I went to San Diego to see one of my dearest friends. I had tickets to four different concerts and was preparing to go back to Scotland in April for a short holiday.

Then in March, the United States was hit by the Global Coronavirus Pandemic.  At the time of writing this, over 130,000 Americans have died.  That’s 15,000 more dead Americans than the United States’ short involvement in the First World War.

Since I live with grandmother, my family has working from home and social distancing since 14 March.  I cancelled my plans to return to Scotland in April to meet with the University and a few individuals to discuss potential research projects.  My twenty-third birthday was celebrated in sunny quarantine and I’ve been drinking a lot of iced coffee on my porch.

During this time, I’ve watched doctors and nurses cry out for more supplies as mass graves are dug in New York. I’ve watched more Black Americans lose their lives at the hands of law enforcement.  I’ve watched protests erupted across my country live on the television.  I’ve watched statues glorifying Confederate slave holders get torn down by the descendants of the people they kidnapped and enslaved.

Which brings me now to, as my dear Anne Shirley would say, my own ‘bend in the road.’  Due to visa complications and travel restrictions I have had to defer my studies back at Edinburgh until next year.

But, that doesn’t mean I’m going to sit idle.

Instead, I’ve written to my local paper (here and here).  I am volunteering for a candidate running for Federal office and have been using my time to phonebank.  Soon I’ll be helping with remote voter registration for young people.

*GO NOW TO MAKE YOU ARE REGISTERED TO VOTE!! https://www.vote.org/*

Then starting this September, I’ve been selected to serve as Team Leader with AmeriCorps NCCC for the Southwest Region.  AmeriCorps NCCC is a national civil service program supported through the Federal Government.  It’s loosely inspired by FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and is the domestic counterpart to the Peace Corps.

I’ll attend a month-long leadership training school in Colorado.  Then, I’ll get my team and work on projects focusing on energy conservation, environmental stewardship, infrastructure improvements, disaster relief, and urban and rural development.  There’s a even a chance that I will be trained as wildlife firefighter!

As I said to my dear friends when I had to break the news of my delayed return to Edinburgh: ‘When shit hits the fan, it’s good people doing good things that make it better.’

If I am in place to do something good, to do something to help, I will do it.  Especially now, when I see so many people in my country hurting.  As we near the Fourth of July, I am reminded of what Thomas Paine wrote in the American Crisis (1776):

‘These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.’ 

Or to echo the words of Eleanor Roosevelt:

“You are going to live in a dangerous world for quite a while I guess, but it’s going to be an interesting and adventurous one.”

“The individual is the spur to public action. We are the government. The basic power still lies in the hands of the citizens. But we must use it. That means that in every small unit of government, each individual citizen must feel his individual responsibility to do the best with his citizenship that he possibly can achieve.”

Not being able to get back to Edinburgh this September is not a setback.  It is just a slight bend in the road.  We’ve all been there and all we can do is continue to move forward.  So, here I am! I am ready to transform Eleanor’s words to action with imagination, integrity, courage, and a high heart.  ~Just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry.~

This blog is going to change speed starting in September.  I hope you all stick around to read what I’m doing to make my country better.

 

2020 epilogue

Hello all.

I’ve been a little absent lately.  It’s been busy since I moved back to America in August.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted to continue writing this blog after leaving Scotland in August partially because, well, the blog was about my life in Scotland and, well, I wasn’t in Scotland anymore.

But, I thought I do have a few announcements and whatnots and I did want to do a ‘2019 In Review.’  I concluded my semester at KU in the Museum Studies Masters Program.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time at KU, however, due to changes with UK Immigration and Student Visas, as well as, my own research and job interests I applied to and was accepted into the Architectural Conservation MSc back in Edinburgh.  My dissertation on the Botanic Cottage and a few papers this semester on Architectural Conservation made me realise how much I really loved the subject and wanted to pursue it directly.

And, just the thought of moving back to Scotland with real possibilities of sticking around has filled me with so much hope for the future.  Words cannot express how happy I am to be returning to that life and to the people who made it so extraordinary.  In the meantime, I will be using the first half of this year to decompress and not have academic commitments for the first time in eight years.

But, with that out of the way. Here’s my ~Year in Review~.

January 

I rung in 2019 in Edinburgh.  My parents sent Crosby back with me and we celebrated Hogmanay by watching the fireworks over the Castle from the Bruntsfield Links. The EUMC went to the Cairngorms.  There was a Burns Night Ceilidh.

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✨ hap newt year ✨

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February 

I worked on my dissertation.  My parents called to let me know that Mulan, our 12-year Newfoundland, passed away and I ran off to Shetland with Ben and Alven.

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🌊🌊🌊

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March 

I finished my last semester in my undergraduate degree and submitted my dissertation.  Then I went to the Bothy to celebrate under the pretty stars.  After four years, I finally made it to Camban.

April 

Mom and Dad called to let me know that my cat Rory passed away due to a heart defect. I flew back to America the next day and met up with my family for vacation.  I celebrated my 22nd Birthday back in Edinburgh.

May 

Caitlin, Ellie, Sophie, and I drove from Edinburgh to London and then took the train to Paris for a week.  I saw the prettiest stained glass in my entire life.  The last week of May, I left Edinburgh with the EUMC for the annual road trip to wherever the weather is nicest.

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yesterday’s sleep spot.

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northy north

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June 

Continued traveling about.  Made it to Applecross for the EUMC Dinner Meet.  Said goodbye to a lot of friends for a while.  Went to Lewis and Harris with Alven and Ellie B.  Returned to Edinburgh to pack for excavation season at Bamburgh as the Assistant Finds Supervisor.

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oh deer

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~ritual purposes~

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view of the office.

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July 

Family arrived in Scotland for my graduation.  Graduated from the University of Edinburgh in History and Archaeology with First Class Distinction.  Said goodbye to Gregor, Tuva, and Erling and Roseneath as we knew it.  Returned to Bamburgh to finish excavation season.

August

Returned to Edinburgh.  Waited in a thunderstorm for four hours to get front row spots at the Florence + the Machine Concert in Princes Street Gardens with Ellie B.  The fireworks from the Military Tattoo held at the castle went off during the encore set.  It was magical.  Movers arrived at Roseneath and boxed my room up to be shipped to America.  I left Scotland on 10 August.

September  

Started a new job and spent time with my new puppies.  Read a few books and cleaned out my closet.  Seven kittens randomly appeared on my porch.

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they’re so stupid i love them.

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October

Snuck one of the kittens from outside inside.  I named him Henry.  Worked my job and worked on my novel.  Read some papers and some books.  Shipment of stuff from Edinburgh finally arrived and there was only one casualty.  RIP ‘The Celtic World’ by Miranda Green.

November 

Tuva visited Lawrence!! I took her to a KU basketball game and to the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve.  I was really happy to see because I miss her lots.  I also didn’t post on Instagram for a month???

December 

Finished up semester at KU.  Time at home, worked, and went to visit family.  Spent Christmas at home.  Went to Hays for New Years Eve. Taking time to relax and decompress before returning to Scotland.

And that’s the year.

I could say there’s ‘lots of stuff ahead for me in 2020 !!!!!’ But, in the meantime I’m going to sleep, work, read, write, go to yoga, cycle, and climb.  You’ll hear from me when you do.

❤ kenn