xxii

Well, it’s probably fitting my birthday post is a few days late.

It’s been a busy few weeks even after finishing my degree and I haven’t really had time just to sit.  But, now that I’m back in Edinburgh, I’ve been using my time to read, sleep, and play Skyrim for the thousandth time.  I just beat Aulduin again last night.  You could call me the Dovah-Kenn (sorry that was a terrible joke).  I also went to see Avengers: Endgame.  I probably need to see it again considering I cried through half of it, especially when Carol did THAT!!! and Steve did THAT!!!

But anyway, here’s that belated birthday post even though I’m still *technically* 15 on my Kansas driver’s license.

I’m always worried about the weather on my birthday considering for the first 18 years of my life it rained buckets.  But, Edinburgh once again gave me the best birthday gift with a sunny, warm day spent in the Meadows and empty seats at the Argyle in the evening.

I’ve never been one to fuss about the day I hatched fully formed from an egg, but I do like to have my space to declare ‘I won’t do a damn thing’ and throw myself down on the ground.

As for words of wisdom now that I am entering upon the golden Taylor Swift Birthday, I’m honestly not sure.  19-year-old Kennedy apparently had a lot to say about the world so you can read what she wrote here.  Truthfully, I think she was pretty smart (albeit maybe a bit arrogant).  Most of it still applies with the addition of maybe one more.

If these past four years in Faerieland, have taught me anything it is: be willing to adapt but also be confident within yourself.  You never know when opportunity will arrive, but you can make sure you are ready to met it when it does.

So, anyway.  Happy Birthday to me.

 

twenty-fun

Yesterday was my Twenty-First Birthday.  I’m not a massive fan of big birthdays mostly because I hate planning them and secondly, I’m not a big fan of being fussed over.  I spent this birthday, like most before it, outside enjoying the weather with my friends.

As it has been on my birthday for as long as I can remember, it rained in the morning.  Sophie and Ellie came over early while the sky was still cloudy for chocolate chip pancakes.  Tuva and Erling wished me a happy birthday and hung around watching the pancake carnage.  They’re nearly done with their final essays.  Then, Ellie went to the library to revise and Sophie and I headed to the Anatomical Museum.  The University has a special osteology collection that is only open to non-medical students on the last Saturday of each month.  In this case, the date fell on my birthday.  Maybe it’s a little gross going to look at bones on one’s twenty-first birthday… but Sophie didn’t seem to mind.  She studies philosophy and she said she ‘quite enjoyed it actually.’

After, we went for coffee and then wandered around the Saturday market in the Grassmarket.  We followed the path along the castle, through Princes Street Garden to Waterstones.  I bought myself a new cookbook.  When we left Waterstones, the sun had finally broken out from behind the clouds and I send a text to the rest of my friends to meet us in the Meadows for birthday cake and gin.

That morning, my parents had surprised me with a massive birthday cake.  The delivery guy was equally confused when I opened the door in my Christmas pajamas with a ‘Who ordered this cake?’

Sophie and I returned to my flat to grab the cake, a picnic blanket, gin, tonic water, etc.  Then we set to the Meadows to find a sunny spot.  I would argue the Meadows is a liminal space.  It’s an eighteen acre park in the South of Edinburgh just shy of the main University campus.  During the winter it becomes a barren wasteland until it snows and then it becomes full of half-made snowmen.  During the Spring, and more so in the Summer, it is filled with people, barbeques, dogs, and fire-twirlers.  Yesterday it was less crowded than usual due to the rain that morning, but we found a nice dry spot close to the music being played from higher up Middle Meadow Walk.

Soon enough more friends cycled by and joined.  By eight o’clock both the cake and the gin were gone.  We headed to my flat to drop things off and then moved to the Argyll, the local just down the street.  As it turns out, the Argyll was hosting African Drum Night.  More friends came and went, all dropping by amidst revision.  It was lovely to see everyone and we all discussed plans for when we are all finished in May.  We stayed at the Argyll until late then all departed to our homes.

And so, my birthday came and went and I am so glad I spent it here and with those people.

I know it’s a broken record, but as a kid I wanted what I have now so, so, so badly.

I still remember the first day of High School, my English teacher had us read a poem by Walt Whitman.  He said it probably encapsulated what we were probably thinking:

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.
And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
And I think it still does in many aspects.  But, at least in this point in my life I don’t feel detached or in a ‘measureless oceans of space.’  I’m connected to this city and to my friends and I life I built here for myself.  Truly, built for myself and by myself in a brand new city and brand new country.
So now, as I move forward with the next chapters of my life I’m excited.  I’ve worked hard to get where I am today and I have had a lot of help as well.  So, thanks everyone.  I hope I won’t disappoint you.
But today, as I finish writing this in the sunny shade of the Meadows I am thankful.  Thankful for what I have seen, the places I have been, and the people I have met along the way.  And I don’t know what it will be, but I am sure I will be thankful for whatever comes next.

Nineteen.

It’s April 28th. (well here in Scotland) Ya nerds in America are living in the past.

I’ve never been one to freak out about my birthday. I tend to just celebrate it at home with a small group of close friends and lots of food.  I also moved abroad after I turned 18, so I sort of missed the ‘big birthday.’  But, I always like to look back at the past year and see how I’ve grown and changed as person.  I aim each year to not change who I am but just to be a better version of myself.

So here are nineteen things I have learned over the past year.

  1. Being an introvert doesn’t mean I hate people. Do people annoy me? Yes. But, I don’t hate people… for God’s sake I’m studying History and Archaeology.  Being an introvert just means being with people all the time tires me out.  I need a few days to recharge.  Going camping this year has helped a lot with this as I have been able to go away for a weekend and talk to people if I want to but also just walk.
  2. Try something new at least once a week. I know there’s that Eleanor Roosevelt quote about doing one thing that scares you each day, but if you’re like me and like your daily routine and would prefer not to have an anxiety attack…  try to do something new once a week.  But, that’s a little hypocritical as I sort of jumped off the deep end and starting climbing mountains and getting tattoos… but that’s a different story.
  3. Doc Martens are great. When you walk to University everyday and live in a pedestrian city, you need good shoes.  Trust me, your feet with love you for it.
  4. And, so is food. Eat more food.
  5. Everyone conquers at their own pace.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, people.  I struggle with maths but excel in writing.  Everyone is good at something and crappy at another thing.  But, that doesn’t mean one skill is more valuable than another.  I don’t understand maths… but I am humble enough to grovel before it as I watch Netflix on my laptop run by some magical computerized code.  Just find what you’re good at and destroy your enemies from there.
  6. Don’t try to grow up too fast. Moving away to University, and especially moving abroad,  I felt like I was having to grow up fast.  I overwhelmed and worried that I was not mature enough to live on my own.  I tried to act mature but that just ended up with me being extremely bored because I realised being a grumpy adult really sucks. Maturity isn’t really something a person forces… it just comes with living and learning from mistakes.  So for now it’s back to watching cartoons and reading comic books.
  7. Vodka is a no. (See reference to ‘learning from mistakes’ above.)
  8. Go to the gym. My stress levels get out of hand if I don’t work out.  I physically have to do something or else I will go crazy.  But, it doesn’t have to be a crazy long run or 2 hours lifting weights.  Just go do something.
  9. As God said unto Abraham, ‘Treat yo self.’ Take a day and just do whatever you want.  It doesn’t have to be anything… sometimes I just don’t leave my room for a day and watch Netflix.  Just take a day and relax.  When my anxiety gets bad I go to the National Museum and hang out in the basement looking at Roman and early Scottish artifacts.  It’s quiet, it’s something I enjoy, and it gives me a break.  Other days, I go shopping.  I buy a new jumper or a new book.  It’s not everyday, but if you don’t take a day for yourself every once in awhile life gets pretty annoying.
  10.  People change. It’s natural and actually like around 1 million or so cells in your body die each day so literally speaking you’re a different person each day.  I know I’m different but I’m not trying to be a different person.  I don’t try to put on a false persona, because a) that’s hard work and b) sooner or later people are going to find out that I’m a huge nerd anyway.
  11. You have to let things go. I was notorious for holding grudges.  Call me the Grudge Queen, and it’s still something I’m working on.  But, I realised I can’t let what people do and say impact me negatively.  If I’m worry about what other people do, I’m not living my own life the way I want to.  
  12. Never give up, never surrender. When I was a kid, I had a tag on my tae-kwon-do bag with this quote.  It was pretty much my driving force growing up; work hard and one day it’ll all day off.  Even when it gets hard, you just have to keep going.
  13. If it doesn’t make you happy, then why are you doing it? I lost a childhood friend to a car crash last year and it made it realise that not only is life not fair, it’s fucking short.  Don’t waste your time with something that doesn’t make you happy.  It’s not worth it.  I’m so lucky in that am I studying what I love in a place that I love.  I’m also lucky that I found that love at a young age… but honestly, if you’re not happy… do something else.
  14. Say thank you. I would not be here without my family, friends, and teachers.  I will forever be thankful for their love, support, and guidance.  Friends you chose, family you’re stuck with, but teachers are especially stuck with you… so just make you that you say thank you.
  15. Failure and ‘Not being Successful’ are two different things. You only fail when you give up.  People don’t succeed at everything all the time.  Life would be pretty boring if we did.  I wasn’t accepted into the Honor’s Program at the University of Kansas… but that didn’t stop me from still applying to the University of Edinburgh and the University of St. Andrews and getting into both with unconditional offers.   
  16. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades. This is something my dad always says, and he’s right. While everything in life isn’t a straight shot, doing something halfway just is not worth it.  Just do it right the first time and then you don’t have to fix it later.   
  17. Proving things to others doesn’t really matter. This was something I told my dad I learned when he came to visit.  Growing up I always felt like I had to prove things to people.  I got a black belt and published a book because people told me I couldn’t.  I was always fueled by other people’s negative energy and not my own positive drive.  Moving forward now it’s how can I make myself better, not how can I prove to people that I’m worth something.  Because, I know that I am.     
  18.  Honesty and Loyalty. Call it growing up in a military family, but honesty and loyalty are as close to sacred as things get to me.  I can deal with stupid.  I can deal with bigots, racists, and sexists.  But, dealing with dishonesty and lies is not something I want to waste my time with.
  19. Carpe the fuck out of that diem. I try to make every day better than the last.  I know some days are going to suck, but that’s just life.  There’s always a silver lining to everything, sometimes it just takes a little bit longer to find.

So that’s my birthday post.  I’m up early to go climb Arthur’s Seat for sunrise and then join #teamtattoo today.  Tomorrow, archaeology exam and then CAPTAIN AMERICA!  Next month, 2 more exams.  June, Romania.  After that, who knows?

I just know I’ll keep working hard to be the best person I can be and do what makes me happy.