What I'm Reading: March 2017 #2

Friday, March 31, 2017

Photo by Rod Long


I finished Difficult Women by Roxane Gay.  I enjoyed this collection and really loved a few stories, but I don't think fictional short stories are my thing. I need more time to connect and care about the characters.

I also finished When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi on the bus up to Isle of Skye.  This is definitely one of my favorite books and it's sad that the world will never receive any work from Kalanithi again.

For a quick read, I downloaded is it evil not to be sure? by Lena Dunham.  It's a short collection of her journal entries from college.  They were interesting to read because I love diaries, especially non-traditional ones like Dunham's, but this collection is nothing earth-shattering.

I'm also halfway through The Radium Girls.  Hopefully I'll finish this on my travels next month since I'll be on the buses for way too long.


Here is the very detailed plan for what happens when the Queen dies.

An article explaining everything wrong with voluntourism, and they also link to other sources for anyone who isn't convinced.

Single people buying houses (as apposed to a nuclear family) are reshaping the American Dream.

Jenny Slate talks about her breakup with Chris Evans and other things.  I'm completely obsessed with Jenny's mind I'll read/watch anything she puts out.  (She needs to publish a book of essays that'd be perfect.)

"Unlike messages of self-care that come from activist or mental health communities, which often encourage social connection and attendance to basic needs, corporate self-care messages of the kind Ms. Kisner cites generally promote forms of relaxation."  Self-care during political activism isn't the same as idleness.


10 Ways Travelling Alone Can Improve Your Life by Beverley of Pack-Your-Passport.  By the time you read this I'll be three days into my first (international) solo trip so I'm reading as much as I can on solo-ness to hype myself up.



I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last night and wow I really need to live in a city with a solid theatre scene I forgot how much I love plays.

Today I tackled 3 London museums in 5-ish hours: Tate Modern, National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery.  It's so trippy seeing paintings that I've only ever seen on computer screens in real life.


Write, write, and keep writing and see what happens.
-Cheryl Strayed (from the video above) 
I'm going to do my best. I don't know if anyone will like it and it's absolutely none of my business if they do.
-also Cheryl Strayed, also from above

A Day in Dumfries

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My Saturday began with a rough start.  Not really even a start, because the night never actually ended. Not in a "party the night away and get a second wind to travel the next day while still drunk!" way. No.  It was a "I didn't go out on St. Patrick's Day because I knew I was travelling the next day like a responsible adult, but couldn't fall asleep no matter how long I lied there".  I'm pretty sure I spaced out at around 4:30am, but I know I didn't get any actual sleep.  I considered not going, but mama didn't raise no quitter.  So I picked up a very milky coffee from Tesco and walked to the Buchanan bus station.

Our first stop was in a roadside town called Moffat.  I walked to the river (River Annan, in case you have a thing for rivers) and sat on a rock as I ate the cereal I packed.  Very serene.  10/10 would recommend.  After that I took an entire loop around town.  All of this took me 30 minutes.

there's a lot of stairwells inside so it's fun trying to find the highest point
 We then went to Caerlaverock Castle which was built in the 13th century.  THIRTEENTH CENTURY.  That is so old how is it still standing?  Of course a big chunk of it is missing because of the English (it's always the English, isn't it?), but it's really the perfect decrepit castle.  According to the castle's page, they do weddings there.  If you have to get married, I can't imagine a better place than a half destroyed Scottish castle from the 1200's.  It even has a moat.  Do you hear me? A MOAT.

We also found frogs having a three way. Living their best life. 
 Next onto the actual town of Dumfries where, most famously, the poet Robert Burns spent the last 3 years of his short life.  This town endeared me a lot more than I expected.  River Nith runs directly through it (very similar to River Tay running through Perth) and on this particular Saturday they were having a fair along the river's sidewalk.  Lots of cute children on leashes it was adorable.

I made sure to hit up all the Robert Burns sites.  You can visit the main statue of him in the town's center, his mausoleum where his grave was moved to, his house, and another museum on the other side of the river.

In the graveyard that held his mausoleum, we met this very friendly kitty.  I'm convinced it's Burns incarnate.

The one thing that really stuck out to me about Dumfries was how nice all the museum people were. Usually in museums I just feel judged by the staff, like I'm about to do something wrong or break something or steal something or I obviously don't know anything about what I'm looking at, but the museum people in Dumfries were so not like that.  They all smiled when I walked in and didn't seem put off when I asked for more information.  It was just plain nice.

Have you ever been to Dumfries, Scotland? Do you also normally get weird vibes from museum people or is that just me being paranoid?

confession time: I feel "too young" to solo travel

Friday, March 17, 2017

Photo by Slava Bowman
I'm trying to make plans for my summer.  Eastern Europe.  Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece.  I'll start from the top and work my way down, fly out of either Greece or Istanbul at the end of the summer or when my money runs out, whichever comes first.

*90's movie record scratch* But wait, back up.  I already have a plan for my summer.  I literally just told you my plan.  Poland, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece.  Why do I act like I don't know what I'll be doing in 3 months time?  Why do I make jokes about my money running out when, as long as I don't go crazy, it definitely shouldn't?

I'm scared to commit to a solid plan because, in all honesty, I feel too young to be going off on my own.
This feeling is akin to impostor syndrome, feeling like I have no right to be where I am.

Which is absolutely ridiculous.  I'm 21.  I know PLENTY of people who have traveled on their own by my age or younger.

So why do I still feel like I'm too young to travel on my own?

It's a confidence thing, really.  I just need to do it.  I need to go, to prove myself that I can do it.
It's just scary right now.  In my head, I keep thinking "I should go home, get a summer job, see my younger cousins, hang out with my grandma".  All very good excuses for not traveling this summer, but that's what they are: excuses.

I know I need to go because if I don't I'll regret it.  I just wish I didn't feel so damn young.

Did you ever feel like you were "too young" for whatever you wanted to do?

What I'm Reading: March 2017 #1

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Photo by Rachel Lees


I've read more of The Radium Girls, but it's taking me awhile.  It's definitely going to be the book that I only read when I'm on public transportation for awhile.

I started and finished Shrill by Lindy West.  I can't wait for my little cousin to hit the teenage years so I can pass this book onto her.  This is the type of book I wish I had when I was younger.

I'm almost finished with Difficult Women. It's enjoyable and interesting to read but I don't think short stories are my thing.  I just need more time to connect with the characters, ya know?

ALL of Jane Austen's books can be found as audiobooks on podcasts.  (For iPhones at least, I'm not knowledgeable about the podcasting app on other phones.)  I've downloaded the chapters of Persuasion so I have something to listen to on public transport when it's too loud to read my Kindle. For some reason the Persuasion podcast only starts at chapter 4, but that's alright since I had to read the first 5 chapters for a class last semester.  When I get back to the States and have a car I'm DEFINITELY going to try harder to get into audiobooks (free audio CDs from the library of course, which is why the car is necessary), because I really want to utilize my time to consume as many books as possible.

There are so many books to read I'm stressed out!!!


We'll never have gender equality unless we're equal at home.

34 books by women of color that are coming out this year. I added so many to my Goodreads.

Successful women need to be selfish.

A very thorough profile on Roxane Gay.  I want a career as prolific as hers.

For all you Harry Potter fans: an old fan forum explains why Dumbledore is just a time travelling Ron Weasley.  God, I miss the days of intense fan forums.

Gloria Steinem talks on chick flicks and how "the person with the power takes the noun — and the norm — while the less powerful requires an adjective".

How hippie culture of new and old is basically just white middle-class people pretending to be poor. "And as they begged for money and frequented free clinics, these children of the suburbs siphoned resources away from the urban locals who needed them most."


I don't wholly agree with it, but this review of Ed Sheeran's new album is pretty cool (she rated it 2.8/10)

Colton Haynes (who recently got engaged!!!!) writes about his mental health and how things really DO get better with time. Remember, things might suck now but they won't suck always.


Rhiannon from Wales to Wherever wrote a very tasteful and respectful post about visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp.  I will hopefully be able to visit this summer, and I feel like this post has helped me prepare myself for it.  As prepared as you can be for something like that.


Everyone and their grandma has seen this video by now.  It's both hilarious and accurate.


Same old, same old.  I'm trying to figure out plans for spring break.  I know I'm definitely going to London at the end of March, then meeting my friends in Paris, and then meeting my friends who's studying abroad in Barcelona.  I was supposed to meet my flatmates in Rome after that, but it's kinda difficult to get from Barcelona to Rome in the time frame they'll be there.  So I might just do Spain and Portugal, because it's cheaper.  I just have to do something that occupies my time because I'm supposed to meet my other friend in London at the end of April.


Hey, Leslie.  It's Leslie.  Hang in there.  I love you.  Bye.
-Leslie Knope to herself

Glasgow Week 10: Robert Burns' Hometown

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Culzean Castle with the typically moody Scottish sky 

Different week, different essays to write.  I wasn't joking when I said most of my March will be spent writing.  And not the fun kind of writing.  The assigned kind.  I'm trucking along at about 1,000 words a day.  Onward and upwards, amiright?

Saturday was a class trip to Robert Burns' birth cottage and museum.  We also walked around the small graveyard where his parents are buried.

We then moved on to Culzean Castle (as seen above), which was really cool and updated.  It can be rented out for weddings for anywhere from £500-£6000.  Which is a lot cheaper than I expected.  The third floor is off limits for the tour because that's the level people stay on for weddings/for fun.

Sunday was a paper writing day again.  I know I'm here for study abroad but doing actual work is still a pain.  But oh well, I shouldn't complain.  I need to take a step back and be thankful!

What did you do this week?

rest and be thankful

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Blame it on my millennial-ness, but I catch myself being way too ungrateful way too often.

I find myself getting bored easily.  Spacing out as the beautiful mountains pass.  Taking a nap instead of looking at more sheep (I love sheep).

It's so easy to think "oh it's just another cloudy day", "cool, another castle", or "ugh this class is so boring".

Sometimes, you just need a mountain and a little bit of sunshine to remind you that you are so lucky to be in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, learning at one of the best universities from professors who have their own extensive Wikipedia pages.

If you find yourself complaining a little too much or getting down in the dumps, just pull over on the side of the road.  Rest and be thankful.

Glasgow Week 9: Y'ALL

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

I'll be honest, I'm getting bored of writing these weekly updates, but I do like them because they show the passage of time.  But rule one of writing: if I'm bored while writing it, y'all will be bored while reading it.

So I'm going to discuss what I've been thinking about recently...

Accents, economic class, and intelligence.

I have a slight Southern accent, I realize this.  My dad is from Georgia, and my mom's side of the family is a mix of coastal Virginians and North Carolinians.  Europeans always, and I mean ALWAYS, comment when I say "y'all."  But funnily enough, I've gotten the most shit for how I talk from Americans who are from the Northeast.  The occasional teasing is fine, I'll comment on my friend's Long Island accent sometimes, but people apparently have to say something almost every single time I open my mouth.  With some of them, the Northeasterners, I can tell that their teasing doesn't come from a good-hearted place.  You can tell that they think I'm dumb, or slow, or have worse manners, just from the way I talk.  They act surprised after they ask my major and I say "Neuroscience and English" as if someone who says y'all or exclaims "oh my stars!" can't do calculus or scientific research or comprehend Shakespeare.  They hesitate every time they mention Trump and look at me shiftily as if I must support him since doesn't everyone from the South?

I'm starting to understand my granddad's hostility towards "those damn Yankees."

I don't want to change the way I talk, though.  I don't even notice I have an accent (in the grand scheme of the South my accent is VERY mild), but it would kill me to alter myself because New Englanders still equate the Southern accent with stupidity.  It's just ridiculous, that's all.  Just plain ridiculous that the South is always ridiculed for being less intelligent and ignorant.  You'd think the "advanced coastal elites" would know better by now.  But it's not my problem what they think about me; if they wanted to hold on to antiquated ideas, then that'll just hurt them in the long run.  Hopefully, their travels in Europe will help them broaden their quaint worldviews.

And that's all I have to say about that.
Glasgow Week 8: car rides and essays

Glasgow Week 8: car rides and essays

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I spent most of last week working on an essay.  I have three more essays due throughout the next month.  Eight pages due the 14th, 3000 words and 4000 words due on the 28th.  The 4000 paper is technically due at the end of April, but I'm leaving March 28th for London and then will be gone for about a month (bless Scotland's month long spring break).  I noticed with my last paper that I average on 500 (researched and well-written) words a day, so it's safe to say I'm going to spend a lot of March in the library though.  It'll all be worth it when I basically have all of April and May free to do whatever I want.

One of my friends rented a car for Sunday and Monday and I joined even though I had a lot of work to do and class to go to.  I knew I wouldn't be able to see Scotland like that on my own, since I'm barely under the age to rent a car and also driving on the left terrifies me.  It was so much better than a bus or a train because we could stop wherever we wanted and got to see multiple sites in one day.  When I come back to Scotland in the future, which I know I will, I'm definitely going to do it by car.

Loch Ness

Sunday we drove from Glasgow through Glencoe and stopped at the Three Sisters mountains and to Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness.

On the way back we got dinner at Drovers Inn, which is over 300 years old.  That in is older than my country.  I got a haggis burger which was AMAZING.  Just a slab of beef and haggis.

me being dramatic around mountains
Monday we left at 8am to go up to Inveraray.  We drove past Loch Long, the place where I almost died, and stopped to take pictures.  We went to Inveraray Castle and Inveraray.

Loch Awe. The name is fitting. 
Then Loch Awe and Kilchurn Castle, which is VERY muddy to get to so bring rain boots or hiking boots.

We ended at Dunnottar Castle in Stonehaven which was closed for training, but the outside is just so pretty so it wasn't a big deal.

It was a good week.
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