Stop. Amazement. Euphoria.

I have found my life anew. This experience tonight struck to the core of my being with its level of fun, camaraderie, comfort, informality, and friendliness. I have found my niche at Edinburgh. My weeks will now to a great extent be in anticipation of the coming Tuesday night. This was the most fun I’ve had in a good while. Ogh. You don’t even know. And you won’t unless you click “Read more”…

So, we’ll start with the start of the day. I got up, blah blah, had breakfast, blah blah, went to class, fine. This was my first class of Wittgenstein. It was fine; it’s complicated stuff, but it makes sense if you get pass his reiteration and complicated technology (I would say ambiguous or vague, but I don’t want to accuse Wittgenstein of that, as it’s a big part of what he’s criticizing). The professor is American, and reminds me a lot of Paul Giamatti from Sideways in how he presents himself. He’s clear, though, which is the important thing for Wittgenstein (in both senses)(aren’t I witty).

After class, I went about some errands while listening to my new Martyn Bennett music on my iPod. As my voltage converter blew the other day and that means no speakers, I went to get a new one, one that won’t die on me. Turns out the one I got probably just wasn’t strong enough for the volts pouring through it, so I didn’t buy one today, just so I could come back and find out how much I needed. But I did buy a 4-quid microphone for my computer, so anyone with Skype I will shortly be able to talk to. Huzzah for communication!

After that stint (at Edinburgh Bargain Store, recommended by a tour guide on International Students day), I went to buy tickets for some concerts at Queen’s Hall, which is just down the road from me. I bought tickets there for Phil Cunningham and for Peatbog Faeries. In the morning, before class, actually I had bought my tickets for this weekend, at Celtic Connections. The concerts I’m going to there are Session A9/The Duhks and Shooglenifty. Did I already say that? I feel like I’ve typed that already. Oh well. I’m excited, so it’s okay I told you twice if that’s the case.

Went to dinner, then straight from there to see the FilmSoc showing of Serenity. Yes, I own it, but since I bought the season pass, I get in for free. At the beginning, the FilmSoc person was like “Before we start, we’re going to have a wee trivia question with prizes of these two movie posters of the Bourne Supremacy and American Beauty.” And I was like, awesome, I know all a lot about Firefly and Serenity. I was so prepared for some obscure question. She continued, “What TV show…” and I was like, oh wow. Okay. “…is Serenity based on?” My hand was up before she finished. So now I have two movie posters from good movies, though not my favorites. Whatever. Free stuff is not bad. And of course the movie was great. Until it stopped working about half an hour from the end. If you know it, it was immediately after Mal gives his “They’ll think they can make people better” speech and says “Oh, they won’t be expecting this”. Throughout that climactic scene it had been skipping, and they paused it right after that line to fix it, and they never did. We all got free passes, though, which means, as I already have the season ticket, I can bring friends for free. Awesome. So, I had another event that had started half an hour earlier, so I went to it, right next door:

FolkSoc. Edinburgh University Folk Society. This is my new life. I went in, and there were a bunch of people sitting around a disparately-furnished room. Basically, it’s a tune and song session, with few excellent musicians, a lot of competent musicians, and a lot of beginners/people who don’t play anything, but enjoy the scene. I fell somewhere between the latter two categories. It was amazing. Need I say again, this is my new life. At the start, all the fiddles (referring to the musicians by the name of their instrument) were off getting pints in the Student Union bar upstairs. So, it was a disorganized coagulation of whistles and plunky stuff like guitar. One guy had an autoharp. A bunch of people were just sitting around on the couches and chairs. One girls was knitting. I came in and sat down. I moved over to one of the other whistles and we all kinda muddled around for a while, because us 3 whistles would try to start a tune, and the plunky people would be fiddling around doing their own stuff. I felt like they were more interested in folk songs. Meh. But then, the fiddles came back. And here was the leadership of the group. Not just fiddles, mind, but guitars and bodhran and stuff. So the evening went on with much more gusto. Numerous tunes I recognized were played, some I could play, and joined in. Some songs, surprisingly, I knew, and joined in as much as I could. I did a lot of foot stomping, for lack of my drum. Oh, for my drum. It will have to join me, I barely need to even say it; of course it will. But then. A girl across the room opened her mouth and began singing Northwest Passage. I joined in after “Ah for….” If you don’t know the song, learn it. Stan Rogers, Northwest Passage is the name of the album. I was singing so noticeably that I was encouraged to lead a song. I stammeringly said most of what I knew well enough was Stan Rogers, and they said fine. I pleaded for a minute to pick one, and in the interim another girl led The Wreck of the Athens Queen. Another Stan Rogers, for you unintroduced. When that was over, I didn’t really have anything, because I’d been singing along. But I led Free in the Harbour, which at one point was my favorite. After that it was mostly coming off of the music high, but I then went to work on networking aka learning everyone’s names and meeting people. There’s Paul and Ally, two guys who have a radio show on the college station, called Fresh Folk, and play everything from the kind of stuff I play on my show to more traditional stuff. Paul used to be president of the society, but now Eilidh, a girl who was there just at the beginning, is (that was a poopy sentence). Charlotte, the girl who led the Athens Queen, has blonde dreads and is the treasurer. She’s studying some sort of Scottish/Celtic studies course, as are a number of people in the society. One I talked to, Katie, is from Raasay our beyond the Isle of Skye. The first really friendly person, Clair, is a first year whistle. She seemed kinda flighty and slightly socially unstable. The other whistle is Oisin, a very good musician at whistle and bodhran, but can’t play with other people worth a darn. He plays too fast; no one except very experienced musicians can keep up. Scott, who came in wearing just boxers (as slight flurries were coming down outside; first snow I’ve seen all winter) was the most welcoming of anyone. The explanation for the lack of trouser was that he had been running earlier, and it had happened that he hadn’t had time to go home and change before coming to FolkSoc. He was very nice, knew Stan Rogers and a lot of other stuff I knew. There are two other Americans in the group, about 6 Scottish or Celtic Studies people, and 2 other international students: Anna from Austria (the one knitting), and Carmen from…Bulgaria? Romania? There was one song in Gaelic, sung by Katie and Charlotte.

Today was the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland, and it was all over the news. It showed itself at FolkSoc by a number of Scottish nationalist songs. I think that’s where I fall, for the primary reason that an independent Scotland would likely be able to better preserve its traditional culture, including its imperiled native language, Gaelic.

The group usually goes to Orkney in late May, at the very end of exams. I would love to go with them, but I would also love to get home and see all my senior friends graduate. Can’t do both. We’ll see how things stand in a month or two.

On a lighter note, I’ve started eating all of apples instead of just the outer, most accessible part. The goodness goes all the way down to the core. I don’t eat the core, or the stem bits, but actually the area between the core and the external stems is quite fine. I eat it almost like a peach now. That’s what starving can do for you; you get more efficient in what you eat.

The explosion of pleasure in my mind tonight is spectacular. Like, if you could see mental things, these fireworks would be visible for miles and miles. But I have to wake up for class tomorrow at 9. Ick. But it’s okay, it’ll be fine. I love you all, and miss you, but this is so amazing. Catch you in a few months. Though of course I’ll keep updating this. Mwah.

3 thoughts on “Stop. Amazement. Euphoria.

  1. Wow. I am very jealous. I wish people around here knew who Stan Rogers was…bah…maybe I can steal away to Edinburgh for a Tuesday night! Ha! Yeah right…

  2. Hi Alex,
    Sounds like a great niche for you! So what is with this starving thing? How can we make sure you are getting adequately nourished? (Am I a mom or what?) I wonder if you could hit a grocery store and stock in some nuts or other high protein snack to fill in the cracks? Or cheese? Some people in the US hang food out their windows to keep it cool in the winter.
    But as Shakespeare said, which is perhaps apropos to the Folk Music Society, “If music be the food of love”….maybe with all that music you won’t need to eat as much but can feast on the music!?
    Hmmmm. Love, Mombets

  3. That’s a good idea, nuts or something. I do have PB&J and bread, and nutrigrain bars, and regularly apples and yogurt stolen from the dining hall, but nuts would be tasty. But I’m also hungry right now. Y’know how they say you’re not supposed to go food shopping when you’re hungry; maybe I shouldn’t take food suggestions when I’m hungry either.

    And I just noticed your screenname is mombets. That’s really funny.

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