Remembering Nice Interactions in Scottish Society After Poor Interactions in Wisconsin Society

Usually, if I’m feeling bright and cheery, I try to gather it all up to summon the nerve and will to go out and talk to people.

I’m remembering this because I had some pretty upsetting interactions with humans recently as, due to a family emergency, I found myself in a small town in Wisconsin where wearing a mask is seen as a political statement and I was all


Sigh. I didn’t feel the line: “This is for your safety as well as mine” brimming up within me and finding its way to my lips.

Or “[insert science].”


Stressed and really tired, I was much more like




And that kind of thinking/feeling is how all kinds of violent things happen.

Or in case math can more clearly summarize this:

A (Human(s) Unsatisfied-with/Unhappy-About Life)


B (Other Human(s) Who Feel/s about the Same)


C (Humans Being Humans)


That’s all beside the point. Because I wasn’t going to get into a physical fight in the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly and become a meme.

And so I just ignored the man threatening me because it’s just best to simply ignore people a lot of the time, really.

Unless you can help.

And the only way I would have been able to help that situation is if I had been carrying a tranquilizer gun.

And I wasn’t.

Also, I wasn’t in the best place myself right then due to outside factors.

After all, I am only a reluctant human.

In any case, today I’m remembering back to when I wasn’t so tired and upset.

Rather, one morning I awoke in our Edinburgh flat with this rare small intrinsic joy, represented below on the right, which is exactly the opposite of “bloodbath,” featured on the left.

It’s the infrequent kind of feeling that lights up in your chest and then trickles through your blood quietly and makes you feel like all things are possible.

So I quickly got dressed and ran down our tenement steps to get outside so I could walk down the city sidewalk and breath in the warm air. There was a gentle rain falling, like the kind that they spray on the delicate vegetables in produce sections of American grocery stores.

How strange. My mind revolved around grocery stores as a reference for nature. Originally, it had worked the other way, but I spent a lot more time in grocery aisles than I did outside around this time.

I vowed to work on that.

In any case, the air felt wonderful. Calm. I dragged my hand along the rock wall lining the sidewalk and watched as the black British taxis bumped along on the cobblestone roads and felt like I was in a foreign country, which I was, but in the way that I had thought of it as a child.

Exciting. Safe. All the physical visual markers I had envisioned were moving around me and this was comforting.

For a real change, things felt like they were visually living up to my expectations.

I had scheduled a meeting with an art professor whose office resided in the arts building of the University of Edinburgh’s Education School. In order to find this building, I had to go through a maze of stone buildings and walkways, following arrows and small quaint signs, and this enforced the belief that every planned destination in life seems to have a maze preceding it.

But, on that day, this felt just fine.

When I finally reached the correct building, I was satisfied, as if I had truly achieved something: I had arrived at Chesslers Land!

The University of Edinburgh called their buildings “lands.” I know there is historical significance in this, but I simply enjoyed not thinking and instead feeling as if I was literally in a Tolkien world.

I entered the Land of Chesslers and was greeted with the heavenly sound of a choir. I came to a full stop in the doorway entrance as that is simply what should greet a person as one enters any building.

There was a choir practicing in the gallery and the sound flowed through the hallways, filling them with music. Someone else was practicing a Chopin waltz on a piano… I dragged my mind trying to think of the song’s title, but the warm familiarity of the melody soothed my need.

And I found the office of an energetic, brilliant, intelligent art professor who smiled and welcomed me and started to talk of ideas and structures and angles and philosophies in such a way that they also filled the room freely.

Vision and hope, she said.

I left her office with boxes of journals and books, articles and PowerPoint presentations, and followed her down the hall, silently thanking her for picking up my scarf which I had left behind as I usually did as if I was leaving crumbs, just in case.

She set me up in one of the studios, full of color and messes and light, and I spread out all of my materials on the big table. I rarely had the room I needed and so this open space was wonderful.

I started to go through the journals, humming along to the laptop blaring out some song I sort of knew, and I assured a girl working at a canvas that the music was fine. She smiled at me. I sipped on my tea, because you always got tea there, and continued to hum and page through the books.

Of course, I couldn’t really concentrate, but I didn’t particularly care. I felt too warm and content to concentrate.

Then the art professor led me through the gallery space where the choir was – it was a large white room with tall ceilings – and through another door and another to a big copier, which I could use for FREE. There were sweets on the small table and she got me some more tea.

It’s like I had died.

I stood and copied and overheard the conversation of a small group of people who had gathered in the cozy faculty lounge. I could see it was my art professor, a younger girl, a boy with glasses and an older man in a suit. The boy with glasses was trying to think of any rock star moment he’d ever had. He decided that he had experienced just one.

I thought that was kind of ideal – having just one rock star moment.

A really memorable one. If you watch any documentary on any rock star, most generally despise fame and their lives.

That’s a sign that having too many rock star moments was not good for you.

In any case, the boy with glasses elaborated by saying once he had been mistaken for someone famous and was pulled to the front of the line and seated in the VIP section – the kind that cost thousands of pounds to reserve – right next to other famous people

(I didn’t recognize their names, but that didn’t surprise me as I felt the British had a remarkable number of celebrities for a relatively small island though I also didn’t know half of the celebrities in America either though that number had increased after I watched eighty-five percent of all mainstream American television shows in my first year in Scotland as television was more of a utility service and largely featured American shows in the morning and so I now was up to date and could perhaps do better when playing Trivial Pursuit)

and the members of the small group gasped as one of these famous people in this VIP section asked for the boy with glasses’ autograph.

Even the famous people didn’t accurately recognize one of their own because there were so many island-bound celebrities in Britain.

In any case, this was the boy with glasses’ single rock star moment.

I smiled to myself. I wondered if the British celebrities thought he was Harry Potter and then I questioned whether they realized that Harry Potter was fictional and Harry Potter was not the actor who played him in the movies.

Even when I’m in a great mood I’m skeptical of others.

Yet, while I stood on the outside of their conversation, I nevertheless felt involved.

And then a man suddenly appeared next to me and quietly interrupted my thoughts to ask if he could step in and quickly use the copy machine. I stepped back since I was only half done.

He smiled, thanked me, stepped in and copied sheet music onto big A3 pages. It was sheet music for the violin.

He must teach music, I thought. Or he was a musician. It was nice to know that violinists lived, walked and used the copier.

I finally finished and left the lounge, walked back through the great gallery, past the piano, out the door and this is when the air hit me and something small inside exploded in a puff of colorful glitter.

That was just a fantastic series of moments involving other humans which I didn’t often experience.

On a whim, I decided to go to the Scottish National Museum, which sat just off King Street in central Edinburgh and which also held my favorite painting at the time.

All the museums in Edinburgh were free[1], so I could just go in and look at my painting and then leave without feeling guilty that I wasn’t getting my money’s worth.

I could just go and visit my favorite painting like it was a friend who I just wanted to quickly check in on.

It was breathtaking to see it in person.

I loved how it just sat there, waiting to be adored. There were always guards right near the door on the floor they kept this painting, but they never bothered me.

On that particular day, they even nodded and smiled in their stoic art museum security guard way.

It was late morning on a weekday, so the museum was mostly empty of patrons. I strode through it on my way out, pretending that these great walls were mine and this was my house with its high ceilings and tremendous paintings and antique furniture and grand steps leading to the door.

I skipped down them and caught a red double decker bus and ran up the spiral bus stairs to the top – I didn’t think I’d ever get used to one-story buses again –

and watched the businessmen walk with purpose in their vested business suits and haircuts that strategically stuck out everywhere and pressed my face against the bus windows and smiled at the blatant tourists who gazed up at the castle with their mouths open, taking pictures,

and then rested my head against the glass and closed my eyes.

It was a lovely morning.

It’s comforting to reflect on mundane happy days when experiencing great distress and a large degree of bullshit when attempting to recreate them elsewhere in a different period of time where people apparently had unique plans in 2020 and I was and am still just trying to get a job and return to society.

Though, with recent events, I’m trying to remember why I wanted to return to society again…?


Vision and hope. 🖤

[1] Naturally, nothing that human beings provide is ever truly “free.”

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