May 3rd: Hello Dolly, Edinburgh Castle, Wings
I chose to yet again sleep in late because I was so dang exhausted! I finally got up and out, messaged the Chicago people to see if they wanted to meet up and so we went to the National Museum of Scotland together! It was quite an experience seeing the actual (stuffed) cloned sheep named Dolly. She was the only embryo to make it out of 277 cloning attempts. She even had some lambs of her own! SCIENCE. IT’S AMAZING.
I also saw The Maiden (see previous post). That was quite something. Yikes. And I learned quite a lot about Scottish history at the museum, and saw some pretty cool old clothes and such. Fashion is so interesting, how styles change while some aspects of fashion linger, how certain statements can be made through someone’s outfit – human beings are so endlessly fascinating!
Anyways, after that, the Chicagoans and I went to the meeting location for the Edinburgh Castle tour. Now that was really something. We learned about Ewert, about the castle, about the kings and queens, about Sir Walter Scott, and our tour guide even sang. Thank goodness for the new Canadian friend I made on the tour, she video taped him singing! (She is going backpacking across the Scottish highlands, and I hope she’s loving it!!). I am going to try to attach a clip of him singing a song about a Scottish man who must go off to war for the British, and how he is saying goodbye to his beloved.
Some views from the Castle:
Sir Walter Scott, the person whose memorial I took a picture of yesterday, was crucial in saving the Scottish Highlander traditions. He wrote poetry and romanticized the Scottish culture. Before him, anything native to Scotland was on its way to being eradicated – the kilts, the bagpipe – it was a way to keep the Scottish under English rule. But King George IV was intrigued by Sir Walter Scott’s works. He liked the sound of Scottish Highlander culture, he basically became a giant fan boy. And so King George IV arrived at Edinburgh Castle, wearing a kilt that didn’t fit him quite right, and pink stockings. The Scottish people who saw him thought it was hilarious. So they’re outside the castle cheering for King George IV, who is absolutely loving it. He thought they were praising him and adoring him, not finding him a laughingstock. So he decided that bringing back Scottish Highlander traditions was important, all because of Sir Walter Scott.
Later on, another fan of Sir Walter Scott, Queen Victoria, came to Scotland to see it in person. She (presumably) clutched her copy of Sir Walter Scott’s works to her chest, eager to see Edinburgh Castle. When she arrived, she saw the Castle and was very disappointed. Downright dismayed. She had expected a CASTLE. Not just a collection of old buildings. So she had a grand entrance built for her. She was a fangirl of Sir Walter Scott’s works and Scottish traditions but also wanted things to go her way. And ever the perv, she even had kilts on her Scottish soldiers cut down to above the knee, all because she wanted to see some man-calf. (When our tour guide, a Scottish man named Greg, did his impersonation of Queen Victoria, I was going to cry from laughing so hard!!)
And I know I mentioned the name Ewert earlier. Charles Ewert. This guy was just amazing. He was highly regarded by all. He fought in the Battle of Waterloo, against Napoleon’s troops. There was a certain group of soldiers in Napoleon’s army – the 45th Regiment. The golden eagle was their standard/symbol. This regiment was the toughest out of all of Napoleon’s military might – they were the ones who all of the others looked up to because of their strength and strategy. But during the Battle of Waterloo, Charles Ewert was such a bad*ss that he captured the golden eagle standard of the 45th Regiment, and when Napoleon’s armies saw this, morale suddenly dropped. Everyone became disorganized. There was no one who could lead them through this battle if the 45th Regiment was taken down. We all know how Waterloo went and yadda yadda Napoleon was defeated.
But before that battle, there was a time when Charles Ewert had been fighting Napoleon’s troops in the mountains (I don’t remember where for sure… Italy? Germany?). It was winter. There were only a few men of Charles Ewert’s troop who managed to escape Napoleon’s army. They had to fight the bitter cold and snow as they trudged their way through the mountains. As they were walking, Charles Ewert heard a wail. What on earth could that be? he thought. So he searched for the source of the cry – it turned out to be a baby. A baby in the arms of his dead mother. The mother had frozen to death, using her clothes to swaddle the baby and keep him warm and alive. The baby still tried to drink from the mother’s breast. Charles Ewert swore to protect that baby and find the father.
Ewert found the man who was the father of the child Ewert found – he was a sergeant of the 60th Regiment. He was distraught at hearing the news of his dead wife, and swore to find his wife to put her to rest properly.
The child was raised a healthy and happy boy (but not by Ewert, if I remember right). Ewert encountered the father of the boy once more in his life, years later – the man had actually found his wife and gave her a proper burial. Ewert was offered a large sum of money in repayment for saving his son. He refused to take the man’s money, but then was offered a silver watch, which he did accept.
Charles Ewert was buried and the grave was long forgotten and paved over. Years later, to commemorate his strength, but more importantly, his strength of character and his goodness, he was reburied on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. How did they know it was Ewert for sure? He was buried with the silver watch he received for saving a baby’s life.
So Ensign Charles Ewert is right by the very front of Edinburgh Castle.
By the way, the aforementioned STONE OF DESTINY is housed within Edinburgh Castle. So when I got to see it, I was like… wow. This is it? It’s literally a rock. You can see where the stone mason connected the two broken parts. There are also the crown jewels there, and a wand-like thing? Very sparkly. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of these things though, which was kind of a bummer.
My Canadian friend and I went into the memorial at Edinburgh Castle for all of the soldiers and others who had been killed during different wars. It was a very powerful place. Seeing the books and books and books of names of people who had died for their country, died to save others, died to protect, it was really moving.
The oldest part of the castle is the smallest, plainest building, but it still has some pretty amazing stained glass. Especially considering it was made in the early 12th century. It’s called Saint Margaret’s Chapel. It’s the oldest building in Edinburgh.
You can also go into the room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to King James VI. There are a LOT of stories I learned on this tour related to the history and everything, but I don’t think I can write down all of them in one post! Maybe in future posts.
The Unicorn is the national animal of Scotland. In mythology, a unicorn is the only animal that can take down a lion. Guess which national animal has a lion as its symbol (hint: it’s a land that starts with an Eng).
There’s also a couple of museums within the walls of the castle – there’s one for prisoners of war, where there’s a door with a carving of one of the first uses of the American stars and stripes. I thought that was pretty cool. There’s also a military museum, where my Canadian friend and I met up with our American and Portuguese friends.
After touring the castle, we went to a place that had live music. The live music was absolutely incredible, and we were in such a small bar, we really were right up close to the musicians.
We talked and talked and talked and unfortunately, I had to leave because I was meeting up with my friend who I was staying with. I treated her and her boyfriend to dinner since I owed them that at the very least – they had helped me so much by letting me stay with them, and it was so great to see my friend again. Plus, she even taught me how to do the bench press! I think I’m pretty dang good at it for a beginner, haha.
So we went to this place called Wings, which has exactly what the name suggests. Wings for days. I was in heaven! The restaurant even had a TV with a very old game console hooked up to it so we could play Bomber Man. I lost about 30 seconds into each round, haha.
Wings had such great nerdy memorabilia and so many things related to comics and TV shows that I love! And the food was top notch. So overall, that place would get like, five Michelin stars from me haha. (Yes, I know that it only is supposed to go to three, don’t worry.)
So we walked home from Wings and we talked and my friend helped me sort out what I really want to do in life. She gave me a simple layout of how to figure out what I want to do – I said, “I want to help people,” and “specifically, the LGBTQ+ community.” And you know, there are ways for me to do this. But now I see that I would rather do that in my spare time. Doing it for a job is just… too much for me. I realize that I would be burnt out within a few years. What I have always wanted, what I’ve always dreamed of has always been working for Disney or Pixar in some capacity.
So I’ve decided recently that I’m going into coding. You’re probably thinking, “Why?” and, “So what?” and, “How is this related to Disney/Pixar?”
Let me ease your weary minds. The thing is – they need software developers at Disney/Pixar because they do a LOT of the work there. How did Rapunzel’s hair move the way that hair should in Tangled? New software. How did Merida’s hair move and bounce so naturally? New software. So I figure, hey – this would be my way in. If I wanted to go into the art aspect of the job, I’d need to go back for my undergrad in fine arts, preferably at RISD or CalArts. I’m good at art, but I’m not stellar – I know my limitations. I would need to catch up on years of not practicing, learn how to do a ton of Photoshop, get extremely good and have a super creative storytelling style with my art.
And you know, I’m very interested in getting a degree in fine arts one day. I really am. But for now, I see that coding will get me at least one step closer to my goal. It will make me marketable. It will help me get into places and jobs that I couldn’t get into before because I lacked the skills. And if anything, I don’t have to go into Disney/Pixar, I could go into developing software for fMRI machines. Working on eye tracking studies. Stuff that ties in my love of psychology with whatever skills I have.
I was at a café the other day (in America) and heard the song that had the lyrics, “What are you going to spend your free life on?” and I decided I’m not going to spend it on waiting. I’m not going to waste my valuable time doing something I don’t want to do, doing something that makes me miserable and stressed. I want to do something that gets me excited every day. I want to do something that brings me joy. I want to follow my bliss – something that my high school graduation speaker said to us. Follow your bliss. I always liked that saying, but I forgot about it for so long because of how depressed I was.
When I was depressed – I really couldn’t see things as they were. I was so miserable and everything was so much darker. Everything seemed like a crisis to me because it genuinely was at the time. I couldn’t handle the littlest of things – things that I can just brush off easily now. I couldn’t see my way out of the dark, find my way out of the cave. And now I see only sunlight. Now I can see the path I need to take. I can fight whatever demons try to bring me back into the dark because I know what they look like now. I just honestly couldn’t recognize the signs for so long, which is frustrating, but I only have compassion for myself and understanding for why I did certain things. I purposefully would do things that made me more miserable (i.e.: isolating myself, staying in my bed all day) because I did not believe I deserved happiness, didn’t have the motivation to do anything better. Lack of motivation is a real problem with depression, and the inability to be able to escape the emptiness and sadness within just takes away any remaining scraps of motivation.
So go – follow your bliss. Find what makes you happiest. If you find yourself feeling like you cannot get out of the darkness, please seek help. Find a therapist, a psychiatrist. Call a helpline. There are resources out there to help you. You’re not alone.
As always, thank you for reading! Sending you only best wishes and all my love! ❤