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I moved out of my own home again Saturday. Less than two weeks left in Boston – staying with Eric and Holly in Downtown Crossing – then I’m returning to Scotland. I know I said I was back here for good… but things change. I promised myself that there were a few topics I would not discuss on this blog: religion, politics, and men.  One of those things is why I’m going back to Scotland for at least a few months. Limbo is a place I’m now comfortable with, even if it’s not ideal.

Design work on the Downtown Crossing condo is coming along. We’ve worked out a basic floorplan that everyone is happy with, but we haven’t decided on an overall concept yet. Staying in the apartment the past two days has made me realize how little natural light reaches its interior, so the finishes are going to need to be very light and reflective. At the same time Holly and Eric are worried about its feeling too cold, so I think I’m going to use the furnishing color scheme to warm things up. I’ll post drawings when there’s more to see.

It snowed Saturday night. What with my travels, I hadn’t seen snow for two years. Not to complain about Goa in January, but I’ve actually missed winter. We’ll see how long that attitude continues.

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I’m a model, you know what I mean… I’m disappointed that we didn’t blare techno or have a big catering setup to coquettishly ignore at our photoshoot Thursday, but it was still a quietly amusing proposition: me vamping around in shoes I can barely walk in with far too much makeup on playing stick with a hyper dog in a cool outfit. I never had quite enough treats in my pocket; in trying to make them last I had my fingers bitten a number of times. At the end of the shoot I had the idea to wade in the icy pools at the Parliament, but had a hard time convincing Dylan to join me. I’m not used to being thought crazy by a dog. And she rudely turned her head when I instructed her to make love to the camera.

But Dylan seemed completely comfortable in her coat, and we had a number of appreciative comments from passers-by, so that’s something (though one of them was a vacant-looking fourteen year old boy who couldn’t take his hands out his track pants – a sort of Scottish Deliverance..) And the photos are great, though the ones in the pools weren’t worth losing a few toes to frostbite. Read More

As of today I am officially homeless. I’ve moved out of the flat in Marchmont  and am madly stuffing clothes (OK, mostly shoes) into my mom’s hall closet. December 23 I go to Frankfurt for Christmas with cousins; Dec 26 I fly to Portugal for a week; back to Scotland on January 3; then off to India on January 8. The Indian government actually gave me a year visa, so as long as I have money and energy I may keep going. Subject to revision, of course.

I hope to write regularly here, both to keep a record of the trip and to stop stuffing my friends’ inboxes with long letters that some may read and others may view as annoyance!

baby soph

I haven’t written in a while because I lost Sophie in early October. It’s been a rough two months. I’m still pretty sad when I think about it, but for the most part I have an upbeat attitude, and I don’t cry every day any more. I feel awkward explaining to non- dog people how much her death affected me: all I can say is that since I live alone, she was more than just a dog to me. I’ve read that this is a growing trend in the States. Man, I hate being trendy. Anyway, I will definitely find another dog as soon as I get back to Boston. If only I knew when that will be…

The big news of this month is that I got laid off. My project had stopped, there wasn’t another one for me to take over, and I’m too expensive to just draft. Don’t cry for me, though – when I heard, my first reaction was relief. I had planned to stick out the job until May because I didn’t want it to look bad on my resume, but I was pretty miserable. The potent combo of big-firm culture, poor management, and a less than supportive attitude toward female staff made me dread going to work. I made a lot of friends among the staff, but I wouldn’t extend that moniker to the directors. Friday was my last day, so I am now a lady of leisure.

So what to do next? There don’t seem to be any architecture jobs on offer in Edinburgh, and I doubt Boston is much better at the moment. Instead of scrabbling for non-existent bad jobs in cold climates, I’ve decided to do what I’ve secretly wanted to for years: disappear off the radar for a while somewhere very cheap. My plan is to go to India in January for some length of time (anywhere from 3-8 months depending on how I like it), then make my way to Thailand or Cambodia and get a job teaching English before the money runs out. I started the process for the Indian visa this morning, although it wouldn’t surprise me if they rejected my application based on the premise that I am actually dead after looking at the photo I enclosed. I am also trying to re-rent the room I’m living in, arrange to get all my inoculations, and get rid of as much stuff as possible before storing the rest in my mom’s hall cupboard. My goal is take a half-full suitcase with me to India and buy most of what I need there.

I’ll be travelling a bit before I go to India. Going to Frankfurt to visit cousins for Christmas, then Portugal with the South African boy for New Year (yes, he’s still around). I didn’t want to completely miss Christmas, but I’m feeling miserly about it, since that trip will cost as much as the plane ticket to Mumbai plus probably a few weeks of accommodation in India. I’m wracking my brain about how to make a little money here during December. I’d like to get a job in a coffee shop or the like just to get out of the house and not be tempted to spend cash on anything. Scotland is so expensive.

What about architecture? My hope is that most employers will understand a sabbatical – especially one taken in such dire economic circumstances. I’ve been thinking hard about what I’d like to do next. When the work is interesting and I have some measure of autonomy, I love my job. Even at _____ in October I worked on a project where I was basically given parts of a building to “do”, and the leaders appreciated everything I did. Too bad I was transferred to the Gazprom complex the next month… At ______ I was extremely happy for the two years I did construction administration because I was learning the whole time and made most of the decisions myself. If I could find another situation like that within a firm, it would be great, but what I get from my architect contacts is that most people in the business are frustrated with their jobs because they have little control. I don’t know if this is particularly an architect thing, or whether it’s a generational thing. Any thoughts? I never dreamt of opening my own firm – always thought it would be too much of a hassle, and I don’t have delusions of my name in lights – but I find these days that I think more and more about it for the simple pleasure of being my own boss. This is an ongoing debate in my head. I’m hoping that some real time off will give me clarity.

I’ll admit that I’m not sorry to be leaving Scotland. It’s been interesting, and I have no regrets about coming here (apart from thinking that Soph might still be alive, but life doesn’t work that way), but I also don’t feel the need to stay longer. It’s cold, people drink far too much, and there’s an odd sense of inferiority / fatalism inherent to Scottish culture. And I accomplished the goals of getting to know my family here better and of pushing my comfort zone in terms of striking out on my own. India is going to be a whole new kettle of fish when it comes to that one! I am afraid of being lonely and homesick on the road, but I’ll deal with that when I come to it.