Words and Wheels

I’ve been away from the computer for the last few days.  Away from the computer, but not without my notebook.  I started writing the lines that make up this post while on the train to Glasgow on Thursday.  I like trains, and I love writing while in transit.  Something about the rhythm of the journey colours the words, knowing that that there will be some sort of evidence of change from beginning to end.

I’ve loved notebooks for as long as I can remember.  Lined ones, because my hand-writing without them was, and still is, a bit wayward without them.  My childhood heroes were:  my Dad, my Grandmothers, and Harriet The Spy.  After I read the book, I started recording my life in notebooks of my own.

The first journal I remember keeping started on another train journey, in Norway, when I was seven.  The home for that journal was a green and white marble composition book that I still have.  It was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever seen in my long years.  In it wrote about my first fishing trip, and a dance, and a pizza with too many vegetables on it.  At the start of that trip, I was a kid.  By the end, I knew I was someone who wouldn’t be happy unless she was writing, or travelling.  Preferably both.

I moved on from marble composition books to college-ruled notebooks.  But for awhile I thought you actually had to be in college to use them, and that the ‘Notebook Police’ was coming to get me, that I would be ratted out during the ‘Notebook Checks’ we had in elementary school.

Back then I wrote about TV shows and carnivals and the summer I left sleep-away camp too early.  In school, while my friends were handing in writing compositions on rainbows and puppies, the third grade me wrote about black roses and wind-storms and lone violinists playing at midnight.  I’ve lightened up since then.  A little.

The notebook I’m using these days is a small Penguin Books one that Sarge gave me.  Written evidence that I have indeed lightened up.  It was this notebook I took to Glasgow, where I was going to get a haircut.   Dad picked me up afterwards, and when I got in the car he put only one of my wheelchair tires in the back seat.  Leaving the other one propped up against his mode of transport, and driving off without mine.  We discovered there was only one in the car when I needed both to get out of the car.

I called the hairdresser’s and asked what sounded to me like an odd question.  Have you seen a wheel without a chair attached to it?  I’m looking at it right now.  Are you able to see that it hasn’t been wrecked by passing cars?  I’m looking at it in the shop.  We brought it in.  Oh, great, lovely, yes.  (Although, ‘great, lovely, yes’ can be filed under ‘understatement’.)

So we went back and got it, and life was good.  A wheel can now be added to the list of things my father has forgotten on the roof of/around his car and driven off without.   He lost a kilt and kilt shoes, by the same means, on different occasions.  I also seem to remember a carton of milk going the same way.  I am quite amused and a little honoured that something of mine could have been carted off into family legend.  I am equally pleased the wheel was saved.  This time.

Even though I will never forget it happened, I wrote it down.  I know I said before that every journey brings change and transformation, but losing the wheel would have been pushing it, even for me.

And not every journey has to involve going across the world.  You could go across the street, as long as you bring something back with you.  A memory, some words.  Or in my case, all required wheels.

Hopefully, everything.

I Am Not a Tourist

It’s  Festival(s) season in Edinburgh.  Festivals mean tourists.  Remember those slow-walkers I was talking about?  Last week one of them stopped short in front of a shop and yelled:  I want a t-shirt with ‘Scotland’ on it!  Which reminded me, for about the billionth, time that I would like a shirt that says : I am not a tourist.

I have nothing against tourists, fundamentally-speaking.  They haven’t done anything to me.  I actually like them.  I think they are sweet, like children and old people.  Over-hearing their conversations and sometimes talking to them makes me smile and nod.  Yes, really.  Smile and nod, and want to help them.  Tell them that a fake kilt won’t make them blend in with the locals.

Take another day last week, for example.

Sarge was on holiday, and in between book festival events and comedy shows we were having lunch at the Mosque Kitchen.   Sitting across from us was a couple discussing the location of vegetarian restaurants.  Now, I am not a vegetarian.  But it just so happened that two night before, we’d been to a vegetarian restaurant.  I’d loved the meal and managed not to gag, which is my usual reaction to vegetables.  To be fair, I picked something that was basically cheese with tomato sauce.  I just pretended it was Italian food without the pasta and got on with it.

Maybe I wanted to share the fact that as someone with an aversion to vegetables, I enjoyed this meal and would go back.  I don’t know why I was so excited; these visitors looking for a restaurant two days later didn’t know me.  But I found myself talking to them.  I was shocked I was in position to talk positively about meat-less food.  Who knew?

I was happy to impart some local knowledge that I was surprised to even have.  Surely, this meant that after three months in Edinburgh, I am building up to being a local myself.   Sarge and I recommended Kalpna, and other veggie places, and then the conversation got around to where we were from.  I asked Sarge to go first, because my story would be longer.

I moved to Scotland from New York when I was 13.  Being 13 at the time, this was not something I did on my own.  I happily followed my Dad after he moved here.   When I speak, taxi drivers and everyone else who doesn’t know me don’t believe I’ve been here more than half my life.  I have stopped asking what my accent sounds like to other people.  I just sound like me.

Scotland is home.  My life is here, and my Dad is here.  Sarge is here.  My friends are all over the place, but some are here.  I am here.  This is something I have to explain on a daily basis.  People who assume I just got off the plane ask:  When are you going home?  I go home every day.  They then ask if I miss the nightlife in New York.  Well, I didn’t really go clubbing when I was 12.

There are things I miss about my childhood.  But that’s because I’m getting old and nostalgic, not because I’m home-sick for New York.

Scotland is my home; certain people here are my home, but where I’m from depends on my mood.  I have the luxury of choice.  When the Mets are playing, I’m from New York.  If I’ve just watched The Godfather, I’m from New York.  When I drink good coffee and eat not-so good bagels, I am from New York, where there are better bagels.  When I hear good bagpipes or see mountains or breathe fresh air, I’m from the Highlands, where there are bigger mountains, and fresher air.  On my birthday, I am from Texas.  When Bush was in office, I was Canadian.

I live in Scotland.  I may be new to Edinburgh, and therefore living here during the Festival(s) is still a novelty to me.  However, I am not a tourist.  I am not one of those people sitting in cafes writing post-cards.  Although, I do always wonder what they are writing, and who the post-cards are for.  I’m not with a tour group.  I don’t have to be back on the bus at 5 o’clock or on a plane in ten days.

I do have to say, one of my favourite things to do is play tour-guide when those all over the place friends and family come to visit.  It’s an interesting experience, because I am directionally-challenged myself.

And for the record, when in places that are not Scotland or New York, I am one of those people sitting in cafes writing post-cards.  And I’ll probably be wearing a Scotland t-shirt and have a Mets cap on.

The Hazel-Eyed Quite Nice Person

OK, I am going to admit something here.  When I was single, I was quite jealous of people in relationships.  Not bad relationships, because who has time for that?  But the good, solid, heart-melt relationships.  I have a boyfriend now, and he’s quite lovely.  So lovely in fact, that I would be jealous of myself if that were possible.  Even though it isn’t, I am a little bit.  I asked him if I could write this on here, and he said yes.  See?  Lovely.

Since we’ve established that I’m a little bit jealous of myself, I’ll admit something else.  I’m on a roll, here.  I’m a little bit jealous of people with jobs.  Not in an I-feel-sorry-for-myself kinda way.  More in an I’m-very-enthusiastic-and-I’d-like-to-work kinda way.  People have asked me if I work, and if I like my job.  I’ve liked all the jobs I’ve had, yes.  And I’d like another one now.

I’m not very good with boredom.  I used to think that boredom didn’t exist.  Or at the very least, was invented as an excuse for people with no imagination.  I was wrong.

I do a lot of things in the name of ‘research’.  (For my writing.  Though maybe not this kind of writing).  Everything is research.  Life is research.  I go to parks, I go to movies by myself in the afternoon, I have dinner in restaurants by myself in the evening, waiting for Sarge (the lovely boyfriend) to finish work and meet me at the cinema, so we can see another movie.

I do these things, because I think out of all of it I will formulate some great, better than ever sentences that I will ‘use somewhere later’.  I think I’ll find the switch that will turn an unfinished piece back on, and that lady on the bus on some random Monday at 11.37 is a new character.  I do this, because it’s ‘good for my writing’.  And maybe because I am bored.  There are only so many movies you can watch before you’ve seen all the good ones, and some bad ones, too.  There are only so many pinball points to rack up.  Or as I like to call it, ‘working out a plot-point’.

I go to the Botanic Gardens and actually smell the roses, because I can.  There’s ‘nowhere else to be’.  Even though I am applying for jobs, I’ve yet to find one to go to every day.

I have to smell the roses and play games and watch movies and read to keep myself occupied, and then I have to write about it.  Because I don’t watch Jeremy Kyle.  I do watch Judge Judy, though.

Now I must apply for another job.  Or go off in search of a spark that will light the end of an unfinished story.

Ink from my notebook…

I am restless.  Before sitting down to write this I played Mafia Wars three times, brushed my teeth twice, drank two cups of coffee, ate a bagel, turned on music, turned off the washing machine, did some laps around the house, thought of poems I’ve written about procrastination and wondered if this is another one, turned the music off and sat down to write this.


The above word-splurge is what happens when you can’t leave the house because you are waiting for a workman to come and fix something in it, and actual ink from my actual notebook.

True Confessions of a Book Addict

When I started this blog, oh so long ago, I wanted to post every day.  At least until it became a habit.  But I have another habit.  No, it isn’t collecting job-application rejections.  It’s reading.  More specifically, it’s books.  Actual page-and-ink books.  I have a lot of them.  I try not to dog-ear the pages or crack the spines, but I read them.  Well, I’ve read most of the ones I have.

When Borders was open, I practically lived there.  It is a known fact that being in bookstore lowers my blood-pressure to the point of Zen.  It doesn’t really matter what bookstore we’re talking, but Borders had a special place in my heart, and there was one close to my flat in Glasgow.  And so, I was there a lot.  I have this thing where I cannot leave a bookstore without buying a book or 3.  I’ve amassed quite a pile of unread ones, because I can buy even faster than I read.  It isn’t about the buying, it’s about the books.  I’m just as greedy in libraries.  Or with friends who say, ‘Here, read this!’

Remember the list-that-this-blog-isn’t-about? Item 10a. would be: Read all the books I’ve left unread/people have thrown at me.

Sounds simple.  Until we get to 10b.:

Do not buy another book for myself until 10a. is checked off (except The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest).  I bought The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest, because my list said so.  But then I bought more.  And so, I crashed on that one. I crashed like IE crashes.

One I bought quite recently was The Brooklyn Follies, by Paul Auster.  I didn’t write yesterday, because I was finishing it.  See, at least my reading turn-over is getting quicker.  Anyway.

Paul Auster is one of my favourite authors.  Reading one of his books is like going home.  And I’m not just talking about the setting.  (Although, New York is one of my homes.  That’s another post.)  I find his writing so effortless.

I finished TBF and started The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave (which I borrowed from the library, and my boyfriend read it before me.)  After Bunny, it’s Frida: A Biography of Frida Kahlo. (To be read for book group, and borrowed from a friend.)  I call all this multi-booking.  Like multi-tasking, only with more words.

Speaking of more words, there will be more of them on this blog.  After a weekend of bagpipes, poker and baseball in Glasgow.  Strange mix, but so am I.

Now, I wonder what book I’ll read on the train tomorrow?

Heels and steps, and other things…

I’ve lived in Edinburgh a few months now,  and I’ve discovered a few things about myself, and the world.

I like lists, and so in no particular order:

The only thing I hate more than slow-walkers are slow-walkers who stop short.  On a hill.  In front of me.  Sometimes I can’t avoid nipping people’s heels, and I’ve developed a points system for when this happens.  50 points if they act like they don’t notice, 100 points if they say ‘ouch’, or something that isn’t ouch.  I don’t mean to run into people, and don’t make a habit of it.  But if people stop short in front of me, and chair-to-heal contact is made, I may as well make it fun.  For me.

Even if I carry a notebook wherever I go, that doesn’t necessarily mean that any of the five pens at the bottom of my bag will actually work.

I cannot write in clutter.  Contrary to what I used to think, chaos is not now, nor has it ever been, organised.  I’m looking forward to getting the second bedroom sorted out into ‘the office’, so I can move the laptop in there and we can use our kitchen table as it was meant to be used.  Hopefully, I’ll be writing in ‘the office’ before NaNoWriMo in November.

In Edinburgh, the words ‘accessible entrance’ could mean ‘the door with the least number of steps in front of it.’  Let’s say three or four, which is less than the seven at the other (inaccessible) entrance.  A step is a step, and very rarely are there zero of them.

I love that all the buses here are low-floor, though.  Never have I been so happy to hear a siren (when the ramp extends)!  I have decided that I shouldn’t be put in charge of the buzzer that tells the driver I need the ramp to get off the bus.  I’ve been known to get too happy with that thing.  I once hit it with my elbow in sheer excitement.  Sorry driver, this isn’t my stop.  I just hit the button because it’s there, and I can!  Again!  I’m sure I’ll get over it soon.  Maybe.

Hello, World! Is this thing on?

A few days after I turned 29, I made a list.  This blog is not about that list.

On the list are things I want to do/work on before I turn 30.  Item 13 is: Start a public blog.   Never mind that I wanted to call it something else, and then something else.  Months after I wrote the list, the blog is called Gin & Lemonade, and here it is.  I think I’ll add: Don’t Procrastinate to any lists I make in the future.

For a few years now I’ve thought, I live my life, so I don’t have to write about it.  But stuff keeps happening.  And I want to write about it.

This blog is about me.  And my life.  The fact that I use a wheelchair and live in not the most accessible city in the world is only one part of it.  Or is that two parts?  I was never good at Math.  That’s another part.

And yes, I drink Gin & Lemonade.  And other things.  Like coffee.  But never at the same time.  Gin, lemonade and coffee would be too much.  Or would it?

I’m very likely to be drinking coffee while writing blog posts.  That can be taken as a warning, or as fact.

For other random or not-so random facts, you’ll just have to read along.