Unique and Original

There is no such thing as true originality. Everything you have ever thought or said has been equivocally thought and said before by thousands. Though the DNA may be microscopically different, you are not a unique snowflake. Your struggle is not original; your story is not new; your melody is an old tune and your jokes are older than you are.

Lucky for you, we love to hear the same stories over and over again with slight variation. Our memory is such that we forgive endless monotony for the way things simply are. We are comforted by familiarity, by traditions and allusions. Although we know that we are not special, we still like to think our perspective needs to be shared. We act in self-assuring interest, desperately believing in simultaneous belonging and individuality. We will read your stories, listen to your songs, giggle at your jokes and laughingly tell you when you surprise us that you are wonderful, beautiful and unique.

But we will ostracize you if your situation makes us feel uncomfortable with our own comfort, although we have felt your pains. We will convince ourselves that melanin makes a difference to who we are and that a belief in something greater than ourselves is not enough to rectify the tiny discrepancies in doctrine. Our political beliefs, although rational and not that different, will cause us to shout hateful things, and question each other’s judgment, intelligence and even humanity. We will forget you when you do not confront us, and hate you when you force us to see something of ourselves in you.

We will expect everything from you, and give you nothing. And so will you. You are not a unique snowflake. You are us, and we are you.

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together. – “I am the Walrus” The Beatles

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Traveling: Scotland and England

So tour is now officially over, my journal has been basically destroyed through endless packing and unpacking and I’m currently staying with my uncle and aunt before joining my parents in Nepal for a week. Here is the lowdown of the days since I last did an update.

1) We woke up fairly early the next day and ran to the shops to get some gifts for family members before leaving for Scotland. Amanda and I stopped off at Marks and Spencers to grab a to-go lunch and scrambled around the city for an hour before returning and heading onto the bus with the rest of the choir. We napped til we arrived in Belfast, where there was a small street fair going on. We got some pounds wandered through the stalls of wooden animals, goat rugs, foreign food, leather journals with creepy faces and Indian trinkets. Amanda bought some penny candy, which she shared with me on the bus ride to the ferry. As we drove up to this huge ship we saw this line of Deloreans all coming on the ferry with us. Maybe it was a Back to the Future convention, but the jokes were priceless.

Once on the ferry, I grabbed a bite to eat, and sat and talked with some friends. Since Callie and Alison were feeling ill, I tried an alternative medicine of pressure therapy on them that Alan had suggested. They started to feel better near the end of the journey, but I have to admit, the swaying of the waves was enough to make the soberest man feel a little tipsy. We drove through the beautiful Scottish countryside, past breast shaped islands, sea side cottages, rocky beaches and dark rolling hills scattered with white sheep. We dropped off the alumni at their hotel (which was right next to 3 strip clubs, and where an older man in very short but fluorescent shorts was simply sitting on a chair by the side of the road (at 9pm)) and then headed to our hostel while the tour guide told us what sounded like ghost stories of the dark history of the people who had died in Edinburgh. The hostel was alot nicer than anticipated, although the elevator was broken and the Internet cost a fortune. Since we were 8 girls to a room, I bought us Internet and we all shared my laptop to check on friends and family. Dinner was in the hostel, followed rapidly by sleep.

2) The next day, I woke up fairly early, got dressed, had breakfast and walked with Amanda and some others to Edinburgh castle. I ended up wandering around (in heels no less) with Brielle and Zach. We explored the military museum, which took an hour, then the dungeons, Scottish Crown Jewels, called the Honors, and the cathedral-like memorial for soldiers who died in WWI and WWII, among other conflicts. It’s the first time I had ever seen things like tanks and zeppelins in stained glass, and possibly the last.

After the castle, my feet aching, we went to get me a change of shoes, then walked with some more people to a small café that had just opened. Since I had been skimping on breakfast before then, I ordered a full Scottish breakfast for lunch, and a tea service. Luckily, of the many things they didn’t have on the menu, that was not one of them. We wandered past shops on the way back to the hostel, where I read for a while, and then got ready for the concert.

We were singing in this huge, freezing cold church, and there for much longer than we had initially realized. Since we were singing Evensong and a concert, we arrived at 3, and wouldn’t leave until probably 9-10. The practice kept us mostly distracted, but by 5:00 we were all frozen and hungry and unsure. We sang through Evensong and the concert with few issues, but much pain and distraction, although the patrons seemed to enjoy the show. Once back at the hostel, we went out with everyone to a vodka bar, which was expensive and unremarkable. We were there for scarcely an hour when Amanda and Tim decided they wanted to go home, and although I wasn’t all that ready to go, I had promised Amanda that we would stick together. I left happy, which I suppose is all you can ask from a night out.

3) The next day we drove to Scone Palace (skön), which is a beautiful estate near Sterling. Many explored the grounds, some going on the zip line, others to the maze, while I just stared at the peacocks and goats and highland cows (heelund coos) for a while, then had a chat with the gatekeeper. After we headed to lunch, which I had with a large group that kept getting larger at a pizza place less than a block from the next church. The people at the church were lovely. They gave us a reception, cooked us a wonderful curry dinner, and gave the choir an award. We sang the best in that warm, bright church that we had the entire tour previously. After, we drove to Blairgowrie, where the men and women ended up with different hotels. We were in the Royal, where there was tea and sausage rolls waiting, the staff took our bags to our rooms and the entire ambiance was warm and cosy. Apparently the men’s night was less pleasant.

4) The next morning had a lovely breakfast in a tented room, and the boys were kind enough to take our stuff, so the girls decided to thank them with a rendition of “You are my Sunshine”. We drove to Glasgow in relative silence, and I read so deeply that I was shocked when we arrived at the hotel. We were in groups of 4, so Amanda and I were rooming with Katie and Alison. We hung out for a bit, watched some Big Bang Theory in our constructed mini theatre, then got ready for the show.

This church was very interesting. It was this massive cathedral, but we sang in a little church within the church, above a thrillingly creepy crypt. I was surprised that we had chosen such a dead space to sing in, considering the echoing chambers of the outer room. For the first time, we were lit with bright stage lights from every angle, and vocally recorded. The space was almost claustrophobically small, and I think no one really felt very comfortable with the situation. Even Dr Holmes seemed out of place. I spent the entire concert focusing by picturing him in a kilt, which wasn’t hard since the lights all made me see plaid. I think he was disappointed with our performance that night. We all knew we hadn’t done our best. That night I decided to stay in with Amanda while Alison and Katie went out and partied. I got woken up at 2am since Katie had no key, but other than that, it was an ok night.

5) Thursday, we drove to the airport and flew to England. The flight was mostly uneventful, and I read for most of the time. We landed in Heathrow, spent a while getting bags, then drove to the hotel, where the boys spent another 30 mins getting all the bags up one tiny elevator. That night we all walked to this lovely restaurant called Browns, with a live pianist, great food and a view of  Windsor Castle. We had pictures, voted for president for next year and then broke off into groups and explored a little. I walked with some people that went down to see the swans, before heading back to the hotel for bed.

6)Friday morning we explored Windsor castle. We got free audio guides, so i spent the whole tour wandering alone, at my own pace, just listening to the history of the castle. There was an intricate dolls house, huge rooms of swords and armor, a room of shields, a beautiful octagonal wooden room filled with golden objects, a room with golden walls and every space filled with intricate, expensive and beautiful ancient murals and paintings. The grounds were lovely, the garden breathtaking. The church was a piece of Gothic splendor, intricate stone work, wood work, stained glass, statues and spires abounding. Amanda and I left to have lunch together, then spent most of the afternoon just chilling around the hotel. I think we were both just a little tired. We got ready for the evening performance and walked together over to the church.

The performance was emotional for everyone. We sang our hearts and guts out, many cried, and had a long heart to heart about it before and afterwards. My parents and aunt and uncle were in attendance. I think they really enjoyed the show. There was a great buffet provided by the church, and many decided to go out and party and drink together that evening. I seriously considered going with them, but eventually decided to spend the evening in again.

6) Early the next morning, I said a groggy goodbye to Amanda, gave her a hug, and that was it, they were gone. I woke up renewed, had a quiet breakfast alone, although some stragglers remained, then spent the morning packing and waiting for my parents to come pick me up. We ended up having lunch in a gas station, then driving to a Nepali friends house, where we had a lovely dinner and then a walk involving a philosophical conversation, then bed.

I spent the next week at my Aunt Rose and Uncle Peter’s house, trying to recover from my cold, enjoying tea, walks, delicious food and good company. We played some board games, visited my Granny, and reconnected before heading to my Uncle Gordon’s place. I’ve been here for a few days, my parents now in India, and am admittedly getting a little stir crazy. After so much activity and people and travel, the silence has gone from peaceful to stifling. I’m just glad there are still people I can talk to.

Hope You’re all doing well.

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