Day 278 of Project 365: Portland or Scotland?


The weather today has been blustery in between light bouts of rain, and I am missing Scotland something fierce.

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I wanted to say more on the topic, but I’ve just used my last articulate impulse on mustering my rudimentary Italian to help a new Second Life resident who I discovered crouched on my sofa, dressed like a swashbuckling vampire. I think we may have had a discourse on gender and avatar appearance … but I am likely overestimating my linguistic ability.

Still, when there’s a vampire pirate crouching on your sofa, it’s only polite to try to talk to them. Non è vero?

Writing from: my study in Portland. Or is it Scotland? Listening to: bits and pieces of NFL commentary coming from FunkyPlaid’s study.

Day 247 of Project 365: Missing Scotland.


The heatwave dissipated quickly, leaving behind the merest hint of autumn in the air. A few rainy days in a row were enough to wrangle me into heartier outerwear, and as I attempted to shove a wee bag of blueberries into one of my jacket pockets, my fingers caught on a couple of pieces of paper.

I drew them out and smiled. Two tickets from Lothian Buses, dated last December.

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In this endless and perhaps ill-conceived push to move ever forward, I had not allowed myself anything more than the briefest of glimpses in the rear-view mirror at the landscape — that stark, lush, unforgiving and breathtaking landscape — that had just been left behind.

This is home, and that was home too. The heart bounces between the two like a pinball made of feathers. Things fracture and spin off. That’s okay too.

Writing from: my study in Portland, sort of. Listening to: “Low Hymnal” by Told Slant.

Day 24 of Project 365: The way home.

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A few weeks after moving here, I kept asking FunkyPlaid what that big group of buildings looming over the city was.

Half a year after moving here, I had finally figured out what it was.

A couple of years later, befuddled tourists started asking me how to get to the castle. Me! I could hardly believe it. I must have looked like I knew where I was going, but the truth is that the only place I knew how to get to without thinking and without checking on the blue dot on my phone was home.

This is home to me. This has been my home for four years. This will not be my home tomorrow. All of these facts take their turns flitting into and out of the “inconceivable” box in my brain.

I am ready to leave, and I am not ready too. That’s the best time to go.

Writing from: a home, my home, in Edinburgh. Listening to: all of the subtle noises that I won’t hear again.

Day 21 of Project 365: Dark Tower.



Pictured is not Dark Tower, the awesome electronic board game I loved as a child, but rather The Black Tower, the delicious dessert at local Thai place Passorn.

But now that Dark Tower was mentioned at dinner, I cannot get it out of my head.

Nostalgia is dangerous. It can seduce us with claims of an unblemished past, suggesting that a portal to this past is within our grasp. But I know — as we discussed over dinner — that the experience of playing Dark Tower now is not the same as the memory of playing it thirty-five years ago. Still, I enjoyed peeping into the portal with this commercial.

I wonder which memories of my time in Scotland will trigger that nostalgic impulse. There will be plenty lurking about my subconscious, I’m sure. Certainly one of them has to be skirting the Links, chatting away with Gav about a story I’m struggling to write.

Writing from: a chilly kitchen, now that the lounge is devoid of furniture. Listening to: that clock that never keeps the right time, still ticking away.

Day 12 of Project 365: The church of Savour.



When I eat, I am present. Thoughts do not intrude in this space, reverent as they are in the church of Savour. Tonight’s service was Highland venison loin, shredded beef cheek, smoked celeriac, and parsnips.

I wonder if someday I’ll have the resolve to try a vegetarian diet. Then I have dishes like this one and put it off for another day.

There are particular foods (sushi) I miss from the States, and I look forward to having some of them (burritos) soon. But I’ve had some stellar meals in Scotland, and this one at 63 Tay Street was high up there. If you are near or passing through Perth, go there. They’ll take care of you. What a joy it is to be handed a menu and told, “Whatever you choose, we’ll adjust it to be gluten-free for you.” The vegetarian in our party did not lack for mouth-watering options, either.

The dining companions, not pictured, are also highly recommended, but probably wouldn’t appreciate me offering their conversational services. Your meal at 63 Tay Street will be BYOFOIE (Bring Your Own Friends Or Intriguing Enemies).

We won’t call this a goodbye meal, either. Thinking is for later, maybe for the plane ride, or even later. Just look at the food. Focus on the food. It was delicious.

Writing from: a cold and mostly-dark lounge in Edinburgh. Listening to: “Awake” by Tycho from Spotify.