A Many-Patterned Strangeness

I likely ought to be working on NaNo stuff or Patreon stuff or any number of other Stuffs, but it’s been a wee while since I updated here, and I’d like to get back into the habit of blogging more. (They said, for the fourteenth time in the past year without actually doing it.)

We’ve now been in Glasgow for almost two months. We have a flat and bank accounts and internet (at long last!). I’m drinking copious amounts of tea (which here is available most often in packages of 150-200 bags–take notes, America and your 20-bag boxes). I wanted to reflect a little on the changes since the move.

I also feel a little awkward doing so, because things have been bleak in the States. (Today, however, there was good news to wake up to, as well as no small amount of schadenfreude that that horrid bathroom bill author in Virginia lost the state rep race to a trans woman.)

  1. My mental health is better. Full stop. I almost don’t even need to elaborate. It’s just BETTER. I wake up in the morning happy. I get silly swells of emotional whatsit just walking down Dumbarton Road here in Partick, even if someone didn’t clean up after their dog or whatever. The air smells better here. It’s cleared away the fog. I rest easy knowing we’re in the bosom of Nicola Sturgeon and her dogged defence of Scotland’s social systems. I have also, no fewer than three times, seen a non-binary gender option on *official forms*. The option to chose MY ACTUAL TITLE instead of getting shoehorned into binary terms. The Glasgow City Council was one, for fuck’s sake.
  2. I have a GP literally across the street. No, really. I can walk out the door of our building, keep going, and run right into it. My healthcare is taken care of. I got two prescriptions filled in September. You go to the pharmacy, they fill them, they hand them to you, you leave. Notice anything missing in that list? I didn’t leave anything out. I read an essay yesterday that a friend shared, by a man expressing absolute love for his best friend, who moved in with them when his wife got cancer. There was a line in that essay that will fucking haunt me. He said: I juggled money because nobody would die if we didn’t pay our taxes, so the hospitals and surgeons came first. (Essay here.) That is something that should never be said, especially so casually as to basically be a throwaway statement in passing. America’s healthcare is criminal. That’s all.
  3. I am doing things I have wanted to do for ages. Not just living here, but I found a Gaelic class thanks to a friend, and it’s a 24 week course that transitions into more units, and basically the whole time Monsieur is at pharmacy school, I’m going to be learning Gaelic, hopefully to fluency over the next few years. Not only is this a massive bucket list item for me, but it’s good job security, as it’s a highly sought skill here. My classmates are a wide spectrum of ages, a few from the islands whose parents are native speakers, others who want to get in touch with older roots, and the class itself is taught with the Ùlpan method that originated in the Middle East, wherein everything is taught in the target language with very, very little explanation in English. I AM FUCKING ECSTATIC.
  4. I’m reading more. I’ve read more books in the past two months than I read in the past year. I’m rereading the Wheel of Time. I’m reading ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders. I just finished THE MYSTERY OF HOLLOW PLACES by Rebecca Podos. I’m excited about books again.
  5. I’m writing more. More importantly, I’m wanting to. I’ve been utterly crushed by the industry for the past couple years. I’ve been constantly battling the nihilism of “what’s even the point of submitting”, which isn’t healthy? Really not healthy.
  6. I feel safer. This isn’t really an illusion. It is safer here, physically and psychically, for someone like me. Just in general, really. Again, I’m serious. Crime happens here. Violent crime happens. But the drop off in odds for it to happen is so stark it’s a cliff, moving from America to here.
  7. I’m exploring my world. We went to Loch Lomond. Canoed. Talked shit to some ducks. Sailed about with some swans. Walked at twilight and watched the stars come out in a perfectly clear sky. I reunited with Jordan after six long years. I finally got to meet his amazing dog Dougie! I’ve reconnected with old friends and connected with new ones. I get to finally meet a Welsh friend in person next week, and more folks on Friday! Went to a neighbour’s party! (Hi Sara! COME HANG WITH THE CATS AND BRING YOUR SISTER.) I miss some Stateside people so much it hurts, but I can’t wait to show them around my home here.
  8. I’m playing. Playing! Sometimes that’s video games and sometimes it’s wandering about charity shops or finding new Pokemon around Glasgow or painting (!!!) or learning to KNIT or any number of other things.

This is a good place to be. A good place. I am so thankful to be here that I get all weepy and emotional at random moments during the day and then get embarrassed and SHUT UP WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING AT.

I haven’t had a whole lot of dreams come true before. This list is a bunch of really, really big ones.

So yeah. Life’s good here. We’re going to Paris for our anniversary (aka Christmas/Boxing Day). We’re going to Inverness for my birthday (Monsieur surprised me). I got to speak Gaelic with humans for the first time ever after fourteen years of desperately wanting to learn. I’m about to hit the mystical age of 33. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m actually looking forward to my birthday.

Here’s a bunch of pictures, including lotsa selfies because why not. ENJOY.

5 No-Brainer Reasons to Support Scottish Independence

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It’s no secret that I’m a steadfast supporter of Scottish independence. If you thought it was a secret, see this post here on why I do. You can also read this piece I wrote for National Collective in August. (NOTE: as of Thursday, 11 April, the second link will take you to a blue screen with a brief statement about legal action. The ‘Better Together’ campaign initiated legal action after National Collective posed questions about the ethics of their (Better Together) accepting a large donation from Ian Taylor. None of those questions received a response. Instead, the actions of Better Together were to threaten and silence the opposition rather than engaging in candid discussion about this very important topic. The National Collective website should be up and running again in a few days.)

UPDATE: National Collective are back, and they have something to tell the world about free speech in Scotland. We Will Not Be Bullied

Since we’re on the topic contained in my little parenthetical above, let’s start there!

5. The Best Offense is…Threats?

Not only have I yet to see a compelling argument to keep Scotland in the union aside from the perceived powers of political benefit Scotland receives from being part of a larger whole, but the fact that Better Together resort to threats and legal actions when they are questioned brings up a slew of other issues.

If you have a case for a No vote, make it. Engage. Create positive dialogue. And when you accept a huge donation from someone with a lot of gray areas in his background and refuse to answer legitimate questions about his ethics — well. That does nothing for your case.

National Collective aren’t the only ones to put a spotlight on Better Together donors.

The fear tactics and scaremongering within the No campaign have been  rather remarkable, from saying Scotland will lose its standing in the EU, to not being able to use the pound, to not keeping rights to Scottish oil and natural gas. Most of these questions have already been addressed to some degree by now, but the tactic continues to be the same.

Here’s a mild example from City A.M.

Here’s a less mild example from UK Prime Minister David Cameron. This one boils down to “if Scotland becomes independent, she’ll lose all her defence jobs.” Because an independent Scotland would just let defence go hang? It also adds in the “Scotland only matters to the world because she’s part of the UK” spiel that carries that friendly little flavour of condescension.

Defence jobs DO matter. But an independent Scotland would need her own defence.

Alistair Darling equated Scotland seceding with a “one-way ticket into uncertainty.”

Uncertainty. Indefensibility. Economic instability. These words ALL sound big and loomy in a recessive world economy. The message overall is that Scotland can’t survive outside the UK and wouldn’t be able to go running back to Mummy London.

A decision for a Yes or No vote ought not be based on threats or scare mongering. Scotland indeed is in possession of a unique opportunity to succeed as a small, great nation on the world stage. By silencing opposition and failing to provide a positive, progressive alternative to Scotland becoming independent, the Better Together campaign fails to make a case for winning the votes they desire.

Just because something is complicated doesn’t preclude its value. So far, the Yes campaign has provided a more positive picture of what the future of Scotland could be.

4. Have a spare room? We’ll tax that.

The Bedroom Tax. For Americans reading this, it might sound like a bit of a joke — and most Scots agree. Except it’s not a joke. It’s a real tax imposed by Westminster this year.

The basics of the Bedroom Tax are this: they slash the housing benefit for people who have one or more spare rooms in their home by 14% and 25% respectively. The estimated cost to citizens? Upward of £14 per week, according to the Guardian. David Cameron calls it the ‘spare room subsidy.’

Oh, and this tax will hit the poor the hardest.

Austerity measures have already resulted in an increase of homelessness in England. So what do Scots think about the Bedroom Tax?

According to this poll, 58% of Scots think Cameron should scrap the Bedroom Tax altogether. (I’ve seen data that suggests this number to be MUCH higher, but I am having trouble re-finding the source. If you have one, let me know, and I’ll update.) But Westminster imposed the tax anyway, which could lead to evictions among low-income citizens.

3. How do you feel about…nukes?

Trident. This is the installment of nuclear-armed submarines at Faslane, just outside Glasgow.

Glasgow is, incidentally, Scotland’s largest city.

The vast majority of Scots oppose nuclear armament and the location of these nukes, which Westminster doesn’t want in England for ‘safety reasons.’

So, they can’t go in England, because it’s unsafe. But it’s fine to plunk them in the Clyde outside Scotland’s largest metropolis.

Yeah, most Scots think that’s wonky as well. But they’re stuck with it until either independence or convincing Westminster to plop the nukes somewhere else. (Which will happen. I’m sure. Really. Just ask them. I’m sure they’ll be amenable to moving Trident to England. Or, you know, Wales. I’m sure the Welsh would love it.)

And let’s not forget that David Cameron has brought North Korea into the Trident debate in another little bout of ‘or else’ politics, saying that the UK needs the nuclear deterrent.

2. Austerity?

It’s no secret that the Scots lean farther to the left than their English counterparts.

With the Tories enacting austerity measures (like the aforementioned Bedroom Tax) and slashing public programmes and welfare, Scots will be affected as much as anyone else in the UK — but they’re least in favour of these measures.

Scotland values its healthcare, education, and benefits services. While devolution and the creation of the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood have allowed for some greater control over certain things, Scotland is still subject to Westminster for its revenue.

These cuts are slated to cost the Scottish economy a mind-bending £1.6 billion.

All of these issues are important. Trident. How the No campaign does its campaigning. The effects of austerity under a Conservative Westminster. The Bedroom Tax. But all of this is secondary to the final reason…

And that’s this:

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1. Scotland’s future should be in the hands of Scots.

See that big yellow and red chunk at the top of the island? That’s Scotland.

Within the UK, Scotland is ruled by Westminster when it comes to important issues like Trident, immigration, and more.

And how many Scots voted for the party that is in power in Westminster?

50%? 35%?

Guess lower.

Only 15% of Scots voted Conservative in the 2010 election. Which means 85% of them voted against the party that now leads the United Kingdom, and by proxy, erm…them.

Scotland’s future should be decided by Scots. When 85% of your country wants something different, it ought not be ruled by that remaining 15%. That’s not democracy when you look at it on that level. If the map were more spotted with blue, if the Scots were more scattered on these central issues — maybe it would make a more compelling argument for remaining within Westminster’s domicile.

But it doesn’t. And if Scotland remains in the United Kingdom, her interests will continue to be sidelined by her more populous neighbour to the south. That’s just democracy in action when your country is part of a larger entity. Westminster acts for the betterment of England more often than Scotland because well, most of the people on the island are in England. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that Scotland has its own views, its own needs, and its own legitimacy as a country. And it doesn’t rule out the benefits of self-determination, nor does it preclude the assertion that Scottish issues aren’t addressed as well as they could be within the United Kingdom.

This isn’t all about who gets the North Sea oil and gas.

It’s about the citizens of a great country having the right to decide their own future.

Scotland should be independent.

I won’t be allowed to vote on the referendum. Everything in this article is my opinion or based on articles from reputable reporting agencies, with sources stated to the best of my (fairly lazy) ability. You can feel free to check these things out yourself if you’re feeling feisty. I’m not a Scot by passport, but I’ve spent a lot of time there, and I have a vested interest in Scotland’s future. Namely, I would like to move there. If you have any questions about Scottish independence, feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer. If I can’t, I’ll refer you to someone more qualified. 

Here’s some more light (ha) reading on the subject for your perusal.

A Yes Vote Would Take Us Closer to Nuclear Disarmament

An Oil Fund For Scotland

Routemap for Renewable Energy