I’m in Glasgow, Scotland, in a trendy hotel called CitizenM. Our room is tiny—only as wide as a king bed, with an enclosed shower/toilet combo next to the door, a tiny sink just outside. But the common areas are chic and interestingly curated. Lots of charming jokey signs that are somehow not annoyingly hipster. Bob and I are hanging out in one of the common areas on our laptops.
We are both working on writing projects, and this long-planned vacation is interfering a bit. Ha! I’m grateful for such a problem, and here we are, writing. I had a “beta read”* of my memoir that was extremely helpful, and I’ve been honing my manuscript in response to the reader’s comments. She really saw what I was doing and zeroed in on places where the writing is effective, and where it could use some development or paring. Such a thrill.
Part of my current revision involves looking back at some of the research material I’ve gathered about my mother. Seven years ago, I visited the archives at Bryn Mawr College, where she got her B.S., and found a treasure trove of material that I am looking over again. For a Bryn Mawr audience, she wrote in more detail about her work life (she would call it a “career”, in quotes; she always undervalued herself). I have emailed the alumnae office to ask what they use their alumnae surveys for—my mother responded to them in great detail. She also had a rich correspondence with someone in that office, and I’m not sure why. I think perhaps it was for an article in the alumni magazine. I am in awe once again at the rich and varied life of my multi-talented mother.
And I found a note from an alumnae magazine about a trip she took with her parents (her mother also a Bryn Mawr alum) and my father in 1950 when they were living in England. They took a tour of Scotland, including Loch Lomond, where I visited today! I am roughly 5/16 Scottish (my paternal grandmother pure Scots, her husband a half or a quarter), and I see many large blue eyes like my own, as well as lots of doughy white people. Well.
Glasgow is a cool multicultural city, with unusually sunny warm weather, much more pleasant than the record highs Bob and I left behind in the Northeast U.S. The architecture near our downtown hotel is a mix of ugly new and Georgian. Our tour guide/driver today wore a kilt that alternated military camouflage and the Buchanan tartan, which was my grandmother’s tartan! After Loch Lomond, we went to Stirling Castle, which was lovely. Again, an unusually sunny day with terrific views. I especially liked all the green spaces inside the castle grounds. It was a real fortress and used as a military base until 1964—recent!
Tomorrow we go to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival.
*See definition in previous entry “What Counts As Writing.”