I kept a paper diary during 2003, our first year in Scotland. As a teen I’d been an avid devotee of the paper diary, until one day aged seventeen I had an attack of paranoia, convinced that my angsty scribbles were being intercepted by the household authorities. I unceremoniously burned five years of Collins A5 To A Page and vowed never to write again.
But I’m glad I revived the habit for 2003. We didn’t get internet access at home until September so blogging was sporadic. By the time I’d get to an internet cafe, my entries were heavily edited and largely cheery. People constantly reminded me how lucky we were to have this opportunity, thus I was loathe to focus on any negatives less I be told I was an ungrateful arse.
So the paper diary tells the real story of the ups and downs of moving to the other side of the world. It’s uncensored, illegible, whiny, lonely, banal, self-absorbed, scared, obnoxious, bitchy, paranoid, pathetic, and gramatically incorrect.
In the spirit of honesty and laughing at oneself, here is a few selected high(low)lights. WARNING: Angst and self-pity ahead!
25 March – Have packed up entire life. Never thought would happen. Doesn’t seem like a “Shauna” thing to do, does it.
Clearly crapping my pants here!
March 28 – Flight [from Frankfurt] to Edi was uneventful, Rhi and I reminisced about Aussie food.
We’d been away from Oz less than 48 hours and we were already getting misty-eyed on about Australian cuisine! Priorities, man.
The next day I wrote in Edinburgh, “Every shop seems to sell pre-made sandwiches wrapped in plastic. Must be all they eat over here.”
April 1 – Got our first taste of Scots rain today. Went out to library and it just PISSED down. Nicked into Boots to get brolly. Fuck everything is so expensive. £15 = $45 for brolly. Then Rhi leaves hers in the bloody shop.
We almost bawled when we realised we’d left the $45 brolly in the coffee shop where we’d just spent approximately $30 on two hot chocolates and a scone. Three years later, I still can’t break the habit of translating prices back into Aussie dollars. I quite enjoy it in a sick and twisted way.
April 4 – Got up and went to Argos, funny shop. You write down numbers from a catalogue then they get it from ‘out the back’.
There’s something about Argos that is infinitely fascinating to foreigners. I remember when my friend Jenny returned from two years in London, one of the first things she mentioned was her trip to Argos to get a hairdryer, how you just browse the catalogue then the magic elves fetch it from their mystical store cupboard. Momo wrote about it too!
Argos sounds like a Soviet relic where one collects their brown overalls and soap rations, but you can buy anything from a watch to a saucepan to a freaking home gymnasium and somehow it’s all there waiting for you, Out The Back.
April 12 – Americans truly SHIT ME to tears. I try & be openminded, non-judgmental, but every one I have encountered in person this yr has been a loud & annoying FUCKWIT. Our bus trip was full of em today. Went to Loch Ness via Trossachs & Ben Nevis. Pretty cool.
OH DEAR! Now before you send that hatemail, ask yourself – have you ever been tired and cranky and made a gross, sweeping generalisation about a country? If not, I deserve your flaming missive! But please bear in mind I was very new to this tourist caper. I’m quite the diplomat now but that day I was impatient, intolerant and positively seething at a family whose son never once looked up from his Game Boy to admire the scenery, and asked the driver approximately every twenty minutes when were we stopping for more food. Apart from that one family three years ago, I love Americans!
April 28 – Work. Blah blah work. Rhi and I ended up punching each other out of sheer boredom.
Rhi and I worked at the same place for our first Scottish job – data entry. We were quite literally locked away in an attic typing medical information all day long, unsupervised.
After typing for eight hours together, we’d descend the stairs together, catch the bus home together, cook dinner together, sit down to eat together. One of us would say, “How was your day?” and the other would say, “It was shithouse!” and the other would say, “Yeah I know, I WAS THERE!”.
All that tedium and togetherness soon sent us over the edge and we resorted to primitive hair-pulling and assault to pass the time.
May 20 – Went to net cafe & was annoyed to see noone’s commenting these days. Fuckers.
Around this time I was feeling friendless and pathetic, so I clung to my blog as a connection to my treasured Old Life. So a lack of comments or emails would make me mope for days, convinced everyone back home hated me and had moved on. Sob sob… don’t you love how now matter how old you get, you always sound thirteen years old in a paper diary?
June 3 – Tonight was pub quiz @ Baillie in Stockbridge… Rory, Jane, Rhi & David were there, & this guy Gareth. He really grew on me. Very shy smile & soft accent. Quiet sense of humour. Oh I do believe I have a wee crush.
This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship! *gag*
June 6 – Gareth is really sweet & has a lovey accent. Just something about him… Maybe I am just getting a wee bit frisky & lonely?
Yeah? Well maybe you shouldn’t have chucked out your vibrator before you left Australia?
June 20 – We came up the Champs Elysses & there was the Arc de Triomphe, HUGE & so beautiful. Eiffel Tower was cool, & I classily did a fart there. HA! It’s so surreal being in this stinkingly famous place.
This was our first European jaunt! For dinner we ate ham and cheese sandwiches from the supermarket. As we have unimaginatively done in every city we’ve visited since.
July 21 – I’m scoffing chocolate orange. WHY? Because it was on special. OH DEAR.
Rhi and I were flamingly broke in 2003. We were alarmed at how quickly we adopted the Way of the Mothership, buying everything generic or whatever was On Special.
August 5 – News was all about the ‘heat wave’ today. 25 bloody degrees if you’re lucky. Ha!
And still I say, Ha!
August 17 – Oh what a nothing sort of day. Mum called, was nice. Feel a bit homesick lately, disconnected. Was upset by dumb things, like a pissweak bakery section at the supermarket.
It’s always about the bloody food!
Around about this time Rhi and I started working two jobs so we could save enough dosh for our Russia Trip in 2004. The seven-day working week was a real bitch, so all we have now is page after page of exhausted whining. And angsting about boys. I won’t subject you to that!
November 27 – Tonight I bummed around watching stupid reality shows about people leaving the UK. Sure can see now why they do it.
Despite finally hooking up with Gareth earlier that month, I was still a grumpy bastard and clearly struggling to adjust to a Scottish winter!
And now we have another wee gap in proceedings, because every entry is about Gareth and how dreamy he is and how paranoid and insecure I am. You really don’t want to read that!
Now I truly embrace the Inner Teen! After months of anticipation, I had dear friends staying from Australia and the weather gods were conspiring to show them the crappiest time as possible. Every tourist attraction we visited was closed, then Edinburgh’s famous New Years Eve festivities were cancelled due to appalling winds. Plus work was hellish and I hadn’t seen Gareth for days, fuelling my pity party.
December 31 – I just don’t see how he will possibly stay interested in me… But I will try not to wreck it. Please don’t let me wreck it. It really was a good 2003 though. Did a lot of things I never thought I’d do. Now I just need to be optimistic & positive & try harder in 2004.
DRAMA! WOE! INSECURITY!
I bought another diary for 2004. But I quit after three months, when I discovered living the life was much more fun than angstily writing about the life.