Monday, September 26, 2005

Must remember to pay rent tomorrow. Bleah. Paying rent.

It was incredibly windy today. It was the kind of wind that you get at the seaside, which I suppose Edinburgh is. Blustery enough that it made you seriously reconsider the direction in which you were traveling. It was fantastically helpful when it was pushing you from behind, however, especially when you were going uphill. More than once I nearly fell because when I lifted my foot to walk the wind would nearly sweet it out from under me.

Dusty roads were a nightmare.

I walked a solid two and a half hours today. Had set out at about noon to find BP Plus – a medical centre – so I could get a prescription rewritten. Seems they won’t accept American prescriptions here – you need a doctor from the UK to write it. I don’t know what that’s about. Wacky Scots.

Right! So I walked and walked and walked because that’s just what I do these days because I refuse to learn the bus system. Bus systems in America are… well, they’re creepy. There’s something that is just sketchy about them, and no amount of new busses or cleaning is going to change that. And so I carry my Healthy American Bias card with me on my giant foot-powered treks across town.

Finally I found myself at BP Plus and managed to find the door (cleverly placed at the side of the building and lacking any signs saying “door at the side, not the front, which is where someone clever would put the front door”, which leads me to believe it is some kind of test to be able to see a doctor) (I saw it by peering through the window) and waited and waited for the nice young lady with the fun accent at the front desk to get off the phone or at least make some kind of motion that says “Hey! I see you and will be with you in a second! I am so sorry for holding you up after you have walked most of the way across town and not for your health, thank you very much!”

I used that time to read the handy payment chart that was on the desk that said a consultation with Dr. Full Of Himself was £75 and every 5 minutes subsequent was £25, and blanched because holy god that is a large amount of money. And I noticed that consultations with other doctors were a bargain price of £70/consultation and £20/5 minutes thereafter.


Surely, though, birth control is such an easy procedure that I won’t have to pay such a ridiculous sum and they charge you £10 to refill prescriptions?! What is wrong with this country?

I expressed my reason for the visit to Front Desk Lady and she said that an appointment would be with Dr. Full Of Himself and would cost the ridiculous amount described above (for fifteen minutes!). At which point I choked on bitter, terrified laughter and asked if there were any other options. Well, she said, I could walk down the road to Stockbridge medical centre, which really is right down the road and on the left, she thinks. But they’re really busy, she said, and I might not be able to get an appointment today. But they’re close! I promise!

If it saves me £75 then I’ll take it.

I walked. Down a charming little back street and down an ankle-breakingly steep road which dead-ended into a road full of shops that I’d not before had the privilege to walk by before. But the road veered to the left so I thought that I should continue in that direction, having not seen the medical place yet. She said left, I went left.

And I walked and walked (sensing a trend here?), fending off schoolchildren who were loud and boisterous and impeccably dressed in snappy uniforms (what the hell? Where were attractive uniforms when I had to wear them?). They took up sidewalks and crammed into pastry shops. All this at 1pm. Why aren’t they in school? I continue to be confused.

After walking five years off my knees I did the sensible thing and stopped and asked for directions. I learned, of course, that when I veered left what I should’ve done was to turn right and go up the next street. Of course. Damn you, Front Desk Lady.

Back I went, through all the swarms of children, through the stoplights and over the bridge, outwitting the troll as I crossed.

Up the stairs and into what looked like a reception area, and into a line, where I got to wait. Finally I got to explain my case to the new Front Desk Lady, who then went off to check Something. Wait, wait, wait. She came back and told me that I live too far outside of their range, and they can’t help me. But I did get a number that I can call to find a place that can help me!


I trudged back up the mountain secretly disguised as a street, defeated in my quest. And, frankly, grouchy. It’d been two hours at this point of walking and being disappointed. So I went into Lush and bought myself some bath things and came home. I love you, consumer therapy!

It didn’t take me too long to get antsy at home, so I packed up my laptop and headed out to the internet pub. While I found a list of local places that have been rumored to have Free Wi-Fi I don’t know how “local” they actually are, and the pub is – well, I can find it and I know there’s free internet. Plus food and/or beer!

This pub has a bunch of smaller tables, and then at the front of the bar has a long table that is suitable for a party of 8ish or a couple of strangers to sit together. I’ve done it before and it’s rather nice – a good excuse to butt into someone’s conversation and pretend that you’ve made a friend. Hello! All the small tables were taken up and there was only one person at the larger, communal-style table, so I asked if I could sit down.

He was rather attractive and seemed to be quite content, just sitting there staring off into space. I wondered if maybe he was, um, sampling some of the finer powdered drugs the area has to offer or if he was just keen on… well, just sitting.

I did my usual internet work, emailing and seeing if any of my usual sites were updated in an interesting way (not really). And then the young gentleman started to chat with me a bit. There was a little small talk and then I would get back to my computer. We did this a number of times and eventually got into a highly enjoyable conversation. We talked about the other people in the bar, making up stories about them (“Oh him? In a cult. Definitely.” “They eat kittens. And use their skins to make clothes. But they’re so small that they need a lot.” “Yeah, but he’s really good at knitting because of it”). I learned that he’s in a band, has an office job, and works in a pub. And he was there because he left work early with the flu (that might explain the aforementioned zoned out look) and decided to go out and get drunk before going home and going to sleep.

We told a lot of stories during our conversation so I’m not entirely sure how much of what he said was true. As I said to him, if I had the flu I wouldn’t be totally keen on getting drunk, but I’m not him. I sent him this link so he might be reading this. If so,

Hi! I’ve forgotten your name already. I apologize. I remember that it started with an A, though.

He invited me to his band’s gig and bought me a drink. I thoroughly enjoyed his company.

Ducked out to catch a phone call, said goodbye to A (it’d be so nice if I could remember names ever) and went home. I’m a party animal.

I debated for a while whether or not I wanted to go out to the Theatre Royal Bar, which is where I met Dallas and Chris and spent time hanging out with the people who work there. Did end up going, and definitely made the right choice.

I saw, um, Australian lip-ring’d woman, and chatted with her a bit. Told her about my ordeal trying to find a place to get my birth control done and she gave me the name of a woman’s clinic in Stockbridge (damnit, I was just in that area today!) that will give me free birth control (hurray!). And my ovaries sighed in relief. So tomorrow I get to walk all over hell and gone again. But that’s cool if it works.

And she bought me a drink! She’s so groovy. Since the bar was so empty she was just hanging out with some other Aussies and invited me to sit with them. I love this culture of buying people drinks. I should start doing that. In America there are all these Connotations when you buy someone a drink. I much prefer it here. I enjoy drinking for free!

I spent some time chatting with her and with the bartenders (Graham and, um, what’s her name). By “some time” I actually mean “three hours or so.” What’s her name offered me a hot chocolate as she was making herself some sort of coffee-style beverage and then didn’t charge me for it. We discussed musicians (a loose usage of the term because the music videos being shown generally involved pop-schlock bands.

And now I’m camped out on my bed. Which is a good place to be.

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