One. It was really fun to have the ‘rents in the ‘burgh this past week. If you are lucky enough to know them personally, then you know that one thing they do very well is dinner. It is never a quick thing. It is an event. This is something I have especially missed about them: the way they engage in sitting around the table, filling stomachs and emptying wine glasses, laughing and sharing good conversation for hours late into the night. I was definitely thankful to partake in a lot of that while they were visiting. I enjoyed being able to show them some of my frequents in the city and to have new adventures with them, too! My dad introduced Monty Python and the Holy Grail to Madison and I at a very young age and it has been quoted in our household for years. Therefore, its no surprise that I particularly loved the day trip we took to Doune Castle just outside of Stirling where most of Monty Python and the Holy Grail was filmed. The audio tour was equally historic and hilarious. Plus, it completely made my day that they had coconut halves available so you could gallop around and re-enact scenes. Two. I had two other visitors I wasn’t expecting to see in these parts. It had been yearssss since I hung out with these gents. It was great to bro out, booze it up, and reminisce about loads of amazingly awkward adolescent memories. If you had told me that the guy I went to prom with when I was 14 would be drinking a 1968 scotch with me in Scotland ten years later…(and that he would still be wearing a Postal Service t-shirt… ;)) Yes, this is a cocktail served in a light bulb… Three. Speaking of adolescence– this made me crazy nostalgic: Four. It was 70 degrees for three days in a row this week!! EXCITEMENT. You don’t understand how big of a deal that is. I was working two of the three days so I didn’t get to enjoy it to the fullest, but just one day of being in the sunshine and my summertime nose freckles are out and ready to party. Must…get…vitamin…D… Five. The dissertation writing is coming along very slowly. I’ve honestly never been a procrastinator. Until now. I think its a cumulation of things, but I’m mostly just feeling burnt out. Meh. If you have writing a MA thesis before and have any tips or advice, please feel free to share the love. I had originally been planning on doing a feasibility study for an organisation called Arts in Healthcare, but this fell through and left me scrambling to think of something else. I had a classmate who mentioned a project that the Scottish Chamber Orchestra was doing with dementia patients, which I found interesting. A few days later I was walking through the library and saw a book on the new stock shelf that caught my attention because the cover looked cool (I always judge books by their covers) and it ended up being about architectural design and dementia. The next day I was walking to class and the Alzheimer Association van was parked outside with an information table. At this point I’m thinking, Ok, ok…I can take a hint. I ended up chatting to the representative and finding out that two theatres in Edinburgh had received grants to make their venues dementia-friendly and that Edinburgh as a city itself had this whole policy strategy to become dementia-friendly. It felt like something was starting to click– especially when I thought back to how I used to be a CNA in a dementia care facility, I’ve worked in hospitals, I’ve done art therapy with elderly people, and my grandmother had recently been diagnosed with Alzhiemer’s. During my internship at the gallery in the Royal Botanic Gardens, I was discussing all of this with the curators and they told me that the man in charge of outreach for the gardens was heading up a dementia-friendly programming collaboration between all the national collections in Edinburgh (The Royal Botanic Gardens, The National Library, The National Galleries, The National Museum), so I went next door to talk about this with him and he connected me with more people to talk to. Cha-ching.
All of this has accumulated into me researching how arts organisations can be dementia-friendly, which more or less has to do with training, programming, and accessibility/environmental structure. Its been interesting to inquire about who/what informs the understanding of ‘dementia-friendly’ and how that is then manifested. I’m still in the middle of it all, but I’m continually fascinated by what I’m learning and inspired by what cultural organisations are doing to raise awareness and ensure that their venues and staff are safe, welcoming, and both confident and thoughtful in their communication. It really is so much about being thoughtful and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
I attended the Dementia Awareness Conference in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago and the theme this year was ‘Global Progress, Local Impact’. It was amazing to hear from people in Japan, Germany, Norway, Ireland, and the UK about what is happening in response to this health issue. It was said that, “Dementia is the global health time bomb.” In the next 15 years the number of people living with the condition is expected to reach over 75 million and over 65% of those people will be living in developing countries. I loved hearing about what Join Dementia Research is doing to encourage people to participate in studies that create a discussion between the public and the researchers on an equal playing field. We need to understand what happens to the brain before someone is diagnosed, which means we need to be studying younger people right now and following them through the coming years. Secondary prevention is necessary for research and reducing risk of further decline or full blown development. We go for things like breast and cervical cancer screenings. We should do the same for brain health. And since such a large percentage of people affected are living in developing countries, we must focus efforts there on education, awareness, and diagnosis that doesn’t involve the use of MRI/PET scans which are likely unavailable.
I don’t know what my career trajectory will look like after I graduate. This could potentially be a big part of it, a tiny part of it, or no part of it. But I do know that I will continue to keep talking about it and doing what I can to support progress– we tackle stigma through social action. Six. Like many, many Americans, my sister loves country music and she’s very persistent in sending me songs. I admire her determination to convert me to fandom but you see, I do love country music. I just don’t love it in the sense that I want to listen to it. Ever. I love it because it is one of the most ridiculous things in existence. Just the other day, this showed up on my Spotify and I died. God bless ’em. Seven. I joined Twitter yesterday if you want to follow. I was really sad that @Tayrannosaurus @Taybaybay and @TweetsbyTay were already taken. I was just too late to the name game. Love,