In the lounge I spy a woman with two screens: a glowing tablet in her lap and a texting device in her hand. I decide I must approach this woman of information. All at the same time she is reading, treat texting someone and telling me, “I’m not actually all that technologically advanced” and suggests that I ask one of her close friends about her because they’d confirm to me that she is not that quick on the gadgets. Unfortunately, none of her friends are available for questioning here tonight since she is visiting from England. She lives in England, but she was born in Scotland, Morag is her name.
Like any other living organism, Morag continues to grow layers, sections, rings and cells of ideas. She studies anthropology and is enrolled at a Welsh university. The glowing screen in her lap is open to a manuscript from her course on “Cultural Astronomy and Astrology.” I ask her what the heck that’s all about and she gives me a simple noun: the sky. “Everything in the sky has impacted every aspect of our lives.” Morag explains that European cities have less sky and as a result many Europeans crave horizons. American cities have much more horizon, more space to be filled. She is nearly whispering and it is hard to hear her over the piano’s medley of Hollywood movie themes. I ask her in my usual highly audible volume, “Is that why Americans talk so loud?” Morag shrugs, “Well, you have more expansive personalities.” I agree with that statement with a great big “Mmmmm!” Perhaps too emphatic because Morag quickly corrects herself, “But that is a gross generalization of course!”
Ah yes, I remember now, generalizations are dangerous! Assumptions are dangerous! New experiences are the antidote to ignorance! Morag knows this truth by heart. She’s been to an ice bar in the Netherlands. An ice bar is a place where you get dressed up in wooly clothes; a full snowsuit and you are given a drinking glass hewn of ice. “Obviously you are drinking vodka,” she adds. “You pay by the hour, but no one lasts longer than an hour at an ice bar. And the whole while everyone there is giggling at you because you look ridiculous.” Aside from being a university student she is a professional costume designer for operas and ballets. She knows the fluidity of facades. Even her haircutter has a dual life as a creative writer. “Being a hairdresser informs her writing because she’s learned how to talk to people… perhaps you can relate to that?”
Yes, I can. Thanks for talking with me, Morag.