Come So Far/Got So Far to Go

Tomorrow is the day, the dreaded day. The series finale of Nightmares in Dissertation Writing. I will not share with what anguish the series was binged and with what agony each episode progressed, but here we are. I made it, and none the worse for it, I think.

I can say without reservation that writing this dissertation has been the most difficult thing I have ever done. Partially because writing a dissertation is difficult, but mostly because I have apparently gone insane this summer in such a way as to make doing work nearly impossible. Suffice to say that more than being pleased with the final product, I am pleased that there is a final product. In the same measure as I have been stressed, I am now overjoyed. Well, overjoyed might be putting it a bit strongly. But you know, relieved. In all honesty, though, I am really glad it’s over. It’s been a trying experience, to be sure, but it’s also been an adventure and it’s hard for me not to love adventures.

A major thank you to everyone who has supported and encouraged me, I am so very, very grateful. I honestly could not have done it without you. I love you all. And a special thank you to my incredible mother who, having read that I was missing my blanket, literally mailed it to me so I could hide under it when the need arose.

Now that I’ve got that covered, I wanted to say a few things about the state of the blog. I started this blog for two reasons. The first was because I was moving 4,500 miles to live in another country for a year.

So here we are, a year on. And that reason for writing a blog is close to expiry. I have one week left in Ireland. But I find myself wanting to continue writing. I’ve so enjoyed this blog, writing to you all about my doings and hearing back from you and just having a weekly chat with whoever feels like stopping by on here. I won’t get into the whole ‘millennials-are-narcissistic’ thing (for just so many reasons) and I’ve already admitted I’m perhaps more than a bit vain. But.

The point is this: I’m going to continue writing. Things will probably be less exciting overall, as I won’t be in Ireland come  3 September, but then again, my life never was particularly exciting most of my time here anyway. Because the second reason I started this blog was because I just wanted to. I wanted to journal, to say what I liked to more than the four walls of my room.

Initially, I expected putting it online would allow people to hold me accountable if I missed a week. Instead, I found myself very much looking forward to writing each week and sharing my thoughts and musings and whatever else I felt like writing. And, of course, the cat pictures. So in truth, my reason for writing is nonperishable.

The name of this blog, Journeyman, alluded both to the fact that I was on a journey and that I was seeking to become a master. But, honestly, it was also probably a bit of my trite philosophy coming through–life is a journey, or so I’ve heard. And, near as I can tell, no one manages to become a master in the brief space of a lifetime. We’re all perpetual journeymen.

Лесная Дорога

From the Prokudin-Gorskii Collection at the Library of Congress. Rural Russia, ca. 1905-1915

And thus, whether you want it to or not, this blog will continue into the indefinite future. I’m sticking to once a week (probs Thursdays still). If you’re less concerned with my life after Ireland, no one’s forcing you to stay. But I’ll  be here, speaking into the vast void of the internet, alone if necessary, until further notice.

Hobey ho, let’s go.

Hypermagical Ultraomnipotence

It is normally fairly easy for me to write these posts. I mean, I edit and revise and take them in different directions, but the words themselves don’t typically have much of a problem getting onto the page.

But this week, I’ve had quite my fill of words.

I got to see my cousin on Tuesday, we toured Dublin a bit and hung out in Merrion Square because it was a gorgeous day. So that was really pleasant, and a much-needed respite.

The title this week is an allusion to a wonderful E. E. Cummings poem about that ever-busy monster–manunkind. I’ve heard there’s a pretty good universe next door. Let’s go.

Not the Triumph

This week has been a really tough one for me, with The Deadline rapidly (terrifyingly, insanely, unbelievably) closing in. Sometimes, usually in the mornings, I feel like this is the day and don’t stop me now and I’m on a roll. Other times, I want to curl into a ball on my bed and hide forever under a blanket (and I don’t even have my favorite blanket anymore, I already sent it home with my parents and isn’t that just the latest in a string of disappointments and aren’t I just a disappointment and how did I get here and why can’t I be productive and in what universe did I honestly think I could do this and what is the meaning of life I don’t even know and probs don’t really even care because nothing matters I mean I don’t even have my blanket nothing will ever be okay again).

Which is to say, a lot of my time is spent in personal pity parties over the lamest things. Even writing this, being super conscious of how silly and awful that is, it’s a real struggle to not give in to that. And by ‘real struggle,’ I mean I’m failing and just don’t really care. But more on my self-centeredness in a bit. For now, before my everything becomes altogether too horrifying, have some cats.

A couple quick notes on the Olympics. First, I don’t care what you say, Russia wore bow-ties in the Opening Ceremony and is therefore delightful. So there’s that. Also, the IOC President’s speech, while speechy, also captured why I love the Olympics and don’t care about sports. When the world tries to divide us, we can still come together. I don’t generally watch much of the competitions themselves, because of who I am as a person, but it’s really the idea of the games that I care about. There is a wonderful quotation attributed to the founder of the modern Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, that captures how I feel even though I am certainly no athlete.

The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

I rewatched The Princess Diaries (no shame) this week and, though I had seen it before, the ending caught me a bit off guard. Not that she became princess (spoiler alert) but the manner in which she did so. In movies like this, in situations like that, the character gets some inspiring words of advice, often about the nature of courage. This movie definitely has that. Then the character makes a speech–formal or otherwise–telling the audience how they arrived at the decision to be courageous. And this is where Princess Diaries differs a bit from the trope. She gets some words of encouragement and some heavily plagiarized aphorisms about courage. But in her princess acceptance speech–it is literally a speech here, possibly televised–she does not describe her courage. She describes her selfishness.

She explains that the fear that was holding her back (which she implicitly, to the audience, needed courage to overcome) was based in a reflex to think only of herself. But there are seven billion other people on this planet and perhaps she should make a decision of this import with some of them in mind as well. I mean, it’s the typical teenage revelation that the world does not, in fact, revolve around them. A struggle I (and perhaps you) have not totally overcome. Sometimes, you gotta just love yourself. Actually, love yourself all the time but you know what I mean. But also all the time, you need to love other people. St. Anselm said something to the effect of, “It is in giving that we receive.”

So here I am, wading through acres of Keegan problems. But I’m also trying to look outward too. Admittedly, it’d probably be easier if I were royalty, and not trying to write a dissertation, but here we are. So take some cats, take some courage, and give more than you receive.

529,920 Minutes

Quick review of the new Jason Bourne which I saw yesterday with my moviegoing companion: it was thoroughly enjoyable because Jason Bourne is awesome, but it wasn’t anything too special. I had wanted to rewatch all the old movies before seeing this one, but I didn’t, alas. Anyway.

This week. My father and brother were visiting, as I told you, I celebrated a birthday, and so did my blog. First, Ireland adventures. Then… the other thing.

I lied. Actually first, cat.

Camaro2016-7-27

Aww, she wants to go swimming  <3

So, Ireland adventures. I went around Dublin with my family on Friday doing the main Dublin things–cathedrals, castle, Trinity ect. On Saturday, we did a bus tour to Cashel, Blarney, and Cork. Probably to great shame, I did not kiss the Blarney Stone but. I was pumped to finally get to Cork, I had wanted to visit for a long time and just never gotten around to it. So yay, I’ve now been to all four provinces of the island: Leinster, Ulster, Munster, and Connacht. Though I still want to visit Banbridge Town and Bantry Bay, having already been to Derry Quay, Galway, and Dublin Town. Anyway. On Sunday, we went up through a bit of the North to see the Titanic exhibit in Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway. On Monday, we went out to Howth once more and did the seaside cliff walk through the bluster and chill because Ireland didn’t really care that it was 1 August. But all in all, it was a lovely visit and I’m glad I got to spend some time with them.

There is no feeling quite like listening to contemplative piano music while watching rain lash the window through the faintly sepia light of what would have been a sunset, had the clouds not obscured and somehow made more radiant the sun. Neither is there much that’s quite so Irish.

Indeed, it has me very much in the mood for looking back on this year of blogging.

IMG_20160728_135207

Look at that beautiful line. It was a bit rocky at first, but I never planned on doing Thursdays, Thursdays just sort of happened.

It’s strange to think back to last August, the things that occupied my time and the thoughts I was thinking when not thus occupied. This past year has seen me confront many challenges. Against some I proved victorious, against some I failed, and against some the outcome remains to be seen. Certainly, I have much to be grateful for. Foremost, here, I’m grateful for you, my readers. I mean, I’d probably keep writing regardless of whether anyone read it but it’s nice to know that people I care about stop by and comment and whatnot. And it’s really special when people I don’t know at all think I’m saying something worth reading. So thanks, guys  ❤

There’s still more road to travel on this current adventure, but it’s winding to a close here with one month left in Ireland. As I think about that, I’m glad that I’ll be leaving with more than memories (and relationships, because people here are cool) but I’ll also have some documentary evidence of what my life was like here. That’s one of the really cool things about keeping a journal–you can look back and, even if you’re embarrassed, see what you and your life were like in days gone by.

Anyway, I won’t get too melodramatic here,  I’ll save that for my last post in Ireland. For now, we’ll just leave it. Another year older, a year on the blog, eleven months in Ireland, and finally having made it to Cork.

Thanks for the memories  😉

Baffled

*No literal, real-life horses were harmed in the writing of this post.

My father and brother arrive in Ireland this evening, after spending some time in Spain to visit the exchange student they hosted this past school year. They’re only here for a few days, so we’re going to try to do as much of the island as we can in a whirlwind adventure. Current plans include Dublin, surprise, Belfast, and possibly Galway or Cork. We’ll see. But should be good craic. It’ll be nice to see them and to have them visit. For my younger brother, this trip is not his first time out of the country, but it’s close. And it’s his first time to Europe. Catalonia and County Dublin will make quite a contrast, I’m sure. All the better.

Also, here are some cats for this week, from the remarkable Evie.

So the preceding news is probs more interesting to most of you, but after jilting this post last week, I felt like I really ought to include it. Didn’t want to hurt its feelings. This is the part where the horses come in, for good or ill, if you were confused by the disclaimer at the beginning. Here goes.

I feel like lately I’ve been writing a lot about how confused I am, just as a general state of being. So I kind of hate to beat on that super dead horse. But also, I mean, it’s where I am. And then I stumbled across this wonderful quotation by Wendell Berry who I normally associate with environmental stuff (but who is also a poet and stuff I guess).

When we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.

I then came across this little stunner from Rumi, whom I expected to be poetic.

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment is intuition.

How true. It’s all very ancient Greek, you know–the unexamined life and all. But somehow more human, I feel. Because, in examining my life, I don’t feel that I learn much most of the time. Instead, I become baffled. And perhaps that’s what’s important.

And notice that he’s not like, “It’ll all be grand once you overcome X confusion or solve X problem.” No. If you’re not baffled, you’re not living. Solve problems, do. But always know that the work is never finished, not truly. The seaweed may indeed be greener, but no lake is puzzle-free.

Which is sort of comforting (another deceased ungulate–how to feel better about yourself when you’re abusing the horse of confusion). The idea that you’re never really supposed to get to the point where the stars are perfectly aligned and all the ducks are in a row and everything’s coming up roses. We wander around, having all-too-brief moments of clarity in the midst of an otherwise enigmatic world. And life, generally, leaves us bewildered.

One thing that is actually encouraging, rather than just comforting, is that the world is full of people–not just people who are as confused as you, but people who may be confused about different things. When other people play significant, positive roles in our lives, some of that always-looming bafflement recedes. When we let other people teach us–as in the dark as we both may be–they can show us, perhaps, a better way even as we may show them. When we live together with people, truly together, it just makes things better

I have one final quote for you, if you’ll bear with me. In the course of this year, I have read pitifully few Irish books–not even Dubliners. But I did read a remarkable contemporary novel recommended by an Irish coursemate, The Book of Evidence by John Banville. And though I read it in December, just recently a section returned to mind. Not only is it incredible writing, but it also seems to be an all-too-painful assessment of the state of humanity–not just now, but always. His character says:

I have never really got used to being on this earth. Sometimes I think our presence here is due to a cosmic blunder, that we were meant for another planet altogether, with other arrangements, and other laws, and other, grimmer skies. I try to imagine it, our true place, off on the far side of the galaxy, whirling and whirling. And the ones who were meant for here, are they out there, baffled and homesick, like us? No, they would have become extinct long ago. How could they survive, these gentle earthlings, in a world that was meant to contain us?

I don’t know about you, but those words almost make me ache with their accuracy.

Maybe that’s not a great place to end a blog post, especially when it seemed to be going in a more positive direction. But surprise. There you have it, something unexpected happened and brought down the mood. I rest my case on bafflement.

I guess as some small consolation, I’ll leave you with this:

Tristan2016-7-25

 

Draig Dw I

I had written some real muse-y stuff earlier this week, but now it comes to it and I’m just like nah, not feeling that for today. So let’s start off strong and keep it light with some good cat pictures because it’s hard to go wrong with cat pictures.

This week, we had some incredible weather. Like, actually really hot. Now, the temperatures themselves were not insane–I think the highest high for here was 25. But understand that in Ireland, the hot feels hotter and the cold feels colder. Not sure how of why, but others I’ve spoken to about it agree. But fear not, we’ve had some rain and plenty of clouds too because Ireland.

In other news, ‘madrona’ is not apparently the common name for that tree in areas generally outside of Washington and Oregon. Additionally, the species that we have is only found along the coast of Northern California, Oregon, Washington, and around Vancouver Island. Most other species are Mediterranean or other hot places, like Mexico. Who knew? I certainly didn’t. It’s also in the same family as cranberries, huckleberries, rhododendron, and heather. Science is weird.

Confession time. So I acknowledge it to be a little strange and perhaps a bit outside of my expected behavior, but this year I have started watching vlogs on YouTube and it’s been great. The one I follow most consistently is a British guy who, oddly enough, is like a fashion somebody. Not that fashion is odd (though it kind of is) mostly just that I don’t care for it at all. Anyway, it’s so strange seeing all these people who are fairly famous because of YouTube and it’s like a whole world. A little crazy. But I’ve somehow gotten into it and I don’t care who knows it. You basically just follow them around in daily life and they’re not generally too exciting (though they occasionally do like meet important people or do fancy things). It’s maybe a trifle voyeuristic, but there you have it.

I think I stumbled into it in the search of videos of Welsh people because Welsh accents are my favorite. They’re the first time I’ve heard people speaking English and understood the way people are sometimes described in books as having a singsong like quality to their speech. It’s delightful.

I’m also currently on my longest streak on Duolingo (39 days) for both German and Russian. So here’s some German and Russian examples from Duolingo itself, because this whole post has been in English and variety is the spice of life😉

Die Freundin zeigt ihre Haare.

Твой брат когда-нибудь был на этой горе?

Those sentences are just random ones from my training today, they have no particular significance. They’re pretty mundane, though sometimes Duolingo gets a little creepy. Other times, it’s just delightful–one of the first sentences I learned in Welsh on Duolingo is ‘I am a dragon.’

Draig dw i.

Mend Our Shoes

Major shoutout to my sister who, in the midst of studying for her physical therapy qualification exam, has been my biggest dissertation encourager. We celebrate the little victories and send each other lots of gifs (no, people who don’t know what gifs are, that’s not a typo). Also, shoutout to Evie for some stellar writing advice and some cat-based encouragement to write write write.

Evie's Cat2016-7-14

I’ve heard it said, on occasion, that when you’re angry with someone or don’t understand why they’re acting in a particular way you should walk a mile in their shoes. Right? It’s a pretty well known saying. Pretty sure almost all you readers will have heard it. Pretty sure almost all Americans will have heard it. And I think most would agree that it’s very sage advice, you know, for general good things. Yet here we are. No walking. Ruined shoes.

 

A friend of mine recently wrote, in response to events in the US, “Stop focusing on who’s right and start righting what’s wrong.” I heartily agree. In doing some other reading, I came across a reference to the Westminster Larger Catechism, passed by the Church of Scotland in 1648. And, you may think, that pertains to racial injustice in the US today because…? Let me tell you. When going through the Ten Commandments, it not only asks the content of them, but also a variety of details about what they mean. The sixth commandment is Thou shalt not kill. Importantly, before asking what sins are prohibited by the commandment, it asks what duties are required by it (Q 135) and here is what it says:

The duties required in the sixth commandment are all careful studies, and lawful endeavors, to preserve the life of ourselves and others by resisting all thoughts and purposes, subduing all passions, and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices, which tend to the unjust taking away the life of any; by just defence thereof against violence, patient bearing of the hand of God, quietness of mind, cheerfulness of spirit; a sober use of meat, drink, physic, sleep, labour, and recreations; by charitable thoughts, love, compassion, meekness, gentleness, kindness; peaceable, mild and courteous speeches and behaviour; forbearance, readiness to be reconciled, patient bearing and forgiving of injuries, and requiting good for evil; comforting and succouring the distressed and protecting and defending the innocent.

Like, I really don’t know what else to say. I had written a whole thing this week, but when I came across this it all seemed unnecessary. This is why black lives matter (too). We are to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).

So let’s go back to that old phrase. Walking a mile in another’s shoes. Many of us have lost that ability, if we ever truly  had it. When we see the tattered shoes of another (because we rarely see the frightful state of our own) we have little inclination to step into them. Good thing I know someone who delights in mending our shoes.

My heart is sore. Facebook, that great well of loud opinions, has given me enough heartache to last for a while, and also shown me that many others have spoken much more eloquently than I. This post is inadequate, as am I in writing it. So I will finish with just a little prayer, in faith that prayer changes things.

God, help us be courageous enough to admit when we’re wrong. Help us be compassionate enough to do something to help. Teach us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with You. When we are tired of walking in our own lives, much less the lives of others, mend our shoes. And help us mend one another’s. You are the Great Mender and to you I entrust my heart and this world. Amen.