My New Friend, Pádraig

A quick note on last week’s post to get started. A friend of mine brought to my attention the motto of North Carolina, a quote from Cicero (among others): esse quam videri or to be, rather than to seem. It just made me feel validated to share the same sentiments as a poet and old Latin guys (and an old Greek guy said something along the same lines). It’s a fun group to be a part of, apparently along with the State of North Carolina.

In other news. Last Saturday, I drove down to the outskirts of Portland and purchased a car for my very own. My initial ambition was to never own a car, then it was to have the first car I buy be electric. It is, alas, a hybrid but something is better than nothing. Also, after considering a variety of names, I have settled on Pádraig. I’ve just learned that the name shares its etymology with patrician which is fun. Also, for those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s PAW-drig. The other contenders were Paolo and Peter so participation trophies for them.

Perhaps you’ll meet Pádraig someday, he’s a pretty cool guy.

On Monday morning, I was up early and off to Issaquah, which I don’t think I’ve ever visited before. I was meeting a friend of mine to hike Poo Poo Point because why not. My erstwhile hiking partner has recently relocated and I haven’t been out much since, so that was nice. It was also lovely to catch up with my friend and his brother, who I met for the first time. The views were beautiful, draped with plenty of mystical clouds.

Not much has been going on here otherwise. Slowly acquiring a few more household accouterments necessary for the move and furnishing my place. More reading in the sun. Snuggling with cats.

Yesterday, I did go to a friend’s house to celebrate the most American holiday. He lives on a lake but there wasn’t much swimming because, though it was warm, it wasn’t sunny one minute and did in fact rain a little. Even so, it was a lovely time just hanging out, having nice food, watching pretty fireworks.

I recognize that I am very blessed by being an American alive at this time. But I also did not feel quite up to celebrating America. There is so much work yet to be done and so much of ‘America’ is only America to some. It’s a bit of a balancing act, recognizing the incredible gifts that we are given and also being convicted of the need for radical change.

I’m not really sure what else I want to say about it and I don’t really have other news to report. So there you go. Until next week.

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Why Dissertations are like Vampires

So my parentals left on Sunday, we had a nice last few days. We walked through the War Memorial Gardens (with some amazing flowers) and then along the river to Chapelizod, the supposed final resting place of the legendary Isolde (or Iseult or however you want to spell it).We had a casual dinner in Chapelizod village and then a leisurely stroll back into Kilmainham, where they were staying. It was a pleasant conclusion to their visit and I’m glad I got to see them.

Also, shoutout to the family with whom I am now living. They are super cool. I’m so glad to be staying here 🙂

Monday was Independence Day in the US and so that happened, I guess, though I’ve never been particularly attached to it as a holiday (gasp! how unpatriotic–my REC senses are tingling!). We went to a little barbecue with some Americans and it was very nice, but the weather was typically Irish–mostly cloudy, fairly windy, spots of rain. After we got back, there was a downpour. So yeah, like I’ve been saying this whole time, sweater weather year round. Anyway.

For the thoughtful section this week, I’d like you to watch this video. It’s a song from a musical, and I apologize in advance for the strong language. But the rest of this post will make zero sense if you don’t watch it.

I’ll wait.

Seriously.

So there you have it, basically. Writing a dissertation is hard, there are so many vampires involved. Pygmy vampires are everywhere, and they’re so distracting. And they make it so easy to just put things off. And just…gah.

And, without getting into my rant about why we have dissertations at all, the ‘establishment’ (if you’ll excuse my use of such a hackneyed word) can be so constraining in their actual production. I mean, standards and formatting stuff I get (as annoying as it can be) because you want to be able to have some sort of base line by which to look at academic research broadly, and also within your field. But at the same time, we’re told that we can’t go too far out of bounds just because no one else has done it. You have to simultaneously say something new and something that someone else has already said. It’s a little ridiculous and, I think, more than a little air freshener vampire.

The vampire of despair, man. That hits me.

The Voice of Reason indeed.

Sometimes, it seems like even opening my computer requires wading through seas of vampires. But I’ve written before that it’s important to do hard things. If that hard thing is just getting out of bed, you gotta get up and exercise for twenty minutes. If that hard thing is leaving the house and speaking to another human being, you gotta go to a French National Day party for at least two hours. If that hard thing is writing a dissertation, you gotta write 1,000 words today.

This post is as much (probably more, actually) to psych myself up than encourage you. But if you’re facing some hard things–be it getting up in the morning or making major life decisions–maybe that song can be your anthem too.

Go forth, then, grab your stake, and get to work. You have a story to tell. Or, in a totally unrelated allusion: you is kind, you is smart, and you is important.

Die, vampire. Die!