The Best Sauce

I don’t know if it’s an actual adage, or if it’s just something my *favorite fictional character of all time* says, but I’ve heard it said that, ‘hunger is the best sauce.’ I don’t know if I’d say that I’ve been hungry for home, exactly, but being here feels a little bit like being sated.

All the same, this time coming home has been interesting. Little (and big) changes still annoy me, and there’s a bit of reverse culture shock (though I went back to driving with no problems, for good or ill but not having tax included is driving me nuts). But I think I’m finally starting to just let go. There wasn’t any food that I really, really wanted to get when I arrived–not even Kinza (though I will never refuse Kinza). There weren’t any places I really had to visit. People to see, of course. And of course I’m so happy to see my family again. But overall, I basically felt ready to go to the next place almost immediately. So someone get me a job.

Anyway. I am, of course, very much looking forward to some catching up with people because it’s been a long time. And it’s nice that it’s spring because flowers. We’ll just have to see how things progress, I guess.

The last couple days in New Zealand were lovely. During the course of our trip, we truly saw the length of the country. It was impossible to soak up everything in only two and a half weeks, but we went from Auckland near the top of the North Island to Invercargill right at the bottom of the South Island (Invercargill is such a nonentity that it’s saying I’ve spelled it wrong, trust me, there’s really no reason to visit except the Tuatarium which we stumbled into right at feeding time).

I could go on forever about that trip but, as I’ve said, descriptions will never quite do it justice. Suffice to say that it was an incredible time and a much needed respite after Korea.

Now, I find myself with too much time on my hands, facing once more the unenviable and generally unrewarding task of applying to jobs with not enough experience and too much qualification. Hopefully the year in Korea will mean something to someone. We’ll see.

Definitely will keep you up-to-date with all the thrilling developments. I am hoping to do some Washington-y hikes or something because I do really love it here, as much as I want out. It would be positively ideal to find a job that starts like in June or August to give me peace of mind and security in just running around. Maybe a road trip to California. I have a dream of road tripping to Yellowknife and Juneau but wouldn’t attempt it without ample time and financial security.

That’s all for now. With all this time zone hullabaloo, it’s hard to know exactly when to post these anymore so I’m just kind of going with it. I haven’t looked, but I have a sinking feeling that my perfect line of Thursdays was interrupted during New Zealand because this site’s clock is set to Pacific time. I dread checking because I was really proud of that line of Thursdays.

Hope you all have an excellent week. I’m busy doing very little and enjoying the rain of home.

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Grey

Living where I have lived, I am very much accustomed to rain. I watch the rain sometimes, observe it truly. When I’m alone and quiet, it sends shivers of awe and comfort down my arms and across my back. Sitting here at my desk, I want to crawl out of the window and dissolve. I ache to feel the rain. Not to stand in it, but to be of it. To be gloom and understand that it is in fact life. To be grey and know that it is the heart of color. To be chill and damp and yet fiery and alive. To move through the world, to caress it, as the rain does–sometimes with fury, sometimes with the greatest gentleness. I imagine myself falling from ineffable heights, a small voice in a vast chorus, plunging through the air to land with delicate but insistent force. I can feel myself soaking into the earth, giving of myself to the trees, and somehow, miraculously, returning to those same dizzying heights to begin the journey afresh.

I enjoy reading with all the lights out, all the more when there is a faint drizzle outside. During the day, the sky provides ample illumination and I suppose it saves some meager amount of energy. Something magical happens to books when read in slowly gathering dark, as though the visual passage of time also makes other unseen things visible. The overcast sky casts a gentle darkness as much as gentle light, creating the lengthening but diffuse shadows of afternoon approaching evening. In this, the living nature of the grey is most apparent: that it gestures and beckons, encouraging a rising certainty that dreams are echoes of the real world, only wanting a little belief to make them substantial. Something about the half-light, or more accurately quarter-light by this time, kindles my heart to a fever pitch, stoking a desire of no particular aim other than expressing an achingly intense longing for more. More from my life, more of this mysterious grey, more of the stunningly immortal thrill of the raindrop’s descent.

When I finally give in and tug on the chain of my banker’s lamp, its greenish glow seems to indicate that the source of its light is more spiritual than electrical. Contrary to trope, though, its illumination is not a light of hope or truth; it simply sees and in the seeing knows. Unfortunately, the darkness outside seems to know too, so I’m left trying to reach backward toward the grey in hopes that it will teach me. Once grey, I’m nearly certain, then I’ll know too and I’ll leave this nebulous Almost behind. Somehow, the grey will illuminate more than a clear blue ever could. But for now, the grey is gone, the sun has set, the rain has been reduced to a dull murmur on the roof, and I’m sitting here in my little pool of light hoping for another grey and rainy day tomorrow. I’m gripped by the fear that wanting more is selfish and insatiable. I see my face reflected in the window but turn away without making eye contact.

С Новым Годом!

I felt bad having Irish post titles and no Russian, so here’s a good one. I hesitate to give you a pronunciation, preferring to leave non-Russian readers floundering with fun Cyrillic letters, but maybe I ought to. Anyway, it means “Happy New Year!”, New Year’s being a major celebration in Russia, even more than Christmas I hear.

Fine, it’s S NO-vym GO-dom.

Anyway, I had a lovely Christmas and I hope the same for you. I’m actually writing this post on Wednesday because I will be spending all of Thursday (from early morning until late night) at the Hoh Rainforest. If you’re unfamiliar with the forest, you should familiarize yourself because it’s amazing. Since I have zero idea when next I’ll be in this country, much less in this state, I wanted to do something really Washingtony. And nothing says Washington like the rainiest place in the continental US (not sure if that’s a verified claim, but probs close if not number one).

It is a really strange feeling, having a one-way ticket back to Dublin and zero idea what my life will look like come September. I find myself looking forward once again to November, hopefully having written my dissertation and gotten a job of some description, settling into ‘real life’ (not that I’m actually looking forward to being an adult but…). I don’t know, it’s a whole thing. I’ll manage somehow, I suppose, a gazillion people do every year. But that’s not really what I like to think about, I’d rather imagine that no one else has ever become an adult and I’m blazing a trail into the vast unknown where monsters lurk around every corner and the chances of survival look grim. Leave me to my little devices, they make me feel better.

Sorry for that little tangent. Sometimes I have these little oh-poor-me moments. It’s easy to get into that sort of vein around New Year’s. I’ve never been much one for resolutions, partially because I (like a gazillion others) forget them so quickly and partially because I’d rather just try every day to live better. I know goals and things are important, and I do have them if the circumstances are right, but for things like New Year’s resolutions I just don’t usually go in for it. There’s a great line from a great poem (ugh, he’s back to poetry) that sort of sums it up. Longfellow, in A Psalm of Life says, “Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,/ Is our destined end or way;/ But to act, that each to-morrow/ Find us farther than to-day.” So there’s my resolution, I guess, every year. Not really to do anything different in particular but to find myself farther along, somehow improved, in a better place, this time next year. This time next month, next week, tomorrow. To always be moving in a better direction.

The horror! A math metaphor just occurred to me and I’ll share because it’s super accurate but I’m hereby registering how uncomfortable I am with math metaphors (and math, generally). Sometimes, y will oscillate up and down, but I always want to be moving in the positive x direction.

Ugh, math.

Also, I lied, let’s have a New Year’s resolution: in 2016 let’s make NCIS: Bremerton a thing. #NCISBremerton

On a totally unrelated note, when I said at the beginning of this blog that I have always failed to keep a journal, that wasn’t quite true. In fact, I do have a journal that I do continue to write in. I’ve had it since New Year’s Day 1997, in fact. The thing is, I typically write in it once a year, sometimes twice and sometimes not at all, and write only a page at most. For example, I gave the years 2007, 2009, and 2012 a miss but wrote three times in 2005. It’s actually super awesome to see the different things I talk about and how I write, not to mention the development of my handwriting (and spelling). A quote from one of my favorite entries, dated 4 January, 2001: “I Maeb Snowflaks with Krista anb Xanbra it WaS Fun!! We Maeb aBunch The Ent” How precious. If ever I become famous, my biographers will definitely have to reference it. Quicky fact check, though, her name is Xandra, I have never met anyone named Xanbra.

Anyway, here’s to the new year. However you celebrate, wherever you are, and wherever you’re going, I wish you all happiness. In words not entirely suited to virtual communication but expressing a wonderful sentiment nonetheless, I leave you with one of my favorite little blessings:

May the roof above us never fall in,

And we friends gathered below never fall out.

Happy New Year!

Wick

Happy December, everybody! I don’t know about you, but I’ve had a pretty good week, made only better by the nearness of home and Christmas. It’s just the most wonderful time of the year.

First, I would like to share an excerpt from my current literary endeavor (admittedly a much faster read than my previous), The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It’s a rather lengthy quotation, but I found it so inspiring, well-written, and altogether touching that I just have to share.

One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then that one is quite sure that one is going to live forever and ever and ever. One knows it sometimes when one gets up at the tender solemn dawn-time and goes out and stands alone and throws one’s head far back and looks up and up and watches the pale sky slowly changing and flushing and marvelous unknown things happening until the East almost makes one cry out and one’s heart stands still at the strange unchanging majesty of the rising of the sun–which has been happening every morning for thousands and thousands and thousands of years. One knows it then for a moment or so. And one knows it sometimes when one stands by one’s self in a wood at sunset and the mysterious deep gold stillness slanting through and under the branches seems to be saying slowly again and again something one cannot quite hear, however much one tries. Then sometimes the immense quiet of the dark blue at night with millions of stars waiting and watching makes one sure; and sometimes a sound of far-off music makes it true; and sometimes a look in some one’s eyes.

So there you have it. To ancient times and distant music…

Anyway, this week featured an extra session for a class that we had missed earlier in the term. We made it up this evening and the lecture was entitled Globalized Racial Regimes or something like that. It was an incredibly depressing session in which we were basically really critical of development and aid and things like that, but at the same time, I enjoyed it immensely because we got to talk seriously about flaws in systems that implicate us every day and which, to be honest, I hadn’t really thought much about previously. And it wasn’t entirely depressing insofar as the professor reiterated that the opposite of what he was trying to do was say, “Everything is bad, therefore do nothing.” So there was sort of a note of hope at the end, though he said he mostly wouldn’t talk about it until the last class. But anyway, there’s a brief look to prove that I am learning things, I find those things for the most part very interesting, and there is a point to getting this degree (something which is always nice to hear).

Also, backtracking a bit, we had our program Thanksgiving (I’m not into the term ‘friendsgiving’) on Sunday and it was absolutely fabulous. There were the staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and bread. There were also some dishes that I was unused to seeing on a Thanksgiving table but thoroughly enjoyed nonetheless: Chinese dumplings of some sort, Shloer (the adult soft drink?), and Snickers salad (which is apparently a thing, brought by an American). There was some small contention over the sweet potatoes– I wanted the kind with brown sugar and marshmallows and the Brits wanted plain roasted ones (I lost)–but it was all in good fun and a really great time. I will once again express how grateful I am to have such amazing coursemates and thank them again for being so awesome. Though one slightly sour note–on my way to Thanksgiving, I took the bus most of the way, then was going to walk for the last ten minutes or so. On the bus, the weather was fine, but of course the moment I got off, the torrential rain, severe wind gusts and sprays of hail began. So I arrived a bit wet, bedraggled, and generally worse for the wear, but spending the evening with friends warmed me up inside and out.

It’s now that time of year when assignments are causing anxiety and Netflix beckons ever more fiercely. I’m grateful that my course load doesn’t actually involve a huge amount of work, but I am doing my best to procrastinate on the small bit that is required. All things considered, I think I’m in a pretty good place to finish out the term strong. Or as strong as is sufficient. Sufficiency isn’t a particularly ambitious goal, but it is what it is. And I certainly am going to work hard, I’m not going to slack or anything, so don’t freak out. I’m a good student, I promise.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoyed last month’s weekly poetry. I won’t be continuing it this month, but I anticipate bringing it back sometime in the spring. It’s so easy, reading my book, to believe that it is spring (much the same way I often feel it’s raining if I’m reading about rain or frigid if I’m reading about cold) and the weather today certainly made a concerted effort to remind me that it’s December. By the same token, though, it reminded me of all the things I like about rain. Living here, my relationship with rain has been somewhat strained since it’s just over two miles walking to school, but ours is a tenacious romance. I love the sound of rain, the feel of it, the way it changes how everything else looks and feels and sounds. It comforts me. It embraces me. No matter how vociferously I complain, we’ll be lovers for as long as I live.