About Time

Importantly, I finally went to a cat cafe and it was amazing. Just being in the presence of a large number of cats…. it was a dream. They were all very soft, pretty friendly, and just in every possible sense a sight for sore eyes. I went with a couple friends to the one they liked, having found it much better than the others in our area. We just sat and chatted and played several rounds of Clue (because the cafe was well-stocked with board games). Though I am loathe to use hashtags for pretty much any reason, the manifold interactions of our game and the kitties inspired me to once use #catsofclue. It was an awesome way to while away the hours of Sunday afternoon.

I would post pictures, but I didn’t really take many and all I took were just on Snapchat. Mostly, I just enjoyed the atmosphere and lived in the moment. Hope you have a few cat moments to live in this week.

On Saturday, I had finally been roped into doing a service project with church. I had been avoiding it for no particular reason. In high school I did a lot of community service stuff but haven’t been that active since and it’s been kind of weird. I was generally dreading the work on Saturday but when I got there it was so good. It was basically a soup kitchen sort of deal and I didn’t even have to interact with people much. I was upstairs washing the enormous cooking dishes in the shower room. I got to know some cool people and even went out to lunch with them afterwards which, you may know, is really saying something.

It felt good to actually be doing something for other people rather than just spouting my nonsense on here about helping people and doing hard things. The project is only once a month but I definitely intend to go until I leave Korea. It was just so easy, even in the very, very hot heat and very, very humid humidity. If I can’t spare a few hours once a month then I would be a very different person than I’d like to think myself.

So it’s summer break and, naturally, I have an extra extra class (having already been teaching an extra one all term). I recognize that there are plenty of worse situations out there for summer school stuff but I will not let that fact detract from my desire to complain, not in the slightest. Allow me to explain what my schedule will look like for the next couple weeks.

On Mondays and Fridays I will go to work at 2:30 (actually, that’s when I must be there, I will certainly be there before then) and teach from 3-10. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I will arrive at 12:30 (again, I will actually be arriving before then) and teach from 1-10. On Wednesdays, blessedly, I will arrive at 2:30 (probs actually right around then) and teach 4-7.

There are breaks; between three hour classes we get a fifteen minute break and a five minute break every hour (though we aren’t meant to leave our classrooms during the short breaks, so they’re only kind of breaks).

Today was my first day of that, about a ten-hour day with the last nine spent actually teaching classes. Less than ideal. But livable. I’m not psyched to do it again on Tuesday, which is also my birthday. But whatever, can’t win ’em all.

You have two different kinds of work outlined, then. One for pay which is draining and one for free which is enlivening. I won’t deny a touch of hypocrisy in preaching service, but I’m working on it.

Not to be served, but to serve. Good luck to us all.

One Hundred Things That Have Happened in the Past One Hundred Weeks

  1. I moved to Korea.
  2. I read Pictures of Hollis Woods and The Graveyard Book for class and enjoyed both.
  3. Britain decided to leave the EU.
  4. I lived in a house that was perpetually cold and had no heating.
  5. I got a Kakao and a Line account for work. Kakao is much better.
  6. I developed a deep and abiding love for Tesco.
  7. I felt at home in a place that was not my home (more than once but not often).
  8. I visited my sister and checked off two more US states (AZ and NM).
  9. I learned that LG originally stood for Lucky Goldstar not Life is Good.
  10. I watched Inside Out and thought it was alright.
  11. I consumed gochujang in many forms and still don’t like it.
  12. I received this picture of my cat. Bubba2017-6-29
  13. I learned how to use screen mirroring because I do it in class every day.
  14. I despaired of finding real cheese in Korea.
  15. I found some real cheese in Korea, but only on one particular dish.
  16. I learned Hangul.
  17. I started playing D&D again (virtually) and it’s great.
  18. I felt lonely (more than once).
  19. I ate some tangerine named after Hallasan (the tallest mountain in South Korea).
  20. I killed a rosemary plant and nearly a mint but the mint is still hanging on. Barely.
  21. I washed a quilty-thing when I probably should have had it dry cleaned but it’s fine.
  22. I visited Antwerp.
  23. I read The Count of Monte Cristo.
  24. I tried aged kimchi for the first time. Better than regular, but still gross.
  25. I moved to Ireland.
  26. I got over not having a dryer.
  27. I learned more Konglish than Korean.
  28. I moved into an apartment that is always hot but has AC.
  29. I went to Jeju. IMG_20170621_105549827
  30. I graduated with an MPhil from Trinity College Dublin.
  31. I took a trip on a single line of the Seoul metro that was almost two hours one way.
  32. I visited Amsterdam.
  33. I had a Belgian waffle (with Nutella) in Belgium. Exceeded expectations.
  34. I started saying ‘grand’ all the time because the Irish do.
  35. I worked in retail at midnight on Black Friday (but not directly with customers).
  36. I had ox bone soup. It was delicious.
  37. I tried and failed to figure out how to turn down the temperature of a toilet seat.
  38. I learned that Ohio is the only US state that shares no letters with the word mackerel.
  39. Donald Trump was elected president.
  40. I read A Man Called Ove and am still emotional about it.
  41. I got over not having a key but still sometimes check my back pocket for one.
  42. I found out who BTS was and kind of wish I hadn’t.
  43. I became a teacher.
  44. I climbed Ansan multiple times.
  45. I reread Stargirl for the umpteenth time and still enjoyed it.
  46. I found an English-speaking church in Seoul that I like.
  47. I received this picture of my other cat. Camaro2017-6-29
  48. I got Snapchat. I mostly don’t regret it.
  49. I learned about gene doping because I had to teach a lesson on it.
  50. Three members of my family visited me in Korea for a week.
  51. I felt embarrassed (more than once–often).
  52. I read the Chaos Walking trilogy and very much enjoyed it.
  53. I made many new friends.
  54. I grew to hate air pollution personally rather than in the abstract.
  55. I told my French cat joke to more than one native French speaker.
  56. I watched The Bourne Legacy and wasn’t impressed but was entertained.
  57. I planted basil and it’s doing well.
  58. I went to many museums in Seoul and learned a lot about Korean history.
  59. I turned 22.
  60. I ate small octopus (different from squid and normal octopus) for the first time.
  61. I got used to waking up at 2:30 in the morning.
  62. As soon as I was able, I stopped waking up at 2:30 in the morning.
  63. I watched Man of Steel. It was decent.
  64. I saw a few of the original Dol Harubang (stone grandfather) statues on Jeju. IMG_20170622_120728388_HDR
  65. I managed to live without a microwave or an oven (so far).
  66. I visited Oslo.
  67. I tried Pokemon Go but gave up because I don’t have data here.
  68. I learned how to pay bills at a 7-11.
  69. I possessed more money at one time than I have ever done.
  70. I successfully completed a dissertation. Or thesis. Still not certain what it’s called.
  71. Macron became President of France.
  72. I walked almost two miles in the rain at night during winter because I am stubborn.
  73. I worked retail on Christmas Eve morning (but thankfully not Christmas).
  74. I started to give a slight bow instinctively in certain situations.
  75. FARC signed a peace deal with the Colombian government.
  76. I visited the Hoh Rainforest.
  77. I had a lovely visit with a friend who had a twelve hour layover in Seoul.
  78. I felt proud of my accomplishments (more than once).
  79. I climbed a (dead) volcanic crater in the pouring rain. IMG_20170620_152819588
  80. I got a smartphone for the first time.
  81. I got another, better smartphone.
  82. I became a multimillionaire after only two paychecks.
  83. I came out.
  84. I was in Dublin for Irish elections to the Dáil.
  85. I was in Seoul for a presidential election.
  86. I visited Gyeongbokgung Palace. IMG_20170619_092830670
  87. Rio de Janeiro hosted the Summer Olympics.
  88. I became increasingly sensitive to and aware of nationalism.
  89. My sister visited me in Ireland.
  90. I did not visit the DMZ because of a mix up but was promised a trip at a future date.
  91. I had to drive to Seattle three times in one week and it made me sad.
  92. I bought a mask because spring air pollution in Seoul was killer (it hasn’t improved much).
  93. I bought a leafy green which turned out to be spinach still attached to the root.
  94. I saw many beautiful cherry blossoms.
  95. I read the Farseer Trilogy and thought it was good not great.
  96. I existed in closer proximity to more humans than I ever had before.
  97. I received this picture of my sister’s cat. Beegashii2017-6-29
  98. I visited Paris Baguette for the first time.
  99. I learned a lot about the Sami.
  100. I started a blog and here we are.

Unexpectedly Delicious

There’s really very little to say this week. Classes have continued to be alright and I think I do prefer this term’s classes to last, though it’s hard to say. My extra class of very small humans is trying to me but it’s not really that bad. Sometimes getting answers out of students is like pulling teeth but again, it’s nothing exceptionally unpleasant (so it’s not really like pulling teeth after all, but you get the idea). Maybe rather boring, but it isn’t awful by any stretch.

I’m trying to venture out more with my fellow teachers, just to socialize after work and the like. “More” is a relative term so it doesn’t mean much actually, but it’s the thought that counts. My outings have increased in frequency; that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. It’s much easier to be social with this group because, while I really liked the teachers from last term, they had all been together for a year at least–not that they were exclusive, they were just used to each other. This new batch is new, so it’s not like I really have to break into super established social circles.

I do have one quick story. Last Saturday night, my neighbor’s alarm went off. I didn’t note exactly when it started, but it was around 9:30 pm. It continued all through the night, was still going the next morning. I left at 10 am or so, it was still going strong. Luckily, it had stopped by the time I returned a few hours later. It wasn’t incredibly loud, but it was 100% audible for the duration. It wasn’t a great night’s sleep.

This story comes to mind because I just heard the same alarm, starting at 10:19 pm, but it lasted for less than ten seconds. So they weren’t actually dead, the killers returned to the scene of the crime, or zombies.

If it’s the zombie apocalypse, you heard it here first.

I recently purchased a bottle of peach and golden kiwi drinking yoghurt and it was really good. There are few delights in this world to compare with consuming something that is unexpectedly delicious. (Also, I spell yoghurt with an h. Sue me.)

This week has furnished precious few moments worth mentioning, but that one was particularly enjoyable. If you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting some great peach golden kiwi drinking yoghurt, I’m sorry. I hope you do someday.

In the meantime, feel free to share with me your experiences of things that you may or may not have had expectations about but which turned out to be super tasty. Precedence will obviously be given to bread products and things that are sweet, but I won’t discriminate. I like food.

Until next week, here’s to tasty things. Especially the unlooked-for kind.


It’s weird to be writing this post while complaining that my apartment is way too hot for 10:30 at night, but it is what it is.

I love the sun. As with anything, there are consequences to overindulgence (and privation). But what a marvelous, extravagant gift. I understand why ancient peoples worshiped it, and I praise the God who graciously offers it to us afresh each morning. Every day offers fresh tableaux of sun, sky, and land, even when clouds or haze dilute the vibrancy of the light.

That was just my major thought for the week. Well, I guess major is a bit much, but it was a thought that I had. I complain about being too hot fairly often, I have a low sun threshold. I love it anyway and I don’t want to take it for granted.

In terms of school, this week has not been nearly so crazy as I anticipated. The first time teaching any class–and the first time meeting new students–is definitely scary, but I’m already feeling pretty good about the term. There are some challenges, obviously, but I’m moving forward with a lot more confidence than I had at this point last term. I may even be getting my expectations too high. Only time will tell.

This term, one of the books I am teaching is Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. Every time I remember it, I remember how much I love it–flashback to Mrs. Tweten’s eighth grade primetime class. Every time I read it (including last Saturday) I am reminded of how sad it makes me. I wonder what opportunities I’ve squandered by thinking more about who I wish I could be than who I am. Chances that, once missed, can never be taken again. I wonder if I’ve ever met a star person, and been to afraid to allow myself to see them. I wonder if I’ve ever heard a moa, and if I’d notice if I had.

And then I think, maybe it’s all beside the point. In the dedication, Spinelli writes, “And to Loren Eiseley who taught us that even as we are. we are becoming.” I remind myself how firmly I believe in justice and black bean burritos for all. I pray a quick prayer of thanks that the sun shines on the good and the bad. And I feel stronger for it.

I can’t tell everyone to enjoy the sun (though I can and do, actually) since who knows what the weather’s like when and where you’re reading this. But I guess just revel in small things. The old line about taking nothing for granted. Savor the newspaper-filler minutiae of your life (and the lives of others). Celebrate the little things, the big things, and all the things in between.

There is a Ray Bradbury poem, and you’ll forgive me if I misquote it, having been unable to find it on the interwebs. I don’t even remember exactly what he’s talking about, the sun, stars, maybe just life in general. Regardless, he says that there is a light in the universe that is “saying Yes and Yes and again Yes to the great, dark, silent No.”

May our lives be a Yes in the face of that utter No.

Be Careful

This week has been a bit of a thing. In addition to a terrible, utterly stupid mistake that, thankfully didn’t have any real consequences, I’ve just had to be scrambling a bit to learn and get ready and all that you know kegssiugougtaoqeign stuff (for those who can’t read keyboard smash, that roughly translates to me holding up my hands clenched tightly into claws and shaking them).

On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of covering for someone’s one-on-one class. A single student, three hours, at the very lowest level. We read an extraordinarily simplified Dick Whittington (whose story I was not familiar with) and played hangman. For three hours.

But also, this is the last week of term. I have only tomorrow left. And my what a term. It’s crazy to think that I’m a quarter of the way through this year.  Today and tomorrow involves work and a snack party for each class, so that’s nice. Today, the staff also had pizza and chicken before the students arrives, which was a lovely surprise. Most of the teachers at our branch are leaving, so it was nice to have a little send-off sort of feeling going around.

Next week is setting itself up to be super scary. Teaching two totally new classes–scratch that, three. And three new levels, two much higher than I’ve done and one much lower. Most of the staff will be new but trained in these courses (whereas I was trained on the ones for this term). I’m super nervous. But I’ve learned that being boring, a little uncertain, and generally a mess is just how you do new things. It will get better. Anway, I’d like to avoid talking about it, so I have prepared a couple random thoughts, as I am often wont to do, because variety is the spice of life.

Sometimes I’m confused by the controversy that surrounds certain topics. For example, best Disney prince. Obviously it’s Phillip. He has a name, he slays a dragon, he waltzes in people’s dreams. What’s not to love. Other categories, I understand some debate, I get that. Best Disney villain, for example. I’d say Maleficent but Ursula, Hades, Frollo have strong contentions, maybe a couple others too. This just to say: it seems we value opinions and tolerate facts (if that). But we should value facts and tolerate opinions.

Also this week, I learned why Google maps can only do public transportation directions here. South Korea has a thriving internet censorship program and this includes, thanks to the fact that they’re still technically at war with the north, all maps of the country. It’s illegal to take them out of the country and that now includes mapping data. So Google can’t process the maps on its servers and we’re left with using Kakao Metro for directions on the metro and Google maps-ing the rest of it ourselves.

In other news, this week I lost my longest Duolingo streak, 74 days. I just forgot to do it before work and then went to dinner after and then forgot again. So that was a big bummer. Alas.

I don’t really have anything else to report. I expect next week’s post will be hectic but there it is. I’m just going to take a second to, you know, take a second. In the mean time, having been pretty moved by this short and sincere poem, I’m trying to be careful of other humans, and to be kind.

Странное Рождество

Very important news:

After much, much, much ado, I have finally received my grades from Trinity. I passed!!!!!!

It would be inaccurate to say with flying colors, but colors hovering above the ground a bit is plenty good enough for me. I’d love to say that the saga is finally over, but graduation isn’t until the spring so I still haven’t technically ‘graduated’ even though I’ve earned the degree. Close enough.

So that’s an enormous weight off my chest. As much as I was expecting to pass, you never know until you know, you know? Anyway.

The cat pictures this week features Béégashii, the stray cat that my sister has partially adopted in Arizona. She claims that Béégashii (meaning Cow in Navajo) is basically the perfect cat and, having heard stories and video chatted with her, I’m inclined to agree. I hope you enjoy the very adorable Béégashii (pronounciation: BEG-uh-shee).

I have long had a great love of calligraphy and there are two phrases in particular that I would love to have done and framed and hung on my wall. These phrases have just stuck with me through the years, both from music, and I think a graphic representation would be the perfect way to combine their musical and artistic beauty. And I take no responsibility for these translations, just a little disclaimer.

The first, in Latin, would be in that great medieval, illuminated manuscript style.

Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, quis sustinebit?

 If you mark our iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?

The second comes from a Slavonic hymn we sang while on tour in Russia (Slavonic is to Orthodoxy as Latin is to Catholicism). It would be written in the tradition of Slavonic calligraphy as seen painted on frescoes in Orthodox churches and inlaid in gold on icons. 

Странное Рождество видевше устранимся мира, ум на небеса приложим. 

Having witnessed a wondrous birth, let us withdraw from the world and turn our minds toward the heavens.

Which is to say, the title of this post (STRAN-no-yeh rozh-dyest-VO) means ‘wondrous birth,’ or alternatively, ‘strange Christmas.’ I’m honestly not certain which I prefer.

Christmas is a strange thing, to be sure, and wondrous beyond imagining. The people who had been walking in darkness saw a great light. God, who had always been with us, became with us. And that is a truly remarkable thing. It’s one thing to hear that the Lord of the universe cares about you, it’s another to hear that he both knows your struggles and knows what it’s actually like to struggle. I’ve said many times (and the internet has said many more times) that 2016 has been a tough year to be living in the world–and Jesus also lived in tough times. And there’s something wondrous about that.

I don’t know if you remember the post I wrote a while back about having a ‘strange dinner’ but it is sort of a similar thing. Things are strange when they aren’t normal. Duh, you say. But think of it like this: normal is an absolutely relative term, anything can be normal if enough people do it. Jesus’ birth is strange because, in the scheme of world religions, it’s absolutely not normal. Word became flesh, dwelt among us, was perfect, and sacrificed himself for our salvation. What an inexpressible wonder.

I do not believe that we are to withdraw from this world in the sense of quitting humanity because humanity is the worst (which it definitely, totally is). Rather, I think Christmas is a time for us to recall of very strange Christmas is, to withdraw from normalcy, to relish the wondrous and distinctly abnormal God-Who-Came-Near. Turn your mind tower the heavens because our help cometh thence. Turn your mind to the heavens because they are infinitely strange and infinitely better than this poor, broken earth.

Anyway. I wish you all a very merry Christmas. May you enjoy time together and time apart. May you be blessed and may you bless others. May you be still in heart and in eye.

Clear, what we need is here.

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.

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.


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!

Don’t Chuck Your Muck in my Backyard

Today was the last day of classes. Like, the last day.

At least, it was supposed to be. But this morning, my only class was canceled (one other being canceled and another not meeting on purpose).


Me (except not at all)

Unless something pretty major changes in my life, I will not be a student in a class at school ever again. How exactly did I get here, again? Not that I’m not ready to be done with this phase of my life. Just…that I’m not quite ready to begin the next. Awks on my friends who have already gotten on with it. Or who are also graduating this year. What are we doing with out lives. It doesn’t help, of course, that the world is conspiring to ensure that I’m unemployed. Would that I had a job. But I’ll keep applying places because that’s really all you can do. Here’s hoping.


Also, here’s a Bubba for the week.


And a Camaro, looking super intelligent.

Still have some work to do, namely two papers and a poster. And, obviously, my dissertation (but we’re not thinking about that just now). It’ll be grand, right? Anyway, on to the rant of the week.

Yesterday morning, walking to school, it was a beautiful day but a trifle windy. And in that wind, great swirls of trash buffeted my feet and shins. Consistently, walking to school or the grocery store (or really anywhere from my house), I must maintain constant vigilance with each step in order to avoid the ever-present dog poop and occasional human vomit. Also, when it’s raining, the festering piles of partially decayed paper goop. Now let me say, this is not a uniform problem across Dublin and obviously Dublin is not the only place with these problems. But I’m only living in one place at the moment and it’s undeniably a massive issue in my immediate surrounds. It’s also an issue that I’m not really accustomed to.

Growing up, there was honestly not much litter. And certainly not public dog poop just hanging out on the sidewalk. There are fines and signs here, but no one seems to care. I don’t feel like my parents or teachers are loony, tree-hugging envirocrazies, but from a very young age, in basically every situation, I was raised to be mindful of the world around me. I want to say it was drilled into me, but it wasn’t really. Most of the time, it sort of went without saying. It didn’t take any thought to turn off the lights when you left a room, or recycle, or not litter. That was just the way it was done. I mean, not everyone who lives in Gig Harbor is a wonderful recycler and composter and so on but it is, I feel, a prevailing civic mindset. And it just makes me sad to walk down the street and see how disgusting it is. Like, all the time. Of course, I’m not really doing much to help and that’s part of the problem too. I don’t contribute to it, but I don’t help solve it either. Ugh, it’s just dumb. It’s a massive task to solve the world’s environmental issues. But there’s nothing massive about proper waste disposal, recycling, composting, turning off the lights, carpooling, and just generally taking an interest in the place you live.

Anyway. I won’t give you the whole academese blah-blah-blah about constructivism and the power of norms ect. ect. ect. but I will give you an awkward transition.

I didn’t realize that April is actually National Poetry Month (in the US, at least). How unwittingly apropos of me. This week’s selection is a tender sonnet by the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti. I recently came across it and memorized it almost straight away. It’s a response of sorts to an earlier poem (Willowwood–in particular, part III) by her brother, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, quoting a line as the poem’s epigraph. Apparently, the two were rather close and collaborated on a variety of projects. Anyway, this poem is an achingly beautiful reflection of love lost and I’d like to share it with you.

An Echo from Willowwood

“Oh ye, all ye who walk in willow-wood.”

Two gaz’d into a pool, he gaz’d and she,
Not hand in hand, yet heart in heart, I think,
Pale and reluctant on the water’s brink
As on the brink of parting which must be.
Each eyed the other’s aspect, she and he,
Each felt one hungering heart leap up and sink,
Each tasted bitterness which both must drink,
There on the brink of life’s dividing sea.
Lilies upon the surface, deep below
Two wistful faces craving each for each,
Resolute and reluctant without speech:—
A sudden ripple made the faces flow
One moment join’d, to vanish out of reach:
So these hearts join’d, and ah! were parted so.

Whence Cometh Help

In some ways, I feel like this week has been the deep breath before the plunge. The calm before the storm. The split second before you realize you’ve run over a chipmunk. In other ways, this week has been a plunge, storm, and dead chipmunk. Allow me to elaborate.

This week has marked the beginning of assignment-turning-in season for us REC folks. Of course, it really was last week with the research proposal, but I’m choosing not to think about that because reasons. Anyway, this week’s assignment, completed and submitted this morning, was the first of many for actual classes. And I’m glad this was the first one because it sort of eased me into it–I wrote it like a blog post.

Also, last night was the first performance of Elijah and I think it went really well. It really is just such a fun piece to sing–it runs the whole spectrum of violent-triumphant-sorrowful-comforting. I don’t know about you, but it’s definitely worth a listen if you’re able to find a good recording somewhere. I think my favorite movements are It Is Enough, a bass solo sung by Elijah. Tremendously touching and sad. In terms of choral movements, it’s tough to say, I might go for Behold! God the Lord Passed By or Then Did Elijah. It’s just really a remarkable work, I love it (if you hadn’t gotten that yet). Anyway, tonight’s the second and final performance, should be lovely.

And, sorry, but the incredibly depressing is sort of unavoidable in my course of study. Today, we had a wonderful guest speaker talking about inequality and the wealth management profession. Basically, wealth managers are the people who work for the unbelievably rich to protect their wealth and anonymity. Part of that includes things like tax havens, which are often talked about, but a variety of other things. It’s no surprise that massive wealth enables people to do basically whatever they want. But this talk just fleshed out some things that I frankly can’t fully comprehend because I’m not fabulously wealthy and probably never will be. I know it’s a thing to talk about money influencing government and things like that, but in some places wealth managers have been contacted directly by governments or tax representatives in order to negotiate laws and policies that work best for their wealthy clients. What.

And, interestingly, we hear a lot about the Cayman Islands and Switzerland but a lot of this sort of thing is being done in the US and UK. Also, just a note, wealth and income are not the same. So we talk about income inequality often, but what about wealth which isn’t income and can be passed between generations? The speaker actually used the term feudalism to describe some parts of what is going on. How did we get here? Anyway, I can’t give a rundown of the entire talk, but suffice to say it was sobering, angering, and sort of baffling. The world, guys. The world.

I don’t even think I can write any more about it right now. It’s just such a thing. I can’t handle it. I sort of get that capitalism and things. Inequality is and will be with us. BUT INEQUALITY IS BAD. Even if we’re going to live with some, these levels are unconscionable. Horrific. And indisputably getting worse. Guys. Ugh.

I’m going to take a second to transition to the next paragraph. Deep breath.


So back to dead chipmunks. Things have sort of been crazy. Lots of assignment-doing (and even more procrastination). Things are getting done but it’s been sort of torturous. Loads more assignments on the way. Also, last week was St Patrick’s Day, this week is concert week, this weekend is Easter… lots of things. The first week of April is the last week of classes but the month will be full of essay writing. Very full. Then full-time dissertationing.

On the note of this weekend, though, I will write a brief note and you can expect a thorough description in next week’s post. Not only is this Sunday Easter, but it is also the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising. If you’re not familiar with the Rising, look it up. I will also probs give some background next week. But basically the country has been going insane in the run-up for it and there’s going to be plenty to say, I expect. Also, I’ve decided that April’s going to be another poetry month here. So if you’re into that sort of thing, get pumped. And if you’re not, I don’t really care. I have some pretty great selections in mind. Not necessarily spring-themed, just poetry.

Anyway, I’ve got to get changed for the concert. Until next week, then.