Any Unsaved Progress Will Be Lost

Update on what it’s like to live in northern Michigan: More snow. Still cold but substantially warmer. Really a great deal of ice. That’s been my Michigan February experience and I have to say, I’m not taken with it. But this past week, I’ve really felt the extended daylight, so that’s a plus. Spring is coming. Eventually. Daffodils I need you.

Not much excitement to speak of this week (as per usual, I know). I wanted to tone things down a bit from the serious level of last week’s post and it’s pretty easy since I don’t have anything to say. Kinda making it up as I go along which, surprise, is often the case here. We’ll take a brief cat intermission because that’s always a good idea.

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Aren’t they just so cute. My sister was telling me that she’s been taking fewer pictures of them because they’re just constantly so cute and I get that. But of course she does still take some pictures because look at them. You can’t not.

Not feeling particularly nostalgic this week but for once the title came first and I wanted to write a post that fit. Maybe it’s just a bit of a late-ish winter vibe (what is the line between late winter and ‘spring is late’ anyway). Maybe it’s a bit of a low-key ache for companionship. Maybe I ate something that didn’t agree with me (that’s a joke, food always agrees with me, I just don’t always agree with it). Maybe it’s just your friendly neighborhood ennui. Anyway.

Life in some respects mimics video games. The endless pursuit of mostly meaningless coins; repeated and often fruitless efforts to save a prince(ess); overt level-ups at 16, 18, and 21. And plenty of other things. But a big disappointment (is it really disappointment if I never expected it?) is the lack of saves. You can’t save the game. (Also, no magic.)

I don’t mean that in the old-people sense of ‘I want to go back and try again now that I know all this stuff’ nor in the sense of ‘I have a new strategy that I think would give me a higher score’ nor even in the sense of ‘I have regrets.’ I mean it mostly in the sense that, if I may mix my metaphors, saving the game acts like a bookmark so that you can close the book for a sec and see how far you’ve come and how far you’ve yet to go. A major strike against ebooks.

In that vein, sort of, I have this blog. It is at once a real-time ticker of things happening in my life, and a record of my previous weekly save points. Reviewing those saves is often pretty cringey (I mean, do you remember that time I literally titled a post A Dark and Stormy Night and it wasn’t really ironic). But I also love looking back and remembering my trip to Amsterdam, or the unimaginable victory of turning in my dissertation, or stepping into North Korea, or all the people and places I’ve said goodbye to, even at this fairly young age.

Also, it’s always a delight seeing the languages I’ve had in my titles. Let’s take a second to count: English (169), Irish (4), Russian (4), French (1), Norwegian (1), Welsh (1), Navajo (Diné) (1), Korean (3), Latin (1), and most recently, Croatian (1). Hope to see that diversity continue to grow. Probably will need a Dutch one when I go back to Amsterdam and a Portuguese one when I get to Portugal. Because those trips will hopefully happen eventually.

Some little nuggets of memory are almost silly while also being cool. That two day trip to Oslo, amirite. Wild. The blessings of the doughnut gods of Tesco, sending me gifts beyond my worth. That’s really a big one. When a pipe burst and the floor below my apartment flooded and froze. Yech.

Anyway. Saving…

 

 

Slán

Here we are. I leave Ireland tomorrow.

I feel like my time here has been (or rather, should have been) sponsored by Tesco, so here’s a final shoutout to Tesco doughnuts (5 for €1, custard filled is my everything, if you’re lucky you get six) and Tesco Cream Crackers (1 package for 26 cents). They have been, no joke, my life support system. Without Tesco Cream Crackers, I wouldn’t still be around by this point. And I nearly wept while eating my last bag of Tesco doughnuts.

So that’s sort of a light note to start a post about leaving but it’s honest.

In all seriousness, though, my time here has been incredible. In truth, Dublin is not the loveliest city I’ve lived in, but the human element has made it indeed a precious place. I came here to learn, and learn I certainly have, but the most valuable time I spent here was not passed in the classroom or working on papers.

My coursemates are a phenomenal group of people who are passionate about important and interesting issues. Also, they’re just really cool. And I felt really cool that they let me be a part of their cool people club. I’m so appreciative of their friendship, their help, and their time. For waging our collective struggle together, and winning our eventual victories together. And for the fun. “Should time or occasion compel us to part, these days shall forever enliven our heart.”

My church family has also been wonderful. They love Jesus loads, challenge me, care for and about me, and have also welcomed me to this island, this country, and this city. I am particularly thankful for the tremendous family that literally let me live off them for two months. Thank you, City Church, I’m so grateful for having found you. And all my friends there, thanks for letting me live alongside you.

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Very close to seeing this precious one again

In many ways, it seems like a lifetime has passed since last September. Thinking back to the end of classes the first week of April, it seems like ages ago. How was I in Amsterdam a scant six months ago? That was another century, I’m certain of it. Surely it hasn’t been only a year.

It’s strange now, to have nothing in front of me. No school, no job, no plans of any kind beyond just getting home. Turning in my dissertation was not a huge rush and I don’t really feel any different, but (pending the final mark in November and graduation in April) I’m a Master now. Like, a capital M Master. What? Who thought that was a good idea? How did that happen? But here I am. As my sister recently reminded me, the road goes ever on and on.

This year has been… I don’t even know what to say about it. It’s been a year. I’ve had times of fun and excitement and wonder. I’ve also had times of doubt and anxiety and self-loathing. In the final estimation, there is no doubt in my mind that it has been an incredible adventure and one which I’m very glad to have undertaken. What more can be asked?

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My last look down O’Connell Street

I’ll finish with another playlist, one that will hopefully get me through my flights back home. The final song, The Parting Glass, is a traditional folk song which, though I believe Scottish in origin, is also well-loved in Ireland. And while UCD isn’t Trinity, I’m willing to set aside the rivalry and just appreciate the song.

Anyway, thanks to Ireland and everyone here who made it so much more than just worthwhile. I cannot even say.

Slán agus go raibh maith agat.

  1. The 59th Street Bridge Song – Simon and Garfunkel
  2. The John Wayne – Little Green Cars
  3. Bruised – Jack’s Mannequin
  4. Outta Here – Papa Ya feat. Con Bro Chill
  5. Closing Time – Semisonic
  6. Ghost of a Chance – The Blades
  7. Spirit Cold – Tall Heights
  8. Accidentally in Love – Counting Crows
  9. Let’s Go Home – Best Coast
  10. The Parting Glass – UCD Choral Scholars