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.