Caught between worlds

It’s my fifth Fourth of July overseas. This one comes as I’ve thought about my visa and possibly-most-likely moving back to the U.S. in 2014. The good thing about the Affordable Care Act being ruled constitutional is that that it will be put into effect in 2014, and I will not be denied health coverage for any of my pre-existing conditions (and I have a few) if/when I move back.

It’s strange, thinking about moving back. It isn’t what I’d expected to be doing after my PhD, but it that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad thing. Regardless of where I move to, I’ll be closer in time and space to several friends and my family. The Internet, especially email and Skype, is a godsend, but a part of me actually looks forward to being able to strengthen those relationships by being physically nearer, present.

Even as I think these thoughts, I walk home from work via the sea, take a walk up part of the coastal path, looking back over my current home and being struck by the beauty of the fading light on the waves, on the sailboats in the bay, of this town. I’m not going anywhere yet. I want to live intentionally, here, now, not taking for granted my remaining year and a bit here.

In another way I am also caught between worlds: with my writing. Sometime during June I got derailed from editing The Faerie King and in a month I am supposed to start novel planning for the new Orion. Already the characters and world of Orion are waking from their long sleep. The statement ‘It’s always easier to edit than to write’ is false: for me, the act of creating, of writing, is the most enjoyable part of writing a novel. Editing is sticky. Especially when I have no idea how to make it better, only that something needs doing. It comes as no surprise, to me at least, that I am eager to turn my mind to something else, to something new, to creating Orion.

Should I try to edit The Faerie King again during July? How can I motivate myself to stick with it?

Hippo hooray!

In less than 15 min from now in San Antonio Zoo, two of my childhood friends will be getting married. My friends Lydia and Drew are having their ceremony witnessed by the hippos, and though I wish I could be there in person, they’ve arranged their ceremony to stream live. It’s nearly midnight here, but it’s as close as I can get.

There was a group of nine of us: the Fun Day Group, a name that stuck after Marianne and I planned ‘fun days’ for our friends. None of us really fit in with the other cliques at school, and some how or another we ended up together. Although the group of us was scattered across five different high schools, we arranged ‘fun days’ at least once a month, oftener once we had cars, fewer once we entered university. Some I’ve kept up with better than others, but we all watch each other and keep tabs via facebook, at the very least. I’ve been to Joel’s wedding and to Danielle’s, and well, Lydia and Drew are next, and they’re marrying each other.

With the hippos!

Confessions

  • I am still a youngest / pseudo-only child. I do not like to share.*
  • Also, I want my way.
  • I do not like conversation or groups consisting of more than three people.
  • I’d rather be writing fiction.
  • I really want fajitas and tortillas from Taco Cabana. I could eat fajitas every day.
  • I want to be warm.
  • One of my alternate lives would be to be an anthropologist in Latin America.

* I amend this statement to be: Sometimes I really do not like sharing, but actually I don’t mind it most of the time.

A godless country

One of my former history professors and I were chatting about my future in academia during one of the coffee breaks at the conference today. He asked where I was from in the States and said, ‘Oh yes, San Antonio. The Riverwalk. I’ve been there.’ Everyone who’s visited San Antonio has. I told him that the Riverwalk had been expanded, mentioning offhand that my church used to be at the end of the Riverwalk but isn’t anymore.

‘Americans take religion much more seriously than we do,’ he said. ‘I expect that Americans find Britain to be a very godless country.’

Occasionally I speak my observations even when doing so is treading onto dangerous ground—hoping that objective truth will save me, and if not, the stereotype of the ignorant (and/or arrogant) American. I said, ‘I wonder if it has something to do with Britain having a state church. When you have to choose to have a church, you take it more seriously.’

‘Yes. It is a classic example for not to have an established religion,’ he answered.

It was time to go back into the conference room then, so I didn’t have a chance to remind him that freedom from a state church was one of the foremost reasons people crossed the terrible, wide sea to a new world.

As for whether I find it ‘very godless’—I suspect Britain is no more and no less godless than the U.S., or any other country on this earth.

Regional differences

It’s raining. But that goes without saying.

Today I said, “In the spring…” and caused some confusion because what I actually meant was, “In January…” And when I was reviewing Pearl, I read, “I entred in that erber grene/ In Augoste” (ll. 38-9) and realized that the first time I read Pearl (a few years ago), I had never been in the UK in August, and so had been confused that it was green in the poem. August in my mind is brown, and also, spring starts in February. The “spring semester” started in January and went until May, when it let out into summer. Even though I now live so much farther north, the deep recesses of my mind still divide the seasons into February-April/Spring, May-September/Summer, October-November/Fall, December-January/Winter. I don’t want to write out the divisions for Scotland, because it is probably the exact opposite and it will be depressing. It is mid-November and the highs in San Antonio are still in the low-80s F/upper-20s C. Meanwhile, here it is already winter, already in the single digits of Celsius, where I am missing something if I leave without a scarf and gloves. And a hat, in case it rains, because the umbrella is just useless…

The rain isn’t that bad. It’s just water, and when you get home, you change into dry clothes and have a cup of tea. It’s just… wet.

Teacups & Geese

As I walked up to church this morning, the rector greeted me and asked if I was from St L’s. My puzzled expression caused him to amend, asking, “Oh, are you in university?” I nodded, and decided to not embarrass him further by pointing out I was a postgraduate. A group from St L’s was putting on a drama for Candlemas (the day Jesus was presented to the temple, found in Luke 2), so the confusion was justified. I still find it mildly amusing that I look like I belong in high school. As if I didn’t already feel too young to be in grad school, right?

During the service today I realized that FBCSA will probably always be my home church. I haven’t been able to connect to a church since I moved from San Antonio (the first time), and although I’ve become too liturgical to really fit in FBCSA anymore, I grew up there: the people there already know me. I miss Pastor Don and Stephen C. and the community I was once a member of. With every church I’ve been to since, I’ve had to start over. Again and again I’ve experienced the bad combination of a friendly yet sufficient congregation and a shy visitor. I could probably write a guide book for churches on how to be more effective in reaching out to newcomers. But, I’m going to keep giving this church a chance. It isn’t quite Emmanuel Episcopal—ironically enough, I think Emmanuel was more high church than this one is! And Emmanuel had a younger congregation, too—but it is familiar. And maybe after a few more Sundays, the rector will know I’m a master’s student and not a high schooler.

My second niece turns FIVE today! Happy Birthday, Sarah!

And, for your amusement, an excerpt from the latest chapter of Bede:

…..Nafis stopped when he saw the corners of her lips twitch in what he now recognized as a smirk. He became incredulous. “He had me juggling teacups!” Nafis exclaimed. “Teacups! With tea in them!”
….“Some people juggle geese,” Sofia replied with a straight face.
…..Nafis stared at her, speechless. She had heard of the strange customs of the tribal people south of Arkadia, and wondered if he had. “Little goslings in the air,” she continued blithely.

The Books Will Fit

My room exploded.

Less than two weeks from my departure and I realize I’ve been silent on the subject of Moving. Even though my wardrobe has regurgitated itself, it still hasn’t quite sunk in that I’m actually leaving. I said to Megan today (she called me! from the other side of the world!) that I’m in “suspended disbelief.” I have no end-date in mind: I bought a one-way ticket to Scotland, with half-formed plans to go to Spain afterward, and a tangle of options for after that. It is hard to work into my head that I am going to be in school again, now that August has come and gone and I have yet to step into a classroom. Term doesn’t start until September 29th.

As I told Andrew, I doubt I’ll really realize that I’m in Scotland until I’ve turned in my first paper. Half the time it seems I’m unaware of where I am, as my mind is mostly preoccupied with people who aren’t present or who don’t exist. Location is irrelevant; the mind is everywhere. The past few days I’ve been ultra-aware of my surroundings, as if trying to etch each image into my memory: scrubby trees competing with the cluttered horizon of streetlights and signs, by-products of urban sprawl, or the fields and pastures that have hitherto been untouched, but will indubitably be “developed” upon my return. As we drove up to Canyon Lake yesterday, I was awash with memories of what had once been a familiar drive up to Spring Branch. Back when the Kissingers still lived with their parents, when we still had Fun Days, when we all still orbited San Antonio; but now I am adrift, speeding into the unknown. I remember the nighttime drives back to San Antonio, and Drew and I would end up playing leapfrog. I always let him win, because I was more afraid. More responsible, you might say.

We went sailing. It was good. If we can, we might go again next week. The Sunfish:

Outta this town

In approximately 4.85 hours I will be in McKinney, TX. Kelly and I will go to Panera Bread for lunch and stay for no less than three hours, as we reacquaint ourselves with Sofia and Nafis and hammer out the details for The Novel, including, hopefully, a working title. We will then proceed to her home where more book talk will commence. We will watch at least one episode of Firefly. There will be a ferret.

About the weather

“It’s hot outside!” I hear my coworkers exclaim whenever they come back from lunch, stepping into the cool air-conditioned building. I normally nod and give a forced smile. My initial, unspoken, response is, “Is this unexpected?” I, too, have made comments about the weather, though generally it is preceded by, “Ugh,” and then, “It’s hot outside.” A statement, said flatly, not ending in rising inflection indicating surprise or question. Yes. It’s San Antonio. In August. It’s hot outside. Anything else really would be unexpected.

We are borg

I startled the nurses at Feddinch Medical Practice by calling them today, all the way from the U.S., because I wanted to make sure my medications would be “relevant” over there. They were kind and efficient, and my long-distance call didn’t last more than five minutes. Luckily my health conditions deal more with maintaining the status quo than actively treating anything. And: no worries, that will be done over there as easily as it is here, and I just need to register with a GP, make an appointment, and then we’ll get it all sorted out.

My lazy day off isn’t going to be so lazy after all. Errands must be run, paperwork must be done, and I must continue sorting through my belongings and throwing out/giving away/otherwise getting rid of things that aren’t necessary, or no longer relevant. Fortunately, I don’t have that much stuff, and I know I can live out of two suitcases, because I’ve done it before. You really don’t need much to survive. Material things are nice sometimes, but definitely not necessary to life. The bulk of my belongings is my books, and my parents are okay with housing my library until we know I’m going to stay in one place long enough to justify moving twenty boxes of books and their relative bookcases. I still might get to lounge in my PJs and knit and watch Braveheart today, so… 🙂
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