Posts Tagged ‘America’

Winter Journey

1 December 2013 13 comments

I spent quite some time during fall term sorting through travel plans and working out a final route, and while that gave me a vague sense of how big this journey is supposed to feel, upon actually embarking, I felt quite unready, if only because of the three term paper submissions and lack of sleep that marked the end of term. This is an index post for my logs.


My days in Chicago are the start of this 6-week journey alone. I think I’ve been happy overall, and Chicago is a charming city.

Interim Post: Update from the Middle [December 16]

By the time I posted this, I’d been through Chicago, Ann Arbor, San José, San Francisco, and Santa Barbara. I wrote this on the flight to Newark International from San Francisco, where I would be meeting my relatives to stay over Christmas and the New Year.

Ann Arbor

San José (Ethics Bowl)

By the time I wrote this, I was back at Carleton for Winter Term.

San Francisco, Part 1

Completed by the first week of Spring Term!

More to come.

Categories: Events Tags: , ,

An Update, In Time

26 October 2013 Leave a comment

Time for a rare present-referencing update (i.e. one that is neither backdated nor otherwise delocalized)!

Many of the past weeks have been grey ones. In my first weeks here, especially, I think I struggled with how everything else going on seemed brighter and louder, somehow, than I was used to. At the time I put it down to orientation fatigue – I had, after all, come straight in to orientations and New Student Week here, after our own marathon FOP.

But while I wasn’t totally wrong about the loudness and general effusive socializing being New Student Week things, that wasn’t quite all of it. The fatigue was more general, and fatigue wasn’t (I found) all.

Life has shifted in the most recent weeks. I think I have an idea about when it started, and I hope to finish writing about that soon. I’ve noticed the shift in the quality of the little things I do and respond to every day. I had one of those times yesterday, when I was reading the final stretch of Embassytown by China Miéville. This was actually my second time reading the same chapters, the first time being in my first week here (I’d started on the novel on the journey). Unlike the first time, however, I found myself feeling powerfully moved almost throughout the entire stretch. It was agonizing, or excruciating (and I can’t find a word that doesn’t connote badness). I don’t think I was completely oblivious to the poignancy the first time, but I think the difference was that my knowing it was there didn’t mean I had the heart to be there.

The first read-through was in no way a waste – I loved the ideas, and those ideas have been deliciously pertinent to what I’ve been doing in class (linguistics and philosophy). It also seemed as good a story as any to leave home with; themes like alien-ness and home and voyaging were there, although it wasn’t until the second time that some things resonated.

Which brings me back to the resonant present, in which words come a bit more freely, music animates slightly more, and the heart has more room for impressions – these being what follows when the marks of pressure have faded some, and the deformations from past constrictions have had time to fill out: not reversed, but (perhaps this might be the way to think of it) newly formed. That’s most of the update. The last bit is that I’ve been thinking properly about those great big ideas again (I’ve missed those), and maybe Econ/EL might be the way to go.

I’m not going to be able to do proper justice right here to the remembering that’s taken place over the past five weeks, the crucible that was my final few months in Singapore, or my life in USP and with USC in the past year or so. I know it all sounds terribly heavy and depressing; it often kind of was. In addition to the fatigue I mentioned, there was also disappointment, and grief. The grief I will remember here in time.

As for the disappointment, it has little to do with any notions of legacy. I cannot claim that I am immune to such thoughts, but I can claim that I’ve largely been spared the kind of dull, carping anxiety that attends to such thoughts, especially recently. It’s helped that I honestly feel glad about much more than I thought I would at first, and that disentangling, in my mind, those whom I care for from those for whom I could care less has largely been the opposite of disappointing.

There were other kinds of disappointment, but they’ve attenuated. I don’t feel let down as much, now that I’m not suffering; it’s not that the feeling attended the suffering, just that it’s easier to feel let down when you’re having a hard time. It’s also helped to have acknowledged and then let go of resentment. I’ve had time to do that.

I know it all sounds terrible, which is not quite what I intended three paragraphs ago. What I meant to stress was that through it all I knew much good, gained much, and am grateful to many. And I feel I should add that I am more convinced than ever that blessedness of this sort does not preclude the recognition of the bad stuff. It’s true also that some of the bad stuff persists, but it is another blessedness that contempt need not persist.

For a time, it regularly seemed that it was as much as I could do to resist resignation. For a time after that, it seemed good enough to have endured, and avoided resignation. In the present time, I walk into something better than even that, and I remember a time from before when I believed it would be so.

Categories: Reflection Tags: , ,