Monday, January 29, 2007

Makes the heart grow fonder

I'm really trying to avoid starting every post with an excuse about why I don't post more often, but don't seem to be making a very good job of it. I always sort of assume that nobody actually reads this anyways, until I get a surprise complaint about how I haven't written anything in weeks. It's strange, like when people tell me they've heard me on the radio (an even more public activity that I usually treat like a private exercise).
In any case, I'm fully back in school mode, to the point where it's hard to imagine ever being out of it. I have a pretty light schedule in terms of actually having to show up for class (Tuesdays & Thursdays, plus one discussion section Wednesday), but that's balanced by taking two seminars that each require 300+ pages of reading a week. By the end of the semester, my eyes will either be buff, finely honed machines or weeping holes.
It's not even February yet, and I'm already sick to death of snow. It's hard not to view it as just a hassle, making the roads slippery, getting in my eyes. On the way home today, though, I slowed down and took the time to watch how softly the flakes settle down out of the sky, to recapture a little bit of the wonder snow awoke as a kid, in a place where it was rare enough that housewives got into scuffles over milk at the threat of a few inches.
I have such mixed feelings about the Midwest. Most of the time I feel smothered here, uncomfortable, like my edges are too sharp to be able to fit in. It was immensely reassuring to visit the East Coast and feel at home again, like maybe my problems are geographical rather than temperamental.
At the same time, though, I've gotten incredibly attached to the physical feel of this region, especially in winter. The flat, wide expanses and great gnarled oaks. Frozen lakes, dun fields, lurid pink sunsets and the moiré of snow blowing on pavement.
I miss mountains, sometimes, and the ocean so badly it hurts, but I have come to love the simple, generous, open space in this part of the world.
It's easy, though, to feel affection for a place I know I'll be leaving in just a few months. The expectation of absence, evidently, makes the heart grow fonder.
Which should not, in any way, be construed to mean that I'm not absolutely dying to get the hell out of this place.

Friday, January 05, 2007

This page was getting a bit text heavy, so here's a recent self-portrait of me not working on grad school applications...
I actually wrote a very long post last week, only to have it disappear when my computer crashed (a problem which has become increasingly frequent and disturbing).
In any case, there’s not a great deal new in my life. Being on “break” basically means doing the same things I do during the semester, but at a lower intensity. I still have to work on grad school applications and my thesis, but in between I get to do a bit more sleeping, eating, socializing, and reading (just finished “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” about an epileptic Hmong girl and her family’s misadventures with Western Medicine – highly recommended) and watching movies (the lowest descent being “Legally Blond 2” the bizarre animal rights film of the decade and highly NOT recommended, though probably less brain damaging then a night of heavy drinking).
I’ve also recently gotten the news that all 9 of the prisoners I visited in the Philippines have been released without charges. I was very worried about their physical and mental health in prison, so it’s fantastic news, though slightly marred by the fact that they lost 10 months for a crime it was stunningly obvious they had nothing to do with, and will never receive any restitution for the jail time or the physical and psychological torture they received at the hands of the police and military.
On a totally selfish note, it means that a rather large commitment I made to translate interviews from Tagalog no longer needs to be fulfilled -- or at least not with any urgency -- so I have more time for loafing over my break.
I’m also preparing for a much needed escape from the Midwest, a trip to New York and DC that begins next week. I’m sure that Madison will be a fantastic place to come back and visit, but living here is driving me nuts and I’m champing at the bit to get away for good.
Incidentally, for those that read my previous post, I finally got a new bag. It’s less chic than the old one, but I can carry my belongings with confidence, and I’m sure that in time I’ll become irrationally attached to this one as well.