I’m currently back east in Vermont, attending my one-week-every-six-months residency for school, and it has been an interesting experience thus far.
First off: I did not finish my prior semester. I came very close, and could have taken an extension, but I opted to instead just start a fresh new semester instead (since either way you look at it, either would push my graduation from April 2005 to October 2005). I’m feeling pretty good about that, especially since I should be able to reapply some of the work I did last semester and thus still get credit for it after a fashion. I was kind of dreading coming back for the residency, because (and this is, in fact, how I’ve been describing it), I haven’t been feeling very smurfy about it. It was NOT a smurfy semester.
It hasn’t been very smurfy for a lot of people, apparently. A considerable number either didn’t finish, barely finished, or are taking a leave or extension. The residency has had a very odd (and in some ways creepy) vibe so far (I’m four days in, and I’ll get to why I haven’t written up to now in a second). That said, I’ve had a chance to socialize and even make some new friends, and that feels really good after being a bit of a shut-in for the past six months.
So, Friday, we drove up for the first day of the residency. Uri had picked up Andy (another student) from the airport earlier in the day, and we were all riding up together. It was Andy who coined the use of “smurfy”, actually, but I’ve continued to use it because it fit. I hadn’t really expected the fact that all three of us in the car hadn’t managed to finish that semester to be so significantly indicative of the rest of the population. Either way, good conversations on the trip up.
I got there, and went to the returning group meeting regardless of the fact that I hadn’t finished, and Tom ended up asking me to talk anyway (if I was willing), so I ended up giving a presentation of what work I’d completed on Saturday. Other than that, I was largely done. I managed to speak to the three advisors I needed to by Sunday, so Monday was largely an empty day. Rather than sit around, though, Uri came up to visit, and he, Andy, and myself went for a hike out past Noble Hall. There’s a field and a hill with some trails (essentially cowpaths) that lead out to an old slate quarry from the turn of the century. It’s all fenced off, but there are a few spots where the fence has fallen over, and you can walk right up to the edge and look down into it. We also managed to find the trail that leads INTO the quarry, which was really cool (literally, the place was still filled with snow).
I used to talk about and feel much more in tune with the spiritual energy of myself and the world. I distanced myself from it at some point and feel it missing pretty regularly, but have not yet managed to really get back to it. Wandering around, I felt the vestiges of it again, and that felt good. There was a spot above the quarry that felt old, older than the trees in it, much in the same way that I sense something very different in the woods above my parents’ house. Right near the entrance to the quarry, I felt a large well of energy to my left, and sure enough, there was an old campsite there, with a firepit made out of massive slate slabs. The inside of the quarry also felt very powerful, like a reservoir of energy was collecting there. Fascinating stuff. Tim, I think you’d really dig it. Either that or get freaked out about it, as I’m not sensitive enough right now to be able to discern scary energy from just energy in general.
The view from those fields was fantastic, let me tell you. Except for the fact that the weather is now rainy and cold (beautiful and good hiking temperature yesterday), I’d go up there again, with my camera this time. Perhaps later in the week, or at the very least, next residency. You can see both Mansfield and Camelback very clearly, in the same view. I’d really missed just the natural order of things, I think. Seattle is a very green city, which I like and keeps me sane, but staying sane and really savoring nature are two different things. This is not a maintained park, this simply IS. That’s a bigger difference than some might think.
Returning to just why I haven’t posted yet (normally I’m very good about posting while at residency): they have decided to shut off network access in the laptop lab, and will not allow you to plug in your laptop in the main computer lab. Basically, they expect the students using laptops, who are flying in from all over the world to use dial-up. And forget being able to print unless you brought a printer.
There is absolutely no call for this, but it’s “the policy”. Suffice it to say, this summer I will be working on getting the policy changed. This means writing letters to the board of directors and making my case. Not looking forward to yet another thing that I have to do because no one else is really in a position to do so. So today I finally got fed up with having to find half-assed workarounds, and marched into the lab, sat down in front of an unused computer, took the ethernet cable out of it, and plugged it into my laptop. I argued with the IT guy there until he finally gave up, took down my name, and walked away. So I may get into some trouble, but I’m willing to argue it until my voice is gone if necessary. I definitely inherited my father’s penchant for tilting at windmills (well, you have to admit you at the very least used to). It’s not that I like to, it’s not that I really have the time or energy to do so, it’s just that if I see something that I find outrageous and ignorant, then I just have to do SOMETHING about it. There are lots of people who are around for social and political outrage, and perhaps that’s why I don’t end up feeling angrier about those. But technology policymakers being ignorant and paranoid about technology… let’s face it, I’m a technical evangelist, and if I could get paid for it, I’d probably be quite good at it in a professional capacity.
Ah well, I’m getting off track.
I got to see everyone before coming to residency (I’m aware that this post is somewhat discombobulated and completely irreverent towards the concept of time and linear progression. Frankly I’m glad, it suits the week), which was really nice. We did a massive trip to Koto on Thursday night, which was great fun. Adam and Ann and Addison, Margot and Leah, Chris and Gloria, Eli, myself, Uri, and my parents. Lots of yummy food, and everyone wished that Mickey had been able to come with me on the trip, as they all miss her desperately (as do I, and it’s only been a week for me!).
It was interesting getting to play with Addison (whom I got to “play” with more than Leah, who is still only 3 or so months old and thus not even crawling). Addison was delightful, and I think Adam and Ann are doing very well with raising her. She seems like a happy baby, and got great fun out of peek-a-boo and having a hand to hold while she wobbled on two legs around Dave and Margot’s house. It’s times like that, when babies are being playful and wonderful, that make me kind of wish that I had a child of my own. Most of the time I’m neutral on it, and default to not wanting them because Mickey doesn’t want children. But I really had a hard, HARD time saying as much that night. I don’t know.
Of course, being the dufus that I am, I left my camera at Uri’s place that night, so I don’t have pictures of the babies. Needless to say Mickey wasn’t happy, as she wanted to see the babies. Hopefully I’ll get to hang out again this weekend, and will definitely correct it if so (Ann? Margot? A little help here?).
I should have made a list of things I wanted to talk about, as I know there was more I wanted to say (so much to say), but at the moment I’m drawing a blank. Hmm, oh, wait! This isn’t something any of you will understand as you weren’t there, but Blythe is one hell of an individual. I went to her faculty presentation, and, well… wow. I won’t go into details, but I will say that.
Okay, another thing is coming to me. Spiritual disconnection. Distancing. I’ve discovered that I’m a skitterish soul to some degree, and become overwhelmed and disconnected when I come across people who are too intensely into their respective spirituality. Almost like the feeling of extremity makes it feel false to me (despite the fact that it likely is not false at all), and I shy away from that avenue for fear of becoming like that. It’s a fine line for me, to balance between being passionately involved, and to be taking it to an obsessive extreme. So instead I end up walking the other line: the line between impartiality (mediocrity?) and passion. The nature of this program has made me really realize that, because I am surrounded by people in various states of exploring their own spirituality. (“In a mirror, everything is reversed, but still the same.”)
Okay, I just got done chatting with another classmate, and I’m now completely sidetracked, so I’ll leave it here. I may continue sometime later. Be well folks, and leave lots of comments, I like hearing from you.
So… who is going to build that “Wandering Ways: The Cliff Notes” site?