Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Yup, and now December is today.

A good day, too! Ordered pizza for a change--in fact, got it delivered. Another Lithuanian first. The boxes didn't read "Ginos" and Daniel didn't "make the call" and it came to the reception desk instead of "the guys upstairs" in dorm... but it was almost undergrad again. I'll admit it: I was trying to mentally transmogrify the paper piles in my office into poker and Braveheart (twice, in a row). It didn't work. All I could summon was a few twinges of guilt as the occasional student walked by the lounge... where fine, upstanding faculty members sprawled on leather couches, looking sheepish and using their ripped pizza-box covers as makeshift plates. Hmmm... remember Calvin, Hobbes, and their transmogrifier? I could probably use an upside-down cardboard box right about now.

*******

The end of an academic term always seems like some weird sort of vortex. I guess I've come at this from various angles over the years, but it's true. It's like when you pull the plug in the bathtub and the water lowers until suddenly a funnel appears and the rest of the water rushes out with a loud sucking noise. That last part always seems to happen twice as fast.

*******

Did I mention that Casey and I are thinking of moving into a new apartment, should we be able to find one? Apparently brand-new doesn't necessarily mean brand-name, quality-wise. It's not that the occasional leak in ceiling or window is that bad (unless you happen to have your entire American-exported library on your window-shelf--still feeling your pain, Casey), it's just that we're so far away from the action. Recently we overhauled our living-room layout--Anna and others insist it's too "modern." But we do all right, sprawled out on our respective couches (yes, lots of couch-sprawling, it fills in the gaps). Don't worry about us too much though: I asked Casey and even he admits the place is starting to feel more homey. Also, if you leave the windows open just a crack, there's no condensation.

*******

All of this to say that it's been an absolutely fascinating semester. Some months seemed to drag out forever (October), others didn't seem to want to show themselves (November), but the end of Semester Number One is now upon us. Sure, I have a hundred-some-odd hours of marking left (you were right Kate, never do the math... it feels better to exaggerate anyway :) but there's a strong feeling of accomplishment that's already beginning to build. Not to mention the grin that is at this point quite irrepressible: a certain someone is wandering around London as I write this. Ah certain someones :)

Anyway, the Master List of my Organized Week and I are currently locked in mortal combat. En garde! I've been using my powers to keep it at bay (its own powers are not to be underestimated), but this has been encouragingly easy to do, mostly due to my constant excision of list items: coupe! Or perhaps: fleche! (Adam? Is that the fencing term describing the move where you run past the opponent after launching off of your lead foot in an attack resembling an arrow? Just kidding: I already looked it up) But now I'm hopelessly entangled in a fencing metaphor, so we should move on.

Which means back to work. Rest assured, there is much more to come. Consider this a teaser-trailer for Prague, Austria, and a castle in the mountains. Ah the holidays.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Impossible! December is TOMORROW!?!

All right, so I don't actually have any regrets about November, but that's only because I didn't realize I was in it. December. I guess the Christmas decorations and the dress rehearsals (for the Christmas program: I'm on vocal choir and finger-cymbal duty... bell choir is students only) and the tinsel in my hair should have tipped me off.

If I were a daily blogger instead of sitting somewhere around biweekly that might have helped too.

So it's the typical term-end rush, but kind of inverted. Or maybe a sin* curve + 1 instead of 1 over: the students breathe their mighty knowledges onto many pages and the teachers stick around to clean up the mess. School seems very untidy these days.

And yes, the adventures of the first-timer continue. Someone asked me in an email if I was finding a bit more of a routine. Yes, I've been routine-finding a bit. I've also been shortening the long hours and balancing my sanity better. That doesn't mean the occasional egregious error doesn't crop up, but we're making it through.

It's even, at the bottom of it all, kind of fun :)

So now I'm off to make Indian food with some fellow late-nighters... then it's back to the office for some quick emails and a lesson plan or two. Good times all around.

Let it be noted that when Lithuania snows, it's really beautiful.

Peace,
Jared

*pronounced "sine," not "sin." Math, not religion. Although aren't the two--? Never mind.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Who doesn't like really good free stuff? Google Analytics does some pretty awesome free website analysis. I'd never bothered with visit counters and so on. Now I get cool graphs and stuff, for free! Lose twenty pounds! Okay, maybe not that last part.

How's life in Lithuania been the last little while? Pretty good. Coming back from Fall Break was a bit of a kick in the teeth, but it finally started to snow, and now everything feels fresh and clean again. I'm sure there's lots of stuff that will need to get done before Christmas, but it doesn't seem overwhelming today. We're in the semi-finals in volleyball, I don't have to emergency-relief that solo for the Christmas program (on Dec. 2nd and 3rd! Papa sang bass...), and well, marking. Grading! Sorry, keep forgetting.

I guess I'm supposed to have pictures or stories here or something, but this is just a momentary procrastination. So in a mental rush, here's a list of some of those small cultural differences that creep up on you every day:
    OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD:

    well, the currency is called the "lita," but more importantly:

  • light switches are hip-height, and *outside the bathroom* (hope you don't have hip-height kids)

  • you have to "clamp" your bus tickets like a time-card: holes are bus-specific

  • walking by parked cars? there's often people in them

  • everyone has cell phones. I mean this literally.

  • windows open at the top, not just the side

  • all four wheels are turnable on shopping carts

  • your heating depends on everyone else

  • there are no driers; my washing machine cycle is 2h 45m

  • very little public conversation, and it's never "boisterous"

  • the air is wet

  • the countryside is beautiful

  • potato farmers! using tractors and horses

  • van taxis, aka "pocket rockets"

  • pointed dress shoes... for guys

  • wedding procession? Must be a Saturday.

  • high heels are the rule... cobblestones nothing!

  • my ATM advises me to "keep your money in a secret"...

  • which is good for PIN codes too, cause there's no personal space in lines...

  • which you're often waiting in: cashiers insist on exact change... often plucking it from offered hands

  • "Iki" - the grocery store name that means "see you later!"

  • female janitors in male bathrooms... common occurrence! I mean really, mopping under my stall? LEAVE ME MY DIGNITY!

  • the sport is basketball, not hockey


  • FOOD:

  • fried stale-bread sticks and garlic... with cheese

  • 1%? 2%? nope! sour cream is 35%! (or more)

  • your milk is already expired

  • ...unless it came in a box, in which case it expires in two years... unless you open it, then two days

  • pizza sauce tastes like ketchup, but so does everything else

  • sandwich meat: roast beef? chicken? turkey? nope. ham.

  • pork!

  • cabbage!

  • potatos!

  • (beef? chicken?)

  • there's no such thing as fast food

  • there's no such thing as preservatives (yet fridges are either nearly empty or... not there)

  • there's no thing so good as the bacon here... it's almost Canadian Back

  • missing: oh, baby carrots, syrup, dill pickles, salsa, roast anything, a big, juicy burger...


  • And, as a bonus, THE BEACH:

  • wooden booths to change in on the sand at the beach... hope you don't mind showing your ankles!

  • nude beaches... sure, what's so funny?

  • trunks? nope, speedos only

  • two words: sauna, snow

I know, I know: "there's a lot more!" or, "that's not true!" but hey, give a guy a break. I miss you too.

Monday, November 07, 2005

My Partners in Crime

As promised, several more photos are up over on my Flickr account. Here are some of the highlights.

First, a trip to Ramsiske and Kaunas in October. Ramsiske is a heritage village along the lines of Doon in Kitchener-Waterloo, only much bigger (park size). In other words, buildings and terrain are left as they were in much older times, concrete paths lead visitors from farm to farm (to windmill), and during the summer people live there in the old ways... kind of an open-air museum. At Ramsiske, the walking paths lead to several different landscapes; the unique geography reflects all four major regions of Lithuania. The place was definitely a time-warp: the dark bogs made believing in witches suddenly seem less preposterous, and I would not have been surprised if Teutonic knights had burst from the trees to raze the windmill:


Ramsiske

Having the use of a coach bus for the day, our scattered collection of faculty then went to tour Kaunas. But first we visited Fort IX, the last and best-known "political prison" in Lithuania. The prison was a major part of Lithuania's execution of over one hundred thousand Jews in WWII; ethnic cleansing was at its most effective in the Baltic countries, behind only Poland. The experience was another moving one, and touring the grounds with my friend Rina (both of whose grandparents had escaped the Kaunas ghetto) only made it more tangible. I think I understood the persecution in my own family a bit better. I didn't have my camera, but Jen took a poignant shot of the powerful memorial erected on the hill outside the prison:


Memorial at Fort IX

The jagged concrete branches are turned into faces and fists, thrusting from the ground in pain and defiance. A difficult event to remember, but the memorial seemed fitting to me.

******

After several more teaching-packed weeks, fall break finally arrived. I don't remember the first three days, cause I was pretty much sleeping, but after that short recovery time, I was ready for action again. On Tuesday a few of the faculty that hadn't gone anywhere extravagant (yet) travelled to Kretinga for All Saints' Day. In Lithuania, All Saints' Day (Nov. 1) is a national holiday where the deceased are remembered with flowers, candles, and prayers. The cemetaries were full, though the sun was bright and the prevailing mood did not seem melancholic. We stopped by a Franciscan church that several LCC faculty had attended before on the way:


Franciscan Church, Kretinga

My own tour was... extensive. There are far too many cool old buildings to explore!

******

And finally, after all the options had come and gone with various degrees of planning and politics, I walked into the Eurolines office and bought a bus ticket to Berlin. What a deeply amazing city. The people, architecture, history... it was a wonderful few days. Maybe it's the German in my background, but I felt very comfortable there--I could definitely see myself living in Berlin at some point. The Pergamon Museum (excavations of antiquity), Berggruen Museum (private art collection, friend of Picasso's, included Matisse and Klee in addition to an astonishing number of orginal Picasso works), and a lot of glorious walking filled my time. I took many pictures, but really, I just wish you could be seeing it with me!


Underneath Berlin


Tiergarten in Autumn


The Parliamentary Chambers from Above


My Partners in Crime

Now it's back to marking (sorry, "grading," as my American friends insist) and other teaching adventures. It looks as though I'll be teaching 20th Century Literature and Public Speaking next term, so hey! Let's just keep mixing it up :)

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The ashes of several discarded drafts sift behind me in the swirl of my furious passing. Yet the silence must be broken.

I have been busy. Since I have last written I have become a Lithuanian Business Consultant, watched autumn march across the Baltic states, touched ruins of the Berlin wall, marked papers, trod through the Ishtar gate of Babylon, shared smiles with Cameron Diaz, travelled Poland, breathed on the brushstrokes of a private collection of over 80 Picasso originals, read A.S. Byatt's "Possession," gazed on the churches of Riga, graded exams, joined a procession for the dead on All Saint's Day, trespassed the steeple of a Franciscan cathedral, tripped over love, stood on Lithuania's Hill of Crosses, passed under a Quadriga claimed by both Napolean and Hitler, read Alfred Senn's "Lithuania Awakening," prayed for sanity, slept on the park bench of a Prussian King, wrote a letter, and had my hair cut by a friend.

Which of these is untrue? I challenge you to prove false even one. Which of these is the most unlikely? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, slightly demonic-looking, Cameron Diaz on an escalator (far left):


Cameron Diaz

And the carpet she walked in on:


The crowds came later

I am quickly outpacing (have long outpaced?) my ability to keep up the documentation of these events, but I will do my utmost to get more pictures up at least. I have somehow managed to stand strong before an onslaught of emails--even returning most of them--so if there's a specific story you'd like to hear, I'd try that route.

Dear reader, this is not to say I've abandoned you. Instead, I will apply my meagre abilities only more strongly on your behalf.

Thanks for all the notes, thoughts, and prayers... considering that the above is about 2% of my life here (teaching being the other 98), you are all that has been keeping me going.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

At the risk of becoming tour-guide Jared, I feel I should mention another moment where my sense of Lithuania experienced a significant shift. We visited an abandoned Soviet missile silo.

Tourist attractions often seem like shortcuts to me, almost a way of cheating. There's a sheen that hints at something slightly distasteful underneath. I guess I'm still swayed by the argument that "raw" truth is somehow more "real." Probably it's just that I'm media-saturated enough to resent manipulation--whatever the case, I prefer to take my experience unfiltered when I can get it.

Sometimes, truly, the mundane is more moving. We turned off on a non-descript gravel road, drove for a while, then hung a right onto a concrete pathway made up of oddly-shaped blocks. "That's for tank treads." Ah, that makes sense--as if the sense it made somehow detracted from the unconcealed military intent.

*******

The silos themselves were carefully unassuming. Again, the field under which lay the facilities and equipment needed to launch four, 72-foot, nuclear-capable rockets within 10 kilometers of a designated target resembled nothing more than a pasture with a few concrete lumps. Only barbed wire remained of what was once a system of guard towers and electronic intrusion detectors.


A Missile Silo Site

We explored the grass and rust of the abandoned field for a while, but when a tour bus showed up the experience took a turn for the surreal. My friend Thor was along and managed to hitch us on to the tour group, which was an odd assortment of older and younger Lithuanians. A youth group of some sort? None of them seemed visibly foreign to me; this was no internationally advertised site. They carried open beer bottles nonchalantly, smoked a cigarette or two, and generally made up the type of wise-cracking, studiously uninterested tour group you see the world over.

*******

There were no safety rails or guideposts, only the stripped-down, swiftly rusting remnants of what was once the focal point of a global tension that skirted some pretty severe consequences. A few remnants of Communist decor and some soldiers' equipment. A uniform and the radio room. The tunnels were damp, the stairs unsafe, and the ladders and platforms precarious.


A Tunnel Underground



A Crumbling Doorway

It was small. If you were to imagine being stationed there, it would seem claustrophobic, boring, and humming with a slightly hysterical tension, all at the same time. Walking through the rooms was a bit easier to grasp, something one could probably get used to, but the greater significance of the place was difficult to ignore.


Standing at the Lip

The silos themselves were full of water... ground seepage due to the lack of maintenance. Surprisingly, the site was operational as late as 1978. Indeed, the compass markings on the metal housing were still clear, and as we circled the lip of the silo it was easy to imagine the soldiers and engineers clambering around, keeping everything working. The group was jocular (though when some joker turned out the lights the collective gasp was perhaps a touch more frightened then it could have been), and Thor translated some of the facts the guide was sharing. Peering through the rusty grating underfoot and tapping the metal to hear the boom was quite the experience, especially surrounded by a foreign language in a context out of some disconnected past.

*******

But the truly sublime moment came when some of the men began singing a foreign anthem in their deepest and most operatic baritone. Many of the others joined in. I don't know what the song meant to them, and I suppose I never will, but hearing their voices echoing through the crumbling chambers--the container of what was once the delivery system of human-engineered, large-scale destruction--struck a chord somewhere deep, deep inside.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Orvidas' house

Has it really only been three and a half weeks? Extraordinary. Something about traveling makes life seem more intense... the past few weeks still seem vivid, full.

And by full I mean busy. Whew. In the past ten days I've taught my first ever university classes, toured the countryside, succeeded in purchasing a cell-phone (but not yet an umbrella), and finally (hopefully) figured out a bus/food/sleep/prep schedule that won't leave me curled up on the floor of my office sleeping for a few captured moments between lesson plans. I mean sure, I knew teaching was a lot of work, but this? Okay, so it's not that bad, but I'm finding that the learning curve is steep and the constant pressure to keep the quality lecture output going will take some getting used to. Tonight, the prospect sounds like a rush... last Wednesday? Not so much.

Still, in between the fourteen some-odd hour workdays, the staff has been conspiring to snatch as much time as possible away from the LCC bubble in order to capture more pieces of Lithuania. It's one of those cases where the more you learn, the less you know--a slow, complex realization. Someone used the phrase "subtle beauty" in describing Lithuania, and that has proven itself true to me several times over in the last few days.

The first real cultural heritage site I visited said "Orvidu Sodyba - Muziejus" on the sign at the entrance. Hidden away in the countryside is a small farmstead owned by the late Vilius Orvidas. Originally a monk, the Soviet occupation forced him to abandon monkhood and take up a trade; he chose to carve wood and rock sculptures for gravestone markers. However, in the collection of sculptures he kept in his yard he hid Christian artwork salvaged from local cemeteries: cemeteries being taken down under Soviet rule.

The resulting collection is moving: haphazard, unorganized (perhaps by some unknown system?)... a strangely fitting setting for both salvaged and self-taught art. Tourist books give it several monikers: "The Absurd Town," "open-air museum," but none of them do it justice. To come across an old woman in her garden, supported by those who pay a few litas to see the work of someone from her past, is a humbling collision of histories.

The original farmhouse:


Orvidas' home.

Many of the carvings blend naturally into their surroundings:


A Tree-Person

Others are forgotten in untidy corners:


Tucked Away

And some seem to whisper at the intrusion:


Up to no good.



We spent a long time clambering over rocks and under logs that were notched and decorated with metal and greenery. As we left, we took some final pictures: of a tank that had been abandoned in a nearby ditch after WWII and placed near the entrance of the museum. To someone from the dusty openness of Canadian prairie, this culture seems rich, sombre, and deeply layered.


Vestiges

Friday, August 19, 2005

And I'm in Lithuania. Just like that. Sit on a chair for a while, wander around Frankfurt airport, sit on a chair for a while, wander around Vilnius airport, sit on a chair for a while, say hi to your new apartment. Easy. Sure, the chairs move and there's talking and people and movies and sleeping and the lack thereof, but hey, pretty soon it's 11am and you're eating lunch under the midday sun even though your body is simultaneously thinking "It's three AM!" and "I need to run around!" while random hitch-hikers eat cold, pink borscht and say things you only hope aren't either racial slurs or comments about the city you're planning to spend the next year in.

It's great here though. At least, the transition is eased in every way possible and everything seems full of potential for both challenge and reward. I keep hearing the phrase "honeymoon period" (in the culture shock sense of the phrase), but even filtering for that there are lots of things to get excited about. Or perhaps simply be deeply appreciative and thankful for. For instance, I'm sharing an apartment with a student-life coordinator named Casey--he's a great guy, and the only creature comforts we're missing are a washing machine and a clothes drier. Everything is new (our kitchen was put in on Wednesday), shiny, and ready to be transformed into a comfortable space to refresh and recharge. Sure, the prevailing attitude toward our 25 minute walk to work will fluctuate, and downtown is another 25 minutes past the college, but it's quiet, private, and our landlady speaks English, which puts us a few steps ahead of most of our colleagues.

Colleagues. Yes, suddenly I'm part of a faculty. The faculty. My faculty. It's great: the nature of LCC's location means that there is an extraordinarily deep and dynamic group of people serving here. Orientation is come and gone, and by the time jet-lag has done the same all of my new problems like pronouncing names and oh, you know, teaching, will have at least partially seeped into my brain. But the knowledge that everyone else here has made similar choices and faces similar challenges makes my own situation seem a little less farfetched. As in, *of course* there are people that turn down high-paying positions to go and volunteer in a small Eastern European country at an even smaller Christian university where one in four staff have never *been* to Lithuania before let alone taught there. Some of those people have four kids under the age of eleven. And brought them. It's a wonderful and vibrant alternative way of thinking about work, and it moves beyond the ruts and tracks of our usual attitude toward stability and our dependence on it into a deeper understanding of community and how we should be using our gifts. It also provides a lot to think about when I should be preparing my next lesson plan.

There are already a million other details I'm not including (from food to transportation) that all seem new and different, but even when those things fade or become annoying there is a richness here that I'm looking forward to exploring. And finally, it's great to be actually starting after all the emotional and mental questioning and preparation; from here on in it's the crunch of day-to-day and all the mood swings and reliance that comes with it. Once again I find myself in a place I could never have imagined or planned on my own; in a year's time, who knows what God will have taught me... or what he has planned for me next.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Well, last post from home in Manitoba before heading out. I don't think I've ever appreciated spending quality time at home with the family more. Decompressing after the Masters, figuring out the future, finding my head again... time off can be so healthy. Now it's just the rush of leaving for new beginnings. I've been getting some emails from fellow LCC staff; there's going to be some great people converging on this one small spot up in North-Eastern Europe, and some guaranteed good times. Can hardly wait.

For now though, gotta pack up the computer for my sister to use for the next year, throw some clothes in my pack (maybe a toothbrush), then away we go. One more 24+ hour road trip to the K-Dubs, one more week of quality chilling, and then one more Toronto leave-taking... flying east instead of west for once. Which reminds me: passport. Packing is easy :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

And the winner is: Lithuania Christian College. It's been an exciting month. At least, it's exciting now that my brain has been able to catch up.

First, graduating with a Masters in English. May and June were busier than they could have been as I had a language requirement to catch up on, but first year French courses aren't too bad, especially considering this is approximately the third time I've learned how to conjugate avoir and etre. Yup, it gets easier. But the class was a lot of fun and we did a lot of kibbitzing and improv, so the potentially frustrating forced time went by quickly. My final grad class also ran May to June, but again, everything kind of built on itself so the workload wasn't too heavy. Things keep seeming to work out for me, and on the whole, I spent more time easing other people's stress than finding my own. I also feel like I had a lot of time to do what I wanted: potlucks, movies, walks, quality conversations with quality people... I guess that rosy nostalgic glow of the academic life hasn't been shattered yet.

Chatting with people, I've been asked several times to summarize how I feel about the whole Masters thing. Umm... it was fun. Really. There was a bit more reading, a bit more talking, and a bit more pressure on my papers, but these are all things that I'm comfortable with (and two of the three I regularly spend too much time on anyway). The people were great, and I only had a few stinker profs, so on the whole the environment made things easy. To be honest, looking back on it (I'm being frank here), it was kind of boring... not that I wasn't crazy stressed at times or often busy, but it didn't have as many moments of mind-blowing revelation as I had hoped. It's definitely a halfway step between undergrad and doctorate. My opinion? Skip straight to PhD if at all possible... unless you're like me and just kind of throw school years in because you can't help it. If you don't enjoy the process or have distinct reasons for doing it, it's probably not for you.

Second, moving home. In the six or seven or whatever years I've been gone, this was the first time I've done the 27-odd hour trip home on my own. Mostly because my Manitoban friends all finished in April and were already there (*cough* Vaughn). Fortunately, the solo trip turned out to be some much-needed time to decompress. I listened to a few audio books to take the edge off the occasional bored spell, rocked out to the rhythm of the scenery, and generally enjoyed not having to give up the wheel :) I temporarily owned a queen-size bed in Kingston, but now I'm back to bragging about how the entirety of my possessions fits in my car and how my domestic accoutrements consist of a thermos. One. An unbroken string of quality roommates who also happen to have hit the kitchen-dishes motherload helps. Jon, I still have your phone.

Now though, it's time to downsize and upgrade my possessions-container to backpack levels. Because I signed a contract last week for my new job. Teaching. In Lithuania. In classic Jared style, I used the word "cahoots" in my phone interview and somehow ended up agreeing to teach "Business Math," which I'm told means word problems and graphs, but it's all good. I heard the infamous phrase, "so I'm looking at your resume..." and an irrational fear of IT help desks gripped my heart, but it was only a reminder that stats will haunt me until the day I die. And so it goes. I'm sure it'll be good for me. I'm starting from scratch, as in "let us know when you've picked the textbook," but again, that which doesn't kill you... I'm in over my head, which is exactly what I was looking for. I'll also be teaching "Business Communication," which is slightly more English-related. If you're interested in the college it's over at www.lccbc.org--the basic rundown is: international liberal arts university, Klaipeda on the Baltic, language of instruction in English. I'll be teaching first-year undergrads. The school itself is mostly externally funded, so I don't get a salary, but they'll top up my fundraising and basically help make my volunteer service experience as pleasant as possible. I'm excited about it for its size, its goals, and the plentiful opportunity I'll have to get involved with student athletic and spiritual life in addition to the academic stuff. Of course, considering I'm mostly flying by the seat of my pants (an oddly mixed metaphor if I've ever seen one--like some sort of wierd magic carpet ride), I'll probably spend my evenings scrambling to cobble together some semblance of a lesson plan, but the option is there. Plus, a new culture, new friends, and new challenges should go a long way toward busting me out of this six-year school rut I've been enjoying recently. Though someone quipped not so long ago and not-so-wrongly that I'll still be in school. Hey man, pitching for the other team has got to count for something.

So it's well into July and I leave my humble abode here in Manitoba in a mere three weeks. And what am I doing now? Shingling. Why not? Yup, my brother and I are up on our parents' roof swinging hammers, my mother insists on being up there too, putting the two of us to shame with her mad shingling techniques, and the whole durn project is honest-to-goodness getting done, albeit rather slowly. We take a lot of breaks. Like camping for three days. And waiting for the rain to go away. Which is a long wait in Manitoba these days, if you hadn't heard.

Still, on August 7th (or thereabouts), I'm hopping in a car with the Vaughninator and heading back over to Waterloo. I'm hoping to catch up with a few peeps there, head over to Toronto and spend some time with Ali, and then, on August 15th, ride the gravy train down a magic rainbow to a land called Lithuania. [sidenote: six years and x thousand dollars where x is big, and that's all I got. More weird carpet trips. I'm looking forward to being normal again, and relishing hard-earned spelling and grammar mistakes with the satisfaction of the relapsed.]

In light of my away-ness, I'm considering adding one of those monthly spam-mails to this whole blog thing, but even if the thought of that kind of thing scares you, please, email me at "my full name with a period in between at gmail dot com." I'll need all the Canadian communication I can get in order to offset my broken Lithuanian grocery-buying skills. I'll respond too, even it takes me two weeks of all-night marking just to free up the time needed to send you oddly mixed metaphors. I look forward to it.

Anyways, a long post. I guess a lot of this stuff has been in the works for a while, but it's only now becoming concrete and post-able. Which is a great, if potentially terrifying, feeling.

Bottom line here is: if you're in Lithuania sometime in the next year, drop by. I'll be waiting with my magic carpet.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

So my next country of choice still remains undecided, but at least there's a flurry of emails in the air. This weekend, though, I'll be slipping out of the storm into the open arms of Manitoba spaces. It'll be good to see the family again, and making the trip with great friends can't hurt either.

There's an art blog I've got bookmarked that's led me into some pretty neat places over the last few months: Rashomon. There's some Cannes festival stuff up there now, but if you check the archives over the last week or two you'll get better sense of what it's about. There are so many interesting exhibits online... and as some of my English fellows have been noting recently, it's been a long time since we've looked at stuff with pictures.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Rain is upset. It has got its boots
wet. It fears it will come down
with something. It would seek shelter
if shelter did not provoke such
nightmares. He and the Missus have
had a spat. She follows the trade
winds: Mexico, the Caribbean. She's
only home to bicker.
(from Leon Rooke's "Everything From Her Mouth")

Thursday, April 21, 2005

So apparently CFAM radio back in good old southern Manitoba broadcast the rapidly proliferating Menno blog interview live to air. Mom was approached by several congregation members... "do you know what a block spot is?"... "what is Jared doing on the internet?" Needless to say, Mom didn't know what a block spot was either.

I'm not sure how much explaining I have to do. So I won't do much. Photon is the name of my new plant, a gift from my friend Ali. It's a speckled croton, which is some sort of tropical. It's very space-age, with yellow dots all over it. She says she tried to pick the weirdest one. I'm not sure how to describe it really; it looks like it either has some sort of plant leprosy, met up with some acid rain in a dark alley, or is just too cool for metaphor. I'm really digging it.

I'll put a photo up once I get my life back. I figure if cat friday is worth a block spot, I may as well block spot some plants too ;)

Seriously though, it's a cool plant. Unfortunately, its big brother the passion plant (some sort of amazing vine thing that exploded into Dr. Zeuss flowers when you watered it right... always made me feel loved when it did that) had to be taken down from its window. And when I say "its window," I mean it, that thing was *voracious*. Anyone who's seen its papa at Brighton Yards will know what I'm talking about. I seriously thought it was going to eat Chris. Then who'd keep pushing that crack he called chess on me? It wasn't going to survive the combination of a move and a Daphne cleaning inspection, so I laid it down in solemn rest. I'm getting another though, ASAP. Who'd have thought plants could love you back? I feel as though all my cat jokes are turning back on me in some kind of twist of cosmic karma. Which maybe isn't a very Mennonite thing to block sp- you get the idea.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

The end of term seems both very near and very far from here. Off to the library.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Ah yes. 5am from the wrong side. Good to be back. At least I have Photon the Speckled Croton to keep me company.

*****

It suddenly strikes me that despite my recent standing up for menno-blogger-hood* (parse that last hyphenated concoction as you like) and an earlier manifesto, the unexplained in-jokes and personal entries have taken a sudden rise.

Oblique platitudes and obscure nonquotidian references to follow.

Oh, and someone break me out of school already.


*See "Menno bloggers" under Arts&Culture: Canadian Mennonite, Volume 9, No. 08, April 18, 2005

Friday, April 08, 2005

So apparently I've grown opinionated and crusty in my old age. I also appear bent on shuffling off this academic coil with venting flames of angst and rage. As the term winds to a close, my essay topics are contrarian, my comments in class against the grain, and my willingness to pander to fluff conversations close to nil. In fact, this past week found me declaring in my class on Orwell that he "didn't know what the hell he was talking about" and in my theory class that "post-structuralism doesn't matter." For those not currently attending classes with me, these are subjects of holy untouchability, sacred truths crossed only at risk of slashed grades and shocked peers.

Yes, it's been a blasphemous week, and it's not getting any better. My Orwell paper sets out to prove why his early work sucked, my theory paper reveals Foucault as a poseur, and my Johnson paper succeeds only in pumping hot air into random imagery and floating off in its own pomposity.

And yet, this is in complete contrast with my mood of almost sheer and utter contentment. I don't think I've ever felt this relaxed and in control at this point of the term before. A combination of the wonderful weather, God-filled appreciation of friendships, and the delicious uncertainty of the future seem to render current school woes almost insignificant. And considering the amount of work blah blah blah... that's a significant thing.

There's no great insight coming here. The best I've got is that I need to work on my patience, getting worked up in class can relieve a lot of pressure, and wow is saying a famous author sucks a lame way of rebelling. That being said, the sun can make even the simplest of days glorious. Now if only those papers would write themselves.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Well, the deep questions meme is still slowly percolating over the interweb. After my own answers, here, Estelle has answered a set and Cristina's are on the cusp of her thought (and in the comments of this post). Possible future answers may be found at Erin Dwyer's blog and potentially Charlotte's, if I can ever get around to making her some. There's a question or two in me yet if you feel like you're missing out on the fun. Just let me know, though I can't promise a turn-around time of anything resembling rapid.

In other news, looks like I finally caught the cold that everyone's been honking around out here. Maybe it's time for some of that two-ply toilet paper to shore up the kleenex drought.

********************
Update: Cristina's answers are here. Recommended reading.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Yeah, so it turns out that Haloscan "archives" comments older than four months (ostensibly to aid server loads), by which they mean "move to an alternate, and inaccessible, database." It then takes 12USD to "liberate" them. How does that scene go in Speed? "Shoot the hostage"?

Which means that as of now, our comments are "powered by Blogger." Sorry about all those witty comments y'all left here and there. If your rage leads you to penetrate a SWAT team deep behind Haloscan lines, I'm in; until then, well, the web's a fickle thing.

I may yet drop by bloggerhacks.blogspot.com and snip some code so that you don't need to go to a separate freaking page to leave a comment, but I tell you, what I miss the most already are the god-like editing powers of tracking, banning, editing, deleting, and generally ruckus-causing that Haloscan so kindly bestows on its followers.

Ah well, other options are out there. For now, free and little time spent ain't bad.
Sorry, I'm probably going to be making any RSS aggregators out there a little wonky. Some of my font changes busted older punctuation that was cut and pasted from non-standard editors, and I'd like to go back and fix some of that up as time goes by. Also, it's one in the morning and I'm debating switching over to Blogger comments. And so it goes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

A Lover's Lament on Slaying Her

you strike.
you strike and the pages are verdant--
words rise up to meet you.
forgotten ways cross haphazard into other languages
and find intersection in your creation:
a tableau of spring sun
frozen and scattered like glass.

somewhere near the edges,
shadows rush over tundra plains,
a raven's circle dissolves,
and six horsemen drop over the horizon:
hooves pounding in wild migration--
a crisp vanishing

you rise, carefully, holding fragile pages,
then open them: release incantations!
call down gods--summon forgerers!
a vast erosion held back only
by the crack of your voice, islands rear as the whirlwind
bends once more to your chanting!

but you know the truth.

she stirs into being
as wind and storm tangle her hair,
naked form and hilltop torn by rain...
even as you reach her she falls,
that one, cruciform moment
an act of mercy. now even the gods
will not bring her back, perhaps cannot.

a song splits your sides and the wind
whips the pages from your grasp--
chasing your spirit to the north,
leaving folly to soak into the muskeg.

soon, time will clean the mystery of your bones,
fold their textures into the landscape.
then, only the past will know where your barrow lies,
and there you shall remain:
longing for an immortal wind to brush the plains.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Long post ahead. As Orwell would say, "If you are not interested in political controversy and the mob of parties and sub-parties with their confusing names (rather like the names of the generals in a Chinese war), please skip" (Homage to Catalonia). Annoying *and* racially generalized. Pun's for you, Will.

The Deal

Due to the newly virtual grapevine, my friend Will Loewen found himself answering five personalized and highly challenging questions. Leave a comment, get your questions, pass the thoughts on through your blog. Sure, this is maybe another one of those "getting to know you" gimmicks that the internet is so good at, but hey, if blogs are all about talking to people we may as well be saying some things. Let me know if you'd like some. Questions that is, not things, though they are that. A word of caution? I won't go as easy on you as Will was on me.

The Goods

I've tried to ask questions that fit more than one aspect of your life, so as to enrich the rest of us from your broad range of experiences.
-Flattery will get you everywhere.

1. Many of the Manitoba folk I know go through a slow and gradual realization that they may never move back. Is that so with you? And if it is, how is it coming?

-So, right to the heart of it. Well, part of the problem is that in many ways I left my childhood behind when I left Manitoba. At least, those things seem to converge when I find myself thinking about it. I left Manitoba for university, and I think most people would agree that a lot of stuff changes at around that time. I went from living in the country near a small town to the thriving metropolis of Waterloo near Toronto... lots of changes like that. All of those changes seemed really big and significant to me; I could probably still wax rhapsodic about all of the country/city, province/province, conservative/liberal differences that I was now experienced in and suddenly knew everything about. Mostly though, I laughed and talked about those differences because I felt torn between them and was insecure about what that meant about me. It was suddenly harder to cheat and say, "I'm Manitoban" or, "I'm NDP" (just kidding) and let that stand, at least with myself.

So I suppose you're right in that Manitoba and what it represents (as a place and my transition from it) plays a pretty significant role in continuing to shape who I am. The slow and gradual realization that I've left Manitoba behind is more about discovering that things (I and it) are irrevocably changed, and the process of coming to accept that. Yes, it's a little weird to think that I may never live there again. But it's also reassuring (and actually, somewhat surprising) to look at how much of it I brought with me. There're more adventures in me yet, but I do want to end up on a quiet porch swing under a wash of stars stretching into the endless prairie sky. I'll have you over for tea.

2. With your master's degree in English literature, do you plan to write literature, write about/critique literature, teach about literature or none of the above? Which is nobler? (You can have two different answers)

-I'm not sure you can do anything with literature. It doesn't really seem to have much use value in and of itself... it's just another medium. I really like studying it because of what people have brought and are bringing to it, what they're doing with it and what they're trying to do. But I think what I'm really interested in is us. I mean, they call it the humanities, but in English right now everyone is doing their best to annihilate humanism: the prioritization of the individual and the idea that there are basic attributes that make up "who I am." Why? Because of sexism, racism, ageism, oppression, repression, depression, and all of the other horrible things that come along with humanity and get folded into language every day. Please, can we get rid of those things now? Post-structuralism is saying that maybe literature isn't an expression of us, maybe it *is* us. What we think of as our "self" is just a collection of definitions shared and changing between every(one). Someone noticed that calling someone by their first name is different than calling them "filth" or "roach," and just maybe there's power there, just maybe if we were more aware of how that worked we could change things. Personally, I find hope elsewhere, but I think that the way we use, abuse, and think about literature reflects us and how we're coping with things.

Sorry, you asked. All I mean is, I think it's nobler to reach out and physically touch someone. If you can reach out and touch people through literature, do that, but don't forget about us. Will I write stuff? Yes. Teach it? Probably. Critique it? Through many late nights. But even if it becomes full-time, that stuff is all on the side.

3. What is a favourite memory from your travels, and what is its significance? (Deep or funny)

-That moment just before three AM when you realize that all of your friends have finally fallen asleep curled up in their seats against the cold glass of the car window and the only sound left between you and the night is the low of hum of the engine and the burr of your tires over the long, smooth pavement of the highway. Sometimes it's snowing, sometimes there's a moon catching the frost near your elbow, always there's that comforting syncopated line pulling you ever deeper down the winding black ribbon until suddenly you feel like all the roads are connected to all the other roads and they're waiting and they're waiting for you to go to where you're going, knowing that you'll get to them eventually. The warm purview of the headlights and the small nest of a car floating between point A and point B remind you of all the other people who have shared that intimate space with you: shared air, shared smell, shared the words and thoughts that communicated bits and pieces of self in the movement between departure and arrival. Most of them snore; some even drool a bit. Yes, I was watching you. We are all beautiful, and McDonalds gives us all gas.

4. How differently would you blog if you knew your parents and/or past/present authority figures would never read it?

-They read it? Hi. This is me. I think I'll probably write some things and post some stuff here. I'm thinking of you, but I'm also trying not to let you affect what and when I put stuff up. I just don't want to feel pressured, you know? Yes, I understand that you do influence things in a thousand little ways. But in our limited relationship here the more I exclude the better. For instance, in-jokes are kind of out-weird. Also, my sad and lonely days are more usefully soaked up by people I can eat wings with. The things I ate for lunch today may be inherently fascinating but I'd rather just eat them, and yes, eating is apparently important to me (it keeps coming up), but I feel like random thoughts and pieces of things that I've run across or written are quirkier and thus more interesting. Sorry you have to sit through some of my life updates, but don’t worry, nothing too personal. Besides, I'm not sure why I'd post anything I wouldn't want you to see on the internet anyway. I liked working for your company, and if you're my parents, you know I love you. Oh, and I'm a good kid. Say hi to the CN Tower for me.

5. Is Kingston your first time living outside of an established Mennonite community? How does it feel?

-Yes? No? Established? Outside? Ack, my newly ingrained critical analytical "define your terms" neuroses are twitching. This isn't the first time I've regularly attended a non-Mennonite church, but it is the first time that I've missed it so much. It's the singing really. The community is still here even though the food is different. Anglican. I'm Anglican now, didn't cha know?

How does it feel? It feels healthy. I have a growing respect for liturgy and we do communion all the freaking time, which does literally freak me out sometimes, though just a bit. I went to a Ukrainian Orthodox church with a good friend a few weeks ago, and the incense and the foreign language and the kissing Jesus icons and the bowing to the floor was followed up by a bunch of grandmas making perogies in the kitchen for a bake sale. Seemed pretty Mennonite to me, if a little Byzantium instead of Constantinople. I suppose I have less ethnically similar friends in close proximity these days, but I pretty much just do homework anyway. I suppose I wish the Mennonite communities in question weren't as isolationist as my Master's program feels sometimes.

I guess all I'm saying is, I'm not sure if I ever *have* been in an established Mennonite community. Bottom line, more and more I'm opening myself up to non-Mennonite influences, but those were always there to some degree anyway. My personal perogy-eating, hymn-singing (a recent addition, by the way), pacifist, social justice oriented self is spending less time with others claiming similar attributes, but those attributes will still always be around to some degree anyway. Bring it on.

********
Cut to anecdote: when I did find and introduce myself to the lone Mennonite faculty member at Queen's (a Wiebe), his response to my "Mennonite Brethren" contribution to the denomination game (close on the heels of the "do I know your relatives?" game) was, "What! Those bastards!?!" Established community, indeed.

Granted, in light of my recent re-indoctrination at Waterloo North (what is that anyway, GC? wait, MCEC?) I can probably lay claim to non-bastardized Mennonite-ism (Russian, not Swiss), but my views on community have always been a bit less established than that. Oh, and let it suffice to say that if Grebel was what was on your mind when you asked that question, we can talk about that some other time.
********

The Epilogue

Thanks for the questions, Will. I hope I've done them some justice. Like I say, if anyone else wants to volunteer for the rack, step right up. May as well publish our current follies for all eternity.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

HA! This one is worth linking to: link. Warning: Spoilers!

Friday, March 04, 2005

March! Hi! Sorry, didn't see you there. You know, you really shouldn't sneak up on me like that. Hmmmm, it seems only yesterday I was having a chat with February...

A fickle month, February. Thankfully, the sun poured enough Vitamin D through my skin that I avoided most of the winter blahs this year. Of course, Reading week/break was still appreciated: not only did I get to spend some quality time with friends and family down in Beamsville, but I also got some work done when I retreated early to the school-cave. A refreshing, anxiety-reducing balance. Part of a complete breakfast.

There's stuff to do in March I suppose, but far more interesting is everything else. Fall plans still find me pulling together stray leads from everywhere, but at the moment the short-list is: Japan, Vietnam, Lithuania. That's sorted by probability; interest is probably reverse-order. I mean, who doesn't want to be a Professor of English Literature in Eastern Europe? Of course, I'll probably need to start actually filling out the stack of applications that grows daily on my desk, but that can wait until I have some serious procrastination to do. Until then, there's Alias and Lost epsiodes to catch up on. Speaking of which, remind me to stick to movies in the future: bittorrent and seasons-long story arcs ask for a little too much out of a relationship, you know?

Other things keeping me sane are random Charlotte drop-ins, Mom's chili recipes, Jon's Marquez cast-offs, and weekly meetings with a few others who share a desire to write non-homework-type things. But hey, it's only a couple thousand homework words between me and another fine term-break; soon enough I'll be looking forward to year-breaks like ordinary people :)

A gloriously free July aside, tonight it's food, shower, and a night out with friends. Kingston, you ain't been doing me wrong.

Monday, February 14, 2005

A couple fine weekends have been rolling through; some fine visiting has been getting done. In particular, the whole sorry troop of us (part of the special few who studied Derrida under Murray "Sugar" McArthur back in the Waterloo days) managed not one, but two fine weekend excursions. The weather, in both cases, was resplendent. All credit for these pictures goes to the masterful Jon Bowman.


Nope, that's not posed...
Posted by Hello


That tree is huge!
Posted by Hello


That water is cold!
Posted by Hello


A more sedate shot.
Posted by Hello


Kingston is WAY cooler than Toronto.
Posted by Hello


And, like the English geeks we are...
Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Next Morning

My breath spills
as we unload the pickup: melted lamps,
burnt table legs, and Kenmore,
our old arthritic refrigerator.
I loved that cranky fridge,
grumbled me to sleep
many a quiet night.

There is no smell.
Maybe that’s the snow,
fallen over this place like
a thrown rug, intent
on hushing uneasy noises.

Our ancient grandfather clock is last,
cracked face still clouded with soot.
My hands' charcoal-smudges bloom deeper
as we heft the case and inner workings
over the side. The old coot never quite
kept time, but he sung deep.

Nestled between the sandy escarpment
and low hills, the trash looks like artwork, frozen.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

I pause, caught by their threads.

The daughters of the evening
lift their bristled, golden spears,
clash a soft and complicated dance,
and bow as the dark gods pass.

A cold, amethyst gust
rushes from behind the stars,
and reaching my clothes
pulls me apart,
again.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Dear Charles Simic,

Hi. I just wanted to say that your collection Walking the Black Cat made me think that poetry is cool again. Seriously, your book is pretty cool. I'm told that Pablo Neruda and Walt Whitman started you off, and I really like some of those novels by Gabriel Garcia Marquez... well, maybe that stuff is all unrelated, but I dig your style. It's tricky without being dumb, surreal without being pointless, and just all shaped and connected and it makes life feel mysterious and vivid. I kind of want to post the whole book page by page because it's so good and I want to share. Anyways, thanks. Maybe I'll go write some stuff too, and even if it's bad, it'll be something.

Sincerely,
Jared

p.s. Oh, and I know artists kind of don't like being compared, but you create favorable associations in my head with Michael Ondaatje, who's sort of a longer, Canadian you. Cool, eh? Bye.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT

The tunnel of love at the fair.
The oompah band.
The long-legged drum majorette.
The pebble in my shoe.
Little birds sitting on the telephone wire.
Hotel of the Great Secret.
The out-of-tune piano.
Death, the butterfingered waiter.
The American lynch mob.
The Gypsy who slips me advice.
Moonlit and deserted parking lots.


(from Charles Simic's Walking the Black Cat)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Random language question of the day:

Does anyone else find it odd that I "take" tea, "have" hot chocolate, and don't "do" coffee, especially considering that "I don't drink" applies to none of the above?
Sometime around last November, my mother (small-town librarian, Mennonite background) asked me if I had any suggestions for her library's next book order. Miriam Toews' book, "A Complicated Kindness," was making waves (short listed for the 2004 Giller Prize, later won the 2004 Governor General's Award) and was written by an author with a Mennonite background, so I suggested it as a book she might be interested in.

She called me after reading it (before it hit the shelves and the already extensive waiting list... perk of librarian-hood) and asked me this: "Why do books about being Mennonite always focus on the bad things?"

Assuming I agree they do... well, I don't know. Because calling a book "open and honest" sometimes just means it asks depressing questions? Because fundamentalism isn't popular? Because joy is a simple emotion, and grief is complex?

Maybe the intent of some of them, like "Peace Shall Destroy Many," is to portray a sort of morose happiness, a happiness that is "complicated."

I think your point about audience is a good one, Will. But I found myself thinking about it from the author's point of view. Maybe it's not as easy as just choosing to write to those who will "appreciate" it.

I went to a Mennonite literature conference in Indiana a year or two ago, and few of the authors in attendance mentioned anything supportive about their childhood Mennonite communities. Most authors write because they grow up reading; what these authors read opposed their communal beliefs. Really, they accepted and pursued an outside influence that (perhaps more so in Rudy Wiebe's day) was supposed to be mistrusted. The authors I talked to all seemed aware of the implications this had for their status as "representative of Mennonites"; indeed, much of the talk surrounded how good it was to be around "similar" Mennonites (presumably, Mennonites with literary influences). I'm sure not everyone there would accept the label of "liberal heathen," but it seemed most would qualify any attempt to label them "Mennonite." I guess all I'm saying is, the problem isn't just one of self-critique, it's also about belonging and who speaks for whom. Yes, a few authors were ex-communicated by their church, but it's also true that some ex-communicated themselves, leaving on their own accord.

In the end, that was basically my answer. It's a partial answer at best, but it seems to me that it would be hard to write a book that is both profound and celebratory, especially when your audience is a stranger critical of your subject, and that subject is one to which, in many ways, you yourself are estranged.

Friday, January 14, 2005

hmmm... no, nothing interesting yet. But I will be reading Nineteen Eighty-Four for the first time tomorrow. It's one of those books I've heard so much about that my stubborn reaction was to not read it, even though I'm pretty sure I'll like it. I guess taking a course on Orwell kind of forces the issue. Is it silly to take a grad-level course as an excuse to read a book you might not even like?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

ha ha. yes. Well, the first day back from vacation is always a doozy, and this term is proving no exception. The fact is, I bought $400 worth of textbooks yesterday, and the result is one seriously intimidating stack. My three courses this term include George Orwell, Samuel Johnson, and a theory class. But, first order of business is to get my sleeping schedule back on track, finally get a parking pass for this big mess that is Kingston parking, and finally buy myself a decent desk chair care of my loving parents.

Details, details. Next order of business is to start putting something interesting in here again.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

What a luxurious holiday. From my last deadline on December 15th to my first class on January 12th, I've been, how shall I put it, "living the high life."

Week One:
Hanging with - Family
Eating - the finest Mennonite home-cooking
Sleeping - approx. 14 hours per night (my old bed)
Wearing - freshly mother-done laundry

Week Two:
Hanging with - Manitoban Friends
Eating - chips, McDonald's, pizza, and chips
Sleeping - approx. 3 hours per night (random couches)
Wearing - same four-day-old clothes

Week Three:
Hanging with - Waterlooian Friends
Eating - Red River, Oatmeal, and Westburg de jour
Sleeping - approx. 7 hours per night (under the pinball machine)
Wearing - backpack repeats

Week Four:
Hanging with - Books, Movies, and Half-life 2
Eating - Mr. Noodles and hastily-made sandwiches
Sleeping - 14 hours per night (queen-size luxury)
Wearing - given-up-on-life pants

I guess I gotsta start getting productive again tomorrow (first-week beauracracy), but hey, bring on the school. I hope I caught up with most of you; thanks for the chats, smiles, and general craziness. Aw shucks, here I go again... but seriously, you're good people.
She knows now, absolutely, hearing the white noise that is London, that Damien's theory of jet lag is correct: that her mortal soul is leagues behind her, being reeled in on some ghostly umbilical down the vanished wake of the plane that brought her here, hundreds of thousands of feet above the Atlantic. Souls can't move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.
(from William Gibson's Pattern Recognition)