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slip sliding away. [Aug. 30th, 2013|07:25 pm]
i'm back in san diego. i've been back for two months, actually, and it's good. life here is good. that sounds banal and boring, but considering what i left behind, the goodness is a relief in a few specific ways. first of all, i was nervous about leaving beirut. beirut sometimes feels like a lover with whom i cheat on My American Life. this lover is nuanced and passionate and difficult in terribly sexy and revealing ways that my home life just isn't. it opens me up, keeps me present, peels away the dullness and the defenses and the self-pity. being back in sd, i feel far away, as i knew i would. some days the poignancy of that distance is sharper than others. some days i am very much in-the-moment here. i credit beirut with reteaching me how to do that. life is simply different there, and i'm sure as i write more, i'll trace out the small and big stuff of this difference. but some days i feel like i'm walking around with a wound that looks like a mediterranean sunset, my ears aching to hear the muezzins call out at prayer time from their turreted nests around the city, my feet bored by evenness, missing the chaos of beirut sidewalks. sometimes i want to cry, but can't.
because something else i learned in beirut is that life is hard. it is so fucking hard. it is hard in ways that i had never imagined or experienced, that i still cannot imagine and have not, thankfully, experienced. but beirut also taught me that life goes on and on and on in spite of these difficulties, that the dark days and too-quiet nights, those nights of waiting punctuated by fire and shots - bullets, and alcohol to dull the staccato rhythm of a heart that feels the danger closing in....these things keep you present, keep you both tentatively but deeply grateful, and so exhaustively angry. yes yes, you can be both at once. my lover beirut taught me that. my lover beirut recalibrated my neuroses. i can breathe again, the dissertation doesn't feel like such a big life-or-death deal anymore. my hands and heart have opened. and open they remain. so i don't cry. but i am trying to write.
and yet every time i hear about another shooting, another bomb, how my friends are waiting (and, in some cases i imagine, readying their arms stockpiles), all i want to do is return. i know my family is relieved i am home. sometimes i am relieved too. life is good. life is good. but i cannot express what it is like to live - to wake and eat and sleep and dream and dance and kiss and drink and write and read and walk - in a city and country where the sounds of joy and war are equally recognizable. where one quickly figures out the difference between fireworks and gunshots (not at first apparent, i promise you), and knows that gunshots can also be sounds of celebration. i miss the rooftops, the quiet conversations, the hopeless laughter and drinking, the hopeful connection. i miss it. i miss it i miss it i miss it.
but life is good. i am "home," whatever that means now, and i am here with the love of my life and my family. and those things, those things are good. they are *beyond* good. they are rich and quiet. they are sustenance.
and so every time i see an airplane cross the night sky towards the east, and every time i feel my heart following its bright light across the blue-black darkness, i focus on my feet, solidly rooted, safe on this ground on which live the people i love most in the world.
but the wound still reopens, bleeding its salty sea out of my fingertips because exiting through my eyes is not an option anymore. i wear it. i wear it with pride.


tangent: i've been thinking so much about this concept, this idea of "return," and what it means to me now, midway through my 33rd year, facing down the prospect of this long-ass document, facing down the prospect of jobs or no jobs, of getting married and, once again, moving away.
there are physical places one returns to, or longs to return to. these places are sometimes shifting homes. "home," in fact, can be a hard place to pinpoint.
and there is the home you carry inside you. does that sound trite? oh i don't care.
because what i have realized is that there are rooms in my home, in the sense of this portable home - my soul, my heart, my psyche, whatever it is you want to call it - that i have closed off, boarded up, walked away from.
these rooms include: solitary time, writing (this writing), daydreaming, and God.
these rooms are dusty. they need a good sweep and polish. they need some sunlight. i want to give them that sunlight.
days go by so quickly, and are so fraught with the expectations of one's profession, relationships, duties. one feels beholden, obligated, worried about what others think.
i will not blame my profession for my choices, conscious or subconscious, to close these doors. but i will say this: it hasn't helped. writing has become a difficult enterprise on which so much depends. sometimes it's like my mind is trying to swim through an old plastic jar of play-doh to get one thought out. so difficult. so joyless. so exhausting.
and there is this stigma about God in the academy. friends have expressed shock when they've come across my Bible and my Book of Common Prayer. one former roommate, upon entering my room and finding both of these on my bed, said, "That's a bible." "Yes," I said, and smiled. he had nothing else to say.
i mention God specifically because I have been meaning to go back to church on the regular, but i have not. i have been meaning to pick up my bible and read it, and i have not. and i don't know why. i just don't know why.
and then last night, combing the academic wikis for postdoc and job listings, i came across a position at a Lutheran university in indiana (a place that is definitely one of the very homiest homes i carry around with me). the listing called for applicants from a wide variety of academic disciplines, but specifically those who were interested in teaching at a faith-based school. and i thought, yes, that's me. that is something i would like. within limits, of course. i could not teach at a catholic institution. i've gone to school/taught at one, and the gap between it ideology and my own was far to wide. i would not be happy, i would not do my job as well as i could if i felt i could not speak my mind. but other than that, yes, i could be at a faith-based school.
and so i thought, yes, i want to apply.
and my next thought was: my advisor and my department are going to have some big questions for me about this. they're going to discourage it.
because on the whole they, following marx of course, believe religion to be the opiate of the masses. it is not freedom, or warmth, or a loving community to them. it is the wool over the eyes, the genie in the bottle, the snake oil salesman.
i'll never be able to convince them otherwise, and nor do i want to. some of the things i've seen have made me feel the same way.
but it's not all like that.
and so i feel it: here comes my first big hornlock of post-postgrad life. neuroses be damned. life is too good, life is too sweet, there are too many bright lights in the dark night to follow to really care about this.

[User Picture]From: bitchy_vegan
2013-08-31 04:29 pm (UTC)
As a person of faith and a PhD, I offer you my unwavering support and understanding and empathy of the Big Document and it's effects on one's life. But it can and will be done, just know there is an end in sight, even if you can't imagine what it looks like.

And to speak frankly, quite frankly, I would be extremely disappointed in your advisor/department were dicks about applying to ANY school, given the state of the market. While your drive to teach at a faith-based institution is admirable and something you should absolutely pursue, the reality is that almost any job right now is a good one, so they might need to stfu about it.

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[User Picture]From: tendertalons
2013-09-13 09:06 pm (UTC)
ah, sharyn. you are the best. for real. thanks for the virtual hug and high-five, buddy.
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