Friday, July 07, 2006


I kind of miss being jet lagged. The first week or two I was back here I was pretty jet lagged. It felt wacky. I could not sleep for more than a few hours at a time. I woke up at first light. I was just - wide awake! suddenly! at 5:30, 6, was strange.

It also made me very productive in the mornings.

Then while I was hanging out with my family chez Grandma in western Massachusetts I started to be able to go back to sleep after that initial 6 a.m. wake-up. That was the beginning of the end. I let myself go back to sleep again and again until it was 8:00 or so! At this time I was of course getting sicker and sicker, my Korea cough worsening and my body ravaged by feverish muscle aches, and I slept and rested during a couple afternoons at Grandma's house. Of course that turned out to be pneumonia, I learned during my second week back in the U.S., my little lungs having brought home a souvenir from Korea that wasn't going to get any better 'til I hit the antibiotics.

By the end of week two, staying with friends in Washington D.C., I was letting myself fall back asleep again until 8 or even 9 and my body was taking the hint, and now it seems to be back to its habit of sleeping past 8 a.m. , especially when I'm up 'til 1 or 2 or 3 a.m.

Now this week I'm just bus lagged.

Bus lag is nowhere near as nice as jet lag. Bus lag hurts my neck and is just plain exhaustion. There's no wide-eyed wackiness to it whatsoever. There is only me wondering which northeastern U.S. city I'm passing through at the moment...and am I getting on a bus at midnight tonight?...what does this week hold in store?...can I just sleep comfortably in a bed again?...and so on.

This was a good week, though. I celebrated the 4th of July in Virginia Beach. The next day visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and on my way back through New York I took the side trip out to Hempstead on Long Island to visit Hofstra. That was very bizarre and I do believe the enormity of it all hit me upon actually setting foot on that campus. Of course, I was so very tired (bus lagged!) while there so it was not a very good state of mind to be contemplating one's future or even one's present. I came back to Boston last night on an arduous bus journey that completes (I hope, for a while, anyway) the string of arduous bus journeys I've been taking of late.

Yeah, bus lag.

Today I went with my aunt (and friend) Barbara to Cape Ann. We had a quite nice day trip excursion and enjoyed walking around Rockport and driving around the area and lunching, strolling, shopping and talking about life. It was absolutely fantastic. One interesting highlight was the shop Floating Lotus, which has all manner of Asian goods: clothing, rugs, scarves, drums, small carved things, lanterns, tapestries, etc., mostly from India and Thailand and Laos. I noticed a little sign explaining that the owners were a man and woman who had lived in Asia for a few years and developed relationships with the artisans and creators of these products, and they are now selling their items here and maintaining relationships with the makers and supporting fair trade and products they know to be made in good conditions.

I was definitely intrigued and I guessed correctly that they went to Asia to teach English. I talked to them for some time. They taught in Taiwan. We discussed our experiences and the similarities and some of the things we'd discovered about Asia, life, teaching, travel, and ourselves. We talked about the "lifers" we'd met who have embarked on the English teaching path and aren't looking back, and we talked about knowing when it was time to come home. They were very awesome and if you ever go to Rockport/Bear Skin Neck then go to the Floating Lotus because it and its owners are great!

I'm still rather enjoying this summer of contemplation and determining things. But I haven't forgotten my man Candide - yes, still my favorite book of all time - and I would do especially well to not forget his words now, as I'm looking at everything through one giant prism of synchronicity, from Borders to War and Peace, from Westwood to Korea and everywhere in between.

All right then, Voltaire, bring it home:

Pangloss sometimes said to Candide: "All events are linked together in the best of all possible worlds; for after all, if you had not been expelled from a fine castle with great kicks in the backside for love of Mademoiselle Cunegonde, if you had not been subjected to the Inquisition, if you had not traveled about America on foot, if you had not given the Baron a great blow with your sword, if you had not lost all your sheep from the good country of Eldorado, you would not be here eating candied citrons and pistachios."

"That is well said," replied Candide, "but we must cultivate our garden."

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