Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Wilde Day

We have an official cast for The Importance of Being Earnest! First meeting at lunch today, when most of them got to see the script for the first time. We read a couple of key scenes and there was much laughter, which is heart-warming indication that they understand the comic genius of the play. Hurrah! Life gets that little bit more hectic from this point onwards, but it gets correspondingly more interesting too. I've never directed, much less acted in a production, but I'm learning increasingly that it doesn't matter a whit. We have an excited, motivated cast, and an excited, creative group of potential crew, and one of the greatest plays ever written. What could be better?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

'Tis Winter

It's unofficially Winter, which means I can wear my splendid big coat with a hood like the Cave of Adullam every day. I shopped at a bazaar recently for some woolly imitation Uggs and a beanie with a bobble on it, so I'm all set. 

I  enjoy my early morning walk to work, which generally has a Narnian quality about it:

But unfortunately, no fawns.

The really hard part about this seasonal change is leaving for work in the dark and then catching a marshrutka home in the dark; it's resulted in a tiredness that settled in my bones and hasn't lifted. In fact, between classes yesterday I laid out a tushuk and had a nap: and I never sleep during the day. Thankfully, today's Saturday, and it's been a blessed time of recuperation in which I have slowly graded papers - interspersed with watching episodes of The Office (US version) with my flatmate - gone bazaar shopping, and consequently made a good soup out of beans and lentils and the last of the tomatoes. Another day like this one and I'll be back to good. (Although it would be nice if the power would stay on for a couple of hours in a row, since cooking by candlelight is a little dicey, if pleasantly quaint).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Three Life Lessons from Stanley Fish

...what have I learned along the way? Three things, closely related. The first is that people are often in pain; their lives are shadowed by memories and anticipations of inadequacy, and they are always afraid that the next moment will bring disaster or exposure. You can see it in their faces, and that is especially true of children who have not yet learned how to pretend that everything is all right and who are acutely aware of the precariousness of their situations.
The second thing I have learned is that the people who are most in pain are the people who act most badly; the worse people behave, the more they are in pain. They’re asking for help, although the form of the request is such that they are likely never to get it.
The third thing I have learned follows from the other two. It is the necessity of generosity. I suppose it is a form of the golden rule: if you want them to be generous to you, be generous to them. The rule acknowledges the fellowship of fragility we all share. In your worst moments — which may appear superficially to be your best moments — what you need most of all is the sympathetic recognition of someone who says, if only in a small smile or half-nod, yes, I have been there too, and I too have tried to shore up my insecurity with exhibitions of pettiness, bluster, overconfidence, petulance and impatience. It’s not, “But for the grace of God that could be me”; it’s, “Even with the grace of God, that will be, and has been, me.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Here I Am

You might have noticed - I don't know, maybe you didn't - that I haven't written for some time. I'll try to do better. Promise.

Julia Gillard is spouting some guff on CNN about the values that Australians hold dear, which appear to include, without being limited to, turning asylum seekers away from our shores. She's got the same hair, the same clothes, the same voice, as when I last saw her. I even called in my Texan flatmate to listen to the improbable accent, and then sent her out again because I was embarrassed by the emptiness of Julia's words.

Anyway. It's 'Fall Break' right now. I've read about Fall Breaks in books for years, but this is the first time I've experienced one. My original plan for the week was to fly down to Osh to visit friends; however, with the recent election things are a bit dicey down there, and my team leader decided that I shouldn't go. So, I'm in Bishkek for the week, sleeping in and eating peanut butter on lapyoshka and watching terrible television and going to the gym.

...yes, going to the gym! I joined up a month ago, and so now I go to aerobics two or three times every week with some friends. The instructor is a bouncy Russian, and it takes me a while to understand her instructions, which means I'm often a couple of steps behind everyone else. I'm enjoying it though, and it's great to hang out with these friends.

There's so much to write about that I don't know where to begin, so I'm not going to write any more at all: the purpose of this post is to reassure my small but devoted readership that I'm still here - and happy.