Saturday, April 7, 2012

Back at Last

After a three-month absence, at last I am back to blogging!

It has been a difficult three months, to say the least.  I don't like to let myself dwell on negatives when there are always positives that one ought to focus on, but here are three of the "yuck ducks" I've battled recently:
  • Headaches every day for the past month.  And I do mean every day.  Up until this past week, about 4-5 of those headaches were migraines each week.  It was exhausting and miserable trying to work through the pain, but I really had no other option -- I can't just quit when my body gets in the way.  I got quite frightened at one point, wondering if perhaps my two little aneurisms had decided to grow up and cause trouble.  During the worst of the migraines, I would huddle in my bed and worry that it was a brain tumor (believe me, migraines make even the most illogical things seem perfectly logical and likely).  I greeted each new day with dread, knowing that it would only be a matter of time before that day's headache arrived.  I finally broke down and went to the doctor, and I am now trying to make some changes to improve my condition.  I'm still having headaches each day, but it has been a full week since my last migraine.
  • My closest friend here in China had to leave, owing to visa problems.  This is her story, not mine, so I won't go into all the details.  We spent the past week in Hong Kong trying to get another visa for her and had the sudden surprise ending of her having to temporarily return to the USA instead of getting a visa -- I didn't see that blow coming.  It's going to be lonely without her.  
  • For one terrifying week, my MacBook died and appeared to have deleted everything on it.  EVERYTHING . . . including my only (at the time) copies of my master's thesis and my 310-page completed first novel.  It was my most emotional week of 2012, believing that I had lost the only two impressive achievements of my life.
And, for balance, three of the "yay ducks":
  • I was able to restore everything on my MacBook, so nothing was truly lost.  And, now everything is backed up as well.
  • I can now read more than 800 Chinese characters, after only eight months in China.  Although I'm a little proud of this, I'm also a bit disappointed with my recent slow progress (owing mostly to the headaches).  I had set a goal of 1,000 characters by my upcoming birthday, which means I need to speed up the learning process if I am to make it.  I did, however, have one achievement today:  I finished writing my first short story entirely in Chinese characters.  It's nothing great, of course, but I am pretty happy that I managed to do it.  I can't wait until the summer, when I can work on writing a much longer and more complex one!
  • I got to go to Hong Kong this past week (for spring break; blog post about it coming soon)!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"