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Posted as [livejournal.com profile] serenissima, August 8, 2004 for the [livejournal.com profile] remus_remix

Scenes From Life In Wartime )

Plus, bonus drabble posted as [livejournal.com profile] serenissima, which was remixed in the [livejournal.com profile] remus_remix

Every Dark Thing Is His )
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Things are coming to a point now - I feel that there are decisions to be made, and soon. Overall, the days slip by in peace and relative contentment as once more, I have a circle of friends, books to study, continuing and new hobbies, useful part-time work. And it's wonderful to have time again - still not enough to do everything, but at least enough to get to all the bits and pieces that make up a civilized existence - proper mealtimes, an hour of exercise, two baths a day.

But, it obviously can't last forever, and my final course selections for this degree are pressing on me already. I feel a great happiness and a great desire to go back to the old books, to immerse myself in that which once made me happy. Unfortunately, such a path is the most difficult, least assured, and may leave me nowhere in the end - I'm rusty at my discipline, it would be another three year commitment with all the attendant costs, and when you get down to it, there aren't really that many positions for legal historians. At the same time, the siren song of the working world is strong - it's glamorous by comparison, offers a regular salary and an end to uncertainty. There's a small issue of destroying my soul, but isn't that what everyone does?

I'm frustrated in that I can't seem to see a way of balancing the parts of me, and as I feel older with each passing day, I wonder if I'll end up settling in the way that I've seen so many of my contemporaries do - whether they acknowledge it or not. I've begun again, but the path is so much less clear, this time.
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So, the last few days have been rather aimless, with both too little and too much to do. The main problem is that until certain connections are made, I just can't get on with things and I'm already tired of doing nothing. Amusement must be carefully parceled out, and so I'm going to a film tonight, reading my new comics tomorrow, and getting a massage the day after that. I'll also be doing some careers investigation (with some course reading as well, I hope) in the coming week. At least my Real Estate Finance book has arrived, and I can get started on that.

Otherwise, it has been really wonderful to see old friends again, but it's going to take a bit of time to find a way to fit myself into their lives again. Plus, relations with family are still very strained, and as a result I feel both alone and uncertain in my new path. Of course, it's not entirely unexpected - everything changes.
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But the question is, how long can I wait before reading it all at once, like gorging on a confection? Moreover, my sleep cycle has been twisted into strange and irrational shapes by jet lag, so my body *wants* to be awake from 2:00 am-6:00 am, no matter what else is going on in my life, and for once I have to be awake early for a meeting with the faculty, so it's no idle question. I think I shall just have to resort to not sleeping, if my body otherwise refuses to comply. Perhaps meditation will help -
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So I came down from the mountain at last, although the leaving was not easy. I crossed the ocean three times in two directions, and have now returned to a rather utilitarian graduate room near those ivory towers where I dwelt some seven years ago. It is good to be back, although the world has changed and everything is familiar yet subtly different. Many of my old set have partnered and settled down, some have moved away or are soon to move, and I am older than I was, lacking in some indefinable enthusiasm. As an example, my favorite tutor has retired, although I met him at the supermarket just yesterday.

Omina mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.

But, I still know where the best shopping is to be found, the comic store has not moved, and it looks like I shall have my old library job back. Best of all, it seems that my college awarded me a substantial sum of money, back in the day - and then, forgot to tell me that I'd received it. So it sat there for years and years, and will finally appear as a credit on my next battels. At this point, I'm not sure whether to be happy to receive the money at last, or to be annoyed that it was left in the ether for so long. (Seven year's interest, even at a low rate of a few percentage points, would be a tidy sum!) However, I take this as a sign that this particular year's academic diversion was "meant to be" - now, back to choosing courses, furnishing my room, and planning for *next* year. (Can't start too soon!)
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Don't look for me, because I'll be gone, up into the mountains, until the season changes, at least.
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The middle of May approaches with all speed, and there's more to do than I thought, as usual. I think I may be on the verge of a decision regarding my future studies, although said studies might be just another step on a long and ongoing road, we'll see. All the more reason to use solitude in the mountains to make some important decisions.

In other news, I saw the film Onmyoji last night, and was favorably impressed. Much like the French film Pacte Des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf), it combines horror, action, and costume drama into one elaborate story. I don't think it will do particularly well in the United States, but I'm pleased to see that there are more films like this being made. I was especially happy that the film drew on Heian period history, since it's an area that I'm enthusiastic about, and I thought that the use of the Onmyoji (Yin Yang Master) powers was interesting, since they were also referenced in Sandman: The Dream Hunters. So for those of my friends that are Gaiman or Geji enthusiasts, I'd recommend it. Of course, one side effect of my recent foray into online fandom is the ability to see subtext, and it's everywhere in this film, especially between Seimei and Hiromasa. But since that may give others of my friends more reason to see it, I'm all for it.
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It's been a back and forth kind of day, today. The morning began with my getting to the City too late for zazen, but in time for lecture and lunch. Then the massage therapist didn't show up, so I ran errands and made a nice two week plan preparing for the mountains. Cue losing the notebook with the plan at the store, as some annoying person took my shopping cart while I was browsing. No monetary value in it, but it had my list of comics, some writing notes, and the aforementioned plan. Bah. Most of the information is still in my head somewhere, of course, but there's a reason that I write it all down in the first place. Then FCBD, which was cool, and for some reason there are a number of Alan Moore interviews out at the moment, prompting me to contact a friend of mine who's an admirer. YWCA group performance, after all these years, but afterward I broke the zipper on my favorite skirt and and am now wearing the new one instead. Tomorrow - kayaking, packing and driving, and maybe some Smallville at the end of all of it. And I didn't exercise today, which means I really ought to find time to do it tomorrow. Sigh. For some reason, I can't help doing too much even when I have nothing to do, as nonsensical as that sounds. Yet more reason to practice letting be.
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Hmm - so, the story so far - I've now received a rejection to pair with my acceptance, and I'm still waiting on some responses. I'm not at all unhappy with the thought of just taking the acceptance I've got, though - I think I've come to terms with fate, and I'll take things as they come - I believe I can make it work no matter what happens. Perhaps it's all the time I've been spending at zen center, where I volunteer three times a week in addition to zazen on the other days. Zen is also starting to influence my dancing, or so I'm told - maybe that can be my shtick. I've tried more fiction writing, which has been encouraging and enjoyable. I doubt I'll ever be more than a hobbyist, but it does give me insight into other things as well. I've finished grading, and now it's time for me to give serious thought to planning and packing for my mountain sojourn - I've had some advice as to what to expect and what I need, but I doubt I'll really be able to anticipate anything.

This weekend was Wondercon, which was fun - I did spend more money than intended, but I found some nice gifts for friends, saw movie trailers for films I which I unfortunately won't get to see, and managed to speak briefly with a few comics and television writers whose work I admire, and got a few hints about a favorite television show. Oh, and today I baked two cakes for the second time in two weeks, and made biscuits (American-Style) for the first time. It seems I have time enough at last to enjoy being who I am - for how long, though?
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Oh, and I've made a new mix, something I haven't done in a long time. It's got an L Side and a C Side, but it's not what you might think - or perhaps it is, depending on what I've told you. Sometimes my vices almost embarrass me.
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Well, the transition has begun. Work ended, for this particular round, and then there was the personal hell of moving, which ended up taking an extra day, and nearly killing me in the end. But I got it done, without a soul to assist me, and I have even been promised the full return of my deposit. Currently, I'm staying with a most generous friend of mine in her lovely house, and trying to make myself useful. For the next month, I am officially unemployed. That's not to say I don't have some projects - grading, fellowship applications, and taxes are but a few. I've also been being quite good about both exercise and zazen the former almost daily and the latter three times a week, plus I've applied to do volunteer work at zen center as well. I still have dance, with a few group and solo performance opportunities, and time at last to sort out odds and ends. Oh, and I've also actually done a bit of creative writing which wasn't totally excoriated, to my own surprise - though I don't consider myself a *writer,* I'm beginning to see the entertainment and promise in it. Of course, I'll have to work around some of these interests once I've gone into the mountains, but I think I might just find a way. My life feels richer, and there's a great weight that has been lifted from my shoulders. I'm still waiting for a few more signs to determine the path my future will take, but spring is in the air at last, and I can't help but feel that there's some promise in it.
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Journeys forward, journeys back. An acceptance came, so at least I'll have somewhere to go in the fall, although it is somewhat lower on my list of choices - it could still lead to a good future. I've started on my post-employment project, and had the chance to run away for a little while - I'll do so again quite soon. And all around, a looming sense of fear and loathing as the world goes a little crazy once again.

I don't often express strong opinions about flash point topics, largely because I don't care. Or I do care, but I don't see that there is much I could say that makes a tangible impact. Suffice to say, I am not of the opinion that the current state of events merits armed conflict, but my opinion doesn't matter. It is not my place to make such decisions - I made all the decisions I could a while ago, and the majority did not agree, and I have to live with that. I do not demonstrate or sign petitions because I do not believe they make a difference - and in part because I'm enough of a cynic and a misanthrope that I believe that the worst will happen no matter what I do. There's an excellent quotation in the immortal "The Lion In Winter" regarding the origins of war - to paraphrase, conflict is like a cancer or disease that we carry in our blood. So, let it all be done. I will not support, I will not oppose, and most important, I will not let the fear and hysteria consume me. I live my life just as before, and with grace, I will be there to help where I can, in whatever way I can when everything is over.
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Another waiting period, another holding pattern. Packing things up, sending them away, giving them away - throwing them away. After that, I will be going to live on a lonely mountaintop for a few months, then take up my remaining possessions and move on to somewhere else (yet to be decided).

Not wanting things gets easier the more you do it, and with time, I hope to filter out all the unnecessary things - becoming clean and inviting as an empty room. I used to be that, once, and then I cluttered it up with neuroses and emotions and desires. For three years, I've been trying to clean it out, but it's not easy to let go.

I'm oddly tired, and vaguely irritated, but also slightly hopeful. A dear friend is cheered by the thought that I'm turning back from the "dark side," and it's true that for once in a long time I can envision the life I've always dreamed of. It's not conventional, it's not what everyone says will work, but I'm willing to believe that it is achievable, as impossible as it seems. I wonder sometimes if I am too unreasonable, too demanding in my expectations of myself - and as a result, of those around me. But I've come also to the recent conclusion that there may be something in that saying that happiness precludes greatness. Comfort prevents change. Something more to ponder, perhaps.
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From my 18th Floor window, it appears that there is a barge sinking in the Bay. What, exactly should I do about this? I am at something of a loss.
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Sometimes I wish there was someone, just one person who knew all that I was, all the parts of me that I cannot concord, that divide and struggle against each other. And it is true, that there are some who come close.

Further reading has reminded me of something that I once was, that I still am on some level, just that I have pushed those desires and instincts down into memory and forgetfulness. I will have to push them even even further away in the days and months to come, if I am to succeed in this next, albeit transitional, phase of my life. Yet, it is not unconnected in my mind - something to do with austerity, discipline and ritual - and reclaiming a kind of pride in achievement - pride in something, at least.

But there are times when I want to be able to explain why the story of a particular fictional courtesan strikes such a chord with me, and have the analysis be understandable, even interesting to the listener. Perhaps another time.
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Well, I've been accepted to do *something,* which is a start, I suppose - even if no word of programs is back yet, I will have somewhere to go when it is all over - and we are moving quickly to the end, now. Even in retreating, there is something to be gained.
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Zen center was a good experience. I did finally manage to let go of the future and the planning and the incessant thinking about things and just be, at least for a little while. But, being where I am now, it was also something of an escape, hiding from the hard realities of the world outside the temple, the world where I have to make difficult choices and decisions. It helped me, I think, and I am now more than ever hopeful that my summer work practice application will be accepted. Even if I ultimately seek a teacher from a slightly different lineage or tradition, I cannot but think that what I have done and will do will be useful, and right - for now.
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Following evaluation by the optometrist, I appear to have much improved vision, although I fall short of perfect 20/20. (20/25 and 20/30, if you must know) Of course, healing will continue and vision will continue to fluctuate, but it's good enough to pass a driving test, and to get around without bumping into things even if there is no further improvement. Depending on what happens, I might get a further enhancement, or I might just get some weak glasses for when I have to do a lot of reading - but I wouldn't need them constantly, as I once did.

Otherwise, time passes - I was in New Orleans last weekend, which was a nice diversion, and I was in Minneapolis the weekend before that, another enjoyable break. Dance festival this weekend, I think - and then, my long awaited week at zen center, if all goes well. Still a bit of planning to be done, and I've started to make plans for the divestiture of my worldly goods. I *still* desire to hibernate until the spring, cozy and alone in my room. Indeed, my dreams have been most compelling of late, fed by the many tales and stories, old histories, ideas revisited. And sleep - it is like a drug, and I feel my body crave more even as it clouds my thoughts. Perhaps I can dream through the long dark of winter, until the coming of spring when I can begin the work of building my life anew.
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My vision is still bothering me, a little. I *can* read fine without aids of any kind now, and most signage is clear for me. Oddly though, I feel it is the light that is the worst as too much brightness makes everything blurry and dazzling. It is a night, that my vision feels most normal, despite some slight haloing - I drove to dance class just fine. It is in the safety of my room and its gentle illuminations that I feel my new vision is most comfortable and normal, and I've been reading quite a bit again - old tales, and new re-workings of such.

The winter instinct is strong on me now - I want nothing more than to be alone with my books, some paper, pens and a bit of food - bread, cheese, fruit - maybe some soup. I have no real desire to be with people or go places - I just want to sleep and dream until the cold times are over, and I can begin the process of breaking my old life, cleansing it, and starting with my new life. I feel alone, but I don't mind that. I feel I've wasted so much time, but I am hopeful that the time ahead will have purpose.
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