Thursday, November 12, 2009

Touching base

I feel guilty whenever my two most loyal readers, my mother and Tim's mother, say that they still check my blog to see if I've written anything lately. I've not posted anything in a very long time, and part of that is due to Facebook. Being far away from friends and family, I like the immediacy and the interaction it provides; in comparison, blogging feels like monologuing in an empty theatre. I have stopped most other kinds of writing, too. No poems, no essays, no progress on the back-burner book that was an active project last year. I am not feeling writerly these days.

Writing about Taiwan is in its own category of non-writing. When you first arrive here you are surrounded by blog material. Everything is noteworthy, intriguing, odd. After more than six years here, though, the novelty is mostly worn off, and what remains is leftover observations and complaints. One of my cardinal blogging rules is No Complaining -- it does no one any good at all -- so in the absence of anything fascinating to share my posts have dried up.

November is here, which historically is one of my least favorite months in Taiwan. It's still hot, the skies are steadily grey, and the holidays lurking around the corner will bring with them too many responsibilities: church programs, school programs, and the need to make Christmas fanciful and lovely despite being nothing like what I'm used to. This is not a problem for Tim and the kids -- this feels like home for them more than it does for me -- so really my issues with feeling untethered and without traditions are pretty contained. I am grateful that they are content with being here; I am conflicted, constantly wanting to be here and somewhere else at the same time, but I appreciate that this place and time in our lives is good. We are safe and fed and enjoy the company of some very good friends. We are healthy and busy and just generally blessed, and therefore able to wail the lament of the well-off: why can't we have all of this, plus more? So maybe now you see why I haven't written much lately. I know I do.

I have been pursuing some new interests this year: I've taken up guitar and I'm really enjoying exploring a different musical side of myself. Improvising on guitar is much more satisfying than doing so on the flute. (It's also easier to sing along to.) I've been accepted into the University of London's divinity program and will commence studies as soon as my materials arrive; I can sit my exams in Taipei, and plan to enter at least two exams this May. I am still tutoring one private student, and I lead a ladies' English club once a week. I have been setting up a new Sunday school program at our church using the Godly Play approach, and love to see the kids really connect with the stories instead of just filling in worksheets and placing stickers on a page. I think children are so close to God; it's a joy to give them the chance to work through the stories in ways that are meaningful to them.

The kids are doing well -- Nora's in kindergarten, Cole is home schooling. They are funny and kind and getting bigger all the time. Nora's reading more and more, and Cole is learning guitar along with me; they're both pretty happy with where they are.

I won't promise to write more often, but I will promise to write again. I know it would be good for my soul, like any discipline. We'll see how it goes.


Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you! Yes, I do still check your blog, huh. We will miss you-yet again-for the holidays but still feel close-just separated by a few miles!! Love, Love, Love

Anonymous said...

They didn't like my password-this is Arleen writing!!!

Unknown said...

I check your blog often, too, and I'm not related or anything! :) I enjoyed this entry. It hits home for me in many ways, but I can't articulate the sentiment nearly as well as you do. I'm glad you're back and there are no penalties for your absence!