Thus begins my graduate program. Residency at Bennington College was enjoyable, exhausting, and humbling. I am so happy to have met so many people that share the same passion for writing. It was a fantastic break from life-as-I-know-it to drive to the campus, set up camp (it did feel like camp), meet a variety of people with a variety of interests and goals and styles and lifestyles, listen to published authors and faculty, and eat very well. Some highlights:
I love in Mary Poppins when the wind changes and you know something wonderful and mysterious is about to happen.
The trade winds here in Majuro, on the other hand, never change; they are nearly always from the east. When you look for a storm, you normally look to the east. Metaphorically, however, we've got winds changing every which-way. We're about to sell our old '99 Saturn, visit old friends we haven't seen in years, buy a winter-worthy vehicle, move to a French-speaking city (Montreal, our next post), buy lots of winter coats, and drink from tap water again (glory be!).
I tell you, 2013 has been a roller coaster. Nay, one of those gut-wrenching theme park rides that drops you suddenly and then shoots you up right into the sky. Like The Rocket at Lagoon, the theme park in Utah I frequented as a young'un.
Mid-January I was having a great time meandering around Kwajalein Atoll, visiting Marshallese students participating in The Unbound Bookmaker Project on Ebeye, and then flying to the remarkably remote and stunning tropical island of Pohnpei. That's when the Ride of Life dropped me. I got some sort of tropical fever; we still don't know what it was, except that I was exhibiting all signs of dengue fever or chikungunya (another mosquito-borne disease that means "that which bends up"; check it out). I felt like I was suddenly extremely arthritic in different joints of my body, and I had 103-degree temperature and chills for three days. And a sore throat, but that doesn't fit anything. My husband couldn't find any acetaminophen and we were loathe to go to the hospital because of what we heard (collapsing roof) and because of what we had experienced in Majuro's hospital (cockroach-killing contest, anyone?). The fever broke right before we went to Nan Madol, one of the strangest places I have ever been, which is saying something because the Marshall Islands are pretty strange. It was a phenomenally beautiful trip and one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was weak but very happy.
And then we went back to Majuro and I came down with food poisoning or some type of virus that left me clutching my gut, swaying back and forth through the midnight hours, and weeping for death. Not even joking.