Προς το ερχόμενο καλοκαίρι (Towards the coming summer)

Save for a paper I have a year to write, my semester is over.

I’m registered at the Athens Centre to begin 15 June.

A month from yesterday, I leave my job.

I took my Greek final yesterday.

On 10 June, I leave.


I’m starting to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach, that clenching in my guts that is asking the question, “Okay, big shot. Are you sure you want to do this? ‘Cause, well, it’s money where your mouth is time.”

I’ve got to figure out how to not lose whatever Greek-speaking ability I have over the next month. I’ve also got to figure out how to not get short-timer’s syndrome too badly at work.

We’re doing things right now like getting eye exams and dental appointments while I still have insurance. My own dentist appointment, this coming Tuesday, will be a nightmare, I am certain.

Before I forget, I mentioned earlier that my fabulous, brilliant, wonderful, lovely wife Megan had her own chicken which she could count, and I think that’s all public knowledge now, so I’ll take the opportunity to brag about her: she is a College of Arts and Sciences Forrest E. & Frances H. Ellis Summer Fellow, meaning that she’s being given money this summer to do what she was going to be doing anyway, which is read for her exams — only now there’s the idea that she’ll produce a publishable paper from that reading (which hopefully could be expanded into her dissertation proposal). This is a great thing, and I am very proud of her. For once, possibly even for the first time ever, we both actually have things to do this summer that further both of our interests, God be praised.

I had a good talk with my soon-to-be-Ph.D.-advisor last week, following an in-class presentation. My final paper for his class is going to take a bit to finish because of recent events rather making things a bit complicated, but I was able to present a conference-length version. In broad strokes — since I suspect I will be better off not presenting details of original research for the first time in a wild and woolly medium like this — I am looking at the question of how rhetoric in liturgy helps to build and support community and identity, and how liturgy functions as a communal memory of particular events and people, friend and foe alike. In other words, seeing how liturgy can tell us about more than just when somebody at a certain time swung a censer or elevated the Host — how liturgy itself can be seen as a source which acknowledges, engages and converses with (Iwillnotuse”dialogue”asaverbIwillnotuse”dialogue”asaverbIwillnotuse”dialogue”asaverb) other sources. One of the big things my teacher said was that scholars who focus on liturgy tend to not participate in the broader conversation, and that a liturgical specialist who specifically wants to contribute to the bigger picture has the opportunity to make a significant contribution. It seems to me that what will be important for me is to make sure I’m participating in the specialist conversations as much as I can nonetheless, so that I’m kept honest and not just snowing people who don’t know much about my interests. In that sense, it’s good that Notre Dame is just up the road.

But for the moment, there’s that clench in my gut.

This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever done.

Save for, perhaps, coming to Indiana University in the first place, six years ago.

I think I need some Pepto-Bismol.


5 Responses to “Προς το ερχόμενο καλοκαίρι (Towards the coming summer)”

  1. 1 Anna 6 May 2009 at 2:52 pm

    S’going be all right.

  2. 2 Chris Jones 6 May 2009 at 3:25 pm

    What Anna said. I hardly know you (even less well than other online acquaintances) but from where I sit what you are doing certainly has the “feel” of an authentic calling. If that’s true, then you’ll be fine. (And if it is not true, you won’t be “fine,” but then you wouldn’t want to be, would you?)

    I applaud, by the way, your determination not to use “dialogue” as a verb. In the spot where you refused to use it, even the substitute “converse” is unneeded; all the meaning you might want to convey with “converse” or “dialogue-as-a-verb” is already carried by “engage.”

    Pepto-Bismol is good, but when my stomach is really clenched a glass of champagne settles it right down.

    • 3 Richard Barrett 7 May 2009 at 9:23 am

      Champagne… good plan. Any particular preference?

      Engage/converse… heh. To me there are different shades of meaning involved, but some stylebooks may well come down on your side. I won’t get into a semantic war with somebody who just told me to drink champagne! 🙂

  3. 4 Chris Jones 7 May 2009 at 10:32 am

    Any particular preference?

    I don’t claim to be a connoisseur. I am a Northern California boy (though I now live in New England), so I am loyal to Korbel, from the Russian River.

    We discovered the medicinal properties of champagne quite by accident, many years ago. When we had been married a year, we took a road-trip vacation, and ended up in a nice hotel in the Canadian Rockies on the evening of our first wedding anniversary. We had brought a bottle of champagne for the occasion and a bit of our wedding cake that had been in the freezer for the year since the wedding. My wife was quite sick; her stomach was on strike. But she said “I don’t care how sick I am, it’s our anniversary and I am going to eat wedding cake and drink champagne!”

    Within 20 minutes or so of finishing the first glass, she was as right as rain. Since then we’ve used the champagne treatment for sour stomach, cramps, etc. on a few occasions, and it has always worked. It has the effervescence of Alka-Seltzer (but tastes a whole lot better), and I think the alcohol serves to anesthetize the affected area a little bit. But in any case, it works.

  4. 5 Jonathan 7 May 2009 at 10:57 am

    “But for the moment, there’s that clench in my gut….”

    My friend, I am so excited for you. That is the normal feeling which accompanies the anticipation of any great adventure. Excitement, coupled with a fear of the unknown. I think you are going to have an incredible time in Greece. Go with an open mind and an open heart.

    A summer in Greece….now you *know* I’m jealous. 🙂

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