Mar 18, 2007

Over The Pond (2), Days 2-4 -- (yawn) more Durham... I think...

I just read through my entries from OTP, volume 1, especially the ones from Durham. And I seemed to be having a much better time last summer than I am having now.

That"s probably due to several things. For starters, I"m just tired. I was exhausted when I left home, and I"m still exhausted. I didn"t have my writing done, so I"ve been up til all hours trying to finish. And I"m still jet-lagged; next time I need to come to Durham at the end of my trip, not the beginning. It"s hardly worth it to come all this way and not be able to form a coherent thought.

Second, my work just isn"t up to snuff. It"s not bad, but it needs to improve on several levels to be PhD caliber. This is sobering, and depressing. More on that later.

Third, because I was scrambling to get my papers finished, I missed those things that usually ground my trips to Durham: walks along the river, enjozing the Durham Heritage Center, and especially participating in the daily prayers and services at the Cathedral. I really missed this; I"ve relied on it to calm and center me in such a strange place and situation. And I only attended once during my 4 days there. That really sucked.

All in all, it was my least memorable trip to date. As I pulled out of Durham on the train, I felt as though I hadn"t even been there. I don"t want this to happen again... which means that next time, I need to do things differently beforehand.


But, there were still highlights:
  1. I had some of my favorite, stock Durham meals -- steak pie, mash and peas at the Market Tavern with a "half" of Old Speckled Hen; fish and chips from Bimbi"s, yummy English breakfasts.
  2. I made some new friends -- Ben and Heather Blackwell, fellow Texans (at least partly) who are studying there
  3. I caught up with an old acquaintance, who is now a new friend. She is also a wife, a mother, a pastor and a student. We had a great lunch and shared our stories of complex lives, and encouraged each other and vowed to keep up online.
  4. I had a great time with Robert and his family. I helped construct a Lego bridge with his son Jamie, and spilled 3 boxes of Legos and a set of Monopoly (read between the lines -- that"s a LOT of little pieces). We ate a great dinner which was full of all sorts of new (for me) food combos -- proscuitto and melon; smoked salmon on buttered bread with a squeeze of lemon, and couscous. Plus a gin and tonic, glass of white wine, jasmine tea, and chocolate covered apricots and marzipan. Then Robert and his daughter Iona taught me to play Risk. What great people. I wish we could be friends all the time.

On Friday afternoon, I took a train back to London and got a room near Paddington Station. I took the long, winding walk up the 4 flights of stairs, dropped off my bags, and went back down for fish and chips and an apple. Then, up to watch part 1 of "Lonesome Dove" (which is great, thanks Mark), and off to sleep.

More tomorrow.


billy said...

I think that you're doing great and things will continue to improve as you spend more and more time working on it. I know that being around people who spend most of their time (professionally) concentrating on one thing or set of issues can be intimidating. And you are in an environment where you're being thrown into the pool with some of the sharpest people around. I think that you're doing great and the overwhelmingly positive feedback that I've received about your chapter in the twelve marks book and others is evidence. Keep going.....

the blackwells said...

Maria --

I thought I'd pop over to your blog to see how you are since your trip over here. I can't believe you were pelted by an egg! Crazy Brits!

I'm really glad that we had a chance to meet and I hope that we'll be able to connect again when you're back in the fall.

Bleesings on your studies!

-- heather :)