Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Blogging Machine!

Now that the long dreaded Tuesday has passed, I can sort of start to relax. This past weekend, I read nine books and three articles, and managed to produce from all of that a six page paper on Monday, and a twenty page paper on Tuesday. On top of it, I had a Stats exam yesterday evening. While I still have another five page paper to go before Thursday, I feel like I almost have room for breathing in. Almost.

But, of course, with all the business that my 598 paper has implied, nearly everything else has been cast to the wayside. So I have to make an appointment to check out my financial aid. I have to print off a bunch of title pages for my wonderful job. I have to remember, and this is very important, to return several of my books to the library today or face bank account-curdling fines. I know there are other things too, that I'm just forgetting. I have to make an appointment with the head of the history department to see about graduation. Yes, there is much to do.

On top of that, I'd like to take a little time today, just to do not much of anything. Because doing not much of anything is a worthy and hallowed pursuit, and frankly I've been neglecting my duty toward it as of late.

This weekend won't be all that relaxing, after all. I wouldn't say that it's anti-relaxing, or especially taxing. But I'll be going out of town. I'm actually looking forward to it. I'm told that family reunions don't excite most people, and looking at my family roundabout Ohio, I can mostly understand that. But I adore my clan from Kentucky.

My family is from Pikeville, which is just about as close as you can get to West Virginia, whilst still remaining in Kentucky. It's up in the hills, as they call their mountains, and it's just about as Appalachian as you can imagine. Pikeville is the home of the infamous Hatfield and McCoy fued of historic repute, and the modern day Hillbilly Days Festival.

In other words, to come off as totally condescending and smug, Pikeville is one of those rare places that's capable of making me feel really urban and worldly. More genuinely though, I like Pikeville for all of the same reasons I liked Italy. Both have a culture that's just different than my own. I like to watch the people living out their lives every day, thinking nothing of their differentness. I like to hear their accents, and their jokes that I don't really understand. I like to find all the ways they're not like me, and all of the ways that they are. I like to concentrate on their differences until it hits me that I'm the one whose different.

Being in other cultures gives you a chance to reflect on your own. When I'm home, it's hard to remember that I like it here. When I'm away, I'm always bragging our customs up. When I'm not here, I remember that this was a nice place to grow up, and that I'm sort of attached to it, whether I like it or not. Like brave Odysseus, my identity is tied to my home, and when I'm homeless, a fundamental part of my identity is disruptured.

You've got to get away before you can come back home.