Monday, February 16, 2015

Quarter Century

Three months seem to have gone by pretty quickly.

Things that have happened since last I updated, in the pre-wedding-in-America, pre-Thanksgiving times of 2014:

- return to America (via Paris for three hours: Notre Dame, Rue des Rosiers, a lot of baked goods) for wedding

- return to Jordan (via Amsterdam for three hours: haircut, canals, ran out of money) in time for familiarly decadent Thanksgiving dinner (I made gingerbread again)

- presentation at the Queen Rania Teacher Association's education conference at the Dead Sea. Lina, Ala, and I made a cool poster, talked about using technology in the classroom, and then got massages at our comped hotel once the event was over. Big success overall.

- return to America again (via Istanbul this time, but without a big layover) for the holiday

And then it became 2015, with much fanfare and revelry, and I suppose I'll pick up the story there.

Quick note before all the reminiscing: I'm writing on the eve of my 25th birthday, as my final hours as a 24-year-old wind down, and could probably spend some time right now posting all sorts of existential musings about the passage of time and the Marking of the Years, etc etc. But I won't, at least not for now, so that instead we can look at some nice pictures.

Highlight 1: Mom and Dad's Visit
When my flight touched down in Jordan on the now side of 2015, I was greeted belatedly with the news that due to icy road conditions, we were not going to be able to make it back to King's that night. Instead, we slept in the airport hotel, which ended up being a sort of fun adventure that staved off my jetlag for a night and replaced it with bewilderment.

Followed that crazy night up with two snow days, which I have to say is a pretty tremendous way to restart the school routine, but before the jetlag had even really worn off, I was welcoming the parents back to Jordan for a weekend of adventuring.

And we had a great time! Spent the first day visiting Jerash:

...and the next tooling around Amman, including the Citadel, Rainbow Street, and some restaurant highlights. We crammed a lot into two cold rainy days, and made the most of both the time and the weather to see a lot of what we hadn't been able to see together the first time. Good stuff.

Highlight 2: Azraq and the Eastern Desert
The past few weeks have reminded me that January and February are the slog days of the school year: you start off slow, then get into a real routine and just start powering through. Then sometimes the slog gets interrupted by little shocks, like the trip to the Eastern Desert we took some time in the middle of the Mires of January.

Turns out the eastern desert is home to very non-deserty things, like the former oasis in the Azraq Wetlands which now looks more or less like Milford, CT:

Kind of a tragic story, as the Jordanian government in the middle of the 20th century siphoned off almost all of the water and the restoration efforts are slow. But at least they're happening, and it was pretty amazing to see something so bizarrely familiar in the middle of the desert.

Said desert, of course, also contains plenty of more appropriate scenery, like a bunch of castles:

Just a reminder of how much beauty there is in this country, and how much I have left to see before the summer. But I feel great about taking care of that particular side of the country. And I'd be remiss if I left out the super fun Eastern Desert highway road signs:

Highlight 3: JYMC

And there were musical adventures, too!!

The final weekend of January was not much of a weekend at all: instrumentalists and singers from all over Jordan came to King's to participate in the third annual Jordan's Youth Music Conference, the brainchild of a teacher here. "Instrumentalists and singers" here means "twenty instrumentalists and four singers," and "all over Jordan" here means "two or three schools in Amman," but we really did rehearse for 14 hours over two days and we really did perform two songs the kids had never seen before, and I think that's something to be proud of.

I don't think there's video up yet, but I'll send it around if it emerges. I was way too frazzled for photos, so here's a shot of the seats and new sheet music all ready to go:

Highlight 4: Food, as usual
This week, the winter doldrums come to an end, with a long weekend that will see three friends and I make our way westward to Tel Aviv. Last weekend was no slouch, either, mostly because of the food.

My first of three(?) plates from the Chinese/Korean New Year/Spring Festival celebration:

Delight in the glorious beige mess, please.

And the heart-esque pancakes we put together for a six-friend Valentine's Day brunch:

And that's basically where we're at. Classes chug along - just two and a half more weeks in the term - and the weather swings from rain to sun and back again. We plan, we grade, we complain, we play board games, we think about our futures. Sometimes someone throws a party. Spring approaches, quickly enough.

I guess the next time I look at this page will be as a twenty-five-year-old, unless a fit of editing inspiration seizes me before this Study Hall is up. With any luck, there'll be adventures left to recount and pictures left to recount them with before spring turns into summer, and I'll do my damn best to keep you people in the world up to speed.

A word on the situation in Jordan? It was tense on campus, the day after Muath, and we had somber and sober discussions, some of which really felt productive (as I think it always does to air complicated feelings). But those tensions have relaxed, and school life has most definitely proceeded as normal in the last week and a half. I am generally impressed with the attitude of the student body, though I guess I haven't heard the vitriol that almost certainly makes its way around dormitory halls after we've gone to sleep.

But anyway. If you're wondering about safety, wonder not; we're fine as ever in our little walled compound, and fine in Madaba and Amman as well. The school would most definitely be taking care of us if we weren't, too.

You didn't come here for current events, though (right?), so I'll sign off for now. Three hours and twelve minutes left of twenty-four! And such mundane things left to do this evening. That's Real Life, I guess. Back soon; I owe you one for sticking with me.

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