I really ought to write my Hearing Aids paper, but my brain is having enough time quieting down after this day of rest that I need to write myself into academic productivity again.

The dance concert last night ended spectacularly (although I personally thought our second performance of Kelley's dance was the best), and we laughed ourselves silly at the roast, where Sally mimed audience thoughts during Rebecca's piece and Holly explained how Carol's piece was actually an alien abduction. Robin came to watch. I'm lucky to have good teachers here.

Got home at 2am and scrubbed my face with cold cream before crashing into a sleep full of intense dreams I no longer remember, woke up and went to Mass for the 2nd Sunday of Advent. It is a period of waiting, of contemplation, of preparation, reflection, transformation... a time of patience and readiness, which I need so badly to be reminded of right now.

And this is my prayer:
that your love may increase ever more and more
in knowledge and every kind of perception,
to discern what is of value...
(from a letter from Paul to the Philippians)

I know my parents probably still don't like my confirmation name, but Solomon has proven to be an apt one, a good reminder. (I am still mightily confused by that song of his, which I totally didn't think about back when I was 13 and chose the name.) My mind still overshadows and unbalances too much of me; I am distractable, excitable, and easily anxious when I am over-reliant on my brain, so give your servant an understanding heart! is something I've found myself struggling with and working on through the years, and boy do I need it now.

Spring semester has begun to emerge -- and I'm staying here in Lafayette, which is something I never thought I'd happily say. Dance House has a room for me to live in, Mary Beth will find a space for me in her Jazz I dance class, and I will teach and take my classes at Purdue in person and find audiobooks for the weekly commute to Columbus. There are some new things likely to come into my life; since I can't dance with the company next semester on account of my OSU course schedule, that leaves room to improve my conditioning with yoga and crossfit.

There are a few more logistical issues to sort out for the spring over the next few days, but that's coming together nicely, and I think it will be a rich and educational semester. Summer I am a bit less sure about. I need to earn some engineering credits, and I'm seeing if I can arrange to get them on the audiology department's 4-week trip to Zambia in May, but I'm still wondering whether that's a good idea. More data will help with that uncertainty, and I will get quite a bit more data tomorrow, so we'll see how that changes the picture.

I'm also excited about being allowed to program my own hearing aids for the first time tomorrow. This is highly unusual, and I believe I'm the first patient in the clinic who's being allowed such access. I'm also probably the first patient in the clinic who's emailed my audiologist detailed questions about the efficacy of various specific settings on my devices and instructions on how to enable them, so that's probably got something to do with it. (I even have screenshots!) I'm grateful to the audiology department for being such a wonderful home for my explorations.

Spring will bring some old things and some new things with it. But for the most part, it's a deepening of what I already have, which is... something I've never done. So often I reboot my life as a way to run away from past mistakes and as a way to pour my excess energy into setting up something new and shiny and unsullied; right now would be a particularly tempting and easy time to do so.

Sometimes rebooting is the right thing. We should never be scared to make a fresh start when that's what we're called to do, even if it means throwing the old away; it's one way to grow. But sometimes (and this is what I need to learn) you need to stay and work with what you have, transform it, accept that nothing's perfect, build on your foundations for a long haul. And I want to be a person who can build a home, and I want to be a person who can build a life, and I want to be a person who can look hard things in the eye and face them as a full person -- as something to be learned from and embraced, not just tolerated or dealt with or run away from.

I think I still have an extended round-the-world trip in me somewhere; it's a rite of passage I would like to craft and do, but it seems like what I need right now is not more wandering, but a pause in it where I learn to treat staying as a wonderful moment in itself and not a necessary evil to be impatiently tolerated between mad dashes. Maybe that round-the-world trip will be after graduation. Maybe it will be after retirement, or during sabbatical. Maybe it'll take place in shorter segments spread throughout my years. I don't know any of those things; we'll see. I do know that I still want to see the world -- but that I feel now like I've got all the time in the world to see it. It's not something I'm deferring and dreaming about for a Vague Someday that may never come (I'm not a fan of the deferred life plan), but it's also not something I need to cram in and do right this very moment. I can wait.

It's funny. I used to read posts like this and think "aha, I'm still the same!" but now I look back at them with fondness for my younger self. The restlessness, the nomadic tendencies, the desire for a rich life full of many wonderful projects and people and things, the joy at freedom and spontaneity -- those are all still there. I am still a wandering bird. But there are differences. I read my old post on Maker House and think about removing the "at least for a while" at the very end of it. And I read that post and think "oh, that would be a lovely place to build and be" -- but also see a small, quiet apartment nearby as the place where Future Dr. Mel will go after her moment on the swingset, where she really will be home. A space apart, not in the midst of things, where I can rest -- but where the midst of things can be easily reached.

We'll see what the future brings; such things are far away, and first I need to be here where I am, be with who I'm with, learn from what I have. Stop, wait, breathe, discern.

All right. Dinnertime, little Mel. Let's set up your computer for that paper and then go get you some food so you'll be fueled to do it.