Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in. – Michael Corleone
Epics began in media res. Homer did so with the titular character in The Odyssey and George Lucas re-introduced this concept of storytelling to a modern audience in Star Wars. I can’t help but to live my life within the constraints of chronology. I’m a mere mortal after all. Yet, If I could bend time and space to recount my Fulbright year in media res, now would be the right time to set the stage for the opening scene. I’m in the fourth month of my journey. I have just recently returned from a marvellous, but exhausting journey across Asia Minor and the Apennine Peninsula which had succintly followed an expedition to the folk life and ski slopes of the Carpathian mountainside. In the last few hours, in a country far, far away…I’ve stocked my empty fridge with groceries and my washing machine with dirty laundry. Work awaits but it will not reach full swing for another few days. It is a time for reflection and recollection.
Epics rely on flashbacks to recount past events. I shall do the same here. Eventually. Paradoxically, I haven’t spoken much of my experiences in Crimea. Its beautiful landscapes, lush vineyards, and serene seaside deserve more attention than I have allowed thus far. I haven’t written about my soccer pilgrimage to Donetsk nor have I written about my surreal experience in the service of justice and democracy as an international election observer in Ukrainian local elections in Odessa. It was literally the longest day of my life. During the past three weeks I have failed miserably at picking up the bourgeois sport of skiing, traversed continents by ferry, observed Mass at the Vatican, gazed upon the breathtaking glory of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, chillaxed to Italian covers of classic rock songs in a Florentine jazz club, submitted to the allure of Turkish coffee after two decades of vehement resistance, traced the Ottoman influence on my palate and heritage tongue, bartered for fine fabrics and spices in the bazaars and side streets of Istanbul, introduced scarves to my wardrobe, informed travelers of various nationalities about the centuries-long persecution of the left-handed minority, and, most importantly, cleared my mind of all manner of worry and burden and filled my belly with cuisines par excellence. There is much to write about.
A proper rest has done me a world of good. I am motivated and hopeful of undertaking a new approach with my ETA responsibilities and dwelling into language study with a much greater intensity. There is even hope of a “less is more” apartment switch. From here on out, I begin things anew with my Fulbright year. It’s going by fast and I’m determined to make the most of it. For I know not what lies behind the horizon. It’s time to update the old resume and register for the February FSO test window, which happenstance is conveniently scheduled during the same weekend as the Fulbright orientation for the new arrivals. That means a free trip to Kyiv and a chance at redemption at the opera. Maybe I’ll stay awake for at least the first act this time around. Kyiv in February is not a tantalizing prospect from a meteorological perspective. I’m not overly fond of Star Wars though I recognize its staggering grasp on our pop culture hence the references in this entry. Hopefully the first film reference to cross my mind at the upcoming Fulbright gathering will not be the biting cold of the ice moon Hoth. That would be most unfortunate, especially since my gloves and winter hat never made it back to Crimea after the filming of my Carpathian ski slapstick comedy.