These Are The Things That Can Happen To You.

I've returned from Spain where I had my first Stendhal experience.

Argento's Stendhal Syndrome, 1996. Filmed in the Uffizi, Florence. Asia Argento stands near Piero della Francesca's 15th century double portrait of the Duke and Duchess of Urbino, this painting marks the beginning of modern portraiture based on antique coins.
My woozy time travel experience in Ripoll, Spain.

In Argento's film, the lead falls prey to intensely overwhelming Renaissance paintings (and also to some other unsavory experiences). Another example of a film maker granted access into a sacred space (see also Herzog). Even as I watched Stendhal Syndrome on our small and ancient television, I felt moved by the paintings. Dangerously moved, toward a joyful madness. Meeting these icons that I have admired for so long seemed destructive. If felt as though I could destroy the present while these seductive figures from the past reached out like magical ghosts inviting me to join them. Colors begin to mesmerize with great strength, faces begin to move a bit, the concrete barrier begins to dissolve and then, the art work seems penetrable. I think I've animated too many Art History articles in my head.

This is similar to the feeling I had when I arrived at Ripoll, coming face to face with the sculptural program pictured above. Experiencing a mild devastation tempered with euphoria, I momentarily lost touch with the modern world. Both physically and mentally, I drifted into the Middle Ages where this church was once alive. My breath caught in my throat and I felt frozen, both drawn to and afraid of the art. Maybe I thought I would be trapped in the 12th century. Maybe that didn't seem to be a negative thing as I so desperately wanted to truly know their world. For me there was a strong presence in the air, it gave me chills. Yet I came away from this burning with renewed passion that was subtle at the time, but has matured since I've been home. The very large book that I purchased there, filled with exhaustive documentation, still stands on my shelf wrapped in plastic. It intimidates me so I keep it there, but knowing that it waits for me, brimming with information and memories, is the most exciting thing I can think of.

In any case, this moment was one of the highlights of my life so far. A thrilling moment, complex and unwilling to be pinned down by mere printed words.

Before this day, I attended and presented at my first conference as a post-grad: alone and in another country. Wait, not completely alone. Alex gave me support more valuable than anything I own: in the many difficult months of researching and writing this paper, in the hours before the conference, right after my presentation, and helping me get to the church to finally meet Ripoll and Wilfred the Hairy.

In Other News:
School Days Travelogue: To most driving is mundane, but to me it is symbolic and the feeling I get from another four hour drive complete is that of accomplishing something rather than getting something done with. I've learned things about myself as I take on this new role. I like to drive fast, but I like to be kind to other drivers (many hours alone in the car lead to imagined inter-car dialogue and negotiations, good thing I'm carpooling next semester). I like the stimulation of aggressive drivers and the challenge of unrelenting rainstorms, which seem to occur every single day I make the trip. To reach my destination is to feel alive, never dull. It doesn't hurt also that the route through mountains is stunning, even in a monsoon.

New Hampshire, I underestimated you. 

I'm looking for a yellow exclamation sign to place atop my blue car. I saw one in Tokyo Drifter and I've been obsessed with getting one for myself. I was hoping that Alex would surprise me.
I love exclamations points.

If anyone finds a picture of this exclamation car, please send it!

My nascent career, I will call it that for a long time I think.
The sign on my door says: visit Professor J.C. Teich during these office hours to discuss your study habits. What it says to me: I am your badge of honor, here is a record even more satisfying than your diploma. It means that I have survived an ongoing challenge and here I am, still alive and better yet, still in love with the field though it tried to weed me out. Grad school is such a test. Every morning I think of this. Even if a class doesn't go as smoothly as planned or I mess up or my students mess up, we are working together to understand and fit into the world. It isn't easy work, but who wants to spend their time doing things that are easy?