The end of a season

Last night I stepped out onto the balcony with my daughter before tucking her in to bed (a nightly ritual) expecting a brace of cold air.  Instead I was greeted by a warm – almost balmy! – breeze. Today we took a walk in Ataturk park and I noticed the red dogwood brilliant against the mud.  Spring has come.

It’s been such a strange season, this winter.  Our first snow(s) came in October, which Tutos found magical, humming every time I put her in the baby carrier (she hums when she’s content; today she hummed at steamed broccoli).  We bundled up and prepared for a long, hard winter full of the Siberian frost that last bit in 2012. And then the snow melted.  And then it snowed again.  And melted. And snowed. And melted. And snowed.  We saw green grass at least once a fortnight all winter, and altered between going outside in a sweater to bask in the sun, and bundling up in every item of clothing we own. And now, the winter we so long expected, and always seemed to be on the cusp of arriving, is over.  Odd that.

I also am not sure what I’ve done this winter.  Several times these past few weeks I’ve been visited by that vague sensation of dissatisfaction, that my time is going by, but I haven’t really applied it to anything.  In fall I applied for graduate programs.  And then I waited, and I got in and  we planned a trip to visit them all.  But apart from that I feel like my time has been spent a little bit aimlessly, or less directed and less productive than it could have been. Perhaps I should have taken my husband’s advice and rested when I could, when our daughter is napping or the babysitter is here her 8 hours a week as, even with so little accomplished, I also don’t feel rested.

The problem seems to be that I’ve spread myself over so many small tasks – trip planning, teaching a few classes here and there, the odd editing job, studying languages (Russian, Chinese, Turkish and Uyghur), pursuing a few part-time jobs I could carry with me through the next few years – that I haven’t concentrated on one thing, and in turning my attention to many, haven’t done a single one truly well. The season has passed, and I look back and can’t see one single trajectory, one project I’ve worked on (besides raising a child), one thing I’ve done well or built a knowledge base on or developed my skills in. This is definitely something I want to change – I crave focus, focusing my attention on one thing (or several; as a former/future academic I tend to have multiple projects going at once).  It’s hard to make even medium-term plans now, as the immediate future is full of unpredictables.  March 11-April 3 I’ll be back in the states visiting grad programs I was accepted to.  Then we’re back in Bishkek for…several months? Until my husband completes projects at work, his green card arrives, and he secures a job near the school/community we’ve chosen? Or will we spend some of the summer in Turkey finally bringing our daughter to visit family before we move across the Atlantic (provided Turkey is relatively more stable by that time)? I don’t even know if we’ll move in April (unlikely) or August (slightly more likely?).

But what can I do in the short-term, in the spare hours (or more often, minutes…) in the 15 days between now and when we travel March 11? Honestly, I would probably spend my time best extensively researching the schools and arriving on site with a pack of smart questions in hand – the ones I (later) wished I’d asked when I did visit weekends at Chicago and Berkeley four years back. Perhaps if I focus on that, make a really smart choice for us, I will come back with a much better sense of our timeframe and what I should focus on in that period.  Sometimes it’s hard to make choices until we’ve settled on the preliminaries.

In the meantime, it looks like another winter storm is on it’s way.  Winter isn’t over. And I still have time before deciding that I’ve squandered the season.

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