08: Mass Absorption [25 March 2013]

My life has been a constant process of straightening out lines so that one sharp tug will result in a nice, neat knot that lays flat and behaves as it should, rather than a gnarled mess that I'll have to hack apart later. Cutting the Gordian knot rarely seems like the most elegant way to solve a problem.

Students complain that they're getting massive headaches because I'm asking them to think, and I'm taking that as a sign that I'm doing something right. Meanwhile, good things are being produced; I can look past the tedious and frustrating parts so long as that's still happening.

When I'm antsy from sitting in my office, I find myself a different strange place of the country to visit on the weekend. It's not really possible to drive for more than an hour without either ending up in the Gulf or bashing into the Saudi border guards, and while I felt a little claustrophobic about the size at first, I've come to appreciate how drastically the landscape changes even within this tiny little outline. There are caves and sinkholes of various sizes everywhere, which makes walking over a hollow crust of mud near the rocky areas a little nerve-wracking. Sometimes, I'll find a sand dune just sitting in the middle of an otherwise not sandy area, as if it got separated from the herd and decided to lie down in a fit of despair.

I've yet to find an agreeable list, but I've seen sources that claim up to eight species of land mammals in the country. I'm not sure what's considered part of that list, but personally, I have yet to encounter a single wild mammal.

Twice a week, I bake my own bread, and every night I make a batch of hummus. The produce here is uninspiring, and I can't be certain of the provenance of the meat, so this is how I've learned to feed myself. It took a couple of months to adjust my eating habits, but now I'm strangely not bothered by eating the exact same thing every day for the past month. Reversing the process on the other end of this trip will be equally strange, I think; there are days when I get serious beer and bacon vision, but for the most part, the environmentally-enforced abstinence doesn't bother me.

Maybe it's because I know it's only temporary.

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