Midway Through Hebrew and Other Midsummer, Mid-Life Stuff

It occurs to me that a general status update post (or any post for that matter) is long overdue.  When I started writing this one, I actually *was* midway through Hebrew.  Now with only two weeks left in the class, and fall quickly approaching, the title is a bit outdated, but the rest still holds true…

Flooding
After a nice, month-long, circular trip down to Texas this summer, we arrived back in Princeton to a flooded apartment and a bunch of ruined clothes, carpet, etc. I’m not a huge fan of insurance companies or insurance in general, but among these USAA (renter’s insurance this time) is definitely the best. Glad we have it.

Hebrew
I’m in the middle of an intensive summer language course, Hebrew this time. As with Greek last summer, I’ve had my share of eye-opening moments, triumphs, and frustrations — and the latter of those are largely the same sorts of issues as last summer, but (hoping I’ve learned and grown some) I’ll leave it there and not stick my foot in my blog-mouth with another long rant. Suffice it to say that I am challenged, but doing well, and looking forward to being able to translate my favorite book of the Old Testament: Jonah.

Ukulele
While in Texas this summer, I acquired a very nice ukulele, and am starting to realize what an under-appreciated instrument it is. The uke is LOADS of fun, easy to pick up quickly (although I’m sure difficult to master), sounds beautiful, and I can toss it in my backpack for transportation, too! I even got to lead worship with the uke at one of the seminary’s summer chapel services (and yes, I wore a Hawaiian shirt for the occasion).

Family
Amy and the kids enjoyed seeing family and friends on our road trip in July (I did, too), but things have been fairly chaotic since we’ve gotten home. First the kids got sick, then I got Lyme’s disease for awhile, and all this amidst the flood repairs and insurance cataloging. One saving grace has been the weekly summer cookouts we have on various days with various friends. It’s hard to believe that Grady starts kindergarten in just another month, but he’s definitely excited about it.  Abby will start pre-school two half-days a week, so after a summer of craziness, Amy will finally get some much needed break time.

Work
This fall I’ll be back in the teaching field again:  I accepted a part-time teaching English as a Second Language with the English School at Lawrence Road Presbyterian Church.  It’s only one night a week, but I’m pretty excited about being able to do two things I love again:  1) teach English, and 2) work with immigrant communities.  Also, my website business has been taking off like crazy — to the point where I now have clients backed up all the way into the month of October.  One client I’m excited about in particular is the Office of Evangelism for the PC(USA) — I’ll be working with them this fall to develop an evangelism website that promises to be very cool, and very, very different — and that’s all I can say right now 🙂

Beer
I’ve been brewing (with my brewing buddies, Josh and T.S.) and storing away a whole stream of beers this summer, in preparation for an Oktoberfest we’re planning to host at our apartment community (CRW).  We’ve brewed some Belgian Ales (one called JezebAle in honor of summer Hebrew) and some interesting German styles too, including a schwarzbier and an alt bier.  All good practice for the future Locke Brothers Microbrewery Monastery/SettlementHouse/Conference&RetreatCenter/School  someday.

Second Life
My “pet project” over the summer has been to immerse myself in the technology and culture of the virtual-reality world of Second Life.  I strongly believe that widespread use of virtual reality will be the next “phase” in the development of internet and communication technology.  So, I’ve created a Second Life avatar (in SL, I’m “Neill Loxingly”) and have been exploring, building and meeting all sorts of real people in this virtual world.  I have to say that outside of Second Life, I’ve encountered a lot of fear, misconception, and even condescension about virtual reality and Second Life in particular (Isn’t that just a “game?” Doesn’t it take away from “real” interactions?).  While these questions are somewhat legitimate, they also show a misunderstanding of the nature of social interaction and the technology.  But, I guess if it were something people generally understood and realized the importance of, I wouldn’t be doing it now, would I?

In Summation of Summer
In the summer between my first and second years at seminary, I finally “feel” like a real seminary student (Look, Gepetto! I’m a real boy!), and like the rhythms, the community, and the patterns of grad-school life are starting to become more natural for me and for my family.  Not to say that it’s easy — in many ways it’s been the hardest thing we’ve yet done, and probably the hardest parts are still to come.  But one year and one summer down has at least bred a sort of familiarity to this season of our lives, and we’re happy to be where we are, doing what we’re doing among great people and greater friends.


Comments

Midway Through Hebrew and Other Midsummer, Mid-Life Stuff — 2 Comments

  1. Neal, thanks for sharing. What other reason would you have a blog, than to have one more avenue to put your foot in your mouth? jk 🙂 Sounds like things got pretty tough there for a moment with you and the kids sick, the flood, grad school, etc. Glad things are going better and for the many great experiences you and your family are having in this season of life. The ukulele is such an awesome instrument. I would love to hear some of your music with the ukulele in it. Take care, bro. I will have to call you soon.

  2. I’m glad to hear you’re doing well. I still feel like a little kid who just happened to wander into grad school, lol. At least I only have two more semesters (hopefully).

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