I've had about as pleasant a homecoming as I could hope for. That is to say, I grumbled a bit when Mom called, "Time to get up!" although there was a reason for this, as I agreed to help her with her secretarial work this morning. We go in again tomorrow. It's probably better for me than sleeping in, and it helps her out.
I spent much of this afternoon and evening going through mail. LOTS of mail. You'd be surprised how much piles up in seven months. Bills, statements, weekly IT newsmagazines... even a few cards and letterlets. I attended to most of this stuff online even when I was in Ukraine, but the amount of paper is simply shocking. Oh, and I got my tax return, so I guess I might as well get an early start. Will they believe that my taxable income was $0? I mean, unless CWY participant allowance counts. That $7 a week we got in Poland adds up quickly! I'm glad they moved the first tax bracket up a bit. One reason I want to teach English is that it would mean fun and travel and more money than I've ever seen in my life.
Speaking of CWY, I got a copy of "Hello, World!" as a thank-you for my "exemplary donation." I'm tempted to go into a sarcastic rant (the circumstances of that donation 16 months ago are best left to your imagination), but the fact is that it looks like a really, really good book. It'll be an opportunity to see CWY from another perspective - namely all those effective programs that keep CWY in existence. Not to mention that the book was personally autographed by Jacques Hébert, author and founder of CWY and Katimavik.
I often lose sight of how amazing the opportunity to live in another country is. I don't mean Western Europe or even Japan, but someplace Different. A place where you have to struggle to understand, where you can... travel across a Zaïrian lake in a dugout and get a really cool picture of it, and then sit down with JH himself and shoot the --- I mean, wow. And Ukraine was pretty different, too - it was so much different than I thought it would be, which probably explains my disappointments. As for my depression, I think we were just there for too long. Five weeks would have been much too short, but three months would have been juuuust right. We'd be wanting more, and that would be key. People ask me if I'd do it all again and I say "No." without hesitation. But I can't lose sight of how valuable and rare my experience was. I'll carry it with me as long as I live, even after therapy.
Needless to say, I'll be going back to Ukraine, even if only to have a beer with Sasha and the crew. Taverna actually seems pretty inviting right now. And I'll never forget those beautiful summer nights... oh, if it had only ended there!
Moving on, I also got my grades back from my all-too-brief stay at NSCAD - I got an A in Foundation Video and an A+ in Basic Sound. This strikes me funny, because I worked much harder in video than in sound, which I didn't really have time to develop a passion for. Fortunately for me, the final exam in sound was worth most of our mark, and I had no trouble remembering the difference between dynamic and condenser microphones and XLR and RCA-type plugs, among other quasi-artistic technicalities. My fondest memory is of Mr. Dowden decrying the common, latently sexist usage of "male" (preferring "plugs" - the, uh, part you "plug in") and "female" ("jacks" - the part you plug in to) when the described gender-neutral alternatives are available. His last straw was when someone came into the Multimedia Cage and requested a lesbian RCA adapter.
I also got a note from my video professor, whom I shall no longer name as she would prefer to erase her traces. She liked how I was willing to describe the human condition as I saw it and said that I will create stronger work when I develop confidence about my own insights and figure out how representation really works. I really appreciated the feedback, it really taught me something as well as bringing me back in time. Before Ukraine.
I can do the former almost anywhere, but what about the latter? Is it possible to really understand representation through independent self-education? Guess I'll have to find out; I can't afford NSCAD right now (and I need to move into career-mode soon), but it's something I may come back to later on. I miss NSCAD.