In the spirit of jeniwilliams*, ten things:
1- Today is the first day in a long while that we have low, translucent cumulus clouds dotting the skies. Recently, we have endured gray / overcast skies and intermittent heavy rain showers. Yay for dry weather. It is the "dry season" after all.
2- Yesterday, while IM'ing a friend over Skype, I had a short visit from a little furry creature. A shadow caught my attention on the window (which is about eye-level when I am seated at my desk), and when I pulled back the blinds, I locked eyes with a wild monkey! "Wyark!" (sound made by the monkey, not me, come on!) "Holy cow" (sound made by me, not the monkey). Anyway, I startled the little guy pretty good, and he immediately jumped down and ran around the building. But seriously, how crazy is this life, when I am greeted by monkeys jumping on my windowsill?
3- Also yesterday, I became victim of a random skype stalk. This Venezuelan, Jerson Rafael Salazar Chirinos, IM'ed me out of the blue, and started asking me all kinds of questions. I was somewhat excited to use my newly learned Spanish, but I quickly realized that speaking a foreign language and writing it are two very different things. My spelling quickly deteoriated into poorly-conjugated verbs and mixed-gender agreements. But I have a standing invitation to visit Valencia, VE, and if this guy comes to Oklahoma, I told him I would show him around. I am still deciding whether I was too generous in this conversation. After giving my email address, I received 10 photos of Jerson & friends, and when I agreed to show him around Oklahoma, he replied "and take me to a very cheap hotel". Yikes! I pray that is a language barrier / translation slip. Again, how crazy is this life, where I get propositioned by a random Venezuelan over Skype chat?
4- The last 5 days have been very productive research-wise!! I ran my first MM5 simulation ever, the test "storm of the century" (1993, aka "superstorm") case. After trudging through "lf2c" and "-lX11" errors, I was able to run the simulation!! Next in line is reformatting the test case to simulate hurricane ivan. Not sure that will be as simple.
5- As posted earlier, I am officially an alternate for the NSF EAPSI summer program (I applied to study in Perth, Australia). Four people (out of only twenty) must decline their offer to go to Australia for me to be elevated from the alternate list. While it is tough realizing that my proposal was not "good enough", knowing an answer has been good for me. I have found myself dreaming of what to "do" next -- of where to spend my time, what people to engage with, etc. Most of these dreams, incidentally, have not been located in the US. I've been wondering how God has used these past seven months on Barbados, and how they fit within the larger lessons that I have been learning in the last few years. Right now, I can only say that one of my new passions is to engage foreign cultures. That is incredibly enjoyable to me, and combine it with a spirit of adventure (and restlessness), I have caught myself longing to embark on another overseas journey.
6- Monday, while walking to CIMH, I had time to examine my desire to engage foreign cultures. I realized that I have a hard time establishing new relationships, even though that is something I really enjoy. I posed this question to myself, framed in the context of a larger theme of community: "why do I so often catch myself longing for my communities of the past? If life has seasons, and many of our relationships are meant for only a relatively short time, why do I continue to view myself as an "outsider" in new places?" In Barbados, I have regularly longed to connect with friends back in the states, and I still do not consider myself a "local" though I am approaching my seventh month on the island. When I moved to Norman, I proudly proclaimed my North Carolinian heritage, and even after four years at OU, still fondly look back at my days at UNC and long to reconnect with friends.
While not claiming any specific revelation, I was encouraged by the verse in Jeremiah, where God (thru his prophet) instructs the Israelites on how to live in a foreign place. He knew that during their 70-year exile into Babylon, they would long for their days in Jerusalem. He knew the natural response would be to view themselves as "outsiders" in that foreign culture. But rather than rebuking His people, God told them something surprising: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper." Essentially, God says though they are indeed outsiders, they are to engage the place as if it were their home. Instead of idling, waiting to return to a place of comfort and familiarity, God tells them to live.
I realized, that as I seek to live the lifestyle of Jeremiah 29: 4-7, moving is hard. I envy those whose calling it is to remain in one geographical place for many years ... consider yourselves blessed!!
7- I am still praying and pondering my own location and occupation during the next 12 months. My current dreams involve me teaching meteorology in a country overseas. I find my heart longing for that ... but the logistics are crazy and give me a headache. I wish they would contact me, offer me a salary and living space, and tell me to get back with them when I've decided. Unfortunately that has not happened. However, I do have tacit support from the dean of my department, and I am enjoying the process of praying about what to do next. Join with me :) Presently, Reading, Monash, Buenos Aires, Sri Lanka, and Université d'Auvergne (yes, that is in Clermont France) are options. The most appealing to me? Buenos Aires!
8- The photos of Colombia Night 2006 (held in Norman to celebrate the lives of Colombians at OU) brought about a good deal of nostalgia. Colombia rocks, and the people are just awesome! Thanks again guys for a truly wonderful week.
9- I am waiting for access to the NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data to initialize my MM5 run of Hurricane Ivan. Once granted access, I am excited to chug ahead with my main research project, namely to compare computer simulations of Ivan's winds (a function of track, intensity, and structure) to what really happened on Barbados, Grenada, and possibly St. Vincent. I'm excited to get some results!!
10- I give great props to my friends Meadow and Dave, Dan, Robin, Celia, Kenny, Andy, Mark, Bob, Tim, Ryan, Nick, and cousin Rebecca, for either hosting me in your home, or providing me a ride to/from school/church/airports/meals, or both. You guys are great friends, and I dearly miss you here in Barbados. May God bless your week ahead in ways that you would never expect!!
*jeniwilliams (AIM away message 2004)