love-hate relationships

Relationships with the city you are living in are as complicated as relationships you are having with a loved one. Sometimes it is love at first sight. Often times, love fades away and you see another side of the city.

The first time I saw Taipei from the window of the airplane, I instantly felt it was a city of insane energy and endless fun. I fell in love with it the minute I landed and took the first breath of city air. A strange, unfamiliar smell promised a new adventure and a different life. I was in love for the first time. In love with a person, and in love with a new city. Every day I woke up with the feeling of excitement to be living in one of the coolest metropolitan cities in Asia. Hundreds of events were happening in all parts of the city. Every day I tried a new restaurant, and every day I was pleasantly surprised by something new. I was deeply in love, and I felt the city loved me back. I liked how cheap street food was. How sunny and hot the days were. How different the fashion style people had. How beautiful the palm trees looked at the university I was studying at. I loved how often I got compliments about my looks. How friendly all the vendors were. How organized the public transport was. How much of the nightlife I had. I liked everything and everyone at this moment. I was in love.

I loved this city for the whole one year. I broke up with my first love in a year, and something happened to my relationships with the city as well. Involuntarily, I started seeing a different side of it. And I hated it. I hated the intense, never-ending humidity when nothing ever dried out overnight. I hated having ants and lizards in my room (hello, subtropical climate). I hated the bland taste of steamed vegetables in the restaurants. I hated having rice 3 times a day. I hated being always the tallest person in the bus. I hated the times when people wanted to take a picture of me without trying to talk to me or be my friend. I hated the fact that no matter how much I studied the Chinese language, I could never have deep conversations and form close friendships with Taiwanese people. I hated meaningless parties, hangovers, and phone numbers of random guys who never wanted commitment. I hated being alone without family and friends. I hated being a foreigner. I fell out of love.

It was love-hate relationships with the city. Many years later, when I moved to live in another city, another country, I formed new relationships with a new city, but I never forgot Taipei. It was my first pure love – beautiful and ugly at the same time. And even though I left the city on a bad note with many heavy feelings in my heart, I remember it now in warm, bright colors. And I do want to give this city another chance. After all, don’t we all deserve a second chance?

Every puppy is unique

Last week we finally met our puppy Taco. We had been preparing for him for the last 2 months, watching YouTube videos, reading blogs and articles, stocking house with all the necessary pet stuff. Last week we finally met him and fell in love at first sight and sniff. Even though it has been only a week living with him, we have already learned so much about this adorable floofy doof.

Here are the things we discovered about Taco during his first week at our home:

— his coat is mostly chocolate, but he has a white spot on his chin, and it looks like he has just been eating sour cream and spilled it on himself ๐Ÿถ

— when he is super excited about his hooman, he runs and gives a smooch on the lips, just like a human being ๐Ÿ’‹

— he is a big fan of flowers and plants: he cannot pass anything green without smelling and tasting it. We think he was a botanist in another life ๐ŸŒฟ

— he loves chasing ants, and their fast moves make him really excited and playful ๐Ÿœ

— when he is in an unknown situation, he gets very clingy and does want to let you go: he is a very sensitive boy ๐Ÿ˜Š

— he falls asleep while we drive in a car. He is definitely a car loving puppy ๐Ÿš™

— he prefers yogurt to peanut butter and banana to apple ๐ŸŒ

— he has hiccups after too much playing and being too agitated๐Ÿคญ

— during our walks, he has a habit of sitting down in the middle of the street refusing to go further, and it takes a lot of effort to push him to continue the walk; we still havenโ€™t figured out what he wants to say by that ๐Ÿค”

— he loves the sight of leaves whirling in the wind โ€” it mesmerizes him ๐Ÿƒ

— in a deep sleep, he has dreams and shakes his paws as if running away from a wolf ๐Ÿพ

— he loves chewing hair and beard of his owners ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

— sometimes when he wants to sleep near you, he would put his face on your neck. We think it is an old habit of puppies sleeping on each other when being born. It is definitely something that brings him comfort and peace ๐Ÿ˜ด

— overall, he is a very sweet, affectionate and people-loving puppy, but he can be naughty and mischievous at the same time. He definitely has a big personality ๐Ÿ•โ€๐Ÿฆบ

He might outgrow some of these habits in future, but we will always love every trait and every change in him. Every puppy is unique, and Taco is no exception.

To see Tacoโ€™s growth and life journey, follow his instagram @taco.labradoodle โค๏ธ

One true sentence

Hemingway once said, if you have a blank paper in front of you and you struggle to write anything, “just write one true sentence.” Just one true statement. And then it will flow naturally.

“I feel very sad today” is my sentence.

Today I feel sad because it is raining heavily and I haven’t seen the sun for a few days. The sky is depressingly grey.

I feel sad because I was not invited to an interview for a job I thought I was fully qualified for. I spent hours on my cover letter and video resume. Years looking for a dream job.

I feel sad because the coffee did not taste good, and it did not wake me up. I look like a sloth, pushing myself to do something for the whole day.

I feel sad because I called the post office, and they still have zero information about my package which has been in transit for a month and 2 days precisely.

I feel sad because I finished watching the drama series Legend of the Blue Sea and I will never live this story with these characters again.

I feel sad because I tried to exercise today and had to switch from intermediate level core workout to a beginner one, and I was still out of breath. Out of shape.

I feel sad because, just because it is one of those days when you want to stay in bed and let the world wait.

And I thought I would not be able to write anything today. Everything starts with one true statement. It is so true.

Do you have a dream?

— Mom, do you have a dream?

— Dreams are for storytellers and helpless romantics.

— So are you saying it is a bad thing to have dreams in life?

— I am saying that it is better to have goals. Concrete, feasible aims and clear steps towards them.

— Dad always dreams.

— He dreams about impossible, unreal things. What’s the use of that?

— I don’t know. It makes him happy.

— Delusional happy. Nothing changes for him in reality. Don’t ever day-dream. Don’t waste your life.

— Have you ever had a dream?

— No, I don’t know how to dream. I don’t have enough imagination.

— So, even when you were a little kid, you never had a dear dream?

— Mm, the only thing I have ever dreamed of was to be like my sister, to look like her, to live her life, to always be together.

— You must have loved her so much.

— After she died, I stopped dreaming. Because dreaming is unreliable. You cannot control dreams. You will only get disappointed when your dreams are crushed in the brutal reality of the world.

Silence. What else can be said?

She went to her room, thinking, “If the world is so cruel, can the dreams be our comfort?”

“Unreliable, dangerous, useless, delusional,” she repeated the words without stop until she fell asleep. And in her dream, she saw her aunt take her hand and look deeply into her face. “Don’t be afraid to dream,” she said, “don’t be afraid to believe in the impossible.”

She woke up with a smile on her face and a dream in her heart.

So much time. So little time.

We have been together for 2,5 years. So many things have happened. So much time has passed since we met. So much I still haven’t said. So I am saying it now:

Thank you for being someone who came to my life when I least expected and most needed. I did not wait for you, but you came like a storm and swept me off my feet. I could not resist it. I did not want to stop it.

Thank you for being someone who has been committed from the first date. You made me part of your life from week 1. You introduced me to your friends in 2 weeks. You took me to meet your parents in 3 weeks. You took me on vacation in 4 weeks. You asked me to move in with you in a few months. You bought a house with me in a year. You asked me to share my life with you, forever.

Thank you for being someone who is so caring. You make me hot meal when I am sick. You hold my hand when I am sad. You let me sleep a bit longer. You make my tea a bit sweeter. You give me the best slice of cake.You put cream on my dry hands. You never let me carry heavy things. You ride a bike next to me even though you can go so much faster. You watch my favorite dramas with me even though you love comedy. You make me a bubble bath when I am tired. You bring me champagne for every little success I have. You are always here…when I need you, want you, miss you.

Thank you for being someone who made me believe in love again. I was lied, cheated, betrayed, misled so many times. I was broken. I unlearned to love. You were the one who showed me how to open my heart again. I learned how to love myself again and how to love you. You say, “I love you,” very often, but every time it is like the first time. Sometimes you are silent, but your hands say what you feel. I have never been touched so tenderly, so gently, so delicately. I have never been looked at with so much affection. I have never been desired so passionately. I have never been spoiled so regularly. I have never been loved so much.

Thank you for being someone who believed in me from the very beginning. You believe in my goals. You listen to my thoughts and ideas. You support my early steps in career. You share your experience. You look at my cover letters and resumes. You push me to do more blogging, more writing and creating every day. You boast to your family and friends about me. You are proud of my achievements. You cheer me up when I fail. You believe in me even when I do not believe in myself.

There are so many things I want to thank you for. So many more. I haven’t even mentioned the presents you give me, the dinners you cook for me, the trips you organize for me, the efforts you put for me to make our house the best home, the amount of hours you spend helping me achieve my dreams, the amount of love you give me every single day. Thank you for this all. Thank you for your love, for your care. For being who you are. Thank you for being the one.

So much time has passed since we met.

So little time has passed.

A whole life ahead of us…

zoom, zoom, zoom

My last class. My last zoom meeting with the students this semester. I turn off the camera, mute the microphone, relax my face, lean back on the chair, and finally put my feet on the desk – something I could never do in front of my students on zoom. It is such a liberating feeling to once again be completely yourself in your own office at home. No more worries about how messy my room looks (in case I forget to tidy it up the night before the class), how sleepy and a bit swollen my face looks because I have woken up literally 10 minutes before the zoom class, how ridiculous my sweatpants look underneath the desk as my students can only see a nice blouse on top, if the students can hear my boyfriend talking (very!) loudly on a business call in his office next door, if the WiFi is going to work through the entire class, if everyone has their cameras on and you are not just staring at yourself for two hours straight (very uncomfortable feeling, I have to say), if the planned seminar can be effectively delivered online or if it is a total disaster and I should definitely rethink the online lesson plan — all those if’s and how’s.

This sudden switch to online teaching has been a hell of a ride. Nobody was prepared for that. I remember on March 13 (three months ago already!), at 6:30 am I heard the usual, slightly annoying alarm sound, opened my eyes half way, took my phone and saw a message from my friend: on the radio, it was announced that all classes were suspended due to the pandemic. It was Friday. Everyone was happy to have an extra day off, but I had an anxious feeling that things were going to change drastically at the university (my sixth sense maybe). And next week, on Monday, the universities announced we had to deliver the rest of the Fall semester online. O-N-freaking-L-I-N-E.

I struggled a lot with this move. I was terrified to switch to online teaching. The rest of the Fall semester I taught offline, giving students writing assignments and refusing to organize online meetings. I have always struggled with the fear of public speaking, but I have managed to control it over the last 5 years of my university teaching (I still sweat every time before the class starts, but I am more used to that now). During my years of teaching, I have polished my lesson plans, teaching strategies, and techniques. I knew what I was doing, so my fear of public speaking subsided. Until the pandemic hit and the online teaching became a new norm. And the fear of something new and unknown hit me to the bottom. I remember I was angry for this switch. I was frustrated. I was completely lost. I cried a bit. I could not sleep at night. Anxiety just went 150%.

To be fair, everyone was stressed. Everyone at both universities where I am teaching. The first thing students and instructors noticed was how the universities started bombarding us with emails: every single day we would get a bunch of messages from ALL the departments imaginable about ALL sorts of policies and rules, next steps and decisions, suggestions and assumptions, pieces of advice and recommendations. Sometimes these messages were contradicting each other, which made it even more confusing for students and professors. Apart from that, as I am teaching at two different universities, I got conflicting, drastically different emails from them: one university would go this way, and the second would go another. Completely different strategies, procedures, regulations. I felt so exhausted by simply reading these emails every day.

And the students, poor students. Not only did they have to deal with the sudden switch to online delivery, many of them also had to move from their residencies and go back home, wherever home was. I got so many emails from students who were on the verge of crying because of the whole situation. Somebody had to vacate the dorm within 48 hours. Someone had to leave the country and be quarantined in another country for 14 days. Somebody’s parents lost jobs. I got such emails every other day at the end of the Fall semester. My students were stressed and shocked, and completely disoriented.

And at that moment, I realized that this was not about me. It was about the students who struggled the most and needed the most help. I instinctively understood that the biggest thing I could do was to stay connected with them. So when in two weeks, the Spring semester started, and I was asked to teach two courses, I decided to embrace my fear and do everything I could to make the classes as close to the real ones as possible. In a period of one week, I figured out how to use zoom, bought the last available Logitech camera at Walmart (camera were sold out like crazy everywhere), reconsidered how to teach the 3-month course in a period of 1 month or even less via zoom. I had to overcome my own anxiety of seeing students for the first time via camera and creating the positive atmosphere to discuss literature. Every single assignment, activity, group work, task, discussion that I have developed over 5 years had to be restructured for the online format. I recorded video lectures for my students to watch offline. I met my students online every single day. I had virtual office hours. I put every activity into a new format without sacrificing anything or removing it from the syllabus.

But, most importantly, I was always there for my students. And I felt like they needed that. I saw a lot of them suffering from isolation, loneliness, and disconnection. I felt they wanted to meet online. And even though for most of them, it was a required first-year course, I felt that at this moment of our life, at this unprecedented period, it was literature that connected us. We read poems, novels, and plays about human suffering, survival, and traumas and got inspired by the tremendous perseverance, strength, will, and an incredible spirit people demonstrate in the face of adversity. Whether a book was about the Holocaust or slavery, AIDS epidemic or homophobia, they all resonated with the students and made the events happening in the world – be it Covid-19 or protests – so significant, so relevant to all of us.

I am writing this post at the end of Spring semester, 2020, when I said goodbye to my students and waved at them for the last time on camera. I met these people virtually for the very first and last time, but the connection we built was real, absolute, and 100% authentic.

Two-wheel friend or enemy…

I do not know how to ride a bike. It is embarrassing. I am 32, and the only bike I have ever truly mastered was a tricycle when I was 5. I always feel ashamed to admit I cannot ride a bicycle. By my age, you are supposed to know that. It is like one of those life skills you obtain when still being a child: like learning how to walk or how to eat with a fork. Everyone knows how to ride a two-wheel friend. I have never met anyone who cannot.

My mother, my dad, my sister – all ride bikes well. When I was a kid, we used to ride bikes for 2 hours (one way!) to get to our summer cottage house (also called dacha, where we planted veggies, but nothing ever grew). My sister had a vintage blue bike; my mom had a heavier dark blue bike with thicker wheels, and my dad…he had some giant bike, the color of which I do not remember now. I do, however, remember the orange child seat attached to the front of his bike. This was my seat. This was my bike ride. We went to the country house every single weekend, and I quite enjoyed riding a bike … enjoyed having my dad ride a bike with me on top of it.

So say the truth, I had always been afraid of bikes. They looked like metal monsters with little control, but a lot of power. I’ve always associated this fear with an accident that took place when I was, I don’t know, maybe 6 or 7. It was a summer day, and I was bored at home. We lived in a high-rise apartment, and there was a backyard with swings and playground. A lot of kids played there, and I went to play there too. I spent two hours on the swing and was already ready go home.

When I wanted to cross the street towards my house, I realized I could not do it: 10 or 15 boys were riding bikes back and forth, speeding like crazy, not letting anyone cross the street. Swoosh, swoosh. There literary wasn’t an opening for me to cross the street. I did not know what to do. I just stood there frozen. I decided to go around the street and cross the street in another place. I was lost in my thoughts, thinking about these annoying boys and I did not see one cyclist going right towards me. I saw the big wheels approaching me. I saw the metal monster clinching its teeth. The boy thought I would jump off his way, but I stood completely paralyzed. I closed my eyes and lost my consciousness.

The next thing I remember was the dirty asphalt and the upside view of the house. I was lying on the street, and my arm was stretched in an unnatural position. It wasn’t broken, but it was definitely looking twisted. My sister found me on the street and brought me home. I remember my parents put the Russian “all-cure ointment” on my hand and told me to lie down. I was home. I was safe. The two-wheel monsters were far away.

This was the turning day in my life. It determined my absolute fear of bicycles. I could not force myself to ride a bike. And I was terrified when I saw a cyclist approaching me. When I ask my parents about this story, they always say I made it up. That it never happened, and it is just figment of my imagination. My mom would brush off and say: “Don’t tell fairy-tales. Such a serious accident never took place.”

And I wonder: how could my psyche create something that realistic? I remember everything about that day distinctly. The burning sun, the crazy speed of those cyclists, the feeling of lying on the street, the pain in my hand (although I never felt it was broken, only bruised). Did I dream it all?

Was this story true or not, but I never tried to bike much after that. I rode a bike maybe 2 more times in my life and only because of peer pressure and me not wanting to look ridiculous in the eyes of my peers.

I turned 32 this May, and my boyfriend bought a birthday present for me – gorgeous strawberry pink hybrid bike with vintage style brown leather saddle and brown wheels. It took my breath way. It did not look like an enemy. It looked like a friend I was finally ready to have in my life.

We have been riding and enjoying our bikes for a month now, almost every day. I still feel pretty frightened every time I see another cyclist approaching me. I still have issues with handlebar control, especially when going down the hill. I still sometimes wish it was a safe and familiar tricycle.

I still sometimes wish I was back to that little orange seat, feeling the breath of my dad sitting behind me and cheering my mom and sister to catch up with us.

๐ŸถFor dog-lovers only!

You will always remember your first dog. Not because it was the best, smartest, or most beautiful dog in the world, but because it was your first one. Your first furry love.

My first dog was a poodle. Like most children, at the age of 5, I decided I wanted a dog. Immediately. At any cost. Or my life is over, as I said to my parents. Needless to say, I drove my parents crazy begging for a puppy every single day. After crying and begging for it, I thought of a new strategy – a non-verbal one. Every evening, I would take my plastic dog toy, wrap the bathrobe belt around its neck, and pretend to take my puppy for a walk around the living room and in front of my parents watching TV. I would talk to my dog during these walks, pat it, and check my parents reaction to my performance. I had to act it out for the whole month, every evening, until my parents gave in and agreed to get a puppy. I won!

The day we went to choose a puppy from the breeder was the most memorable one. It is hard not have your heart melted when you see a bunch of little, curly bundles of joy and cuteness. All of them were of different shades of red and brown, but, for some weird reason, I wanted the most chocolate one, the most tanned one, as I said. I had the same weird obsession with cookies at that age: I only ate the darkest, most “tanned” cookies, refusing to eat the ones of the lighter color as they reminded me of milk and I hated milk.

At the breeder, I spotted one chocolate puppy right away. But no matter how many times I tried to engage with the puppy, he did not like me. He ran away from me (maybe I looked like Dennis the Menace for this puppy๐Ÿ˜). He even scratched me when I tried taking him in my little hands. I got upset and had tears rolling down my eyes. That chocolate one was the “ideal” puppy, I thought. Siting on the floor and figuring out the next strategy to get close to him, I did not notice that someone was licking my hand at this moment. I looked down and saw a puppy of a lighter apricot color. She was looking at me, licking my hands, and smiling with her eyes. After a minute, she lied down with her head on my knees. I looked at my parents and said: “This is the one. She chose me. We are taking her home with us.” Thus, Laura became part of our family. Our apricot bundle of happiness.

Like with your first love, you have many loving and many awkward moments with your first puppy. The awkward moments included:

๐Ÿฉ The one when my mum would ask me to watch the puppy sleeping on the sofa and I would accidentally drop it on the floor, trying to cuddle it and take into my clumsy hands. I would go for days feeling guilty, hiding the truth from my parents, and asking God to please let my dog not have a broken back.

๐Ÿฉ The one when my parents would let me walk the dog by myself, without supervision, for the first time, and I would get the dog into the puddle of black asphalt fuel oil (welcome to the USSR). My dog was participating in dog competitions at that time, so imagine how “happy” my mum was when I brought back the dog all covered in black asphalt oil which did not wash off. A truly memorable experience.

๐Ÿฉ Or the ones when we would take Laura to dog competitions and she would never win. Like never. She did have a good pedigree. Her dad, Snickers (yes, like a chocolate bar), was the champion of the country once. Laura, however, turned out to be a very shy dog, not letting anyone come too close to her or touch her. She was not enjoying the competitions too much, so we stopped participating.

Among these awkward moments, there were much more loving ones: cuddling, running around the house and playing hide-and-seek, eating ice cream together, choosing egg yolks over egg whites (I had weird food preferences, and so did my dog), tobogganing in winter, hiding under the blanket during the thunderstorm, having a staring contest, refusing to be brushed by mom, watching cartoons together, hugging when sad, and being with each other every moment of our lives.

Laura died when she was already old. By the end of her life, she had some problems with her internal organs. She could not walk or eat much. She was often in pain. Unfortunately, the day when she felt the worst, I was home alone with her. We all knew that her time was coming, and we would have to take her to the vet soon, but we did not know it was that day. My parents were at work, and I was at home. I heard Laura whining, almost crying. I ran to the hallway to see her lying down and whimpering. I called my parents immediately and they told me to hold on: they were coming from work right away and taking her to he vet. I lied down next to my dog, my face facing hers. She was in pain. I was in pain too. I was crying like never before. I knew it was the end. I was saying: “I love you, I love you, I love you.” I was saying goodbye to my best friend, my furry love, my first dog. She would forever stay in my heart.

It took 10 years for my family to finally be ready to have another dog – an adorable black Pomeranian, who they absolutely love. I grew up and moved away to build my own home and family in Canada. A year ago I saw a dog that stole my heart. It was a breed I had never seen before – labradoodle, a mix of Labrador and Poodle. Poodle, I thought. Laura, I thought. Yes, that is the one. Someone to remind me of my first dog and someone to bring completely new feelings and experiences into my life.

Decided. I am getting a puppy this summer๐Ÿถ.

Covid-19 and Caves?

Today after watching and reading news on coronavirus for hours and feeling more and more anxious about the pandemic, I thought: when was the last time I felt complete peace in my body and mind? Not just a 5-minute relief or a fleeting sense of excitement, but a feeling of absolute happiness, stillness, and inner harmony. Was it this month? Last month? Last year? After a few minutes, I finally remembered.

It was in January, almost 4 months ago. It was in Mexico, Playa del Carmen. For the first time in my life, I did snorkeling. Not the shallow water snorkeling, but the deep and dark cave diving and snorkeling, where you cannot touch the bottom, when you cannot even see the toes of your own (or someone else’s) feet. Upon entering the cave, I distinctly remember the smell. It was not the typical smell of sunscreen, swimming pool, or a touristy beach. It was a new smell – a smell of something mysterious, fresh, and unknown.

My boyfriend saw the cave: how deep it was; how dark it was; how bottomless it seemed. And instantly refused to get in. But I could not resist the urge. I made the first step, took the first plunge, and found myself in another reality. The world I knew stopped existing. Colors changed. Sounds transformed. Feelings were exaggerated. Sensations – heightened. All the noise of everyday life – cars, people, mosquitoes, animals, my own buzzing thoughts – all was mute. Put on silent. All I heard was the sound of my own heart – excited and calm at the same time. All my worries and anxieties dissipated. I lost the sense of time and space. I was blown away by the beauty of the corals below my feet. There wasn’t even any fish there. Just the silent and magnificent corrals. And when the sun ray went through the water, it lit all the corals and, I swear, I felt like I had tears running down my cheeks (yes, it turns out you can cry underwater, too). It was surreal. I was in some very beautiful fantasy movie.

I did not want to get out. My poor boyfriend was waiting for hours near the cave, feeding mosquitoes, and I kept promising to him: “One more round, another minute, I swear.” And my head disappeared under the water for the next hour. When I finally got out of the water, the silly smile did not leave my face. I just could not help it. I was so peacefully content. It was addictive, this feeling of happiness. I could never forget it.

Now, living during the turbulent time of the coronovirus pandemic and not knowing what is going to happen, I wish – right now, at this very moment – I could go snorkeling and leave the outside world above the water. Will you take the plunge? Where is that cave that can save us all?

one student, many thoughts

I have one student in my class who comes to talk to me after each seminar. Literally, after each class. And what does he say?

During the semester, we are discussing different literary texts, dealing with quite difficult topics: the Holocaust, racism, discrimination, AIDS, homosexuality, religion, segregation, colonialism, imperialism … the list goes on. We analyze poems, plays, novels, graphic novels, and short stories.

And this student has something to say about each text, every character, every single topic. He comes to me at the end of the class (when everyone else is leaving for the next class) and starts the discussion without any prelude or ending. He would just say: “I find this character so obnoxious that it is hard to believe his way of thinking about gay people in the 1980s.” He would not ask my opinion or explain why he wants to talk about it. He would just come and blurt out everything on his mind. And then, when I get into this conversation and start analyzing with him, he would just silently agree with me with a nod and leave, almost in the middle of our talk. No byes. No closure. Just like that.

First, I found it a bit unusual. Maybe I said something wrong and he left, disagreeing. Maybe I did not answer his question. But gradually I realized it was supposed to be like that. This is his way of conversing with people.

After all, not all conversations should follow the standard formality: greeting, question, elaboration, and closing remark. Maybe some people think and speak in a different way. Maybe this is how natural and spontaneous thoughts should be expressed: without any warning or structure. It is like stream-of-consciousness, but out loud. Maybe this is the whole beauty of the conversation: you never know where it is going to start or how it will end. There is no polite small talk. No cliched phrases. Just thoughts and feelings, unstructured.

Now after each class I am eagerly anticipating this student. I never know what he is going to say or what is on his mind this day. I love how a book or class makes him feel: this need to continue talking about the topic when the class is over. This unrestrained desire to express himself.

It is just one student. But so many thoughts.