So I arrived back in the Midwest on Saturday. I had a good break overall (didn't get enough work done, however....now I am going to be screwed again at the start of this semester. Go figure).
I wasn't able to see all of my friends in Boston, partly because some of them were gone home for break, so that was unfortunate. I had also lost some of my friends' numbers when I changed cell phones, so I couldn't hang out with everyone, including a Dominican friend of mine with whom I had a great evening together last Christmas- he had grown up on a farm so we talked about growing tropical root crops like sweet potatoes. I organized a Christmas party on the Thursday before Christmas- rather a dumb idea since everyone pretty much is traveling on that Friday, either leaving Boston or coming to Boston, so of course hardly anyone came. One friend did show up- he's a friend of mine from high school and college, and currently a relatively newly ordained Congregational minister. He introduced me to a couple of friends including, oddly, a young lady with a degree in primatology who had worked in Madagascar before- we shared a couple acquaintances. Small world, indeed. I also met a student at the Harvard School of Public Health, so we talked a bit about Paul Farmer- a truly amazing person, you should read his book.
I didn't wind up doing too much for New Year's Eve (or anything, actually). On New Year's Day I did take a trip down to Newport, RI- truly a beautiful town. I spent the day driving around Newport with a charming young lady so that was definitely a highlight of my trip home.
I also got to hang out with my cute baby niece (just a month old)! Her name is "Lyra", presumably after the heroine of Philip Pullman's abominable book series. She is still at the small and delicate stage so I tried not to hold her too much...very cute though! We also were graced with the visit from an old family friend who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Zaire just before the whole country went to hell in a handbasket (a hell from which, unfortunately, it hasn't yet escaped). She is another amazing person, and probably got me first interested in the Peace Corps
- today she studies demography, and works a lot in southern Africa. She had her 1 year old in tow. Very precocious- already walking, climbing up stairs (although he hasn't figured out how to come down yet), and trying to make gurgling noises that sound like words. He was very pacific too, with a minimum of crying, so I took every possible opportunity to hold him and play with him. He enjoyed particularly when I hand-fed him oranges- yes, he really liked oranges- but wasn't a big fan of cherries, and had a rather disgusted look on his face when we gave him a taste of a cherry. He also loved it when I showed him how to open cupboards- unfortunately he got the hang of it pretty quick, so I bet his mother's kitchen won't be safe for awhile! What a perfectly adorable little baby. His name is Amartya- I didn't realize but apparently this means 'Undying" or "Immortal" in Sanskrit- the same as a variety of other common European and Asian names like Amara, Amarantha, Akal, and Athanasios.
All in all, a fun break....now back to the grind again....)