June 9th, 2007

Colum Cille

Personal: Some Writing; Colum Cille; Dating; Julie; Diane; Pissarro

Feast of Colum Cille or St. Columba, among other things the (unofficial, I'm sure) patron saint of computer hackers for his having been involved (and losing) the first recorded copyright case. He's also arguably a distant relative of mine, since I can trace my Sweeney clan ancestory back past its 9th century roots to the 6th century were we (and most of the rest of Ireland) have roots in the northern O'Neil clan, and prolific love life of Niall of the Nine Hostages. I wish that I could say I spent the day typing, in honour of him, but I've felt completely crummy and have been mostly confined to bed and achey. But as I discovered the history of Irish Christianity in 1997 when I was over in Ireland and Northern Ireland with the Notre Dame Folk Choir, while the Irish were celebrating no less than the 1400th anniversary of the death of St. Columba/Columb/Colum Cille, I found that I had a particular interest in and, surprising to myself, growing devotion to this particular figure. I became most aware of it during the afternoon of Monday 26 May at St. Columb's Church in Derry, during a day of exploring the misty City Center in its old walls, when I spent time studying the details of the church before our evening concert there. That concert stood out, both for my mediations on Columb, and for some of the present spiritual struggle for peace in the city and region that we were discovering. As armoured cars had patrolled the streets in pairs (for their safety), and as we now sang and prayed for peace, I could saw Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (of 1998) John Hume and his wife Pat slip in the back after we got started and the rest of the audience settled. (We had met with him earlier, where we were startled by his becoming the only VIP who ever took it upon himself to sing for us.) So it's ten years later, and tonight's the 1410th anniversary of Colum Cille's passing, but as someone being part of the memory of the Church, and a believer in the doctrine of "the communion of the saints" where even the dead are still part of the mix of what happens in the present, I'm especially aware of him tonight.

I had a fine curried pork chop dinner at Dan and Amy's yesterday, with hours and hours of good conversation punctuated by getting the kids ready for bed in the earlier hours. They have been fabulous in being supportive through my recent adventures in dating Jen, both in really enjoying her company and welcoming her, as well as listening to me talk out the breaking-up experience. So they listened and asked questions about the last few weeks and what had been happening to me through that. I am making a point of getting ready to date again. I've had a few weeks of mourning the loss of my love-relationship with Jen, and of processing what happened, both with her and on my own. While I could very well sit with that pain and those thoughts for a long amount of time, I have decided as something of a matter of "policy" to resist such contemplative or fearful instincts and to open myself up again more quickly to other possibilities. I gave myself enough time, I thought, so that I didn't feel absolutely consumed any longer with my feelings of loss of her. Instead, I felt that there could be a time where I could be honestly open to seeing another woman for who she might be – without thinking of these feelings for an "ex," while still acknowledging that part of me inside would still be dealing with that loss. I would not want to go into something new while really still hung up on something old, of course: that would be the worst sort of callousness toward the feelings of whoever new might come into my life. But last night while looking through past emails for something else, I found a series written back and forth to Jen at the end of April and I suddenly felt like my heart had been carved out of my chest. And so that episode of pain, after a long and healing talk with Dan and Amy about everything that had happened is making me uncertain about my plans or my timing after all. But then, now, a day later that particular pain seems a day past, and my achey head seems more immediate. I suppose I should simply expect that sort of experience of the past breaking into the present as normal for a while.

I had some time out this week with other friends, punctuating my dissertation-writing, which proceeds apace, with some 80 pages done at this point. Julie and I got together on Tuesday, which was a blast after having barely seen her for two months. She was possessed by a particular craving for Olive Garden breadsticks and so we headed out into the western suburb of Brookfield so that she could fulfill that desire. Lots of catch-up talk and narratives. And then puttering around the Half-Price Books in that direction (got me a few movie favs and CDs, like the long-needed copy of U2's War to which we're listening now – and noting the coincidence of the opening track, "Sunday Bloody Sunday," and its focus on the lack of peace in the above-mentioned city of Columb, and yet my favourite in Ireland, Derry) and then to the nearby Kopp's for frozen custard (caramel pecan) and Sprecher's Root Beer on tap. We ended, rather spent, over at her and Jackie's fabulous new place on Prospect on the East Side, after picking up her friend Andrew on the way, and so I met him for the first time after hearing of him for over a year. He's staying on their sofa for three months while working at the U.S. Attorney's during his first summer break from Harvard Law. I had thought to arrange with her a later celebration for surviving her car-jacking last year – laughing at it is her coping mechanism, she says – only to realise now that it was last year at the end of May, ot the end of June like I'd been thinking that night. I also headed out with Diane on Wednesday, grabbing a sandwich and spicy seafood gumbo at a Riverwest neighbourhood tavern called Nessun Dorma that featured Italian-oriented food. So we lazed in a corner there and basically just picked up conversation from a week earlier, ultimately concluding the night with drinks at the Metro again. The art gallery across the street was featuring several works of Pissarro family members for sale, no doubt timed to work with the opening of the Camille Pissarro exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum the next day. I had thought about going to the opening, but given the way the week's social schedule filled, I figured that would be overkill and so Thursday was all about dissertating, with only breaks for food and such.