September 2023

September 2023

It has been too long since I have written anything, so this is just an exercise in writing.

I have been to the USA and back, and since today is the last day of summer, it seems fitting to write a relatively interesting post about my thoughts an reflections on life.


Here I sit at my standing desk in Riga, Latvia. Through my windows I see the beautiful late summer sun casting shadows on Ķīpsalas iela, and the trees across the street gently waving in the wind. I also see this mint green lamp that I bought at a Target in Boston because I was living in a dorm room for a month, and I cannot abide by overhead fluorescent lighting. I still don’t understand who thought or thinks that is a good idea. Also, we should really rethink the spelling on “fluorescent” because it just feels wrong.

View from the window

My Dead iMac

Today, I plugged in my lamp with its USA 120-volt plug using the voltage converter I bought about 6 years ago. I bought it to power my iMac which had a problem a couple months ago. The hard drive failed… I should say the fusion drive failed. This is a typical problem with the 2014 iMac (or so I have read). I had everything backed up on TimeMachine, so I thought it would be fine, but it literally took me 4 weeks to figure out a way to get the information from the TimeMachine disk onto another drive so I could access all of my data. I am still not sure what to do with the iMac. It works just fine, but replacing the internal drive seems like a bit of a nightmare. I look at this guide and just think of all the places where I could break or destroy tiny things with my big clumsy fingers. The odds of doing it right are not very good.

Gaming Rig

The fun part of the story is that once my iMac broke, no fewer than two people here offered to let me have their gaming PC rigs, so I have that going for me. I have a surplus of electronics right now, and I am just trying to figure out the best set up. I do miss my 27″ monitor, but I think I can live without it—I am good like that.

A New Job

After surviving a few months of unemployment and navigating the Latvian welfare system, I have emerged as a full-fledged public school teacher with a job as an English teacher at the Franču licejs (French Lycée). This is a public school that feels like it is private. The students all wear uniforms, and after 9th grade they have to take an entrance exam to get in. It has an excellent reputation, and I think it is a good school.

So far, I have been trying to navigate the schedule and 7th graders. This has taken a bit of adjusting on my part, for I had forgotten what 7th graders were like. I thought that working with them at a camp for a week in the summer would give me a good idea of what to expect, but it isn’t the same as dealing with the ecosystem that develops when students have been together for several years and the hierarchies and tendencies are all set.

On the other hand, I also teach 10th graders who all come from different schools, so there is no set social structure. These students act more like college students than 10th graders, and they are a joy to teach, but I can sense already that the challenging curriculum and schedule of the Latvian public school system is going to wear them down.

Overall, I look forward to seeing where this adventure takes me. I also hope that working in the Latvian school system will give me the purpose and intent to focus on learning Latvian more.

Boston and Back

This summer, I spent the month of July in Boston teaching English to students from all over the world with the Embassy Summer program. I had a wonderful time with a group of Argentinian boys as we explored both the Harvard and MIT campuses. I got to meet dear friends on the weekends, and I made some new friends along the way. It was interesting to find that other teachers in the program were also between things and searching for new adventures. I will probably write more about it in another blog that I started 2 months ago, if I ever get back to it.

At Old Ironsides with Argentinians

I guess what I wanted to do was write a bit of a reflection of what I thought of going back to the U.S. Since I have been living in Latvia, I have been back to the States 4 times, I think. I was back in New York last year for this teaching gig, and for my father’s funeral prior to that. The big takeaway I had from this trip was based on seeing the Boston Globe at my friend Nicole’s home. I was excited to have a physical copy of the daily paper to read when I was there, but I noticed something… the news is scary. It was like every story had been written to tap into some panic that a person might have. I felt this creeping anxiety about everything as I was glancing at the headlines. Was the world really this bad? Had my eyes just been closed? Or was it something else?

It isn’t like I don’t read the news. I read news stories every day and follow Twitter and other social media feed that give me an ample amount of current information. I feel like I know what is going on in the world. But there is something about the way stories are magnified in the American media (including paper and 24-hour cable feeds) that seems to create a false sense of urgency about everything. This was also felt in the general pace of life as I walked through the streets of Boston. Everything felt faster and more hurried than the pace of life here in Latvia. It isn’t something I can quantify, but I know that once I set foot back here and settled in, life felt and feels more peaceful and less anxious.

Another big difference is the weather. In Boston, it was intolerably hot, and the days that were not hot there were monsoon-like rains. Here, it has been the most pleasant end of summer that I can ever remember. We have had some big rains, but most days are just pleasant and calm, warm, sunny, but not super hot. Come to Latvia for free air conditioning all summer long!

Back in Latvia

Upon my return to the land of Letts, I have had many cultural encounters from seeing zombies perform interpretive dances to seeing a Swedish metal band in Liepāja. We went to Summer Sounds and found an 0ld cemetery near Kuldiga. We got to see Latvia excel at basketball in the FIBA worlds, coming in 5th and destroying their Baltic brothers in a grudge match. In fact, they lost Germany, who won the whole thing, by only 2 points. I have had an abundance of adventures with people here, and looking back at photos just reminds me how lucky I am to be alive and how blessed I am to be living this life. I have both nothing and everything simultaneously.

Zombie dance at the Homo Novus festival

So as the summer sun sets and autumn begins, there is this sense of urgency to take advantage of the warmth and sun that we have left before the long winter closes in. It is just amazing how easy it is to just get lost in the beauty of the season without feeling the dread of the time to come. I think this is one gift that we have as humans—to not dwell too much on the darkness in the world, and instead, embrace the light in our lives.

More Photos

Side note:

I learned from a student that some people are reading my blog. Her mother saw me at a poetry reading and recognized me because she had seen my photos here. That was a strange feeling. It wasn’t quite like being a celebrity nor did I feel stalked, but it made me rethink things. I haven’t posted a new blog in months, and this is because I started questioning why I share things online at all. I escaped from Instagram when I went to the States after realizing I was wasting a lot of time mindlessly scrolling through reels. I was just wondering why we share things online? What is this urge to say “this is what is going on in my life?” People visit places just to take a photo to post it on their social media… then what? What is gained from that? Maybe some sense of self-satisfaction?

With that said, I have returned to this blog because it is a way for me to share some thoughts with the world, practice writing and content creation while also being deliberate and thoughtful in what I share. Writing is an act of love and devotion, and I have missed writing and sharing with the world.

Peace and love to all of you who made it this far,

and here is to the First Day of Autumn!

You must have something to say...