The River’s Neighbor


The move this morning went more easily than any other I can remember. The people who helped me were full of cheer and good suggestions; we managed to communicate in basic Hungarian and gestures. They not only brought my things to the new place (in one trip, in a truck) but installed all the things that needed installing and brought over the cable technicians to set up the TV and internet. Although I haven’t watched TV at home in years, I think I will start doing it now (I mean, not tonight, but soon), as it will help me learn Hungarian.

After unpacking some things, I biked along the Zagyva to school; upon spotting the swans and big brown cygnets, I parked the bike, ran down the hill, and took pictures. The river is full of birds; you see them in big clusters along the banks or around the river-trees. On my ride home, I heard thick clusters of ducks.

In the morning, all I have to do is step outside, carry my bike a few steps up to the promenade, and take off; it takes five minutes to get to school, unless I take a few extra minutes to run down the bank and see the river up close. I have never lived so close to a river; at night I can step out onto the balcony and see the lights shivering in the water.


It’s so quiet that I can let my thoughts unwrap. And there’s time unwrapping, too; I look forward to seeing the river at different times of day and year, and setting out and coming home at different times.

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  • “To know that you can do better next time, unrecognizably better, and that there is no next time, and that it is a blessing there is not, there is a thought to be going on with.”

    —Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies

  • Always Different



    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In February 2022, Deep Vellum will publish her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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