Packing and Unpacking

koraI have moved from house to house, borough to borough, state to state, and even country to country. But I have never moved to another country on my own. At age 10 and 14, I lived in the Netherlands and Soviet Russia, respectively, but with my family. This is different. Planning for Hungary, I sharpen to my surroundings.

This afternoon, in the 77th Street subway station (6 line), I heard a kora player. (See the picture above.) Some people walked by as though nothing extraordinary were happening. How can that be? He sounded a little like Toumani Diabaté (who sounds a little like heaven, probably, if it exists):

A little earlier in the day, when heading to a doctor’s appointment, I passed through Central Park and saw a sweet scene with a tire swing. I shot an eight-second video:

I don’t usually relish doctors’ and vets’ appointments, but I am finding a thrill in taking care of things. Even Aengus and Minnaloushe have bonded. (Here they are at the vet’s yesterday, hiding together under a chair.)

at the vet

It seems at first glance that packing is tedium; unpacking, excitement. But that’s not true. The packing and unpacking happen together and depend on each other. When you say goodbye to a place, it spills open. When you open your suitcase, you see where things might go.
After posting this piece, I muted the sound on the tire swing video; it’s better that way.

  • “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

  • TEDx Talk

    Delivered at TEDx Upper West Side, April 26, 2016.



    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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