29 September 2009

Another day!

Well, I am completely done with the old apartment. We got the final word about our deposit, which was better than I expected. I was hoping that I might be able to get it all, completely back, but they deducted £25 to do some touch-up painting. Ah well, what are you going to do. I was worried about losing like £400 in a worst-case scenario. It's done now though and with the visa and the deposit back, I don't really have anything to worry about except my school and work for right now. So that's really good.

My first class at Middlesex went very well. The students all seem very keen and very interested in the subject: I suppose this is the difference between MA and BA level classes. I feel a bit like I am pretending when I teach at this level, like I may be found out to be a fraud. It's the same way I felt when I taught English to children, oddly enough. The commute was fine: about 1 hour and 40 minutes down, and on my way back, I spent some time at the British Library, so that was nice. I took a train back that only stopped once between Euston and Milton Keynes.

Otherwise, the kids are good. Yoko is good. Stephen is too busy for his own good, but I guess that I like it that way...

28 September 2009

Most recent photos of the girls

Naomi
Mei

What I'm doing today

If you are interested in what I am doing today, I am teaching and I am basically going to be using a blog to do so. The blog can be found here, and I think this is going to be a good way to keep all of the resources together. We'll see what happens...

25 September 2009

A moment now?

It's been wicked busy moving in, but I have a moment as I wait for the IT guy. We moved into the house and are completely out of the old apartment. Things should be completely settled tomorrow and we'll see how much of the deposit we'll get back some time tomorrow.

(a day later)

Okay, let's try this again. The IT guy came, saved nothing, and I had to remake the whole freaking website. Whatever.

Well, here's what I'm up to:
  • Getting ready for my class at Middlesex, starting on Monday. I have more or less finished the first class plan, but I'm taking it pretty relaxed for the first couple of weeks. I have a computer hooked up to the powperpoint machine, so this should be helpful in producing good material
  • Student induction at the OU. I have to be involved in a couple of events with the international students. I will get a lot of free food and some free beer though.
  • Starting my PhD. I have my first meeting with my supervisor on Wednesday, and she is expecting possible research questions and data samples, I guess. This is more than I thought I needed at this point, but the way we were talking yesterday sounds a bit like I might be out of here in less than three years, which is a bit intimidating and not ideal because, frankly, at this point, the money is probably close to as good as I would make working and I have almost no responsibility.
  • Supervisor's new project. My supervisor is starting a new project about 'Living with Uncertainty' about empathy and the perceived threat of terrorism. Anyway, October first and second, there are events all day that I have to be at in a sports coat, smiling and directing people to coffee.
  • Preparing for viva. I have to defend my dissertation on the 6th. This should be okay. I mean, we'll have to see.
  • Marking for Birmingham. A batch is coming in next week, I think.
I'm missing Japan a little today. Missing autumn.

21 September 2009

Fighting it all these years

Moving is over, baby. Well, not completely over, but everything is out of the old apartment and it is like 85% cleaned up. I still have some stuff to do there.

The new house has everything in it... Yoko and I were up to 1:30 this morning putting stuff away, but it was really nice. We didn't really feel it.  We were having dinner and I couldn't really believe it, in a lot of ways: two kids and house oustide of London. Naomi slept in her own room all night (!) and I ate breakfast in the conservatory. I ran, and got home around 8:00 and cut the hedges, showered (in our actual, real shower), dropped off some dry cleaning (and they gave me a cigar box!), went to the old apartment to put the covers back on the sofa cushions, and then came to work.

Now, I am supposed to be working on my paper, but instead, I am bidding on monitors on eBay. Oh, to be a committed person...

20 September 2009

20.09.09

I don’t have any Internet at the house yet, so I will be typing this at home and bringing it to work on the flash drive to make it on to the nets.

We are now completely into the house, although still have some time left before I have to give back the keys for the old place and announce it over. A little bit of cleaning left to do… And then I will wait anxiously over the weekend to see what will happen to my deposit. I am hoping to get about 80% of it back, which will allow us to by the essentials: a new computer chair, a USB to VGA adapter so we can have two monitors and, of course, a second monitor for the office. The essentials only.

The good thing about being out of the apartment is that I can now turn my subwoofer up without any concern about the neighbors. There are no neighbors.

The new house is pretty fabulous. We spent all of today moving things in, assembling shelves, cleaning the old apartment, and putting things away. Naomi enjoys playing in the garden, which is nice because it gives us a chance to not have to worry about her for a little bit. Mei can also cry in her crib when it is time to go to bed and we don’t have to deal with the sound of it being so freaking oppressive.

The garage is nice too. I have things out there and I greased up my bike for my first ride to the office tomorrow. We’ll see how long it takes. I think it will probably take between 25 and 30 minutes.

I have to go into the city this week for a meeting at Middlesex and still working on my article(s), the first of which is due on October first. Lots to think about, not a lot of energy to think about it.

More later.

19 September 2009

Some news

1. I am going to be teaching an MA class (Introduction to Research Methods) at Middlesex University from Sept. 28th. It's just one class, but given the working constraits of my studentship, I'm very lucky to find something in my area and for a whole year too. Now to get prepared...

2. We will be in Paris from 20-23 October. We're staying in what looks to be an okay area and the hotel is right across from a bakery. More later, I'm sure.

17 September 2009

One year!

I can't find a picture from exactly one year ago, when we came to England. I found this picture from Tokyo Disneyland and it describes the way things were this time last year.
Family of pensive

Ah, yes, moving was hard, what can I say, but we made it and we made another baby and I wrote a bunch of stuff. It's been a good year — hard, but good. And now we can move on to the next task, whatever that may be. This is a better description of how we feel now:

Naomi is a star

15 September 2009

More Mei

Mei

On the UK like butter on toast

So now that I have been in the UK for a year and I have my daughter's visa, I feel pretty damn positive about this country. All told, it's been a pretty good year for us. Among the good things:
  • Great healthcare. We had to take Mei in again for some ring worm. Called in the morning, got an appointment in the afternoon, waited five minutes, another great doctor--great with both of the kids, out in ten minutes, needed medicine for free. No questions, no IDs, no nothing. You don't want a public option in the States? Fine. I'm going to live in the UK with very good, free insurance.
  • Milton Keynes, for as much as I have complained about it, has a lot of advantages. Ability to ride bike off the main road on well-cared for bike paths anywhere in the city? Check. No traffic? Check. Everything conveniently available? Check. Four bedroom house within walking distance of the city centre/ train station and huge garden? Check, check, and check.
  • A job that makes me feel human. I wanted to go to school the rest of my life and I got a four year extension on that dream. And I'm getting paid to do it. Imagine that.
  • The weather. I love the weather in England. It's so effing mild. It's been like the middle of September for three months now. I really, really dig it.
  • London. Enough said.
  • Markets. These were hard to find in Japan and the States. All over the place here.
  • Oxford.
  • Bread and beer. The food in England is not great, unless you want bread and beer. Then it's pretty damn good.
  • An easier life for my wife and kids. I was worried the most about them before coming, but they have it better here than in Japan in a lot of ways. Yoko doesn't need to work. There are parks everywhere. Yoko has been able to find good friends.
So I think we will stay on another year.

Now, back to moving.

14 September 2009

Bits and pieces of moving

I am deep in the process of moving is coming along. Here is what happened today:
    • 6:13AM I woke up and realised that I won an auction overnight for a second 19 inch monitor. Great!
    • 6:55 Left to teach English
    • 7:15-8:15 Taught English
    • 8:30 Picked up Mei-mei's passport and mine from the post office centre. Visa, ftw!
    • 9:15 Went to bank with wife and children to change address, shopped for food.
    • 11ish went to school and spent forever calling energy companies, the tax office, etc. Worked a very little bit on my journal article. This and that
    • 3:00 Got home and went to the post office change my address. Needed a bunch of ID I didn't have came home, got ID, went back.
    • 3:45ish Took apart a couple of bookcases and packed some stuff.
    • 4:30ish Took said stuff to the new house, upacked some, worked on rearranging my office there.
    • 6:00ish Made way home.
    • 6:20 Ate dinner
    • 7:00 Gave kids bath
    • 7:45 More packing and cleaning while watching an interview of Larry King
    A busy day, right?

    Visa!

    Mei

    This is the pensive face of a little girl who has leave to stay in Great Britain until 31 January 2014. Way to go, Mei-mei. We'll be in Paris next month, thanks.

    13 September 2009

    Throwing in the towel

    Look, I'm not that interested in keeping up with technology when it comes to computers, I've decided. It's such a hassle. After the iMac died in May, I thought, maybe I don't really need to have the newest, best thing ever. And maybe, just maybe I don't even need Windows 7. I'm tired of trying to keep up. I've been using Windows XP for a whole year now, and I'm quite happy with it. It's fast enough, it's nice enough, and I like it. So instead of getting a new computer, I decided to get an older computer with a wicked fast processor and a good amount of RAM and just say, This is sufficient. And it is. Quite sufficient. It took me like two hours to get it up and running to my liking. I struggle through getting the Japanese working. It's all fine now. Yoko can use it. Naomi can use it. We're set. And all for only 140 quid. Seriously, I'm done with all the computer buying bullshit. Let's use what we need, and not worry about the rest.

    "New" Computer

    10 September 2009

    On being grateful

    This week, I have been slowly moving things into our new home, a mere ten minutes from our current apartment. I'm full of nostalgia as I drive back and forth. The leaves are changing and the sky is so blue--it reminds me of coming here. There were such complex feelings when we arrived; it had been so unclear whether or not we had made the right choice, but I remember all the things about the weather and the roads. Now, moving is much, much less stressful. I have two weeks left to move out of this apartment and we will be in our new house in about 11 days, giving us plenty of time to get everything from here to there and getting everything cleaned up here. I have high hopes that we will get most of our deposit back, but we'll have to see about that.

    The new house is coming together, although I had to do a serious amount of garden work on Tuesday and Wednesday as the previous occupier did the bare, bare minimum when it came to cutting the grass, meaning that there were parts of the lawn that had not been cut in three years. Where the bushes started and where the lawn ended was not immediately clear. I cut and cut for two days, and I think I made some headway, but there is a lot left to do. Moving our stuff in has felt good though and we are taking down the old pictures and getting our stuff settled. It will be nice: I won't lie. There is also some chance, I'm realizing, that we will not live in an apartment for the foreseeable future. I feel like we are moving on, that our little family is taking a step up.

    We're incredibly lucky, I realized, to be in this country with what we have, and although I don't believe in luck or providence, only the narratives of luck and providence, I feel like the narrative comes very easy for us. I'm not sure if that says more about us or the narrative, but I hope it shows that I am becoming a less negative person. So I am happy and grateful. For tonight at least.

    09 September 2009

    Wait, who is this about?

    If Bazan was once the mouthpiece for a generation of Christian indie rockers, he is now the personification of that little voice inside every former Christian's head. There's a lingering sense of guilt and confusion over renouncing God that could take a lifetime to work out. If the music this newly agnostic Bazan has created is any indication, then he made the right choice. His voice is more strong and clear as a skeptic than it ever was as a believer.

    07 September 2009

    More then and now

    Mei-mei

    Naomi!

    Rothko

    Another one of the art books I got in Newcastle was a Rothko one. I can't find the exact painting that I am getting into, but it's similar to this, with the white strip in the middle that  glows in contrast to the rest of the painting. Rothko, the book says, was influenced by Nietzsche, something I find fascinating as Rothko was a Jew. Rothko liked (again, the book said) Nietzsche's idea that some sort of transcendence can be achieved through art. For Nietzsche, this was music. For Rothko, it was burning paintings like this one.

    05 September 2009

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

    I brought back three art books from Newcastle for Naomi, including one of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Maybe a little heavy for a two year-old, but she'll grow into it:

    Back from Newcastle

    Newcastle is AMAZING! I had an amazing time. Great people, good friends, good food, good everything. Pictures, of course:

    Newcastle


    Bridge


    In the glass

    04 September 2009

    In Newcastle

    I'm in Newcastle, at the library. I have written some stuff to put up, but I am not using my own computer so I can't do it. Blah.

    Newcastle is a very hip city. Rainy, British weather, but it is very hip.

    The conference is going well. I've met/ re-connected with some good people.

    I've also been asking people the important question: who killed Sylvia Plath? If you're American, the answer is, clearly, Ted Hughes. If you're British, the answer is, clearly, Sylvia Plath.

    I've also realised it's important not to say anything when you don't know anything about something. Just listen.

    I had a dream last night.

    More later.

    02 September 2009

    Going to Newcastle

    I'm going to make a pagan sacrafice to the god of Applied Linguistics, BAAL, this weekend. BAAL being the British Association of Applied Linguistics. I'm going to be gone from about an hour from now until Saturday night, hopefully posting some pictures here and there, if there happens to be WiFi in the air. We'll see though.

    01 September 2009

    My new boots

    These are my new boots. They look great and they are killing me. I hope I can last long enough to make them comfortable.

    These are killing me!

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