29 August 2011

So long sweet summer

The summer has led to this inexplicable break from blogging, like suddenly there was nothing to say. I mentioned that autumn was in the air early this year, which was true, but it has sort of hung that way for the last six weeks.

Now, we are having the late August bank holiday, the last thing of the summer in official terms. I don't know why my memory of things is so embodied, or if everyone else is the same, but as I stepped out to the car today, the feeling was coming here for the first time, followed surprisingly by a memory of Fukuoka. Yes, the weather would have been like this in October in Fukuoka. Naomi goes back to school next Wednesday and I... well, usually I would be going to the BAAL conference, but this year I decided to skip out in favour of going to NYC in October. I think it will be better for me, but I miss BAAL. Last year it was in Aberdeen and I had a wonderful time getting away, thinking about things.

I am listening to Burial and thinking of London, where I will hopefully be once a week again in a couple of months. I like the idea of being busy.

No, this long weekend like the rest of the summer has been slow and full of fits and starts. Some time at Ikea. Lots of napping among the girls. I've been to school twice actually to improve my standing desk there based on the desk I have at home now. Basically, I figured out what some of my problems had been, namely not having a deep enough platform to place my keyboard on. I remedied that after walking around Ikea for like 30 minutes yesterday. I landed having spent only £5 and improved everything, I think, but we'll have to see tomorrow. Here it is, if you're interested:

Standing Desk August

Compare and contrast

Stand up desk

I suppose it's impossible to see the improvements in stability and comfort, but they are there.

Anyway, being a husband and a father of small kids, long weekends are times for catching up. Go to the park. Get everyone out of the house a couple of times. Make dinner. Clean. Work on the things around the house that haven't been done. Go to bed, wake up, and do it all over again.

Naomi woke with a pain in her neck from sleeping in a bad position and has been really hamming up the pain all day. She's just gotta get up and walk around and she'll be fine, but she's been lying in bed acting like the world has ended. She is by far the most sensitive of the girls at this point. Frustratingly so at times. But slowly she is becoming a little girl, someone that I don't recognise any more. I came up the stairs and she was standing there and I saw her as she will be in 15 years. What happened to you: how did you get old so quickly. The only thing I want in this world is for you to love me.

The only thing I want in this world is for you to love me--how paternity changes things...

28 August 2011

Standing desk at home

Kicks standing desk at work in the ass, actually. Way more comfortable, and got me thinking about improvements to my desk at work. I now spend more time in a day standing then I do sleeping. How cool is that.

Standing desk @ home

24 August 2011

Control and settling

More talk about eating. One day I'm going to look back on all this talk about eating for the last year and appreciate that I kept a record of it. I swear.

I got back from running intervals this morning. I realised that for them to work for me, I need to push my body, and that includes running longer (35 seconds instead of 30) and quickly going again when I get my breath back. After a couple of years of long distance running, my lungs are wicked strong, so this realistically happens quite quickly. Like 90 seconds, I can go from gasping for my life to regular breathing. So today I went hard 8 sets of 35 seconds. My left hamstring has been hurting since the beginning of this, but I have managed to not injure myself by overdoing it, which is really good news so far.

I was coming into work today, however, and thinking to myself, So what, am I going to keep doing the weight-training and intervals indefinitely? I can't keep it up forever. What will I do when I give up?

This has been the problem with my health improvements the last year or so. I have been planning for when I give up, but positioning myself to maintain a healthy lifestyle long term. My misery earlier this year which has led to me trying to put on muscle this month was really the result of the fear that I was going to return to where I was, and every little fluctuation in my weight had me depressed and back to my restricted diet. That happened almost every month until July. I need to stop doing that and start thinking about the long term plan.

So the interval running and weight training will continue, I think, for a month, and then I will go on a schedule where I do it a couple of days a week, but the rest of the time I maintain. Doing the maths of my daily lifestyle (days that I'm at work at least) I need about 2850 kCals, if I'm not doing separate exercise. Basically, I need to make peace with some things:

  • I will weigh between 72 and 75 kgs when I'm healthy. I can be 70kgs, if I want to, but it's not really my build. This probably shouldn't change. Ever.
  • My resting metabolic metabolism at this weight is around 1765 kCals a day. If I'm sedentary, I need about 2120 kCals a day. This is only going to get slower as I get older.
  • I need to eat healthy, but I need to be able to eat pizza every now and again without overeating.
  • If I am eating what I'm using, I'll be content.

So, I'm back again to trying to relax. I also realised that although I have been looking at calories by weight (which is, by all means, a great way to do it, especially if you have a scale with you when you prepare food), volume probably affects the sense of how much you're eating. I looked at some fruit and fibre cereal versus my daughter's gluten-free corn flakes today and realised that the corn flakes, as they are much lighter by comparison, take up much more volume at 30 grams, meaning that you probably eat half as much in the same time. Noted. Cherrios also appear to be about the same, so that's my new snack food I think. I had these fruit filled cereal things. Tasted great, but four of them were equivalent to a cup of cornflakes. No wonder I feel like I haven't eaten anything after I down those…

Anyway. Onward and upward. Relax, man. The world is always ending or continuing on depending on how you look at it. Look at it right, hey?

    22 August 2011

    Louis CK and Seurat


    I was listening to this bloggingheads conversation and they were talking about how Louis CK has elevated the ordinary moments of life up to art. And I thought, that reminds me of Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres: the ordinary is worth painting.


    21 August 2011

    Various notes from the field

    There's a bunch of things that have been on my mind, but I haven't gotten to them. Here they are, in some order:
    • My first week of building muscle has been a mixed success, from what I can tell. Well, the problem is that I can't tell. My body weight has gone up, my body fat (which, again, I'm not sure is well measured using the scale) has gone up a little. I'm not sure if I should expect that to happen, and everything I am reading online only makes things less clear. I am eating more, but not enjoying it because I'm worried that I'm gaining bad weight. I am watching my caloric intake, but if I go by how much I am spending on paper (RMR plus regular exercise), I should be eating like 2800-3500 kcals on any given day, and if I'm gaining muscle mass, I'm supposed to be eating over that, but I can't trust the numbers at all. I have that feeling I hate--that I'm full and want to keep eating. It's frustrating and the feeling of failure: I need to relax, but I can't. Seems to be a function of my life now.
    • Probably because of the thesis, always hanging around my neck like a millstone and/or albatross and/or dog lead. On my mind: I made a lot of progress last week, from what I can tell. I am moving from the 'what-the-hell-am-I-doing' stage to the 'here's-the-hell-what-I'm-doing-let's-see-if-I-can-defend-it' stage. This means more, and more careful, reading and writing. My writing needs to pull apart description from discussion at every level, basically. I'm working on that now, all with the fear that my supervisor might scowl at me and that scowl might turn into a 'And why are you doing X exactly?' question that I will be unable to answer.
    • We went to Jamie Oliver's Italian  (technically 'Jamie's Italian', but I find myself frustrated with people who call celebrities by their names--we don't know them, man), a new restaurant in the Milton Kenyes Centre. Although it hasn't opened yet, I received an e-mail from the OU Club this week offering tables for the preview where they fill the place up to about half capacity and try to make it work (and, therefore, 50% off) We went on Friday afternoon, with the kids and were able to get gluten-free pasta for Mei, although Naomi is now becoming difficult and moody at times and decided, unilaterally (after not wanting to share her juice) that she wasn't going to eat. Anyway, that passed, thankfully and despite a very, very hurried server ('How's everything taste? Okay? Enjoying it?' moments after serving us and then disappearing for the rest of the meal), the food was quite good. Yoko had Risotto Milanese, and I had the Sea Bass and peppers, and we shared scallop and squid ink spaghetti. While eating all this fantastic seafood that I would have avoided at all costs about four years ago, I was thinking about how changing my eating habits had apparently opened up a new world to me. I never, ever would have thought of ordering fish at a restaurant. Pizza, pasta, hamburgers, steak, maybe chicken, but certainly, certainly not fish. 
    • I did a bunch of housework this weekend, mostly a) fixing the baby-bouncer that Mei broke, but that led me to b) organising all the tools I have into one toolbox which led to c) cleaning the garage and throwing away a bunch of crap which led to d) mowing the lawn and trimming some of the bushes in the front of the house which led to e) moving the anchor for the washing line. We also went shopping at Costco which lead to desiring to return to America (oddly after having a sample of a crepe with garlic butter), b) getting petrol, and c) fixing the petrol cap upon returning to the house.
    It's been busy, I guess. The returning to America desire doesn't come that often unlike my bouts of Japanic (which I feel quite regularly and isn't worth noting every time), but I realised as I thought of the America in my mind, that the way I remember or idealise the States and what they are is quite different. I want Walt Whitman and Charlie Parker: I will probably get a guy standing on a corner drinking a Dr Pepper and eating a Snickers bar. What happened to me: I saw someone eating a Twix bar while walking in the shopping centre and thought, how low class is that. Can't we even sit down. What a judgemental  hypocritical, asshole thing to think. But that's what I thought and, again, I surprised myself.

    Insecurity: it's all insecurity. Am I a good enough father, husband, student, marker? Did I eat too much? Yelled at my kid? Got upset at my wife? Well, at least I am not eating a Twix bar outside TK Maxx in a track suit. At least I can feel good about that.

    18 August 2011

    1 year

    Although 12 July marked one year of dieting, 18 August marks one year of a healthy BMI (under 25 and no longer overweight). We need to celebrate our accomplishments where we can.

    Body and Mind

    Yoko's blog is way better than mine, recently. Much better pictures, commentary, etc. Go there for news from the family and pictures. You can get the jist of it without understanding the Japanese, I think.

    My life? Well, it's a life of the body and mind right now. First, body: I have been, it seems, putting on good weight, although as I sort of revamp the way I think about things... I still think weighing yourself and taking the body fat percentage everyday is smart, it just would be nice if there was a way to do that without having to see the information except in month averages. That's how I'm trying to treat things now: I get the reading, put it into my log and forget about. I need to focus on what I'm eating, what exercise I'm doing, and how I'm feeling. At the end of the month, I'll evaluate the numbers and see what's up. Also, it seems that taking one's body fat using the bioelectric impedance analysis (i.e., what the scale tells me) might not be exactly 'accurate'. So I'm not sure what to do. Actually, no, I know what to do: watch what I eat, exercise, and stop worrying.

    Next, mind. One thing that you find out the further you get in 'education' is how little 'learning' you actually do when you get up to this stage. I mean, you're learning, of course, but very rarely does anyone ever sit you down and say: do this and do it well. You kind of have to figure out both what it is you're supposed to do and how well you're doing it and rather than having someone else judge whether you're doing it well or not, they sort of judge whether or not you're doing a good job of convincing them that you're doing it well. It's complicated. Anyway, this week, I had some real-live 'learning' happen, and it's sort of given me some hope for the future, particularly about the structure of the thesis. So. 13ish months to go.

    Mia, not yet two months, is holding her head up and standing in this jumper thing Yoko got for her. She also slept through the night last night. One time, but it was weird. I woke up in the place that I went to sleep. In other good news, Mei's skin is almost entirely cleared up. Sceptical as I was about the wheat allergy, it does seem to have been playing a role. A big one. Take away all the gluten, just leave me my cous cous.

    Standing?

    16 August 2011

    New York, New York


    Your trip details

    Outbound: London Heathrow (LHR) to New York (Newark Liberty). NJ (EWR)
    DateDepartArriveDurationFlightCarrierFare basis
    Mon, 24 Oct 201118:00 LHR21:15 EWR08:15hBD6115COLLXNNZGB
    Return: New York (Newark Liberty). NJ (EWR) to London Heathrow (LHR)

    DateDepartArriveDurationFlightCarrierFare basis
    Sun, 30 Oct 201123:05 EWR10:15 * LHR07:10hBD6114COLLWNNZGB

    Circling II

    I don't know where my blogging energy has gone. I think it's the fact that the blogger interface is screwed up right now. Not sure why. I'm going to steal from Yoko's blog to make my content today. Need to get back to the beast, but s/he can wait.

    Exercising with Daddy

    Reaching the new stage of my healthy lifestyle has been great. I feel much better at this point. A wonder what 300-600 more kCals will do for you. My body feels much better and my psychology is doing much better too. I think I'm going to be okay. Even in the short time I've been eating more and lifting and stretching, my body has bulked up a little and I feel much more… stable. It's weird. Hard to explain. I have been lifting using this equipment, running intervals, and stretching twice a day, all to build muscle. I wish I had realised this a while ago, but working on the mindset was so important. I needed to not fall back.

    Pizza!

    Yoko made some GREAT gluten-free pizza after my last blog post. It was like Gino's East, seriously. Luckiest family man ever? Yes. Yes, I am.

    I'm going to New York. Everything is confirmed at this point: talking at Wesleyan University and Hofstra University, meeting with an informant and the editor of the Journal of Inter-religious dialogue, and a day at MoMA before going to Philly for a couple of nights to see my BFF from my college days. Will be a great trip for a lot of reasons and is exactly what I need to do at this point in my career, a year from finishing the PhD. Letting go of one vine while grabbing onto another.

    The beast is okay. After reworking my research questions, I poked a couple of holes in it, made space to add in what I need to add in. Nothing fundamental changes though: Circling. We'll see what my supervisors say about my revised questions and go from there.

    In the meanwhile, I'll be eating protein, reading and writing, and thinking about the future. 

    13 August 2011

    Muscle is not fat

    I had probably the stupidest eureka moment I have ever had this week. Today to be exact.

    After jacking around with my weight for the last year, I have been sort of miserable since May trying to stay at or around 71.5kgs, which has been my goal. Not miserable, really, but it's been hard. I weigh myself every day and any disturbance in the force would send me up. I couldn't figure it out: I was so careful to eat between 2,300-2,500 kCals a day, and I was burning at least 2,700+ most days. Why, on a dime would I go up? It didn't make any sense.

    Well, my parents were here in July and my dad and I ran about 26 miles in 7 days. I ran another 11 after he left and as I assumed, with little change to my diet, I went up. And I gave up basically. Eff it, I will watch what I eat, pay attention to my calories, but that's all I can do. I can't worry about it.

    Everyone but me could guess what has been happening: my body has been trying to build muscle and I, like an angry dictator, have been saying no, we only lose bad weight here, we don't gain good weight.

    Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I realised that I had been keeping by accident a complete record of how much fat mass I have had on my body all year. Body weight and body fat percentage. I check this every morning. Today, I played averaged did means of the average fat mass in my body for the year and, well, here they are in kilograms:
    Jan 13.96562
    Feb 13.307
    Mar 12.95116
    Apr 12.81929
    May 12.17065
    Jun12.14859
    Jul 11.63065
    Aug (to 13th) 11.29285
    So for all my handwringing, I have been steadily losing body fat. 2.8 kgs this year so far. My body, as I have been being an asshole to it, has slowly been trying to tell me something: Dude, you need more muscle and food in your body. It's fine if you're going to keep up doing what you're doing, but you're just making it hard on yourself.

    So basically for the last six months, my body has been trying to build muscle and I've been saying no and feeling miserable. The equation is/ has been working.

    Great news. I can stop worrying.

    12 August 2011

    When Paternity is hard

    Deer park

    I was speaking glowingly about paternity most of last week and the weekend and about how great it was to have a family. This coin has two sides and I'll write this with one hand while I use the other to rock the carseat. Why is there a naked two-year old shouting in the hallway?

    This week was hard at work. I slogged through comments on my thesis and cut and wrote and cut and wrote ruthlessly. It was hard, but it was good, I got to about 2pm today and I saw where I was going and how I was going to get there: a second draft on the horizon. This tough week, however, needed to be capped with a beer and pizza, from what I could tell. I didn't want to talk to anyone: I wanted to go out by myself, have dinner and go take in a film. Maybe celebrate my newfound sterility later. I'm a student still, right? Students can have a good time once in a while.

    Of course, this was not going to happen: I came home to a perpetual disorder machine, a new gluten-free house (Mei is allergic apparently), and Naomi having had a blowout with her mother. Someone pee'd the bed, Naomi can't seem to calibrate her voice for the indoors, Mia won't just go the hell to sleep, Mei is throwing things at her sister, the lounge floor is sticky with something... Pizza and beer, a quiet evening alone? No, no, that's twenty years away. You can have ten minutes at the kitchen table to drink a bit of coffee and eat some sunflower seeds, but there's some disturbance in the force upstairs brewing that you will need to take care of in five... four... three... two...

    Ugh. I'll be done feeling sorry for myself in a second. Just give me a second, hey?

    09 August 2011

    Sorority

    Mia
    Mei-mei
    New Dress 3

    Circling

    I feel like writing a blog entry again. It's been a while.

    So last week, you might have gathered that I had a bad meeting with my supervisory team. It feels like ages ago now, which is a good sign that I have gotten over my initial frustration with it. The problem with my supervision meetings is often that how something is said can badly affect what is said. What was said was important, very important for my project. How it was said was not great, owing to a number of different factors, none of which I should get into here. When, however, I was able to come down a little, I realised that, first, what was said was right, second, most of what I had written was good, it was just a mess, and third, my overall process was okay and will serve me well.

    Basically, I have a draft of my thesis at this point: a collection of all the writings I have done so far, organised, before our last meeting anyway, in a coherent way. I didn't, at any point, think this was it, I thought it was a draft, an early draft, that would give me something to work off of. And that's what it is turning out to be because I can now take my supervisors comments on the chapter they looked at and apply them across the board, saving all of us a lot of time and energy and letting me draft and draft and draft again. I think if I were to do this in a way that I worked on one chapter until it was done and moved on to the next, the chance of getting stuck would be higher. I had done my main analysis for all three chapters, I might was well have written them up.

    So this is how I approach my thesis. And the comments made by my supervisors, all great and very helpful, now get applied across the thesis. And when I come to turn in my next chapter for notes, it should be much better to read.

    That's how I'm doing it. That's how I will continue to do it. And I will submit in July of next year. That's the plan.
    .
    Otherwise, things have been going... well, going. My weight went up a bit when my parents came, which has been incredibly frustrating as I haven’t been eating (nor did I) eat more than normal. Things are settling back down finally, I think I need to relax and let my body work out it’s own cycle then trying to stay below 72 kgs at all times (which has been my goal), especially when I am working out. I think I only have the energy right now to watch what I eat and not eat too much, not try to stay at a particular, artificial weight.

    It was weird though: I woke up today and just ate and ate and ate: like 1,100 kCals and thought, crap this is going to blow my day: I’m going to be miserable all afternoon. Well, I got to work (with my simple 300 kCal lunch) and at about 11, I had the urge to drink a bunch of water and then I felt fine. Great, actually, like I wasn’t hungry. I had my lunch and don’t have any urge to snack now at 14:10. Great news, I hope this keeps up. I need to listen carefully to my body. Very, very carefully.

    I know nobody cares about this, but I do.
    .
    The one upside of being miserable with my thesis was suddenly I was aware of how great it was to have my family. The kids, the wife: they are solid. Everyday I go home and it’s the same. And I realised that even if everything else in my life falls apart, they will still be there. If we move, we will move. All of us. This is an incredible bit of stability. I’m tired, it’s hard, Mia is crying, but still. We are all there, all together. It’s a beautiful thing, really.

    Back to work? Back to work.

    08 August 2011

    How to do a PhD

    Wa back. Steps to regaining Wa this week.
    1. Deep breaths (7)
    2. Do reading suggested by supervisors
    3. Go back to work
    4. Delete where needed: be ruthless
    5. Start again
    There. I think I'll be okay.

    Seurat


    My wa

    Okay, I have totally lost my wa. Need something to get me going.

    05 August 2011

    When things are hard

    I blogged about throwing long the other day. In all the madness of my writing in July, I knew at the same time that whatever I produced could be quickly and easily rejected by my supervisors. My supervision yesterday confirmed some of these concerns and very quickly revealed problems in what I had done. Not big, unresolvable ones, but orientation and organisational ones. Basically, my second supervisor said it, 'It seems like you are working off of implicit research questions that you need to make explicit.' Yes, that's exactly the problem. The recursive nature of the PhD: you write your research questions, you do your analysis, you write up some findings, you write up your analysis, you come back to your literature review, you come back to your research questions. It all needs to be worked and reworked and reworked. Once I drill down, say explicitly what I am doing in my analysis, I can rearrange it to answer the questions explicitly.

    The problem, I think, was that I thought I was further along than I was. I am still quite far along, I just have to go back and change my scope from a narrative about something big, to a narrow research question about something small, and demonstrate my ability as a researcher, not tell some huge story about YouTube drama. I was trying to cover 1 to 100 and I need to cover 1-10. Does that make sense?

    But I felt a freedom in the way we formulated the research question. Really, I said, it can just be about the human garbage drama episode? I can use the dataset to justify what I am looking at? Of course. Of course, Stephen why hadn't you realised that like a year ago...

    I want to complain about the process, about the way the conversation went, about inter-personal conflict, but I realised like a year ago that is a waste of time. I still do it. I almost cried yesterday--can I say that?--as I told Yoko about the meeting. Couldn't believe it, what the hell is wrong with me. I worked so hard, couldn't they see that? I said to Yoko, I want to ride my bike all the way back to Niigata.

    The answer is, of course, it doesn't matter how hard you work. It doesn't matter if you have a new baby, if you pulled an all-nighter and you wrote until you were sick. All that matters is the words on the page. And to the extent that they aren't right, you need to go back and go back and go back.

    Luckily, after 18 hours of simmering, of giving the girls a bath and doing some of my own marking, I can back to the thesis this morning and started cutting and pasting. Changing the wording here, the wording there. Yes, there is something implicit here: my conclusions at this point are tacked on, trying to go beyond what I have. I can just say what I have. That's enough. I'm demonstrating that I can review the literature, find a gap, theorise, collect data, prepare it for analysis, describe it, analyse it, and show my findings. That's it. Let's just do that well, okay?

    Okay. Back to work.

    02 August 2011

    August & Everything After

    July 2011
    

    August second. Where have I been?

    The last month seems to have slipped away into a fog of writing, sleepless nights, and shuttling relatives back and forth to the airport. The M1 announces that it leads to 'The North' not 'north', a destination, not a direction. I see this, have seen this, every time I drive from Heathrow to Milton Keynes, but it still strikes me as odd. The North.

    The M1 sign, metaphorically speaking, serves as a foil, a way to connect the narrative of my life to the empirical elements of it. July was full of directions rather than destinations. Suddenly, we are not talking about the M1, but about my experience of it embedded in a series of experiences that become a narrative.

    The narrative picks up where I left off: Yoko's parents here for the first half of July and me submerged in writing. When I came out of my office to go somewhere, I was distracted and disoriented, thinking about word counts and pronoun usage. They went back on 15 July and the house was left emptier than it had been in a month. Just the five of us. I went to work for a week and wrote more and more, pulled an all nighter on 21 July and was finished, completely 100% finished, at 2pm on 22 July. Exhausted, I turned in my laptop to the IT department to fix my grinding hard disk and headed home for a week of leave.

    I only worked three weeks in July, but they were the most productive weeks of my career. I fell into my writing. It consumed me, kept me awake at night, became frighteningly central to my well being. I wrote until my eyes wouldn't stay open; literally, not metaphorically.  I'm not sure about what I produced. I'll know in the coming months and I can be more explicit about what I did. The metaphor, the extended metaphor is from American football: when it's first and ten and you have receivers open, you throw long. I threw wicked long; we'll see where the ball drops.

    .
    My parents came on 23 July and the house was full again, but in a different way. Yoko's parents tip the scales to a Japanese orientation, mine to an American. We all, of course, adapt either way: both are equally accessible and both sets of grandparents are incredibly deferential and patient and joyful, making life exceedingly easy. We went to the zoo and to the American Embassy in London (to get Mia's citizenship/passport). We went to Rainforest Cafe and walked up Regent's St. My mom brought new jeans: 30x30s as I finally had to give up on the 32x30s. They fit perfectly and I feel like I have a new lease on life in them. When your clothes are too big, you feel baggy and deprived, like something is missing. With two inches off the waist, I am confident with a straight, narrow line that leads up to a freshly pressed shirt and cleanly shaven face and haircut. Yes, confidence, something I normally pretend to have, but actually don't.

    And then, like before, on 30 July, this last Saturday, everyone was gone and we were back to the five of us. In Japan, August is filled with the sounds of Cicadas and returning of your ancestors for the Obon holiday. Here, in Milton Keynes, August is accented by the sound of the crying baby, regular and normative like a clock tick. We're also back to playing musical beds during the night. Yesterday, I started on the floor of the lounge with Mei, moved to my own bed with Mia and Yoko, then with just Yoko, then Mei and Naomi's bed with Naomi, and I woke up there, alone.

    It's now 6:45 on Tuesday morning. I didn't go to work yesterday because I misunderstood that the UK bank holiday on my Google calender only applied to Scotland. No matter: my computer was still being fixed, so I was limited in the work I could accomplish. I ran again--my dad is training for a marathon so we ran 26 miles in the week that he was here and I ran another six and 11 the last two days. I am happy to be running and not worrying about the weight flux that comes with it.

    I'm not worrying about anything now, actually. 14 months of my PhD left. 13 grant payments. 9 months until I hear about Lancaster. 5 to Christmas. 4 to Berlin. 3 to New York (I'm going to New York, I think). I'll take another week of leave in August to ride my bike and run. I have done enough for a lifetime. Next, maybe craft three journal articles which I need to start to organise this week. One on metaphor for Text and Talk. One on categorisation for Discourse and Communication. One on impoliteness for either The Journal of Pragmatics or The Journal of Politeness Research. We'll see how those go.

    .
    Autumn is creeping up on us: oddly, I felt it the last week I was at the OU. There are touches in the air when I ride my bicycle past the Buddhist temple and monastery at Willan Lake. A smell that reminds me suddenly of Thailand, the trip I took in Autumn of 2005. The memories cascade, one to another: yes, Yoko and I were starting to get serious at that time. There was so much convergence. And then I am remembering the Shinto temple in downtown Niigata when it was getting colder, drinking some hot coffee from a can that I got at the convenience store and eating 100 yen cookies. And then memories of the move here, of the bittersweetness of the ferry ride away from Niigata. And then the temples in Kyoto, the small single B&B we stayed at when we came 17 September 2008 (the first time the M1 declared the presence of the North to me), clotted cream and afternoon teas, and Oxford. Memories like a chain reaction. This and then this and then this and then this. I've spanned three years and three countries, why not another: why not a memory of standing in the Jardin de Tuileries in the sun with Yoko and Naomi and Mei, eating pastry, chocolate on our faces. Autumn is so perfect.

    But Autumn has not actually taken hold: yesterday was still quite hot. We walked around in the sun, finding ourselves at Starbucks to get coffee and let the kids play in the fountain at the Hub.  I sat and watched them and didn't think of anything, my mind blank in a way that it hasn't been in years. Mia was crying: she always cries. And then another fleeting moment, a new memory like a postcard you keep tucked away in a cigar box: I looked across the square to see Yoko in jeans and a new blouse with the girls--she's so beautiful. My wife, my children's mother, my lover.

    Perhaps I will go running this morning. Perhaps not. There isn't anything to run from anymore.
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