08 May 2012

Throwing out

I got up this morning and had a yen to clear my desk at home. This led to a wholesale tearing apart of my filing cabinet and binning of documents that were important some years ago, but no longer matter. Bank statements, old MOT certificates, tax letters from 2009.

We have been in the UK for nearly four years now. Mei is turning 3 tomorrow: she was born in this country. I can't really fathom that. I said to Yoko, as we drove to the one British restaurant I like and can afford: I feel like we are going to be here for a while. That's the feeling this week. The metaphor is slowly slipping into a lukewarm bath. Ambivalence—I am oriented towards life in this country, my life in general with the deepest, profoundest ambivalence. I don't even want to floss some days.

After my deadline slipping back and not getting this job in Sweden that I was quite close to getting, I cut the grass and took the weekend off. I wanted to smoke a cigar too, but I didn't have any and there are too many calories in the whiskey on the kitchen counter for me to get really excited about it. The first week of May 2012 was the worst week of the year, apart from Mia's passport coming which I relished for about ten minutes before forgetting about... Only the thesis matters, but why rush to get done, at this point. I got an e-mail from the research school saying my deadline for submission was 30 September 2013. They put the 2013 in bold like that: are you sure you're going to submit this year? Yes, I said, yes, of course.

I'm going to be underemployed for a time, there's no two ways about it. I need to get my thesis in, but my main prospect for work, the bid that I have been working on at Lancaster for nearly a year now, will be in later than I planned, and I will, in all likelihood, stay in this country until I know whether it has gone through or not. If I'm lucky and we get the funding quickly, the job might start in October, but that is quite unlikely. It's more likely that it would start in January, in the dead of winter. At least I can close my eyes: The train to Lancaster skirts the most beautiful parts of England; all the sheep on the hills. 

Underemployed, but not poor: I can keep working part time and look for full-time work. What do they say, put out my shingle? What sort of metaphor is that? Something will happen between October 2012 and March 2013: I will find work somewhere or we will make our way back home to Japan. I don't know if I want that now. Not today, at least.

My jeans are still tight, but I am running again and realising that I may semi-permanently be stuck right between 81 and 83 kgs. as long as I train and don't take care to keep my caloric intake under 2,500 kCals. I don't have the energy to do that now: I have the energy to run and write when I need to, but not, apparently, to try to hold my body down and tame it.

Bakalava, a friend just now brings me Syrian bakalava. I ask the LORD to not lead me in temptation, even though I don't believe in the LORD or temptation. I'll take any placebo that works (as my friend Magnus says).

Before you go phoning home, I should say this malaise is the result, the direct result, of writing a PhD thesis and submitting in the next 3–6 months. That's all. I'm fine, I'm completely fine. I need people to bring me coffee sometimes, to show me patience, and leave me alone when I stare at thesis chapters printed out and spread on the floor. I need help, but not the kind of help that I can get. Difficult human endeavour, whatever it is, pushes you to a point where you have to do it, but you have to do it alone. I'm surrounded by (a metaphor) people telling me, No, do it again, no, do it again, no, do it again. 3 months, 4 months, 5 months, 8 months, whatever. Do it again, do it again, do it again.

The cleaning of the desk: I threw away payslips and receipts and water bills. Four years of administrative shit. What do I have to show for four years in the Milton Keynes, England's new city. Something, I hoped, throwing away a book of blank deposit slips I never needed. I hope I can look back at all this and say, at some point, definitively, it was worth it. It was worth it. That's a tautology, I think. If I was writing my thesis, I would delete that sentence and try again. All the best sentences are ones that have been deleted once and rewritten. I have a thesis full of them. You can always say it better.
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