12 October 2012

Living on the road

I have been living the commuting life now for the last three weeks, going to London three times a week to teach. On some level, I have managed to accomplish a dream I have always had: to be a university lecturer in England. If you told 20 year-old or 25 year-old me what I do on a daily basis, they would think that I had arrived, gotten exactly what I wanted.  In a tie and sport coat, teaching 'On the Road' from a linguistics perspective. Perfect. Exactly what I wanted.

I feel excited and happy about what I'm doing too, to some extent, but it always seems to be the case with dreams, that once you achieve them, the banal elements of whatever your doing start to take over and you find yourself less impressed with whatever it is you've achieved and more aware of the difficulties of it. Not to complain, of course. I have money, good students, and an increasingly bright future.

The banalities, though. Of waiting for a train, of buying train tickets, of walking an hour every day. I have so far done a good job of using this time to breathe, as it were, take a moment to remember who I am and why I'm here and remember that before long, this will all be over. That's Oxford Circus, Stephen, you work here. Remember that, remember how blue the sky is and how everyone is bundled in the coming cold. Take a moment to just look. The banalities haven't made things difficult at all, actually, but I wonder how long that would last. I know it will be over soon, very soon, so there seems to be no sense of being stuck, of the future not coming quickly enough.

It's a series of new feelings actually. Having completed my PhD thesis, I am less aware of the date. Before, I could tell you the date without blinking. Today is the twelfth, but I only know that because I recently looked at my watch. Now, I count time in teaching weeks. This is teaching week three at Westminster and teaching week one at Middlesex. That's all I know. I said to someone the other day, 'When I was writing my thesis...' just like that, using the past tense. When I was. I am not writing my thesis anymore. I am writing three journal articles, but not my thesis. That part of my life is done. I will be correcting my thesis in a couple of months, perhaps, but not writing it ever again.

When I got my iPad this summer, I don't think I knew how much it would change my life. People talk about it that way--using this sort of big language about epic changes. I was sceptical, but I am less sceptical now. As a teacher, it has been wildly helpful in keeping things on track and being able to access things I need at any time. I thought that this might be the case, but I didn't think it would be as profound as it has been. It's been quite profound. The typing on it, which people complain about, is just something you have to get used to I think. Something you have to learn (comment here about the unwillingness of people to learn new technology, for it to just work in a way that they have expected it to). I have not brought my laptop with me yet, and today, I will be looking at my article and making comments in a text file to later insert into the Word file at home. Works well. Very well.

So what next. The countryside of Buckinghamshire is rushing by as I speed into London. I teach narrative today and an introduction to communication techniques, and then it will be the weekend. A real weekend, I guess, with no work to really do, although I'm sure that I will find some way to keep myself busy with an article or answering emails or something. The ending to this Great British adventure is coming, but not just yet.

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