12 July 2009

England is okay with me

It's been a good couple of weeks, thanks in large part to the weather. June had a couple of very warm days and I thought this meant that things would continually get warmer until, at some point, we would have to break down and fix the air conditioning in the car. Luckily, this has not been the case and weather has stayed very temperate, so much so that it is actually quite cool in the morning. This is how I imagined England in the summer and I'm happy that I have not been disappointed. For me, if it was constantly about ten degrees and sunny, I would ask for little more.

I made my way up to Birmingham on Thursday to give my presentation to the MA students there. This was my first time up even though I have a degree from the university and have been working for them for almost ten months. The drive up was nice, save that the damn car's damn CD player up and died. Otherwise, it was nice, coming in through the city and finally seeing the signs for the university and the clock tower. When I pulled into the parking lot at Westmere House, an address I have seen again and again on things mailed to me, it felt like I had come home. I met one of the professors who had written the recommendation for the OU and whom I have interacted with for years online. He was incredibly kind and personable, much the way that I had imagined him from our Internet contact.

My presentation went well, although I was intimidated initially by the crowd: no one was under thirty and I was thinking, how am I supposed to give them advice about anything? But, as happens in these cases, I pulled out my false hubris which I keep burning inside of me for occasions like this, and just did it. And it went well. Very well, in fact. I relaxed in a way that I wasn't able to do when presenting at the OU this Spring in front of my supervisor and had a really good time. The crowd was great, really kind and encouraging.

The campus is really that of a 'proper' university, in contrast to the OU which is not. There are people walking around, old buildings, restaurants, a train station. The OU, god love it, is a bit barren and the campus doesn't really inspire. I left Birmingham in the evening thinking, I hope I am back in a permanent way, one of these days. Now, however, I am planning the rest of the year: a book review to finish, my dissertation, a journal article, reworking my dissertation for the presentation in December... And we are moving in September to the house and likely travelling to Paris in October to celebrate the end of the first year and inspire us to go on. Lots to look forward to.

Oh, and Naomi is almost potty trained. How could I have missed that? This is the biggest news ever. Yesterday, I was washing the dishes and heard her saying, 'Stephen! Stephen!' and when I turned around to demand that she call me daddy, she was standing there, lips puckered, waiting for a kiss.