23 February 2011


Well, I am back now in England, after my whirlwind tour of the States. Both Naomi and Mei are sick though, so our house is quite sedated. I was happy to be surrounded by my family again.

The trip back to the States was, in the end, quite a bit of money to spend for a conference that I probably would not have attended if I knew what it was going to be like. It wasn't bad, per sé, but it was more out of my interest than I thought and I was disappointed with the level of scholarship, although there were several very big exceptions. This is to be expected, as it was an inaugural conference.

I have learned several lessons this year so far about what I am capable of, where I fit and don't fit, and what other's perception of me is, at least academically. This will all help me get a job, I think, but it has been a bit deflating. Perhaps my next lesson won't cost £600. 

I follow this series of thoughts when I go back to the States:
  1. America!
  2. America?
  3. America?!
  4. America.
I never got to the fourth step this time though, the step where things start to make sense again and I feel like I fit in. I feel so American here and so not American there. It's hard to explain, and I would like to avoid being that guy, the guy who has been abroad too long and thinks he floats above it all. I don't float above anything: I feel like I am stuck inside this existential insecurity box that I have built for myself.

That's not to say that I feel more at home here (here being England, the country): I don't really. It's just that everything I deal with day-to-day here makes more sense to me. Like our little family has carved out our little niche here and we fit well. I remember feeling the same way when I went back to Japan: this makes sense to me right now. America never feels far away until I'm there. And then suddenly it's like I live on another planet.

I saw three films while I was back too:

  • The King's Speech. Great clothes, otherwise uninteresting.
  • The Town. Not my kind of film, but surprisingly entertaining.
  • The Social Network. My favourite of the three. Interesting AND interesting.

I also realised why I gain so much weight (or appear to gain so much weight) in such a short period of time when I am not eating like I have been the last six months or so. It has to do with making too abrupt changes to my diet so that even if I do follow my 'more in than out' ethos (and this time with moderately good attention to the nutritional value of what I ate), once I put 400-500 kCals more in my body than I usually do, my body can't process it and I immediately gain it as extra weight. Not fat though: I went up 3 kgs from last Monday, but my body fat percentage dropped substantially. I think I have to get to the weight that I want, and then ease back into eating 2,400-2,500 kCals a day, rather than just saying, Okay, this week, I'm going to eat what I want and not expect any change because I'm working out and not expecting to lose weight.

On to the next one: Going to Turkey at the end of next month, then Bristol in the middle of April, and then Ciudad Real in the beginning of May. I'm looking forward to the next two conferences much more as I know a lot more people at both and will probably feel like I fit in more.

And then, come June, the new baby will be here and I will have to put my head down and start the dreaded final push of the PhD: writing up. Writing up? I'm not sure I'm ready to say that: I'm writing up.