08 September 2011

What we take off only to put on again

In March, right around the time of the earthquake in Tohoku, I took my gloves off because the weather had gotten nicer. Today, 8 September, I put them back on: it's gotten cold again. I've been mentioning on and off how Autumn had come to the UK, but that was the nice bit of Autumn. The real UK Autumn, which I was reminded of on Tuesday and again today, is a dreary, blustery one, with rain and wind coming and going all the time. There are, of course, moments of glorious breakthrough, but only here and there. It will be raining until further notice.

I  have a distinct feeling of rounding another corner, something that always happens around this time of the year. The corner I am rounding this time leads to the homestretch, the final year of my PhD and (potentially) my time in the UK. The feeling isn't quite what I hoped or imagined. Things remain very much up in the air, with little resolution in the forseeable future. You get closer to the edge of the cliff, but you cannot see the way down into the valley until you are on the edge. You know there is a way down and you will make it to the bottom, but from this point of view, all you see is the wide open sky and a drop off.

How is that for extended metaphor?

So I have been looking for a parachute that I can hold onto as I run towards the edge. A viable Plan B, I have been calling it. A teaching position at a university in Japan seems to have made itself available, at least in theory, from September of next year, a Plan B that may very well become a Plan A, if the conditions are right. Essentially, we find ourselves in a place where we have to decide what we want in life, in terms of permanent residency. I think I want Japan, but I can't be sure of that at this point. My wife may want Japan, but not now, not next year. So we have to sort that. The problem with my potential work, my Plan B in Japan, is that it will likely require me to decide early before my other opportunities are clear.

Now, I will be looking for something that might be able to tide us over in the UK as a Plan B, some part-time work that won't require that I get a new visa necessarily and will allow me to stay on until December 2012 or January 2013, looking at other options, and potential full-time, tenured work in this country immediately (quite unlikely) or Japan from April 2013 (much, much more likely).

Plan A, to be clear, is still going to work at Lancaster, I think, depending on how long we can get funding for. If we get 18 months of full-time funding for me, I will be very happy to stay: it will give me some time to actually work on the project rather than have to immediately begin looking for work after starting there. 18 months would also give me an ending point at the beginning of the Japanese school year, meaning that I would be able to look for good jobs there from April 2014, if that were the case. So Lancaster is focus number one for the next three months (number one after the thesis, of course). I have to work on the bid, go to NYC, and make it the best it can be before the end of the year. And then it will be 2012.

Of course, the world spins on: Naomi went to school yesterday and although it looked like it would be a repeat of last year, with crying and shouting and begging not to go, she did better, only cried a bit. This morning, standing in her school uniform, she was (even as late as 8:30 when I left) saying she would go to school with no problem. If this is the case, our lives over the next month will be much easier. No fighting all morning, and Yoko will have a bit of reprieve for several hours during the day. Mia is also crying less, now happy to sit in her seat and watch people. Mei's skin is cleared up, so she is happy too. Some stability on the homefront.

I am also finishing my muscle-building, diet-ending workout experience. I have done well, I think: come up in good weight and managed to stay healthy in my eating, if still potentially eating too much. I'm a little exhausted. I've very exhausted, actually, reminding me that I need I to do everything in moderation. But I am done with my plan on Saturday and ready to start to coast a bit. I have a good, sustainable plan for maintaining the muscle I've built, and I've started to reintroduce normal food back into my life. Eating better, and more healthily. I feel good, despite being tired. I feel like I can continue on.

Yes. That's the whole point, right? Continue on, persevere, don't fall back. The press of motion is always forward, to the unknown future. Unknown, but healthy, in every way that I can control. That is something: a viable Plan A if I've ever heard of one.