29 June 2012

Back from NYC

I went to NYC. I presented, I ate too much (pizza, chocolate, cake), I turned 30. I ran 20 miles around Washington Square Park. Around and around and around. I walked through the village every night, every morning. I met incredible people, spent my birthday with one of my best friends in the whole world. Ate pizza. Thought about a world, a future starting to unfurl for me.

Now? Run 10 miles tomorrow morning, friends for the weekend (Heathrow tomorrow). Chapter to supervisors on Wednesday. Lancaster on Thursday for presentation. Half-Marathon Sunday 8 July. Interview 9 July.

I don't take pictures when I travel by myself, but here's a picture of where I was:

Arch at Washington Square Park I

26 June 2012

Happy Birthday!

Mia is one year old today! I'm sorry I'm in New York and missing the celebration...

22 June 2012

We the Kings

Before turning thirty

I meant to make a list of things I learned in my twenties, but they are more superficial than I would like:
  1. Wear clothes that fit.
  2. Go, if you get the chance (2.5 and/but, stay, if going's not your thing).
  3. Be healthy.
  4. Obsess about the right things (4.5 and/but make sure you know what the right things are before you begin obsessing).
  5. Find out how much pressure you need to put on yourself to succeed and then don't put any more or less on yourself.
  6. Eat less and feel hungry.
  7. When a baby cries on a plane, it is the sound of humanity perpetuating itself.
  8. Explaining to a four year-old why she can't wear a hijab is hard to do without the words 'culture' or 'religion.'
  9. Say yes to the people that you love when they ask you for something you can give without too much trouble.
  10. Get angry about the right things and see 4.5, replacing 'obsessing' with 'getting angry'.
  11. When you're wrong, say you're wrong.
  12. Realise that money, although not the most important thing, is pretty important.
  13. Don't exercise to eat more.
  14. Popular things can be good, too (14.5 Don't hate on Justin Beiber).
  15. There's no intrinsic positive value in being different from the majority.
  16. One mediocre jazz club that you can visit regularly is better than 200 great jazz clubs that you can never visit.
  17. Rebellion is over-rated, subversion is under-rated.
  18. Drive slowly, there are kids around.
  19. Correlation looks a hell of a lot like causation. 
  20. Speaking another language is accessing a new identity.
  21. Apologise to your parents after your kids do something shitty to you that you did to your parents twenty years ago.
  22. Lose a hell of a lot of money at least once. 
  23. Some people are just not going to work as hard as you. That's okay.
  24. The morning is really nice, actually.
  25. Being three hours by train from Paris is only good if you actually ride that train every now and then.
  26. Running on days when it rains is much more important than running on days when it's not.
  27. A folk notion of 'karma' is actually pretty useful.
  28. Pragmatism, not idealism.
  29. Believing in your own self-efficacy is important for attaining self-efficacy. 
  30. Travelling abroad is magical, living abroad is not.
  31. Food that doesn't look appetising to you is the food that you need to try to eat. You might eventually like it.
  32. Marriage is not anything like you think it will be.
  33. People everywhere are not 'pretty much the same'. Anyone who tells you that after travelling for ten days in Europe only spoke English to people who were trying to take their money.
  34. When you don't know, say you don't know.
  35. Nuance is really important for just about everything.
  36. Small choices accumulate into a life story. 
  37. Some choices matter and some don't. Unfortunately, most of the time, you don't know which are which until after the fact, so best to treat every choice with some care.
  38. Having kids is, at first, much harder that you expected, and eventually much easier than you expected.
  39. Believe in what you want (and read that statement both ways).
  40. Hold more than one currency, but don't invest in the Euro in 2007.
  41. Remember that people like positive people. 
That's enough for today.

20 June 2012

Choosing happiness

Okay, I had a nice week of feeling sorry for myself. Now to be happy and successful. The future is as bright as I want to be and I want the brightest future possible.

Eat a leaf. No one's stopping you.

18 June 2012

I want to blog

I want to blog, but as I start, Outlook informs me I have a new e-mail:
Thank you for your application for the above job.  After careful consideration I regret to inform you that you have not been shortlisted for this job and we will not be proceeding with your application.
I want to blog, but there is so much to do otherwise. Until 10 July? 20 July? 3 August? Those are my last three deadlines for thesis chapters (and first draft of whole thing), but I know these numbers are negotiable. I sense, although I am resisting with everything in my being, that my 3 August deadline will become 31 August. This extension would only mean another two weeks tacked on to my final deadline, but it would feel like more failing. I feel like such a failure at this point, how much more failure can a guy endure.

I haven't failed that much.

It took me everything I could to get out of bed today to run. I have three weeks until the half marathon, but the training has just been a head fake for me to run and stay healthy. Today was that moment during training when you either keep going or you quit. I got out and ran my six miles despite everything telling me to not go. I needed to run six miles today, mostly because the last two times I ran (on Saturday and Sunday) I was exhausted and I had to walk (walk?!) a bit on Saturday when my left leg fell asleep. I felt, again, like such a failure.

Today, however, I made it through the whole run. I didn't get out at 5AM like I wanted, but I got out and in the rain, none-the-less.

I said to the famed older brother on the last night we were in Minneapolis and getting into the car to go buy a pacifier for his daughter, 'I just want you to know that if we die tonight, I really had a good time hanging out with you this last week.' I said this in jest because it was raining very hard, but it was true: being at home with my family, surrounded by family for ten days, reminded me how important family is. And everyone is old enough to not argue recklessly, something that used to be a problem in the early twenties. Now, we have a much more... gentle interaction. Everyone. Don't talk politics and don't throw stones: this is the best advice Radiohead has ever given me. And I include religion in 'politics'. It's a lower-case 'p' after all.

Yesterday was Father's Day: Yoko and the girls gave me some coffee beans and we went to Starbucks. Seeing as I procured an iPad recently, I made Yoko promise not to get me anything else for my birthday or Father's Day. The iPad is enough. I was talking about it again yesterday and Yoko was like, 'You're still looking for reasons to buy it, aren't you?' and I was. I am. It has met and exceeded my expectations, like the Saddleback bag. It always feels good to buy something expensive and then have it be better than what you wanted. The iPad is certainly that: I got a nice case too and have a good screen protector coming. The whole shabang. But still. It'll be about $500 altogether in the end and that's a lot of dollars.

I promise a post about turning 30 eventually. But really, all I want next year (and for the whole of my thirties) is to be a better father and improve my posture. That's all.

14 June 2012

Three girls

The Family

I like this picture of us on the wedding day.

On coming/going home

I went home to the States last week for my sister's wedding. Going back to the States is always a mixed bag, but this time was okay. Mostly good. Almost all good.

The wedding itself was beautiful, the maths literate younger sister also beautiful in the way that only she could be. I stood up there in front of everyone as a groomsmen, watching it happening and thinking about almost nothing. Not surreal. Very real. They kissed and the ceremony finished and it was like it had always been.

There's so much to say about the whole thing but so difficult to put into words.

Travelling with kids: better this time than in the past. I said to Yoko that we were at the end of the very difficult travelling years. Naomi is now old enough to help, not just get in the way. She tried to stay asleep on the plane rather than trying to stay awake. Mei could be reasoned with and slept well for portions of the trip. I saw a future where they ordered their own meals, cut their own chicken, and let me read American Way in peace.

I woke up early this morning, exhausted, but determined to run. I came home, had a job interview on Skype and then slept again before going to work. I got little done today, just a little reorientation. I am 80% of the way. I just need to get to the end over the next couple of months. A draft will go to my supervisors by the end of next month. Hopefully that will be something that passes the mark. Then I submit. Then I... well, that sentence ends there. I don't know what happens next. Something happens.

The night of the wedding, I bought an iPad. I am blogging on it now actually. I quite like it. I have wanted one for so long and Yoko has continually encouraged me to just get one. I did. I got the iPad 2 and a case, spending more than I wanted to, but have been thus far impressed with it. Even typing this post, I don't feel as though I am really losing any time with my thoughts. It's nice, actually. Really nice. I just need to get over the feeling of being selfish. Yes, it is selfish. But sometimes that's okay. The kids love it though. Naomi used it to send an email to grandma. I think I will get my money's worth from it.

 Now to run another eight miles in the morning and have the rest of this—this thesis, this year, this life—start to come together. The next chapter is due on 26 June. Mia's birthday and a day before my thirtieth. What will this summer/autumn bring? I'm not sure. But the future, I hope, is bright.