05 October 2012

On the road

Funny how things just suddenly change and you are doing something completely different. In the first week of September, I was without work and worried about the thesis, waiting for comments from my supervisors and wondering what would become of me. Now, I am on the train, riding to London to teach a class at a university that three weeks ago, I had barely just heard of. At the beginning of September I had no job, no prospect for work. Now I am teaching 12 hours a week through the end of the year with a full-time post lined up on the other side (more on that later). The thesis has been submitted and I am now just waiting for it to be all over. One week I'm starving, the next week I'm feasting.

The feeling is not as jarring as I thought it would be, particularly going from writing to teaching. The first week was strange, awkward at first, but within five minutes of standing in front of the group for the first time, I was suddenly relaxed. The words came naturally and the feeling that maybe I had not prepared enough went away (it always does). The lesson expanded and contracted where it needed to and suddenly, I was a teacher again. I have always been a teacher. I like the feeling of being in front of people, of having the floor. It's something you don't have when you're writing, alone with your thoughts.

I remember this from teaching in Japan, particularly when I was teaching in the elementary school for the first time. I loved the feeling of being in front of the kids and making them light up with interest in whatever it was that I was teaching. Now, I am teaching language and literature in central London, the thing that I have always wanted to teach in the place that I have always wanted to teach. Amazing how these things happen.

The feelings about the thesis, thankfully, have brightened a bit. I mean, the same sentiment from last week is there, that I abandoned rather than finished it, but talking with other people in the department, this is a very normal feeling and nothing to worry about. It's just the way that people feel when they submit. I am starting to feel like I can see the forest for the trees as it were, like things are going to be okay in the end and I will be able to defend what I have done when the time comes. We'll see though. When I open it up again in a couple of weeks, I'm sure that I will have a whole new set of feelings.

I did, however, finish up my book proposal and should have a sense, before the viva, of whether or not the publisher wants to go forward with it. If I have something approaching a book contract going into the viva, I suspect that I will feel a bit more confident and not be too worried about it. Again, we'll have to see.

Otherwise things are going well. There was a sudden illness in our circle of friends. It's odd how in a day, an hour, a minute life can change. I got a phone call at ten on Wednesday night: I had already been in bed for like an hour. When I woke up, I wondered if it had been a dream, although I knew that it wasn't. Now we just wait for news from the hospital. Have things gotten better or worse? What sort of future will they have even if they recover? We have been delegated the responsibility of watching their dog (and another dog they were watching for their own friends). The kids love it, walking around in the dusk with the two dogs on leads. I feel like a father, pushing the pram with a small dog on a lead, talking to my wife about our future, our kids' future. Last night, before we went, I had drank too much wine and was feeling open and happy. There was nothing to worry about for now... Of course, things can change.