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1. Have your husband's alarm go off 45 min. before yours is set, and have him get up soon after and let you lie around in bed while he makes breakfast for both him and your daughter.
2. Finally decided you've lain around in bed long enough 15 min. before your alarm goes off, and spend those 15 minutes in bed looking at your phone.
3. Have your daughter delightedly sing happy birthday to you upon stepping out of the shower, numerous times over.
4. Go to the gardening center while your daughter is at her weekly Saturday morning drama lesson, and buy yourself a tree! (And two cherry tomatoes, some peas, another strawberry plant, some raspberries on clearance, some peppers, and a cucumber.) Store said tree in your livingroom, and spend the rest of the day going "Gosh, it's really nice have a tree in the livingroom."
5. Have a pleasant lunch with your daughter and then head out to the FunFair.
6. Meet up with your husband at the FunFair and:
6a. Buy a bag of cotton candy.
6b. Let daughter go on basically every ride she wants to, because the FunFair isn't that huge and she doesn't want to go on any of the ones that go fast or upside down.
6c. Let daughter try the "hook a duck" game, and be pleasantly surprised that it's a "guaranteed prize" thing and the base type of prize (which she got) is not cheap plastic crap. (Do, however, veto the goldfish.)
6d. Bumper cars. For all three of you. Because none of you have ever been in bumper cars ever before. This will be the best 6 pounds you'll spend this week.
6e. Buy donuts.
6f. Let your husband go on the spinning teacups with your daughter, and laugh yourself sick as he tries not to be sick.
6g. Do the bumper cars again.
6h. Buy a bag of cotton candy for the ride home.
7. Eat cotton candy before supper. Because you are an adult, and it's your birthday. (Note: your daughter will accept this as an explanation for why she is not allowed to do the same).
7. Do the usual Saturay-night-pizza-and-scifi, with extra special beer.
8. Know that you have clotted cream ice cream in the freezer, even if you don't decide to have any tonight.

If four score and ten are all the years we get on this earth, it's all down hill from here.
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It's a bit different, going on holiday with a kid. We have one hotel room, with a double bed and a single bed, which means when Gwen goes to bed (which has been ~2 hours later than usual, BUT France is an hour ahead of England, and we'd only been on daylight savings for a week or two before coming here, so basically it's the bedtime she'd been going to bed at up until about three weeks ago, AND we've been sleeping in until 9:30 nearly every day so she's still getting her 12 hours) around 9:30, Joel and I turn of the light and sit in the dark (thank goodness for backlit computers). Tonight he suggested running out to the Monoprix up the block to get a bottle of cider to split, which sounded like a lovely idea.

Alas, they sell cider, but not plastic cups. France is not a place where one has need of plastic cups. France is a place where one arranges one's life so that one always has all the cups one needs. But our hotel doesn't provide cups, and he couldn't buy any, so we've rinsed out one water bottle and one bottle of juice that we've accumulated, and are sitting, in the dark, in bed, drinking cider out of them.

I don't know why we aren't just chugging it from the bottle it came in.
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This week I've had two different encounters where someone attempted to extrapolate my occupation on the basis of a few pieces of information.

Sunday night we were having a late supper having arrived in Paris around about 7pm French time. We were sitting in the outdoor seating that was just across the sidewalk from the restaurant when a little boy who'd been sitting in the restaurant with his parents came over to us and asked "Do you speak English?" We said yes, and he scampered off, and then after a bit of reassurance from his parent, came back and asked if Gwen wanted to play. So that ended up being a real boon, they ran races up and down the sidewalk and then sat near our table and played games on his dad's phone, and this kept her occupied and not cranky until our food came. When his parents came to collect him, we chatted a bit, and the mother commented that Gwen had been doing very well with the adding and subtracting game, and then asked if we were mathematicians! I said "yes", because, basically, we are, and then -- this is what I thought most interesting -- she immediately made the inference that I worked at a university, and asked which one.

It makes me wonder. Is there anyone who would describe themselves/their occupation as "a mathematician" who doesn't work at a university?

Today at lunch our waiter turned out to be American, and we chatted a bit off and on, and when Joel paid with our German credit card, the waiter said something about "Germans living in England with American accents!" and we said "Americans who've lived in The Netherlands, Germany, and England," his diagnosis of why we were peripatetics was -- "Are you archaeologists?"

I wonder how he came up with that one.
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When I found out that G.'s school class had 11 boys and 3 girls, I was a bit worried at the gender disparity, and wondered how it would play out. (I am also still not entirely happy with the "girls must wear skirts" uniform policy, but I am willing to shut up about it so long as SHE seems happy with it.)

Friday was the last day of Lent term, and since it's already my Easter break and there was no after school club, I picked her up at 3:15 with the rest of the kids. It was a glorious day and when we got to the cathedral she wanted to run around on the grass for awhile, so I figured why not. Then M1 came along with his mom, and she convinced him to come and run around for awhile too. Then M2 came along with his parents and little brother, and joined in. And then JK came along with HIS mom, and we all shrugged our shoulders and said "Well, I guess it means we don't need to take them to a playground!" The four of them spent about half an hour running around, running races and rolling down the hill, and at one point, G. shouted, "Boys, come!", gestured, and ran off. And every single one of them followed her.

I guess I don't really need to worry about Gwen feeling cowed, or learning problematic gender norms, or anything like that. (Though I'll admit I heard an echo of myself in her, that peremptory "G., come!" that I use when we're, e.g., traveling and I need her with me, NOW. So, I guess my sometimes-strict parenting style is actually a good thing, because it gives her a clear model of female leadership. :) )


Mar. 5th, 2017 01:29 pm
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This morning, Gwen got up some time before us (as usually happens on Sundays), and I vaguely heard her busily occupying herself. When I finally woke up around 9:30, I beckoned her to come in and cuddle, and she did, announcing, "I deserve a new cuddly toy! I tidied my room and I tidied the bathroom!" (Note: Tidying the bathroom was entirely her own idea, I had never even suggested it as a possible option.)

We've decided that a sticker chart reward system for big chores like tidying a bathroom should be instituted. Because that does deserve a cuddly toy...but not just for doing it once.


Yesterday there was a birthday party at Adventure Valley, a big petting zoo/playground/soft play/animal farm/etc. place. Most of the activities are free once you've paid entrance (and if you're there for a birthday party, the host has paid your entry!), but a few cost an extra pound or two, primarily the motorized things. While we were waiting for the party to get started, Gwen and some others discovered the motorized diggers, and she came over and asked for a pound. I told her we weren't going to be doing the things that cost money because there would be plenty to do with the birthday party. So a few minutes later, she marches up to T.'s mom, Lucy, and asks Lucy for a pound! And Lucy gave her one!

I don't know whether to be mortified, amused, or proud.
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A student, H., flagged me at the beginning of tutorial today saying he and another, G., had an announcement to make, if that was all right. (Important backstory: at the Philosophy Society Ball a few weeks previously, H. apparently proposed to G., and G. eventually agreed.) He showed me what they wanted to say, and I knew immediately, how could I say no?

So I called class to order, and mentioned that there was an announcement someone wanted to make, and H. got up, walked over to a third, I., and proceeded to request that she marry both he and G., complete in iambic pentameter and down on bended knee.

This is the best thing that I think will ever happen in one of my classes. I have been watched relationships blossom from day one, and while I have no idea how much of this is a joke and how much isn't (I'm not even sure any of they know!), I am loving it so much.
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If Thursday was the day for reveling in my advanced seminar, today I want to put in a few good words for my 1st years. Friday afternoon from 1pm to 2pm when I have a tutorial with 13 people from my intro logic class is the highlight of my week.

The thing that's fun about intro classes is that you get a bunch of people who don't know each other, but also don't know anyone else, and you put them together in a situation which is easy for some and stressful for others, making it natural that they turn to each other for support. And then you kick back and watch friendships develop, friendships that you can tell will last. A week or two ago, they were already talking about having a "reunion" in two years time by taking my advanced logic course! (Which would be awesome.) Yesterday, I heard all about how Hugh proposed to George at the Philosophy Ball the night before, and that while George's first response was "maybe" he eventually capitulated and said yes. They then spent the opening minutes of the tutorial, while everyone was filing in, planning their wedding. :) Years from now, 10, 15, 25 years, these people will get together and their "do you remember when"s will involve "do you remember when we met and became friends in our logic tutorial", and it's such a privilege to be the facilitator of a space where this can happen.

I love how comfortable they have gotten with each other and with me, though it is tremendously amusing when they apparently seem to either forget I am there or that I am their teacher, and they start gossiping about their other courses and lecturers. (A bunch of them were distraught when the lecturer changed with the change of terms in one of their classes: "Andrew's hair was the only reason to wake up on a Friday morning!")

But not only that, they are a really smart group of people. They are invested in this course, they work hard, they help each other, and not a single one of them is afraid of making a mistake in front of the rest of the class, or to admit "I didn't understand how to do that exercise so I didn't do it". This is partly a product of my teaching style for tutorials, something which I've only been able to implement for the first time, really, this year, because of the nature of logic tutorials vs. philosophy ones. From week one there was the strong expectation that they come having done the work: I started learning people's names by going around the room, selecting a person at random and having them give their answer on the whiteboard in front of the rest of the group. For one or two people, it took only once of being called upon and then having to admit that they couldn't because they hadn't done the work before that never happened again. But the only way that this sort of arrangement works without putting a lot of pressure on students is to make not having an answer, or having the wrong answer, simply not an issue. If I call upon someone, and they can't answer, I simply move on to the next. They know there is no shame in not having the right answer, because this is difficult material that is foreign to them and I expect it to take work to get through it. The only shame comes from not having an answer because you didn't bother to work, and even then, the shame only comes from having to say that you didn't do the work in front of your classmates -- it's self-imposed, if you know what I mean. I never pass judgement on it.

The first few weeks, I would call on people either in order of how they sat, or randomly (to help me learn names), but after that I started taking volunteers -- among other things, I told them, this meant that if they didn't have answers for all the questions, or had answers they felt more (or less!) comfortable with, they could choose to answer something they were confident in answering or to answer something where they were uncertain and wanted my explicit comments. As a result, I usually am getting volunteers before I can even ask for them.

Most of the time we stick pretty closely to the nuts and bolts mechanics of doing logic; the exercises for tutorials are closely linked to examination questions, and are designed to give them practice with all the concepts I'm introducing in lecture, so there is a lot of simple practice and comprehension going on. Due to the nature of the subject, there isn't much up for philosophical debate in an intro logic course (there are of course philosophical questions relevant to topics in basic classical logic, but they are not the focus of this course), so when there is actually discussion in the tutorials, it's because people don't understand why the right answer is the right answer, and it's just a matter of talking through the right answer. But yesterday something special happened. We were doing English -> predicate logic formalization exercises, and the questions came up regarding how to know whether something is a constant or a predicate; how to treat definite descriptions; whether proper names were disguised predicates or definite descriptions; and whether something like $2.00 is a constant (the name of a number/amount) or a predicate (a property of an amount or a price paid). And all of a sudden the room erupted into discussion, with almost everyone having a particular view (there was definitely no consensus!), and people giving reasons for their views, and others countering with counterarguments or alternatives, and back and forth and without having read any of Russell, Quine, or Kripke they generated -- on their own! -- basically all of the important points of their discussions, and I pretty much kicked back and grinned for about 10 minutes as they just took it and ran. This is the sort of discussion you are always trying to generate in a philosophy tutorial, and if you get maybe three people out of the ~10-12 to engage in this fashion without any guidance from the tutor, you feel good. But this discussion involved EVERYONE, and sprung up completely without any nudging or guidance from me, and it was just amazing to watch.

I'm very proud of them.
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Today my advanced seminar switched gears from the formal logic we've been doing since October to philosophy of math. I still want the presentations to be student-given, but it's very different covering a chapter of philosophy, including motivating discussion, than it is covering a bunch of technical definitions, lemmas, proofs, etc., so I wasn't sure how things were going to go.

I couldn't have been happier. The student who volunteered for this week smashed the presentation and was very good at guiding and directing discussion, and pretty much everyone in the room was willing to talk -- and more importantly, to talk to each other rather than to me. I tried to stay in the background as much as possible, because as soon as The Teacher speaks, especially to ask a question, then the discussion suddenly becomes Students Answering the Teacher's Question, rather than a philosophical discussion.

Today was an overview of issues in philosophy of mathematics, which boil down basically to: What is the ontology of mathematics? and What is the epistemology of mathematics? I.e., what are mathematical objects, and how do we know things about them?

A lot of people already have some strong leanings towards various positions, either from their own mathematical practices, or from other metaphysical or epistemology leanings they have independently from math, and it was fun seeing them beginning to articulate these leanings to each other. At one point, one student boldly proclaimed that "THIS is what philosophy is for"---not those 'soft' questions in ethics about utilitarianism vs. consequentialism, etc. (I LOVE that "determining the real nature of mathematical objects and how mathematics relates to the world" is what they think is the most important goal/pursuit of philosophy. I guess I shouldn't be surprised; they're all taking this class!).

Another brought up the very good question of what the difference is between dragons and numbers, on an anti-realist position. One person had an answer: "Practicality. We use numbers and dragons differently".

Someone else advanced the rather bold claim that not only do we apply numbers to the real world because they work, but also the converse -- numbers work because we use them.

I am really looking forward to the coming weeks' discussions.
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....except not quite.

One thing I love about teaching is getting to revisit old favorites from my own undergrad days. When my 2nd years last year indicated they wanted to do some philosophy of math this year, I knew exactly what book to go to -- Stewart Shapiro's Thinking About Mathematics, which I had as a textbook in Mike Byrd's grad-level philosophy of math course. (This will not be the first time that I'm teaching undergrads things I either got in a grad course or have previously taught in a grad course. I'm working under the assumption that if I don't tell them this is hard, they won't know. So far, it's working beautifully.)

We're starting this topic next week in seminar, so today I spent the day curled up reading a book and taking notes. It feels like being an undergrad again, the entire process is one that I don't often have to do any more (particularly this year, I have rarely had to do any teach prep earlier than about 1-1.5 hours in advance of when I teach. Reading something almost a week in advance and taking notes is uber-preparation for me!)

One thing I love about teaching from books I used as an undergrad is seeing all my notes from that era. The name/date in this book is from almost exactly 15 years ago -- January 2002. It's not as heavily annotated as some, but there is one page where the entire margin is covered in a rant against intuitionism:


And in another place you can tell from the non-verbal notes alone the strength of 20-year-old me's realism:


Sometimes I still agree with 20-year-old me's comments, sometimes my views have tempered a bit over time.

It does feel very much like being an undergrad again, except not in one very specific way. Poor Gwen had a cough yesterday that developed into an awful chesty phlegmy thing overnight, and then woke up crying "my ear hurts!" and a bit later "my heart hurts!" so we took a trip down to the doctor in the morning. The diagnosis was viral, so plenty of rest prescribed. Since I'm still feeling under the weather myself, we've both spent most of the day in bed watching movies (and look over, I think she's now on to her second nap).

I think 20-year-old me would've been pretty pleased to find out that 15 years later, I not only get to read the same things that enthused and inspired me then, but they still enthuse and inspire me now, and not only that, I get to touch them as they were taught to me, and not only that, I get to do it while cuddled up in bed, sick kid in one arm, cat in the other. Okay, she probably would've preferred the kid to not be sick, but if the choice is between sick kid and no kid, I'll take the sick kid any day of the week.
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Here's a good one.

Last Thursday a student apologized and said he wouldn't be able to make it to seminar next week. Fine with me, he knows what we're covering and if he has any questions he can come to office hours.

He showed up this afternoon with a stack of questions that we worked through, and as he left I said "see you Thursday," and then caught myself "oh, wait, you're gone then, right?" And he a bit shamefacedly admitted that he was going to be around, but his girlfriend was visiting from Italy. Then he mentioned that she's in finance, and he'd passed on a joke I'd made last seminar about people working in finances (namely, they are probably utterly uncaring about Gödel's incompleteness results), and was wondering if maybe instead of him skipping class she could come along with him? If there's be enough room for one more?

Outwardly I laughed and said of course she'd be welcome and there's plenty of spare seats in the room, and inwardly I am trying to sum up all the kinds of awesome this is, that one of my students thinks "inviting my girlfriend along to class" is a wholly commensurate alternative to "skipping class to spend time with my girlfriend".

This entire year has been just utterly surreal with the amount of romance and flirtation going on in connection with my logic classes. Whoever would've thought?
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Gwen is a remarkably guileless creature -- thank goodness, for if she were naturally sly, we'd all be in BIG trouble -- but there are a few times where something small deep down in me has wondered if in fact she is actually incredibly full of guile, and is just very good at concealing it. Is she actually really manipulating us by the straightforwardness of her innocence?

About a month ago, she managed to scam me. Context: Gwen has enough blankets on her bed that if she gets up to the use the toilet, she needs help getting tucked back in. I do so grudgingly, because I really really really want her to learn how to get out of bed without dumping the blankets on the floor, so that she can get back in and pull them up herself. But she's not in general allowed to ask for random cuddles. She gets a cuddle 5 minutes after I put her to bed (or, if Neffie or Goldie is on my lap in five minutes, she'll get the cuddle when I am next free to come upstairs), and if I am already in bed myself but my light is still on, she's allowed to come and lie in bed with me for a few minutes. Otherwise, I am not at home to the stalling technique known as "mummy, can I have another cuddle?" With that background, this exchange happened:

G., whispering loudly: "Mummy, can you come tuck me back in?"
Me, sitting on the couch downstairs: "All right, I'll be up in a moment."
*goes upstairs a few minutes later*
G., whispering: "I don't exactly want you to tuck me in, I just want a cuddle."

Bait and switch! She knew if she asked for a cuddle, I'd tell her she should be asleep and therefore I'm not coming up. So instead she lured me up with a request for something she knew I would come for...


Today is Joel's birthday, so yesterday we went out shopping for a gift for him. I told her to think about things he likes, and try to get something that he would like. Her first suggestion was beer and books, but then we passed the toy stall at the market where we usually buy birthday presents for her classmates, and she said "I could get daddy A TOY!" And not just any toy, she could get him a soft, cuddly toy! I probed a bit, asking if she really thought this was what daddy would like, and what would he do with it? "He can cuddle with it! He can cuddle it any time that he wants! He'll love it." So we got it, and she then refused to let it be put in a bag, and instead cuddled it close and carried it home, and occasionally referred to it as "my lambie" even though she most often caught and corrected herself to "daddy's lambie" before I could.

We wrapped it up in prep for giving it to him at supper tonight, and last night I warned Joel that she had primary choice in the present, and that she had picked something out specially for him specifically, something that she put a lot of thought into and that she was sure would be the present he'd want best, just so that he would be properly primed to give the correct response upon opening it. (Which he managed to do without laughing.) Gwen was full of all sorts of helpful ideas about what he could do with it, though she never quite came out and suggested that he give the lamb into her keeping and care. Lambie is now tucked up in our bed, awaiting Joel to come home so he can cuddle with her at night.

Even now, we are still uncertain if Gwen got Joel a birthday gift, or if she was incredibly, deviously, enormously clever and got herself a birthday gift. (Joel says to test this theory, he wants to get her a complex mitre saw for her 6th birthday).

growing up

Feb. 5th, 2017 05:01 pm
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Yesterday, Gwen casually asked, "Mum, can you text Lauren [D.'s mom] and ask if I can come over today or tomorrow to play with play-doh?" Despite prompting, she hasn't yet gotten the concept of waiting for invitations. But Lauren and I had talked a few weeks previously about getting the girls together this weekend, and D. has been to our place more often than vice versa lately, so I didn't feel too bad putting the proposal to her, and Lauren promptly replied with an invite for this afternoon.

When it was time to go, Gwen suggested that perhaps this was a time in which she was grown up enough that I could walk her down to the end of our street and help her cross the street, and then she could walk the rest of the way herself. D.'s house is across the main road and then one block away; from the end of our street I can see D.'s house. And once before, before Christmas, Gwen had made a quick run over there to make a delivery and then came right back, while I stood at the end of our street and watched. Gilesgate is just too busy for me to let her try to cross it unsupervised; but if I'm there to judge when it's safe to go, then she's allowed to cross it without me accompanying her.

I love that with so many independence things like this, she's the one who takes the initiative. She was the one who suggested one day that she was old enough to be left at home alone while I ran to the store (a trip which takes about 10 minutes). She's the one who suggests that I walk up the stairs from the river to the bridge while she takes the ramp route, and that we meet at the top of the bridge. She's the one who has come up with the idea of me walking on the other side of the street from her.

It means I'm doing a good job raising a strong, confident child.
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Over lunch, today.

G: What's this song called?

Me: 'Ocean Soul'.

G: What's a soul?

Me: It is the part of you that makes you you and not someone else.

G: I don't want to be me.

Me: Why not? What would you like to change?

G: My face. My face looks funny.

Me: How would you like to change your face? Would you like it to be green?

G: No. I want it to look like yours. I want to look like you.

Me: Do you know, the older you get, the more you look like me? Or rather, the more you like like I did at your age. You know what that means?

G: When I grow up, my face won't look funny. It'll look like yours.


Very interesting.


There's a stomach bug (or two) going around school right now (in addition to chicken pox), and I was silly enough to think that having vomited last Saturday morning and then being fine since that she was safe. Alas, we went out to eat last night for Joel's birthday, and our dinner was shortly curtailed by the arrival of more puke -- after which she was immediately better, spritely and sparkly and skipping all the way home. Still, she woke up once in the middle of the night to use the toilet, and when I went in to see if she was okay, she told me, "I don't want to be me any more". Poor kid, at that point, I think she was just trying to say "I don't want to be sick any more", and thus that this conversation and the one above are disjoint. But still interesting.
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That's what I've been caught up with since October when the academic year started again.

This year, I've finally gotten what I've dreamed of. I've got the 1st year introduction to logic class and the 3rd year advanced logic class. We are having so much fun.

The advanced logic seminar was scheduled at the same time as last year, meaning we have the same conflicts with maths courses, which no one seems to care about resolving. So again I have a split seminar. About 2/3 come to the scheduled time, and the other 1/3 meet at another day/time in my office. Hosting logic seminars in my office is one of my true joys in life.

For my intro students, I set them a take-home exam to do over Christmas break, to ensure that they didn't go 4 weeks without thinking about logic. We finished grading them on Tuesday and I told people they could come by my office hours today to pick up their exams. It's really, really fun handing back work to people when the grade they've gotten is much higher than they expected. (Many of them were expecting the worst.) One of them didn't believe the mark on the front, and when I assured him it was right, said, "I feel like I want to hug you, but that would inappropriately cross bounds." I told him I'd be satisfied with a happy smile. His friend was tremendously impressed by my rocking chair -- which he first identified as a throne. So he was even more impressed when I told him it rocked.

The two of them approved of my choice of music -- Nightwish -- never having been exposed to Finnish operatic metal before. One commented to the other that he could just imagine me kicking back in my throne with my music turned up loud and doing logic.

I'm glad that's the view of logic/logicians my students are getting.

It's been good. It's been busy. I tend not to do much other than teaching during term time.
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What, you say, no? Because I have barely written here at all in the last month and a half? Pish. Surely I must have. But if you insist...


So the thing about going to school in uniform is that the few uniform free days they get are Big Things. There were two, last term. One, Christmas Jumper Charity Fundraising Day, they were allowed to swap school cardigans for Christmas sweaters in exchange for a few pounds, which went to charity. The other was the class Christmas party.

The class Christmas party happened to be on the same day as the Purple Class Mums were going to go out for their Christmas Do (yes, the capitals are all necessary). (And those of you on FB know all about the angst of the Christmas Do). T.'s mom invited Gwen to spend the night at their place so that I wouldn't have to worry about childcare, which meant she'd go home from school with them.

Gwen, when confronted with the fact that (a) she needed to pack her overnight bag, including sleeping clothes and (b) she was free to wear WHATEVER SHE WANTED to the class Christmas party, promptly decided that the appropriate solution was to wear her purple cow footed (and hooded!) PJs to the party. "Then I won't have to change for bed!" she told me pragmatically. I explained to her that other children might be wearing pretty party dresses and things like that, and that this was a fancy dress party, not a Fancy Dress party (yes, capitals still required). Nevertheless, since wearing the cow PJs to her own birthday party, and later on to another child's birthday party (which was Fancy Dress. Amongst the little girls present, there were three Elsas, two Annas, one Sleeping Beauty, and one purple cow butterfly. I adore my daughter), she has become convinced that purple cow PJs are the height in party fashion.

T.'s mom, when we met up that evening at the Do, looked at me bemusedly and told me "Gwen is out of this world."

Draft One

Nov. 30th, 2016 11:24 pm
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144 days.

Almost 300 handwritten A4 pages, which equates to roughly 550 A5 pages when typed.

104807 words, of which exactly 50,000 were written in November.

Approximately 1000 hours worth of Nightwish.

Draft Two (editing) starts tomorrow.

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It is a weird thing, feeling things wrapping up, after this has taken up so much of my mind over the last four months, and particularly since September.

After it started taking up so much of my time, from the 2nd week of September, without any end seeming in sight, I decided to do NaNoWriMo as a way to get the damn thing done. 50,000 words in a month: that should be more than enough. I aimed to go into November with 50,000; 100,000 words seemed about right.

In the end, I started November with about 55,000. Interestingly, my original belief that this was a 100,000 word story proved increasingly right; last week, I figured out how things would end, and wrote the final scenes, and then started writing both backwards and forwards so that I would eventually meet in the middle.

Up through last week, I banked as many spare words as I could, because Gwen and I went to Amsterdam yesterday and Sunday, and I knew I wouldn't be able to get much done then; turns out, I was wrong, as Saturday night I crossed 45,000 words, and...realized that I was actually basically done. Sunday I filled in a few bits and pieces in the chapters, but this morning rolled around, with 4440 words left to go to "win" at NaNoWriMo. Now, what was more important: Writing the right story, or winning?

Well, winning of course. I struggled to find a way that I could insert another 4500 words into what I had, but it quickly became clear that that was stupid.

So instead, tonight, I sat down and did what I do best: I stopped writing fiction and started writing academia. Sort of. I added a chapter at the end, which is currently titled "This isn't really a chapter." It's a place where I started writing up all the bits and pieces in the book which are in fact true, or at least based in actual fact/research, along with citations.

20 minutes later, I had 950 words. My usual average, when hand-writing, has been about 500 words per hour. This evening, at home, it took me another hour to write another 1200 words. The big number sure is nice, sure does feel different. This is such a different way of exercising my mind and my words.

This "chapter" probably won't even make it into the book, proper, but I'm glad I'm writing it ,and will probably use the rest of my words (2532 to be precise) adding to it. I am afraid that if I don't write this down, I will forget where my impetus for certain parts came from, and why I made the decisions I did. So it's part research paper and part memoir.

But the story itself: There is nothing more to build. There is a huge amount to add to the beginning, and a huge amount to be changed during the editing process. (I suspect that many of the last 25 chapters or so need to be rearrange substantially.) But I will be surprised if any new chapters are added. It is a strange feeling, to have gone from "I have no idea how this will end" to "I see how this can end" to "I now know what the end is like" to "I have ended it", in four weeks flat.

As for now? For the first night in a month, or more, I won't spend 8pm-11pm on the couch writing. Instead, it's 9:30pm and I'm going to go take my beer and a new book I just bought upstairs to the bathtub.


Nov. 22nd, 2016 08:08 pm
aryanhwy: (Default)
Yesterday I passed 250 handwritten pages (actually, way more because I haven't numbered wholly sequentially. But I actually wrote '250' in the upper right hand corner.)

Yesterday I wrote 2000+ words, surpassing 34,000 for the month of November, and 90,000 in total.

It's nearly done.

I've spent rather more academic/work time on this than I had originally planned (heck, I hadn't planned any of this, to be honest).

But weekend before last, I received an invitation which made all this time and work justified. I have been invited to be one of the keynote speakers at the British Society of Aesthetics Workshop: Fiction Writing for Philosophers in June. It's a two day thing; on the first day, the invited speakers will give semi-autobiographical/personal talks on a topic at the intersection of writing fiction and philosophy. On the second day, we speakers will meet individually with the participants of the workshop to discuss a piece of work that they will have submitted to us in advance.

One little invitation, and all the time and work I've spent when I "should" have been doing "real" work is justified.

I am doing exactly what I should be doing.
aryanhwy: (widget)
Like many people, I grew up in the suburbs in a neighborhood with plenty of other children my age nearby, relative freedom as to where and with whom I went, and given that my mom did home day-care for a number of years, our house was general the place where the kids hung out anyway.

One thing I'd always vaguely worried about having kids and NOT living in the suburbs AND not having a car was whether that ubiquity of play would even be possible, or if I'd forever find myself scheduling play dates weeks in advance and giving up all or part of a day to ferry my child across town by bus, etc.

And, yeah, that still happens. We make a point of ensuring that there are fixed days when friends come over or when she goes to friend's -- even if it means that we spend an hour on public transport to get there and another hour to get back. (We didn't realize H. lived so far away when we invited her to come over and play; it wasn't a problem for her parents, since they have a car, but then when they reciprocated the invitation, it was a bit of a trek for Joel to get her out there.) And with D. living across the street we can make plans somewhat more flexibly -- we can knock on her door en route to the forest, for example, or I can text her parents on Friday to make plans for Sunday. But this morning Gwen asked if D. could come over or if she could go over to D.'s in the afternoon, way less notice than we usually have and with the ubiquity of birthday parties I knew the chance was high she might not be available but I texted Lauren anyway to see if she would be free after Gwen and I got back from the new house (I'd promised her we'd go over there so she could play at the park there for awhile. Especially as it was turning out to be one of those gloriously sunny fall days!). No answer, but I had told Gwen not to get her hopes up, so we were okay with this -- and she was still excited about going to the playground.

And then whom did we meet coming across Framwellgate Bridge? D. and her parents and little brother! They were on their way home after a family morning out, and Gwen was begging for D. to come to the playground with her. Within two minutes I'd relieved Lauren and Oliver of one of their children for the rest of the afternoon and the girls were skipping off hand in hand. Gwen got to show D. her new bedroom, they played at the park for 45 min., and then we came back to the old house where they had hot chocolate and spent at least half an hour upstairs pretending to take naps, and then colored until Oliver came by around 4:30 to bring her home for supper.

I very much like that things like this can happen WITHOUT buckets full of advanced planning. I love living in a small enough city where you can run into a friend downtown, head off in one direction to a park, then walk back the other direction home, and still have plenty of time to play at both places.
aryanhwy: (Default)
Joel is over at the new house, and a phone rings. It's not mine; it's right next to me. It's not the landline, so, unless he's forgotten his mobile, which is unlikely but not impossible, it's his work mobile. But it's 9:30pm; that would be unusual. It rings a long time, so I text Joel to let him know his phone rang.

Maybe 10-15 min. later it rang again, but not as long.

He texts back and asks me to check if it's a UK number. I say I will, after Neff gets up from my lap.

About 20 min. later, I see that one of his colleagues from the US has posted on his FB wall: Urgent work-related issue needs to be dealt with ASAP. I'm pretty sure I know who was calling.

Call Joel to tell him this; he doesn't answer before it goes to voicemail, so I don't bother to leave a message but just text him instead: Check your FB, I think Jon is trying to reach you. I reply to Jon's FB post letting him know Joel is over at the new house right now, and that I've tried calling/texting.

Joel texts back; he'll pack up his things and be home in 20 min. His connection is flaky, so can I let Jon know? So I post this info on FB.

What a weirdly bizarre and yet typically 21st C communication event just happened.


aryanhwy: (Default)

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