Sunday, January 01, 2006

Year 2005

The following is what I wrote before year 2006 arrived...

I hate this atmosphere of New Year's Eve. It forces everyone to look back at what happened this year and feel more or less sentimental about the year that's almost gone. I always try to defy this temptation. After having a Sainsbury's Indian curry and a vitamin tablet for supper (I don't feel like cooking tonight) and sitting at desk in my bedroom alone (my housemate is back at home in Scotland) on this quiet, cold evening in London, I give up.

The year of 2005 was certainly not the greatest in my life, but much, much better than the previous years in London. Speaking English is no longer a headache. In the past couple of months, even speaking academic things in English stops being a source of frustration.

A large part of the improvement in my life in London comes from two of my best friends - Alberto and Cheyok. Alberto (see his blog in English) is probably the one who understands me the most. Although he left London earlier this year, I visited his house in Italy last September. He's the guy I talked to for the longest time this year. Talking to him definitely made my life with English easier. Cheyok has always been incredibly nice to me. Without her permission, I think of her as my beautiful elder sister. :) From time to time we exchange email, talking about my private stuff, and meet up on several occasions. She's the one who always cheers me up.

The biggest event this year is nothing but a trip to Syria. (I will never be able to finish the Syria 2005 blog...) Thanks to Arabic-speaking Misao (see her essays on Syria in Japanese), I spent an enormously great time there - good food, nice people, total safety, and lots of historical sites. Honestly speaking, I partly sympathize the idea of Islam on women's outfits. During my stay there, I was relieved from being aroused by seeing scantily-clad girls. On the other hand, I realize Mohammed's aim (I believe he was too ashamed of his potential as a womanizer) is not perfectly achieved: a slender woman wearing a black burka still looks sexy. :) This trip certainly broadens my perspective on the world, something you never acquire if you just follow what America says.

Research-wise, this year has been extremely difficult. At the end of the three years as a PhD student, I couldn't finish writing up a single paper. But Tim has always been helpful. I started working for him as a research assistant last summer. One end result is his forthcoming book. (Chapter 2 "The Anatomy of Government Failure" is a must-read for everybody. Trust me.) I proof-read the whole manuscript and pointed out mistakes and made some suggestions. Beyond my expectation, he quite liked my work performance and, at the beginning of this month, offered co-authorship of a paper prepared for the American Economic Association Conference next month. This experience gave me kind of self-respect as a researcher, something that had kept deteriorating during the best part of this year. Now I came up with a new idea on my own research, working hard on it to make it to the presentation on 9th January.

Last but not least, I'm very lucky to meet Kotono, Alberto's girlfriend's friend. She's incredibly sweet and at the same time very assertive, a very rare combination for a girl. I like her a lot. Since I met her, my life has become much easier.

At the end of the day, it's people surrounding you who make you feel better. I couldn't learn this until I left Tokyo for London.

My best tune of 2005
Hiphop/R&B: Amerie - '1 Thing'
Dancehall raggae: Damian Marley - 'Welcome to Jam Rock'
Drum & bass: Shy FX and T-Power - 'Feelings' (see 19th September 2005)

The best DJ set:
Artificial Intelligence at Fabric on 25th June

The best CD album:
Influx UK 2 Million and Rising

No comments: