First impressions of the USA (notes from 2004)

Not long after I moved to Japan in late 2003, the research centre that I had joined started planning overseas business trips to exchange information. At the time I didn’t realize just how research budgets work—and fortunately I wasn’t in charge of them—but the Centre paid for several of us researchers to go to the United States in early 2004. The very idea of going to the USA to me

Books on my shelf: Become a well-read Witch

Witchcraft in the West has gone through periods of being fashionable and lulls in popularity. Basically there have been three booms in Pagan Witchcraft in modern times: 1970s to 1980sAlthough modern Pagan Witchraft developed through the 1930s and 40s and really came into being in the 1950s, it was in the 1970s that it became popular, building on the counter-cultural trends of the 1960s. So there are books that were

Our familiars

I’m writing this on my phone and wondering if it’ll work. Anyway, today has been a day of ups and downs with the afternoon overshadowed with depression. Or rather I’m overshadowed by a black cloud. So I thought I’d write a short post to introduce two creatures that help me through these tough times, our familiars, Celt and Pict. Both rescue cats and sisters, they can’t stand each other, but

A Doctorate in… Witchcraft?

I have two libraries of books, one in my office and one at home. Their contents are different and it’s been this way ever since I moved to Japan after completing my PhD. My office books are the public face of my research: I came to Japan to research science policy and the social studies of science and technology (STS). Gradually my research shifted after I moved departments to focus

Problematic friends

Friendships emerge out of combinations of contexts, networks and histories. They can be short-lived or can last for decades. But what to do when those friendships become, well, problematic? I’m talking about those friends who hold views that are antithetical to your own, but (presumably because they know your views) they don’t say them out loud, instead couching them in humor, their ‘ironic’ jokes just on or over the line

What is a hometown?

Is a hometown the place where you were born, or where you were raised, or where you most felt ‘at home’? If it’s the latter of these three, then I would definitely say my hometown is the city of York, in Yorkshire, UK. In fact, when asked by students I frequently give York as my answer, thinking that perhaps they’ve heard of it over the place where I was born

Dying wouldn’t be ideal, but it was/is ideated

(CW: Suicide, suicidal ideation) I nearly didn’t make it to 2018. I say this not out of exaggeration or to shock, but to remind myself that things can change. To look back at it now it seems quite hard to believe (though definitely not impossible). I nearly didn’t make it to 2018. Three times I walked to the edge of the platform as a train was coming, listening to the

On the complex relationship between learning a language and being in the world

(CW: Language learning, panic attacks, mental health, suicide) I hesitated to write this post because I still feel shame about my level of Japanese after living here so long. By now, surely, I “should be native level, right?” is a question I’ve often been asked by friends back in the UK. But I’m not. I’m still intermediate level. What does that mean? Well it means I can order in restaurants,

Life as an academic in Japan (as a non-Japanese)

Let me preface this with a huge disclaimer. This post is based on my experience and in no way should it be taken as applying to everyone. Each person will have different backgrounds, working environments, institutional systems and colleagues, so my purpose in this post is merely to give one perspective (and to answer a request for a post on this). I am employed at one of Japan’s top-ranked national

I know Kung fu…

If only it were as easy as in The Matrix. I’d love to be able to plug myself in and learn all the amazing varieties of martial arts that exist, they’re all so fascinatingly different! To most people though a martial art is a martial art, all similar to each other. That’s actually what I thought at the beginning of my kung fu journey… Recall in a previous post (Why