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by SS at 5:27 pm on Friday 22nd August

Oddly enough, one of my greatest fears as we approached the end of the Master's was that I wouldn't know what to do with all the free time I was about to have. This was a strange fear, but, having worked harder on average for the preceding ten months at Berkeley than I remember working for the four years since my undergraduate, it was somewhat rational.

This fear was ungrounded, as it happens. While the first couple of weeks of work were fairly quiet - most of my colleagues being busy with an office move and/or conference, the work quickly came through, in quantity. An impending product launch and some very real ownership over part of that product has meant that while I'm now working hard - I'm enjoying it thoroughly and this is probably, so far, the best job I've had since my internship on the trading floor.

Most of my graduated colleagues seem to be enjoying work and learning plenty, although I was disheartened by the response of one who I ran into on the train. Me, "how's the new job?", him, "well, it's okay, I guess". Not what you should be saying a month into a new job, in my opinion!

Having an income now is rather nice. I've restocked on clothing - having persevered with multiple pairs of ripped jeans for the best part of the year and undergarments that had seen better days.

Sadly, I managed to rip one of my new pairs of jeans within two weeks of owning it. A couple of weeks ago, it rained in Berkeley for possibly the first or second time since February. Having not practiced my wet weather bike handling skills for some time, I managed to wash out on the corner on the way to the BART station. It must have been at some speed because my knee is still very slightly sore, a few weeks later and I had a surprisingly deep graze on both my right knee and elbow. Still, having to host a work day (essentially a day long interview where we work with a candidate), I limped to work and continued as normal.

On the way home that evening, some clown decided to disrupt the legion of Jay-zed fans who were on their way to his concert in the city by calling in a bomb threat at the West Oakland BART station. Since this is the last station before the under-bay tunnel (I do not know what the actual name of this crossing is), the train services across the bay were shut entirely for a few hours. While I admire the lengths this Jay-zed hater went to antagonise fans, I cursed his timing since I was in no state to cycle anywhere in comfort. Not wanting to drop my bike back to the office, I recruited a couple of bemused BART travellers who were also travelling to Berkeley to share (not split, since I obviously had the extra bike) the cost of an Uber back. Being peak hours (i.e. surge pricing) and requiring an Uber XL to carry my bike, the overall cost was near to $80 - even with the 30% summer discount. More pain.

Getting home at about 9:30, after a long day in the office, I then had to tackle the still notably large list of tasks to complete before leaving. While packing itself was fairly straightforward, I spent some time curating music for the plane journey. However, Cowon J3s (mp3 players) have this rather unique bug where if you remove them without ejecting cleanly from a Mac, they effectively temporarily brick themselves. The amusing thing is that the reason I was curating music was my Cowon had previously been bricked in the same fashion. Still, not remembering to test this before leaving home, I ended up discovering this as I boarded the BART to work the next day and spent the 11 hour flight musicless.

Over the weeks since, I've had great fun working remotely from such exotic locations as the coffee shop in San Francisco International Airport to the coffee shop in Vilnius Airport to the coffee shop in Google's Campus London co-working space. Working from home has been fun too, mainly since the discovery of my grandmother's Oreo stash. Lacking a bicycle, with a recovering knee injury and with plentiful delicious food, I'm definitely returning to the US fatter on Monday.

London has been a flood of nostalgia. This is not entirely unexpected since some of my favourite memories are from the times I've spent roaming around this city, whether on bicycle, foot or Tube. This time, like my last visit back at Christmas, I've added to the list of things I miss about the city - at the moment it's largely practical, including but not limited to: the superior hot chocolate, the expansive public transport network, readily available healthcare and lack of obvious social wealth inequality on every street corner.

Sadly, I realise that many of my closest friends here have now moved on, either physically or with their personal lives (marriages, etc.). This is to be expected, of course, but my social life isn't as rich as it once was. Not to say there's nothing attracting me back, but it certainly feels slightly emptier than it used to. Many of my friends are also working extremely hard now, having moved into positions of responsibility and just generally being successful in their careers. There's nothing different here, although it's worrying that I have a steady base of friends who work too much and are hence single. It's not clear what the solution is here, besides work a little less and get out a little more. That's not to say that I haven't fallen into the same trap.

A funny thing happens when I move between the US and the UK now. I refer to the other place as "home". Perhaps I now truly live between the two countries. Over time, the balance will shift more to the US I suspect, as I become more established there. It's surprising how natural a fit it was to live in California, at least given my interests - this is perhaps the reason most people flock to the Bay Area. That said, London (or Watford) will always remain home for me too, so perhaps home isn't one place but many.

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"Our thoughts define our reality." - Anon.