What Would You Like to Do Today?

by Anna Parsec
Updated: June 9, 2024
12 minute read
Anan and James kissing romantically under the lampost

We are listening to Dvorak again but this time to his smaller scale piece Humoresque no.7. James and I quickly discussed whether to go to Adam’s BBQ party (hi Adam!) right now but decided that we need time to write and post this among other things to do, not to mention energy conservation ahead of a very intense week when lots of it will be required. James wondered whether it’s the wrong approach to life but we came to a conclusion that for now that’s what we have to do.

Side note: switched to Brahms Symphony no.3 as the Dvorak’s piece was under 4 minutes and I need way more time to write.

We drank two massive mugs of tea in the kitchen while discussing (yet again!) the purpose of doing it all. When I say ‘all’ I really mean that. We are not talking here about this weekly journaling. We are questioning our life goals, what and when we do, how we do things. When I asked James what’s the most important thing in life for him, he just pointed at me. Indeed, as long as we have each other, life is definitely more meaningful. Our happiest moment though is when we fall asleep together. Fortunately, that way we feel happy at least once a day.

I could write a very long piece around meaning, goals and priorities in life. Perhaps, indeed, it should be a separate post. Currently, it’s all just vague random thoughts without any structure or clarity. We need more answers. Let’s make this happen. For now though, just our life in pictures and words below.

Monday 3 June 2024

Everyone is busy

Almost fair to say that it was our only focus day of the week. I am in the space lab doing the research but also inspecting the MSSL swimming pool (it is the pond in the picture, not the pool) and my allotment at the premises.

pond at MSSL

James was busy with our business at home.

James' work set up

My mum was transforming our garden slowly but very surely. We wished we timelapsed her work because it was such a difference. In the picture you see what’s after but still an intermediate stage.

Mum working in the garden
Tuesday 4 June 2024

Unusual requests

On Tuesday we had another day of doing things separately.

Anna is leaving for the lab day

James’ desktop has arrived and he was busy setting it up all day.

For a moment though he was needed somewhere else. At some point while I was doing my research at the lab I received this from him:

“Can you message your mum to move further into the field because she was doing all of her dancing behind the hedge haha

It’s so funny that she was doing all the dancing behind the hedge so I couldn’t film her or take pictures of her”

It is all very funny to read. Fortunately, I knew my mum’s plan to go into the fields and dance there. Perhaps, you should imagine The Sound of Music here.

Sound of music poster
Here was the result of this endeavour. We agreed that next time I need to direct it all.

In the evening instead of resting I decided to make a cake which does take hours. I desperately wanted something terribly sweet though. While making the cake, I kept tasting it which satisfied my urge and helped me to wait with the cake until the next morning…

Anna making Mother's Cake
Wednesday 5 June 2024

Things we did in London

In the morning we celebrated my mum’s 60th birthday. It was her third celebration as her actual birthday was on the 24th May.

Then we all drove to London where we split to get to three different locations: my mum was meeting her friend, James was parking the car for the day (that’s a process not a quick event), I went to the hospital. I am taking part in a study where hopefully I will be observed during my pregnancy. This first visit was an initial one where I needed to be not pregnant and I was not. It was the first time I was not pregnant after the miscarriage. This is a good sign because now we can start trying again.

After the hospital I met my mum and we travelled from Chelsey to Euston when I went to my university and she went to the British museum. James travelled to the National Gallery.

The point of going to the university was to attend a 3-minute thesis presentation where lots of mainly medical PhD students were presenting their research in 3 minutes. I was actually late for all of those but in time for drinks and awards. I’d say that works and better for the networking.

After that I met up with my mum (it’s close to my uni) and we went to the National Gallery to meet up with James. There we went to see Caravaggio and Da Vinci and Veronese and others. At the same time we had a major brainstorming session to understand the plan for the next three days. I was meant to stay in London until Friday night but I forgot all the documents for my passport application on Friday. Also, I was terribly tired. Hence, we changed our plan. James decided to go to the Back to the Future musical while I would have supper with my piano teacher Dominic. After that we would travel home all together.

That’s what we did!

It was important for me to meet Dominic because he is undergoing cancer treatment and I wanted to see him.

Anna visiting her piano teacher
Thursday 6 June 2024

Brain-less day

The rest was badly needed. When we think of rest, we mean ‘doing one thing only all day’. That’s pretty restful because you don’t have to think about anything else and just focus on one thing.

Grand piano set up in the kitchen

Well, James was working while I was doing all sorts in fact but with minimal brain activity. First, I with the help of everyone repositioned the grand piano in the kitchen. 

Anna and the basil plant

Then my mum and I did a major transformation in the garden and planted lots of vegetables: courgettes, tomatoes, pumpkin and a couple of others.

Anna planting tomotoes

After all of that I decided to stay in bed, watch a show (currently, it is Trying), eat my mum’s cake and watch James work which is very easy to do from bed now since the desk was relocated to our bedroom while mum is visiting. 

James working while Anna is in bed
Anna is watching a film and eating a cake with tea
Friday 7 June 2024

Social Butterfly

This time only I travelled to London and mum and James stayed at home doing all sorts of work and chores around the house. I was some sort of Social Butterfly on that day.

First I went to the university to print and copy paperwork for my passport application. I met a fellow Russian girl who was also prepping her stuff for a Norwegian visa application. Seeing how challenging it looked from a side made me realise that it’s not just me who needs quite a bit of time to prep all the docs for such an application.

Laptop in the student centre of UCL
Once documents were sorted, I rushed to Belsize Park village to meet Chloe and Tom one after another. I know both of them relatively recently (let’s say around a year or two) and haven’t actually met that many times but they became very close and dear friends to both James and I.

After my social engagements, I went all cheerfully to the Russian embassy. I was fully prepared for the worst because of my former experiences. I thought that they would decline my application because I filled in the form the night before and not 3 days before. Plus I thought that all my forms would have lots of mistakes due to multiple confusing fields. However, the visit turned out to be very smooth and quick. I should expect a new passport with the surname Parsec-Wallis in 2-3 months.

Anna's application for a new Russian passport
That was sorted and ahead of schedule so I was right on time for the viva celebrations. I arrived at the Bentham House, part of UCL campus, to see Priya after her viva. Priya, her examiners, her (and mine!) supervisor, Jake from planetary group, and Priya’s non-academic friend went to the immediate drinks at the UCL bar for staff and after that to the Marlborough Arms pub where more people joined us. It was a great opportunity to chat to more academics, former PhD students and network a bit. Loved it and found it extremely useful!
Saturday 8 June 2024

Resting to a certain degree

‘What would you like to do today?’ is the question that James often asks in the beginning of the day. I round my eyes or give him a slightly sad look and say ‘Like?’ I am constantly thinking about how many things I need to do or just how many things need to be done. Many things are quite enjoyable and fun to do but still they are chores.
Another day with a view in Warnham
We went to the recycling centre to get rid of some of the garden waste. Half didn’t fit into the boot so we need another trip but also a readjustment of the current pile of branches.
Trying to fit garden waste into the boot
We also shopped for the next 2 weeks pretty much. This time mum was in charge of the shopping list. We alternate who is deciding what to buy from a big picture perspective and who can veto stuff. We bought things for 2 weeks because we are going to James’ dad cottage soon and we usually end up eating lots of rubbish. We decided to change that by buying lots of vegetables.
Big shop in Tesco Extra
Later we rested to a certain degree.
Anna is watching a film and drinking tea
Sunday 9 June 2024

Russian tea

Following our new tradition of having an afternoon tea in the garden, the sun decided to shine which was nice. This time it was a fully Russian tea with my grandma’s pancakes, the same grandma’s samovar, and my great grandma’s scarf to finish off the setting. James was showing off his football skills with all sorts of techniques.

If you are curious, here are our living costs for this week 23 of the year (2-9 June 2024).
3 June – 9 June 2024
One week at our rented house
Electricity and phone related bills (devices, airplans, mum’s pay as you go plan)
Travelling to and around London plus a driving lesson
Food shopping, small shops and a bit of eating out
Piano move that was £160 cheaper than we expected (only £540 in the end!), new Russian passport applciation (£80), Amazon purchases (lots of them)
You are here:

Related Journal Stories