In the Merrion Centre

In the Merrion Centre

As I’m typing this, it’s Christmas evening. My first Christmas in the U.K. The last three days have been relaxing, and at the same time had my ups and downs.

When I finished an assignment due on Monday, December 23, I spent the rest of the day relaxing and going on a run in a part of Leeds I had never been before. Afterwards, I watched the nil-nil Arsenal-Chelsea match at the nearby pub.

Inside Anytime Fitness

Inside Anytime Fitness

Yesterday morning, I did something that many people consider to be a New Year’s resolution: go to the gym. After completing the Abbey Dash, I received a flyer for a place called Anytime Fitness. Those with the flyer were entitled to a free day at the Bridgewater Place location (Bridgewater Place being a location in Leeds just south of the train station). So I went yesterday, and…

It’s a mediocre gym, at best. There is no swimming pool (I’m not much of a swimmer but if given the opportunity, I do like to swim) and it seemed to lacking something. However, one thing that gym wasn’t lacking was plenty of distractions on the treadmill. At the first (and only other) gym I’ve been to Leeds, I could watch TV and listen to the radio while on the treadmill. But at the Bridgewater Place location, the Internet was available on the treadmill. Seems like distraction overload.

The best part of the day was after the gym. Nishant (a dude I met one ParkRun Saturday) invited me to his flat – he lives near Bridgewater Place. He and Lana live in a really nice flat overlooking the city (including the train tracks). Elland Road – the home ground of Leeds United – is visible from their flat (Nishant told that Leeds United and Manchester United had a fierce rivalry and that Leeds United supporters hate Manchester United, which made me think… doesn’t everyone have a rivalry with Manchester United? And doesn’t just about everyone else hate Manchester United?). Lana and Nishant gave me a Christmas card, which was quite sweet.

Some ParkRunners on Christmas Day

Some ParkRunners on Christmas Day

Although today is Christmas Day (and a Wednesday at that), it felt like a Saturday morning in a sense. Mainly because I was doing the ParkRun. I didn’t know there would be a ParkRun until the start of the one last Saturday. I didn’t have any plans for this morning, so I knew I would be at nine a.m. this morning.

While were didn’t get the normal turnout (of runners and volunteers), I thought there were a decent number of runners. I came into today’s ParkRun expecting – or really, really wanting – to win. And, I did 🙂 While I ran a lot slower than I normally do – 18:24 – that wasn’t a surprise. I really wasn’t pushed by anyone as I was 30 seconds ahead of the runner-up. It really felt so weird being the front runner with no one to push me. I obviously should run faster than 18:24 but I can’t run fast without being pushed. Anyway, because it was Christmas Day, all of the runners were treated to junk food and mince pies afterwards. Totally unhealthy things to eat after running but hey, it was Christmas.

In the Leeds Met library

In the Leeds Met library

Unfortunately, I have to admit I’ve been terribly bad at staying in touch with folks, especially my family (Yesterday, I sent my traditional, end-of-the year trilingual e-mails to friends and other people I’ve met throughout the years). My parents are never on Skype and I have very limit Skype credit. Anyway, I called my folks on Christmas (my mom was busy working) and I spoke briefly to my older sister Jamila and my Dad. Jamila said folks often inquire about how I’m doing, which is great. My dad could be doing better healthwise. To make a long story short, he’s had several doctor’s visits in the last several months, and he told me that he’s been diagnosed with dementia (I have to admit that I had to look the word up on Wikipedia to fully understand it). I’ve been kicking myself for the last several hours about the fact I’ve been bad at staying in contact with him and other family members. Unfortunately, I can’t help him as much as I would like while I’m in England. But I am totally prepared to provide whatever support I can while I’m in England.

Me at Trish's flat

Me at Trish’s flat

Onto better news (which could take my mind of my Dad’s condition for awhile)… The only thing I really wanted for Christmas was not to be alone. Fortunately, Trish (one of my coursemates) is still in Leeds, so she invited me over her flat for a Christmas dinner (I actually got a bit lost on the way there). I really had a lot of fun chatting with her over a good meal and listening to XPN on her iPad (She seemed quite pleased with the music XPN plays). I thought a group of people would come over, but that wasn’t the case. Anyway, while I feel bad about not being in better contact with my family, I feel like I had a productive Christmas.

But I have to return to world of classwork soon.


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