Is being an expat your preference? Being an expat is my preference now. It didn't start off that way. At first it was difficult and scary. I didn't have friends that weren't my partner's. Just leaving the house proved to be exhausting, especially when traveling around London by bus, which was what I could afford. This was before the buses had those handy boards & announcements for every stop and you had either to sit at the front on the upper level or right next to the left-hand windows on the lower level to be able to spot the stops. Even then, London's winding streets meant that often you couldn't read the signs until you were within 20 feet of them, at which point the bus was already flying past it.
I went through a depressive slump, which both caused and was then exacerbated by, the meltdown of said relationship. I attempted to cope with this by drinking a lot and pretending everything was fine. You can imagine how well that worked.
Now, however, I've won myself a pretty nice lifestyle, I think. I thrive on the perpetual edge of heightened awareness that being an expat requires. I'm always conscious that my behaviour must be monitored and occasionally modified to suit the cultural norm. However, as the culture suits my quirks and peccadilloes quite well, it's no longer a struggle. Instead, it's a source of happiness.
When did you first identify as an atheist (if you do)? I think I've always been a non-believer. My parents were quite careful to raise me without any religious indoctrination. We didn't go to church, but if I had wanted to, they wouldn't have stopped me. (I didn't.) My mother tried to expose me to different schools of belief and philosophy through the books she brought home from the library. I attended a Catholic school in Hawai'i, but this was simply because my mother worked in the library. Very little of the doctrine seems to have made its way into my nascent consciousness. I spent all my time staring out the stained glass windows and wondering how they'd been made, or day-dreaming about being outside.
I didn't think to label myself an atheist until I was in high school. As high school is a difficult enough time as it is, I didn't discuss my lack of faith with many other people since nearly all my friends were fervent Baptists or Mormons. My training as a scientist and post-university reading material have only served to firm up my position and provide me with the tools to gently but firmly deflect attempts to convert me.
Favourite thing about physics? I think my favourite thing about physics is its boldness. "Hey!" says physics. "I know it's an impossible task and I'll never get it completely right, but I'm going to try and work out the fundamental laws governing the behaviour of the observable universe." You have to be a little nuts to expect that you can do that even to a reasonable approximation. And yet physics manages.
Would you volunteer to take part in a space mission? Technically, I've already volunteered to take part in several space missions. I'm going to assume, though, that you meant would I volunteer to participate in a manned space mission. Yes, but there would be caveats. Were it, for instance, a colonization mission I would have to be able to bring my partner for a potentially one-way trip. If it were a servicing mission for a robotic spacecraft, a trip to the moon or a stint on the ISS, all of which are on the order of months, I would volunteer without reservation.
London: tired of, tired of life? Or foul wen? I think it's possible to be tired of living in London without being tired of life. I love working in London and the exciting mix of high and low-brow opportunities for night-time entertainment it affords. But I also love living with my partner, being able to afford a house with a substantial garden, having pets and essentially escaping to the countryside every weekend. I have to make sacrifices - I can't really close out the pub with friends very often unless I want to pay heavily for it by being exhausted from the commute for days afterwards, for instance - but my quality of life has improved substantially since I moved out of London.
If you would like five questions of your own, dear DW/LJ friends, please leave a comment. I will respond. (Actual number of questions may vary depending upon how well I know you, whether or not I've asked you questions before, whether or not you answered them, whether or not I'm afraid of repeating myself and how much time I have.)
You know what's coming now. Oh yes, you do. It's...Adorable Kitten Picture time! With snow!
Mighty Hunter Sputnik. Very good at catching his brother.