First of all, check out the FANTASTIC new layout! Many, many thanks to Holly Smith for doing this for me. Check out her design blog—her banner is on the right hand side of the page.
Second of all, I’ve finally put up pictures on Facebook. Even if you’re not on the Facebook bandwagon, you can see them here.
Now for the blogging. It’s another long one, and not the happiest thing ever, so it’s all under the jump.
Hard week. We’ll back up to a week ago Thursday. Afternoon. Circuits in the park for rowing. Only Megan, Adrienne, and I showed up, and I was fighting a sinus infection that was about to get radically worse. Circuits are led by a Scottish third-year named Jonathan Lafferty, but everyone calls him Laffy. But by the end of practice, I was not laughing. Sprints, stretch, sprint suicides, sprint suicide again, push-ups, sit-ups, sprint, push-ups, sit-ups, sprint, etc. My lungs were full of junk as it was, and really didn’t want to assist me in breathing. Not sure how I made it home on my own two feet, and I could barely raise my arms to wash my hair later. Finishing my essay that night was harrrd, and I was in bed by 10:30.
Friday morning, 5:30, alarm goes off. Pull my aching, protesting body out of bed, Megan and I go down to Regent’s to meet the other rowers. It’s still pitch black as we walk to the boathouse. Upon entering the hallowed grounds of Christ Church College, I start whistling the Harry Potter theme song and everyone calls me creepy and tells me to stop. At the boathouse we get out the long boat and the long oars, and we carefully take them to the water. We leave our shoes on the dock, since the boats have built in shoes to keep your feet in one place. Not being able to torque my right hip out, my whooole right leg was completely asleep in less than five minutes. But we started rowing, warming up slowly. The sun starts coming up, and it’s going to be a beautiful morning. The big clouds are the harmless kind that don’t threaten rain, and they’re all pink and yellow, and the sky is a light purple. Lots of other teams are out too, but the only noises are the oars pushing through the water and the instructions coming over the speak from the cox. We row for about an hour, and as novices, find it much more difficult than we had anticipated. Keeping the boat steady is our main issue, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting locked in by your own oar when the boat is leaning too far to your side. Watching the experienced teams go by is a sight to behold. Everyone’s in sync and moving fast. Their cox really only sits there in case a problem arises. On the walk back home, I feel refreshed, but thoroughly exhausted, and it’s barely 9 o’clock.
That afternoon I had my first Shakespeare tutorial. I had written on the resolutions in four comedies, and actually felt pretty good about the paper. Our discussion was invigorating, and I left Dr. Robson’s office feeling victorious.
After lunch I went home and napped, and then I went back to city centre for Happy Hour—the name of the small group from St. Aldate’s I signed up for. It’s led by a couple named Jo and Vince; Vince is the Junior Dean at Jesus College, which is kind of like being a resident director for the whole school. Good group of people there, and we’re planning on discussing some of the “big questions” within Christianity.
Formal hall that night, followed by chocolates in the JCR, followed by some random adventures that all ended up falling through. Sam, a third-year, led some of us to “crash” the college bar at Balliol College, but I think only two people bought drinks and it was so hot and crowded that we just stood and talked to the others in our group. After that, Corey and I went down to Joe’s house to celebrate his birthday with the OOSC kids and their British friends. We walked to a club, but when we got there I realized I was too shattered (=tired) to do anything. Walked home and fell dead asleep.
Saturday morning meant pictures at the crack of 8:15, and we all had to be decked out in our sub-fusc. See the Facebook album of what all that entails. I went back home and slept until noon, then hung out with Annie the rest of the day, finally going into Eagle and Child, watching some Bones, and Skyping with my parents in the living room of my wonderful college mom’s flat.
Saturday night was very cool. At the International Students’ Orientation during 0th week, Megan and I signed up to eat dinner in a British family’s home. A bunch of area churches asked for volunteers, and then the coordinators matched us up. We met at the designated meeting spot, and a guy with a long gray ponytail and earring introduced himself as Wulf and said they were our hosts for the evening. His wife Jane was in the car, and they drove us to their home. Turned out to be a fantastic evening. They live in a community home that a mission organization started about a year ago, interested in what living in intentional community would look like. I think there are 8 or 9 people who live there, and Megan and I ate with Wulf and Jane and two other couples. Two of the women were pregnant, and are having their babies only about two months apart, but everyone seems excited to be able to help out. Everyone takes turns cooking, gardening, cleaning, ordering groceries. They have house meetings every Tuesday to catch up on everyone’s lives and take care of any business that needs attending. I’d really like to try a similar program some day. Maybe not when I have babies, though. But the food was great, and so was the conversation.
After dinner Megan and I went to Joe and Maura’s house to hang out with them and watch Matilda. As we were watching, I realized something awful—I had never seen it before! I was a huge Roald Dahl fan as a kid, so I don’t understand how that key childhood movie slipped by me.
Sunday was pretty low-key—reading, orphan party, the late service at St. Aldate’s with Julia and some other Regent’s kids.
Monday was when it allll started to go downhill. The sinus infection I knew I had but hadn’t treated moved into my chest, and I now had a pounding headache and a “productive” cough to add to my runny nose, sore throat, and stopped-up ears. I was miserable. I called the doctor first thing in the morning, but couldn’t get in until Tuesday afternoon. I had two lectures in the morning (no sign of Susan) and then I worked in the library all afternoon, pretty much convinced I was about to die. And in the meantime, my phone died. DIED. Fully charged battery and it wouldn’t even turn on. I had a bit of a cry when I Skyped with my dad that afternoon.
Tuesday’s doctor visit was, of course, eventful. I woke up feeling even worse than I had on Monday, absolutely convinced my head was going to explode before I could get to the GP. Sidenote—Megan and I tried to hunt down David Harper to talk about the Internet, and he wasn’t in his office. No one knew when he’d be back. Communication isn’t exactly this college’s top priority. Anyways, Julia went with me to the doctor. My voice was pretty much shot by this point, so I sounded as pathetic as I looked and felt. I checked in at the desk when I got there, and they told me to go wait for Dr. Parker in the upstairs waiting room. So I did. For forty-five minutes. In the mean time, people were coming in after me and getting called straight back. So I went back down to the desk and asked if I’d been put into the computer system that lets the doctor know I’m there. I told her my name and she type-type-typed away on the computer before saying, “Oh, no, we didn’t put you in. Sorry about that.” So she checked me in, I went back upstairs, and the doctor immediately called me back. She was young and really nice, and said, “I’m so sorry you’ve been waiting! I’ve just been sitting in here thinking you were a no-show.” I told her I was 100% sure I had a sinus infection, and she confirmed it. But of course she had to call it “sinusitis,” since we can’t ever have the same words for anything over here. She told me I could let my body fight it or she could give me some antibiotics. Um, antibiotics PLEASE. Took the prescription to the chemist, who was a cute old man who gave me instructions on when and how to take it. Since I looked and sounded like death warmed over, he handed me the meds, I said thanks, and he said, “Sure… good luck.” I bet he watched me walk all the way to the door just to make sure I didn’t collapse in the store.
Wednesday was my first postcolonial tutorial, and I think it was all right. Not much of a hint from the tutor one way or the other. And I only had to BS a little bit.
Then the Shakespeare work began. I spent all of Wednesday night reading Titus Andronicus and all Thursday reading Othello. Had to write my paper Thursday night into the wee hours of Friday morning, and it was just disastrous. I was embarrassed to read it to Dr. Robson during tutorial on Friday. And when we began, she gave me back my essay from the week before, and apparently it wasn’t as good as I thought it was. So I was even more reluctant to read her my new essay, and it was just a terrible hour. She asked me all kinds of questions about Shakespeare’s time that I couldn’t answer, and I couldn’t even make them up—that’s how little I know. By the end I felt myself shutting down, so much so that after one question she said, “It’s a really simple answer, Melody.” Ugh. Left that feeling completely embarrassed and miserable, and then I looked in my mailbox in the JCR to find my postcolonial tutor had sent my essay over, and she hated it too. And she said for my next essay I should aim for 10-12 pages, EVEN THOUGH her syllabus says 2000-2500 words, which is what I did. Thoroughly down in the dumps.
Ran some errands with Julia, then got ready for formal hall. The silent disco afterwards lifted my spirits some. It’s hilarious—everyone has his or her own set of headphones, with two stations you can listen to. So half the crowd is dancing to one thing, the other half to another, and when you take your headphones off everyone looks like a moron. Brilliant.
It’s another rainy Saturday, and I’m in my little corner of the library. If I ever want to redeem myself in either tutorial, I have a LOT of reading to do.