The week got off to a sleepy start, and it was an arduous fight to keep my head above water the whole week long.
Monday morning my alarm went off at 5:30, only four hours after I’d crawled into bed after Skyping in college. I got up and put my sweats on over my long underwear, and Megan and I were out the door by 5:45. We walked the forty-five minutes to the boathouse, getting there just as the sun was starting to peep over the horizon and illuminate the scattered clouds.Sitting on the bench, we watched a boys’ crew carry their boat out to the dock directly in front of us, and we wondered why we were always the first ones to arrive when we lived the farthest away. Megan asked me the time, so I took my phone out of my pocket and discovered I had a text message that said, “Sorry ladies, outing canceled.”
I took advantage of the sunrise and the free hours to take some pictures of the river and surrounding views, and then we trekked back home. By the time we got there, it almost seemed pointless to go back to bed, so I showered, made breakfast, and set to work on my postcolonial literature research.
Tuesday morning I studied in the Radcliffe Camera (awesome) and then took my first bus ride to the Werneford Hospital. I’m taking part in a psychiatric study that pays ten dollars an hour, and all I have to do is let them scan my brain. I googled the way there and found the bus stop and correct bus all by myself, but once on I had no idea what to do or what to look for. Thankfully, I asked the man behind me where I should get off for the hospital, and he said, “Oh! Right here! Get off now!” Did I mentioned it was pouring rain? It had been all morning, so I had my Marmot jacket with the hood and my green wellies, but my trousers were soaking wet by the time I finally found the department of psychiatry. I met the study coordinator, Louisa, and we spent an hour doing a basic health questionnaire, mainly about mental health. Some of the questions were terrifying; I can’t imagine what it would be like to say “yes” to them.
Tuesday night Rowena, my upstairs neighbor, came down and gave me a free haircut in my kitchen! It’d been since February since my last one, and the last two inches or so of my hair were nasty. She cut them straight off—no fancy layers, no tapering, and it looks so good. Thick and healthy. We sat and talked for a long time in our living room, and she offered her TV and DVD collection to us any time we want. Also, she watches Bones, so I know where I'll be every Thursday night from here on out.
Wednesday morning was another early rowing morning, but thankfully the outing actually happened. The coach is not nice at all though, so it’s been extremely frustrating. After we put the boat up and met him to debrief, I asked him a question, and he just looked at me and said, “Is there anybody on this team who’s not American?” Cool.
I had my postcolonial tutorial in the afternoon, and it was fine. I can never figure out what she thinks of me or my papers.
I spent the rest of the evening in the library and at dinner, and then around 9:30 Adrienne and I went to G&D’s for an ice cream break. We ended up talking in the JCR with our British friends, and then she slept in our extra bedroom instead of walking the sketchy route to her house in the dark.
Thursday morning I got up early to make it to college for breakfast by 8:15—my first cooked breakfast of the whole term. After lunch, I worked in the library for a bit before heading to the GP again. After my last round of antibiotics I had maybe one day of feeling well, and then I got slammed with a cough again. So annoying. But the GP is so nice, and she gave me a prescription for a steroid nasal spray (ew) that will hopefully do the trick.
After the GP I went to the Sackler library to read, but after an hour and a half I had made it though only five pages of Shakespeare. It didn’t matter how many times I got up to get a drink and walk around, I could not keep my eyes open to save my life. I finally left, hoping the outside air would wake me up, and I went to Greens Café and got coffee. The fresh air and caffeine worked wonders, and I was a little more productive. But by dinner time, I still hadn’t finished my second play, much less started secondary research or writing the essay due at noon Friday.
I finished reading around nine, and went to Sainsbury’s with Charlotte to stock up and caffeine and sweets. I bought 1.25 litres of Diet Coke… and I drank the whole thing. I actually started writing the paper around 1:30, and I didn’t get home until 4:30 am. My mother was in bed before I was… and she’s seven hours behind me.
I woke up at 10 on Friday, only because I had set an alarm. My tutorial was just fine—nothing spectacular, nothing dismal. Straight after lunch was another rowing session. Only this time, a bunch of girls couldn’t make it, so we had four experienced male rowers kindly offer to go out with us. It was the first session in crappy weather—clouds and drizzle. Our coach was in fine form again, referring to me and Stacey as “the weakest females,” among other things. In any case, I don’t know if I’ll ever be coordinated enough to be a good rower. I need someone to help me one-on-one, as I can only ever focus on one aspect at a time. I can remember to straighten my arms, but I’ll lean too far back. I can go slowly on the recovery, but I’ll still be out of rhythm. Just not happening.
We hung out in the JCR for a while afterwards, and then I went home to get ready for Formal Hall. I sat down on my bed to take off my shoes and though, Oh, that feels really nice. I’ll lay down for just a second. I’ll keep the lights on, play some music, and set an alarm just in case. Well, thirty minutes later that alarm went off, and I had to race around getting my tights and dress on, locating my gown, and putting on some makeup. A shower definitely couldn’t happen. I speed-walked to college in the pouring rain, arriving just as everyone started walking into the dining hall. Dinner was excellent—some kind of (carrot?) soup, poached chicken with pesto sauce and potatoes, and blueberry cheesecake for dessert.
The post-formal get-together in the JCR was a charity auction. People pledged things they could provide—everything from an hour of ironing to bedtime stories to helicopter rides over Oxford—and everyone else bid on them, with all the money going to charity. A group of seven of us went in on Omar reading us bedtime stories every night for a week. It’s going to be awesome. We raised over a thousand pounds—over three times as much as last year. Unfortunately, some people had to be reminded later that they did, in fact, pay 65 quid to get a personalized love poem from Jarred. There was also a quad run that went for 150 pounds, but I’ll leave those details to your imagination.
After the auction, Adrienne and I went to a club called Kukui with a group. It was cool on the inside, but the music was kind of terrible, and not worth the fiver to get in. We stayed long enough to get our money’s worth, but then we went back to the JCR. We spent the rest of the night sitting around talking, trying to carry on conversations with those who had partaken perhaps a little too much.
Adrienne spent the night at my house again, and in the morning (okay, around noon) we met a bunch of girls at the college and went to the parks to play footie.
I hadn’t played since I was 9, because that’s when I had my growth spurt and I just really couldn’t control my big ol’ feet any more, especially when they were so far from my brain. But a couple of the girls hadn’t played ever, so we were all in fine form.
We played Magdalen College, and I’d say we held our own, even though we lost. Our keeper made some fantastic saves, and the percentage of goals completed versus shots on goal was miniscule. And we had a lot of fun. I think I might actually keep this sport up!
It was funny, though, to have my lacrosse reflexes kick in. For the first ten minutes I froze every time the whistle blew. I also had fleeting worries about shooting space every time I took on a girl who was headed towards the goal. I got over it though, and actually had a couple of decent plays. I wish I had my cleats here. I got pretty muddy.
After the match I got lunch, skyped with my mom, and responded to some e-mails. Before long, it was already five o’clock, and I’d heard rumors about fireworks and a bonfire somewhere in town. Ross and I tried to figure it out on the Internet, but gave up and went searching for someone who might know something. We found Oli, who knew a little bit more, and we ended up finding a big group of people (two Frans, Abbie, Julia, Rosie, and Didi—I was the only American!) to go hunt down these fireworks. I was still sweaty and gross and in my football kit, so Oli kindly lent me a towel and shampoo and I cleaned up in college. I still had to put on my dirty clothes and I still had makeup on from the night before, though, so it was kind of pointless. I also had to borrow an extra jumper to stay warm—just not good planning on my part at all. I should just move into the JCR, really.
So we headed out and wandered all over town looking for any place these fireworks might be, but at half six we gave up and decided to go get food. We ate at a place called the Red Lion, where I had an amaaaaazing cheese and bacon burger and fries—the first burger I’ve had in six weeks. So delicious. After that, we decided we should go to the cinema to see Bright Star, “a period drama with a really hot guy,” they said. It was about the poet John Keats, and it featured a lot of really unattractive people being really psychotic in love. We were giggly at the beginning, mainly because Ross and Oli made it a point to try to ruin the movie for us, and an old man YELLED at us! We weren’t being terrible, and the movie had barely started, but he leaned back and screamed, “Shut up!” and then stared at us until he felt he had successfully put the fear of the Lord into us. He and his wife ended up leaving halfway through the film anyways, and I doubt we were the sole cause. Why would you waste six pounds like that?
In any case, the movie was kind of horrible and really long, but we had a great time making fun of it the rest of the evening. Everyone’s favorite line was, “Please, John, come back and marry our Fanny.” Considering the definition of the word “fanny” here… it was pretty hilarious.
We sat in the JCR for a long, long time, talking and playing table football. My skills as a defender have marginally improved, and we had some really good games. All of a sudden it was 2 o’clock, and I decided it was probably time to get home.
I woke up at 12:30 today, and all I’ve managed to accomplish is some laundry and about five or six scenes of Pericles. I went to college for über-brew, which is brew plus tons and tons of sweets and crisps and biscuits and fruit. And more table football.
I’m back in the library, my International Student Edition of The Norton Shakespeare staring me in the face, so I fear I must succumb. Church tonight, rowing in the morning, and the cycle begins again.
But this week, as hard as it was, really was a breakthrough. Even while I was crisis-ing, I realized I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else doing it. Zillions of people have had meltdowns and crappy papers at Oxford, and I’m getting to be a part of the legend. But I also feel like it was a breakthrough in relationships—I felt completely at ease with my British friends last night, and the prospect of not doing all three years of undergrad with them really does make me sad. All in all, I’m happy to be here.