I have started about half a dozen blog entries this week but inertia or more urgent demands on my time make me unable or unwilling to force any one of them to completion. That does nothing for the writing habits so I am going to start and finish this one, even if it’s very short and mostly meta.
In the last year I worked briefly as an essay tutor, travelled to France, wrote a whack of papers and things, moved to Oxford to start a DPhil, got nominated for a few graduate prizes, sat The Test, got elected to a membership at the Royal Historical Society, presented 2 conference papers, and bought far more books than I can actually afford. Here follows a slightly more specific account of the year for the sake of posterity and my spotty memory.
I did not plan on buying books today. Honestly, I have tried not to buy any books since the last painful spree to grab some foundational reading that I could not leave to the libraries to provide. These two books are, at least, very fortunate finds and were affordable (in the most abstract sense of the term).
During a brief Skype conversation with Z, I lamented my low productivity of late and that I had several things to do on this otherwise unoccupied Saturday. Z thought that perhaps, considering that it was the weekend and a traditional period of rest, that I should skip worrying about work and do something else. Perfectly sensible, except that most of the time, what I consider fun is also very close to what I also consider work. It’s a paradox that the most fun I have usually involves considerable (and not always planned) productivity so fun can be measured as work. Ah well, such is the life of the academically pre-disposed.
While the official Oxford observance of Guy Fawkes day occurred on Saturday, there have been intermittent fireworks blowing off after 6:30pm, every night, since the 3rd. This tends to go on, in salvos, until about 11.
I regret that today’s blog entry has no real theme, other than they are reasonably recent events. Consider this a commonplace collection for the internets. Most of these are at least relevant to the general purpose of the blog. They have some historical element, they relate to research or the tasks of the academic, or the inform the ongoing experiment that is the LD student in higher-education.
Rather than give my patient readers at PBS one of a half-dozen possible entries complaining about some inexplicable crap that is part culture shock and part conflict of style, I will explain what I am attempting to do despite Oxford’s best efforts. I’m sorry, one of those complaints crept in under the door. I will need to get a gripe-excluder for writing sessions. I am going to try and pace those gripes between more positive entries that people could actually read and enjoy (or tolerate). It is too easy to use a blog for laundry lists of frustrations and while I am not big enough to avoid that entirely, I do have the self control to moderate it. So, instead of a bitch-fest about higher education, you get a miniature reading list on the English gentry. Continue reading →
This is a whirlwind summary of the first week here. I do this mostly for posterity, not for literary value. Z and I learned that the Merton crowd is a little younger, a little ‘posher’ and a little less welcoming than the Trinity Hall MCR. Now, there are plenty of exceptions but it is a different mix and I am feeling particularly old and out of place in this crowd. The staff in the College are all very good and that’s nice.
When Z and I buy house-related things we call it nesting and much of the 26th involved nesting. Boswells, a sort of catch-all department store, very much in the mold of the old Canadian Army and Navy store, is the go-to place for new students and they have decent stuff, not just cheap tat. For all that, it wasn’t as crowded as you would expect.
There was also the orientation for The Test at 4:00pm