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.
Writing and publishing academic work is a fairly solitary experience and this goes for both pre- and post-publication. While I may have started writing for publication as far back as 2005 I rarely receive unsolicited correspondence from that work. I think I have had a grand total of 3, legitimate, unsolicited enquiries from readers. The first was a simple request for a copy of an article not otherwise available. The second, came recently, from a small-scale, but entirely legitimate, publisher interested in a conference paper I gave (which the publisher thought would fit nicely in an academic monograph series he is planning. Sadly, I had to disappoint them). The last, which arrived yesterday, came from just about the last place I would have expected.
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.
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
The recent silence on the blog is naturally a byproduct of an awkward international move, some complex and tedious university administration, considerable amounts of walking to and fro and a general reluctance to take time away from my partner to write a blog entry.
By monday I should have some time to write something worth reading here, of the update variety. Oxford is seriously pushing my limits for sensory overload and information management. All things considered, there is only one potentially crippling problem that is at least 3-6 months deferred. As expected, it has nothing to do with the work I will do or the expectations of the programme (all safely within my abilities). This problem is entirely the fault of an outdated UK mental health system and their apparent indifference to certain types of learning disorders, managed in adults, with medication they apparently find morally repugnant. That’s at least, my reading at the moment (coloured as it is with the scarlet mysts of educational fury).
Just a short post to the effect that all is well at PBS, just slightly limited in the internet access way. More will follow, but not for a while. The wheels of the IT machine turn very slow (and not too fine) here in Oxon.
My abdominal butterflies, heavily medicated with Gravol, are packing the last of their belongings and have placed all the liquids in those transparent bags for security. All the diligent office workers upstairs have set ‘out-of-office’ messages on their phones and e-mail. The stylish European designers who continue to renovate the old ‘Language’ floor into a strange collection of three-wall sets following the blueprints of an arcane bargain-bin version of a memory palace have bogged off to wherever it was they came from. And I, slightly shaky with nerves and possibly fending off a pre-trip mugging by the common cold, fight to keep my figurative ‘sh*t’ together and get through this. Monday morning I fly out to Heathrow and on to Oxford. Thursday and Friday I take That Test.