– J. reports from the London homebase on learning the language (more importantly on the switching of Z’s for S’s and the including of U’s in words previously without). Fate and I combined will turn this man into a Brit yet!
“My first two classes are the two that everyone has to take: Corporate Finance and Financial Reporting. The two classes for my specialization are International Finance and Accounting in the Global Economy. The two that I have to wait and see if I get in are Leadership in Organisations Theory and Practice, and Financial Risk Analysis. The former is an organisational behaviour (look at me spell!) type of class on what makes good leaders and the latter is a class analysing (again!) risk using statistics and math (never gonna add an “s” to that).”
“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.”
~ James E. Starrs
A curious thing is happening, pumpkins. Driving around campus on various errands the other day I noticed that on a very few trees, a very few leaves are starting to look…not quite…green. Was there a smattering of reddish, yellowish Fall starting to creep through the chlorophyll? Yes, I think so! And the sun, which has been well above the mountains by the time I manage to pull myself out of bed all summer, is now not quite peeking over the crags.
The other way I can tell is the reemergence of weird phones calls to show that Autumn Term has indeed kicked off. For example:
“Uh, police? Yeah, we’ve, like, found this bike in this tree? Can you come get it down?”
Fall is coming, kittens.
What signs are you seeing – or indeed not seeing – that Autumn is near? There’s a crispness in the air this morning, but it is entirely likely that the temperature will shoot up into the 90s again before the day is out. Mixed signals, much, Mother Nature?
“I swear, the freshman get younger every year!” – C.
We’re currently going through the brief pandemonium of a new term. The roads are clogged – after a summer of near empty streets – as the population of both our university town and campus triples overnight. There have already been several accidents and thefts.
And parents! There have been many rabid parents, helicopter parents, fretting parents, clingy parents, and totally negligent parents. The array of which gives rise to a multitude of headaches and funny stories. Just as the freshman seem to get younger, the parents seem to get more overbearing,
However, I’m currently sleep deprived, stressed, and more than a little anxious about the fact that J. is leaving in two weeks. So I’ll boil down a week’s worth of muffled snorts and eye bugging to handy, easy to read bullet point:
No, we cannot arrange an armed escort for your child to and from the dorms every morning. However we do have a safe walk program, knock yourself out.
I am terribly sorry that your son left his brand new laptop at the library for an hour unsupervised and it got stolen. But I categorically refuse to accept the charge that we had the ability to prevent that incident or that it’s “all our fault.”
No, I cannot run a background check on the boys in your precious daughter’s classes/congregation/dinner group.
No, I cannot call you and give you a weekly checkup on your child unless there is a legitimate medical, psychological, or law enforcement reason for me to do so.
No. You’re child is not an exception. Really.
Carry on, freshman. Snip the umbilical cord and you’ll do alright.
“If the psych boys ever got hold of him, they’d never let him go. No. This is a family matter.” – Louis McMaster Bujold, Memory
One of the reasons I like J. so much is that we have largely completely separate interests. You’d think this might lead to marital incompatibility, but au contraire! It means that we’re constantly introducing each other to new things and are obligated to at least try them out once. I expose him to opera, he takes me hiking, etc. Occasionally this is not only interesting but useful as he has a whole brain chock full of things from business and accounting that I never learned in a liberal arts degree.
For example, his upcoming move to London. As it turned out, my good friend Margot may need a place to crash for a while before she jets off to South America for a job (my friends are nifty!), the timing of which just happened to correspond with my grad-school-induced widowhood! In any event, she need a place to store some things as she figures out life plans, and I needed an excuse to pack up the back room and get it stored, so we decided to kill two birds with one stone and clear out my space so she could occupy it for a while.
I press ganged J. one evening and we packed up our entire collection of books (no mean feat), our fine china (a present from my parents which I’ve never even used because I’m terrified of breaking it), and our desktop computer and stacked it all in a closet awaiting transport for storage.
Then, on fire with my success, I turned a baleful eye on my front room. Before I knew what had happened I had cleaned out our closet and reorganized all the coats, athletic gear, shoes, and luggage. I vacuumed everything. I dusted. Everywhere I looked I saw lists of things to be done and my stress level (exacerbated by recent events and circumstances) rose slyly, but steadily. Finally when I lashed out at J. for leaving the dishes undone, he crossed his arms and declared, “You, my love, are experiencing scope creep.”
“And just what’s that supposed to mean?!” I frothed, clutching the Swiffer Sweeper manically.
And he explained. Personally I appreciate that he used a business reference rather than a (in my opinion likely more accurate) psychiatrist term.
But see? A problem properly cataloged and my worldview expanded. He also sat me on the couch and told me to watch some mindless TV for an hour to calm down. How handy!
[Dumplings, it’s that week of the year, when the campus is invaded; it’s also the week that I am processing nearly 200 raises. Ergo, I’m dead to the world. Please enjoy this re-post of this time last week, and be assured it’s just as relevant this year. Upon reflection, this is also the week where my optimism about humanity at large takes a beating…]
As if we were not already desperately busy, especially with Fall semester looming, this is also when the University hosts a conference open to the public. For a mere $44 dollars, you can come spend week going to classes about academic topics, theology, personal development, and probably basket weaving for all I know. This wouldn’t be so bad if it were not for the people.
It is impossible to convey how boorish these invaders are. You’d think they owned the place! Office supplies go missing, we have to lock classrooms so that they can’t get in, they knock people down rushing to classes, they yell at everyone…genuine menaces to society. However, it’s their propensity to complain about everything, usually consequences they’ve brought on themselves by their rude behavior, that really bleaches us of all sympathy. Some favorite complaints:
I couldn’t find a parking space so I had to park in the road against oncoming traffic.
No. You didn’t. That’s like saying, “There were no cigarettes so I had to smoke crack.” Not at all. The circumstances are probably aggravating and cause withdrawals and make you irritable (not unlike frustration with parking), but the solution you propose is still illegal.
We paid good money to come to this conference, get out of our way!
We pay much, much more money to go to school here for four years. Full time. And do you think any of us get our way?
We paid good money to come here [again, please note $44], so we should be able to park wherever we want.
Hm…not really. This is, in fact, a fully functioning university 365 days a year. Which means that we have anywhere between 20,000 and 60,000 people here on a daily basis who are actually working and taking classes who need to park. To put it simply, we trump you. You are visitors, we are permanent.
We can’t find anything on this campus of yours. Don’t you label anything?And where are we supposed to park?
Yes. You will find them on those handy maps you were given on your first day. And you can park in any one of the half-of-the-entire-campus-lots we took away from those mentioned in the complaint above this one and gave them to you to use. For a week. For free. Ingrates.
The bishop encouraged us to come so, since the bishop sent us, you should give us food for free, because of the bishop.
This is not the parish potluck!
We drove a long way to come here, why can’t we leave our car in a handicapped stall?
I don’t care if the Vatican called you personally and declared all your sins would be forgiven if you invaded campus. I don’t care if we get an email from Mecca declaring this the site of this year’s pilgrimage. I don’t care if St. Thomas a Becket re-capitates himself and orders Chaucer resurrected to write another masterpiece about our humble university town. You do not, under any circumstances, get to get away with such unpardonable behavior!
(Cutting in front of whole lines of people, including one in a wheelchair, to buy things at the campus store and then snapping at the people who ask you to move to the back of the queue, “We’re with the conference!”)
Who raised you?!
“I hope I didn’t bore you too much with my life story.” – Elvis Presley
Some of my friends seem to have gone completely round the twist lately, and not one has been able to satisfactorily explain their strange, sad, pathological, or just flat out bizarre behavior. I’m baffled, kittens.
Dear police officers who have had all year to complete 40 hours worth of training: no sympathy. I’ve sent you quarterly updates of your training records and multiple emails this month alone reminding you that I’m turning everything in at the end of the week, your sob stories about how you never knew you were 39 hours short will not fly here.
Sweet merciful chocolate, J. starts grad school three months from tomorrow!
Sweet merciful chocolate on a stick, we still have so much to do…
I have stayed up late every night for a week now, in a unprecedented attempt to prove that I am not a dull, matronly, boring old married woman at 25. The net result is that I’m near psychotic from sleep deprivation and have never used so much concealer in my life. I r adult now, k thnx bai.
We are smack in the middle of the busiest work week of the year preceding the busiest work day of the year, the 4th of July (which includes but is not limited to VIP performers, parades, marathons and 5ks, street festivals, massive firework displays, and the gradual wearing down of any and all patriotic feelings on the part of our department staff as we deal with screaming children, patrons livid with the parking situation, traffic accidents, any amount of petty crime, and 48 hour work days).
My birthday just keeps on going! Celebrating it with various friends and family took up about a week and I milked every day of it (Can’t do the laundry, it’s my birthday! Can’t save that baby from the pack of roaming wolves terrorizing that burning building that was started by the earthquake, it’s my birthday!). Last night I got the probable last of my belated birthday present…just in time for my anniversary on Friday!
Seriously…I’m so tired right now… Ladies from the parish are coming by this evening, I should probably clean the flat and not take a nap. But…
Visa applications can be submitted starting tomorrow, but they probably won’t be completed seeing as I have to be at work until 9pm prepping for the dratted 4th of July. Freaking colonists and their freaking independence…
Oh dear, do I have anything for dinner?
We’re really moving in just about 2 months. Please hand me that paperbag and ignore any sounds of angst that may escape my muffled mouth.
“University Police, this is C., how can I help you?”
“I’d like to speak to a customer service representative, please.”
“Ma’am, I’m not a recording. How can I help you?”
“Oh, hello. I lost my purse today. I was coming to campus with my seven grandchildren – Mary, John, Paul, James, Agnes, Peter, and Martha – and we went to the museum, then stopped for lunch and went to the art museum before going to get ice cream.”
“I see. Well, ma’am, the first -”
“They all wanted strawberry, except for Agnes who hates strawberry and had to have chocolate and Peter because he’s lactose intolerant. So when I got them all home I got everything out of my car, it’s a 2008 suburban, tan, and I just got it new tires last week, I also had to get the oil changed!”
“Alright, so what you’ll need to do -”
“And frankly I was less than impressed by how difficult it was to get around campus with seven children, I really think you should make more accommodations for large families. But my purse is a large satchel, canvass, and it has my planner, my medications, and my wallet and I really need it back! Could you send an officer to go look for it?”
“I can try but I strongly recommend you come in and make a police report with us, and that you also -”
“Oh, surely no one would steal my bag and my bank isn’t very helpful. I’ve known the manager for years and you think he would be more respectful to an older woman, especially a neighbor like me. I really think that it’s a shame how people treat ladies my age! The person who served us our ice cream, except for Peter of course, was also not very helpful. You’re not being very helpful either.”
“I am trying my best, ma’am. If you could give me a little more -”
“You’re not listening to me at all. Please transfer me to someone who could be more useful.”
“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.” – A. A. Milne
Pumpkins, you know I try to blend the everyday with humor, toss in a pinch of cynicism, and baste it lovingly with hyperbole before serving it up to you, piping hot…but there are some things that cannot be sugar coated. I hate to break it to you if you didn’t already suspect it, or alternatively confirm your worst fears if you did: the kids are not alright.
At least, their spelling isn’t. I’m again convinced that autocorrect is killing our brains. Here’s a few of our most recent puzzles (from witness statements, appeals, emails, and letters) and our best guesses as to what they are supposed to mean:
hared = hard
vary = very
ad = and
mastak = mistake
whey = why
exspesholy/espetially = especially
roung = wrong
lugudge = luggage
situadion = situation
oll = all
agaon = again
“If I’ve been here a long time, I think: I must go to London and speak to someone or see a bus.” – Julian Clary
As a result of our recent announcement (to recapitulate: LONDON!), and as you have probably rightly assumed, we are going to be busy for the next few months. Saving money, getting visas, selling most of what we own, packing up what’s left – horrifyingly, delightfully busy. Travel junkie and pro that I am, I’m already straining at the lead to get started.
And so, we’re going to be having a theme here at Small Dog Inc. for the next 3 – 4 months: upping sticks. We’ll be talking paperwork, packing, selling stuff, and about adventures abroad (past and future).
As you may recall, I’ve rather extensive experience in the matters of cross continental hops, but why shouldn’t you get to participate in the fun? Vicariously, I mean, I would never ask it of you to haul furniture and sort kitchen utensils! I have better uses for such lovely minions as yourselves than manual labor. In fact, here’s an assignment, email me your travel tips and misadventures starting now, everyone’s invited to this blog party and I want to feature you and your good ideas and stories.
So sit back and enjoy the fun, my darlings! I’m going to be asking your opinions on many things so do participate. I will even try and get some of my mates to do guest posts about moving and their adventures abroad. And when the boxes tumble and crush me, all of the appliances break last minute as we are trying to sell them, the car needs last minute repairs that wipe out our savings, and the locusts eat all our crops, you will be the first to know.