Tag: University

Fancy. Dress.

“Thursday we commence, Friday we convoke.”
– Dad

Thank goodness my academic gown was good for something!  The racket those manufacturers must run makes me weep.  The year I graduated the university changed its policy on renting graduation gear I had to buy my whole kit instead, and I wore it for a grand total of two hours.  Luckily Sav and I are the same-ish height and when she needed a last minute gown, I was thrilled to oblige her with mine!

Academic dress loses some of its oomph on this side of the Atlantic.  In my parents’ hose there’s a great picture of Mum kneeling with her hands between those of the Vice-Chancelor, feudal style, exchanging Latin phrases with her Masters hood trailing down her back.  Much cooler than our polyester blends robes and little to no ceremony.  Although apparently one of J.’s professors taught classes in his academic robes because, in his words, “When you think of all the time and money I spent earning them, this is the most expensive suit of clothes I own.  And I’m going to get my money’s worth!”

No offense to either Mum or this entirely awesome professor…I think J. looks the best in his own get up.  We are officially done with his undergraduate degree!  Good Friday indeed!

Guilt. Trip.

“Guilt is the price we pay for doing what we are going to do anyway.”
– Isabelle Holland

We went to dinner with J.’s parents over the weekend and afterwards, after shooing the men off, my mother-in-law and I took in some shopping and talked a bit about friends, family, and the upcoming move to grad school.

It was good to get her take on it all, because I appreciate her points of view – usually she’s right.  But at one point, when talking about the move itself, which will be across the country/state, she started to tear up…and I froze, like the culturally confused, emotionally stunted useless lump that I am.  Because naturally I felt that somehow it was all my fault.  That I had lured her son into my bizarre world of regular continent-hopping, complicated familial relationship, and wanderlust, and out of  a stable clan homestead away from all he holds dear.  Heavy, Catholic-style-self-flagellating, corrosive guilt swamped me.

Of course I know that this is purely in my head.  Both my in-laws are extremely supportive, fantastic people and they are just sad because most of their kids have already moved further away than is convenient, and now J. is too, and J.’s the baby, etc.  But still, somehow I feel as if I’ve mucked up.  Actually, technically, J. did .  He picked the schools, but that didn’t matter.  If he hadn’t married me he’d never have been encouraged in this rash sort of behavior like leaving native states – to say nothing of countries!  “This,” my inner demon cackles, “is All Your Fault.  Homewrecker.”

J. of course finds my angst hilarious.
” I made her cry,” I exploded the second we left my godparents house where we’d been visiting.
“No you didn’t.”
“I contributed!  I’m a horrible daughter-in-law!  I’m encouraging you to go to some of the top schools in the world, supporting your decision fully, and I’m awful because of it!”
“Not exactly,” he soothed.

I was not to be dissuaded.  When debating whether to buy gas we decided against it because it was raining.  “Like your mother’s tears!” I wailed.  “She’s just going to miss us,” J. offered.  “Because I’m an academic Jezebel who’s lured you away,” I cried, digging around in my purse for a hair shirt.  “We’re close and it’s hard to see us move away,” he tried finally.  “But I want to go somewhere else…I hate myself for it!”  I probably would have leapt from the car to a quick death had the idea occurred to me then instead of just now.

Nearly two years as an exemplary daughter-in-law, torpedoed by a single crushing failure: I made my mother-in-law cry.

*Not really.  But still!

Hand Me That Paper Bag, Dear? Thank You. AUGHHHH!

“A graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that ‘individuality’ is the key to success.”
~ Robert Orben

I’m calm.  I’m collected.  I’m poised.

I’m freaking out.

Today makes it officially one month until J.’s graduation.  Which means that it’s only five months until we’re off to grad school on the opposite side of the country/world.  Which means we’re 14 months away from being done with school entirely.  Which means we have to grow up, I suppose.

That coherrent look? The product of caffeine, pain killers, and my good friend there holding me upright.

I remember being almost entirely apathetic about my own graduation.  Granted, I just got home from a summer “study abroad” to the UK 24 hours previous to the ceremony and was jet-lagged out of my mind.  The only reason I participated in the whole cap-and-gown circus was because my parents happened to be in the country visiting friends and family and could actually show up.  They took pictures, met J. for the first time, and took us all and my godparents out to breakfast.  Fin.

Thus I’m much more excited about his graduation.  But just don’t let me think about what comes next…because there is too much to do and I’ll start hyperventilating.  Again.

Financial. Aid.

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
~ Andy McIntyre

Woof, ducklings!  I thought the application process for J.’s grad school was grueling and soul destroying…but it is as nothing compared to working out how to pay for it!

Where will we live?
How much can we contribute ourselves?
How much, then, will we need in loans?
Federal, private, or both?
and most importantly…
Will we have to sell any kidneys and/or future children to pull this off?

We must write such moving personal statements that the entire selection committe will be moved to tears/frenzy/generosity. See photo for desired effect.

Last night we stayed up past 1am writing (another!) personal statement, this time for a scholarship application.  Let me just say here, that between J.’s experience and my editing, we have streamlined this sort of midnight activity to a science.  In fact reading the earliest application essays and comparing them to the last one we put together was hilarious – especially considering that earliest and probably least polished piece of work is the one that got him into the school we’re most excited about.  Who can fathom the ways of grad school selection committees?

Naturally staying up that late working on something that will only decide the course of our destiny is not conducive to stress free and happy Small Dogs.  I was frighteningly stressed and humorless about it all, I’m afraid, but J. seems to find this sort of angst in me amusing – granted I was especially klutzy last night and after midnight all sorts of incoherent things start coming out of my mouth, so maybe I’m better company than I thought.

So far this work is paying off, though.  J. has one fabulous scholarship offer to school A and now we’re just waiting to see what school B will throw at us (we’re dreadful tarts, you see, money buys our affections).  We’ve callously kicked schools C and D to the curb.

We’ll be making a final decision sometime in the near future.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I simply have to go breathe into a paper bag just thinking about it…

How To Get A Girl Pregnant (The Telephone Theory)

“Let it be a lesson to you to be less busy in the future!”
– Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy

Calm down, minions, I’m not talking about me.  Today we bring you a morality tale of A) staying out of other people’s business and B) not exaggerating.

We have an EMT internship program on campus and all of our kids are highly trained to assist in medical emergencies, often they are our first responders.  But they, like us, are often dispatched to non-emergencies because of faulty (not to say completely false) information.

Yesterday we received a call that there was a pregnant woman with vaginal bleeding on the floor of a restroom and non-responsive.

Our valiant EMTs burst into the bathroom, surprising the poor girl (who was not unconscious but bent over the counter and probably wishing she was dead from both pain and embarrassment).
“You’ve had some vaginal bleeding?” an EMT asked professionally.
“Well, yes,” she answered, confused.
“How many months pregnant are you?”

No, the other kind of hysterical pregnancy.

There was a terrible pause.  She paled and clutched at the sink.
“I’m pregnant?!”

It turns out she had been brought low by menstrual cramps, excused herself from her companions and went to the restroom.  A concerned friend relayed this information in a rather garbled way to a another friend, who in turn relayed yet a more garbled version to another friend, who in turn called 911.  Thankfully all was sorted out with some profuse apologies, pain killers, and a vigorous telling off for the person who called us without having a clue what was going on. And so, my likely-red-faced darlings, let that be a lesson to you: get your facts straight.  Otherwise people end up hurt.  Or pregnant.

Stress and Other Fractures

“The pain of the mind is worse than the pain of the body.”
– Publius Syrus (a chap who clearly didn’t know me)

You may have noticed, my gingerbread darlings, that I’ve not shared any good work stories with you of late.  There is a reason for that.

At this festive time of year on a university campus, the population is so collectively panicked about exams, projects, end of term presentations, and juggling the upcoming holiday that they are too harried to commit crimes.  Ergo, life at the police department is fairly mundane.  Wait until the week of Christmas itself when Hennessy and I will likely be the only ones here…you may be hearing from me hourly to alleviate boredom.

However, you will be happy to know that even though the human race is letting you down by not acting like its usual silly self, your faithful Small Dog still plugging away for your entertainment.  While work is full of  disappointingly well behaved people, I am as klutzy as ever.

J. has been staying up until 3 every morning finishing those crisis inducing assignments we just discussed and I haven’t been feeling well so last night we grabbed some takeaway dinner.  Charged with guarding this precious bundle I stooped to swing myself into the car…and promptly saw stars as my head collided with doorway.

McQueen shoes: made to cause C. to drool. And die. Horribly.

In my defense, high heels throw me off; I always wear very high ones to counteract my, ah, non-height, and I don’t always calculate things like car doors (or stairs, or how much further I have to fall after tripping, etc.) very well.  Yes, even after nearly a decade wearing them, shut up.  All told, I have a dirty great whacking lump on my head this morning and a bit of a headache.

I do it for you, my loves.

Hand Me My Blankie and Teddy Bear

“There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled.”
– Ovid

Riddle me this!  It’s barely Wednesday  and Hennessy and I have already caught two separate people napping at their desks so far this week.

Now, pumpkins, what do you think would happen if either she or I tried that?

Say What?

“The cat likes overhearing children stories.”
– Amelie (2001)

Let's listen in, shall we?

Working at University Police Department, one overhears things.  And if one is like me, with the unnatural ability to tune into conversations at the oddest, most embarrassing, or just when it’s heading for the HR office reportable. one overhears too much.

Can you guess the context of what was overheard this week?

“I need to go put a shirt on.”
A) Lt. Colossus gets in from his shift at Chippendales
B) A load of pasta had spilled down Lt. Figaro’s best uniform
C) A student officer, forced to strip when he got soaked in a downpour, relates his frustration

“She was the least flexible woman I’ve ever done!”
A) Wise relates a tale from her pregnancy yoga class
B) Lt. Citrus accidentally lets slip an insight to his scandal ridden past
C) Officer Lampost fingerprints an octogenarian

“Wow, I’ve never seen you in clothes!”
A) Bebe reveals her scandalous affair, HR is called
B) Bebe reveals her propensity to visit Chippendales (see Number 1)
C) Bebe embarrasses an officer when we get a rare glimpse of him in street clothes

“Have you ever been jogging with fireflies.  Magical!
A) A student officer is on drugs
B) A student officer is severely concussed
C) Hell if we know…

A) A student officer is on drugs, again
B) A student officer ate a whole bag of Jolly Ranchers and is vibrating from a sugar high
C) …???

The answers are all “C”
1-2 correct: you’ve a filthy mind
3-4 correct: you’ve a boring mind
5 correct: cheater!

The Annual Anti-Harassment Seminar, As Told by C.

“Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other.  Perhaps they should live next door and just visit now and then.”
~ Katharine Hepburn

Yesterday, under orders from the University, the entire department attended an anti-harassment seminar.  It didn’t go as well as could have been desired.

The officers, muttering something about cooties, grudgingly trotted off and about an hour later office personnel followed.  When the secretaries entered, a collective groan went up as the men were forced to put away their Vargas posters and NSFW magazines.

The presenter stood up, closing her ears when an unnamed person muttered something about “having to listen to this broad for an hour,” and put on a cheerful face.
“I’m here to talk to you all today about unacceptable behaviors at work.  Luckily there are no [censored slur] here, so this should be easy.”

Things rapidly devolved from there.

“The protected categories of personal traits are sex, gender, religious affinity, color, genetic information, age, and -”
“What’s the difference between sex and gender?” yelled out someone.  “I mean, besides who you’re allowed to hit on?”

Musical Theatre, as seen by some seminar attendees.

“One is your actual sex, male or female.  The other refers to expectations or traits of your sex.  For example, ridiculing a woman for trying to tackle something obviously beyond her scope, like chemistry.  Or a man for studying something that we can use to determine his sexual orientation, like musical theatre.”

“I’m a musical theatre major,” injected one student from the back of the conference room.
“Oooh, look at him,” cooed some of his compatriots flapping their wrists at him and beginning to make obscene personal remarks.
“Then why don’t you put on a skirt and wash something,” yelled a sergeant, diminutive in size anxious to fit in the Boys Club.

You're a girl!

C., enraged at the slur on A) skirts and B) laundry duties, leaped to her feet, climbed up over the seats and delivered a long and inventoried tirade abusing the sergeant’s personal hygiene and evolutionary history.  Hennessy, attempting to restrain her friend, tried to mitigate matters until a student officer told her to “shut up, quit working, and stay at home like she was supposed to.”  Whereupon both Hennessy and C. launched themselves at the student and his companions and frightful blows were exchanged.

“Women can work,” Chief hurried to scream into the fray, trying to calm everyone down, “unless they become pregnant!”
Excuse me?” bellowed Wise planting her hands on her growing stomach to brace for impact before she barreled him over.  Rounding on the company she roared, “Who’s next, you bunch of communists?!”
Susie demanded, “Who’s the commie pig?” whipped off her heels and began stabbing anyone in her way with stilettos

I'll save you, helpless maiden! (or) I'll kill you, helpless maiden!

While this was going on, both a male and female officer had taken refuge under the stage.  “Good thing we’re staying out of it,” said the male officer to a female, nudging her arm conspiratorially.
“Molester!” she screamed and dragged her surprised, hapless victim out where he was quickly devoured by a herd of bloodthirsty traffic clerks.

From the podium, the presenter tried to beat off a student officer with a propensity to stalking with a chair, yelling “Fire!” to make someone pay attention to her plight.
“I thought,” shouted Chief from where he was wrestling with a young female worker who was trying to get him in a compromising position in order to sue the university, “you had to tell someone who – ow! – was annoying or offending you – let go of my leg! – to stop before you could take legal action.”
“Oh no!” responding the presenter, getting her assailant into a headlock, “A behavior doesn’t have to be acknowledged to be unwelcome.”
“Yeah!”  shouted Lt. Colossus, emerging from the brawl bloody but unbowed.  “Watch!”
He reached out to where Lauper was punching an officer and ridiculing him for impotence, slapped her on the bum and collapsed on the ground when she promptly kneed him in the groin.  She was then set upon by a small horde of police officers who beat her senseless, calling her (alternatively) Hindu, Sheik, Protestant, and a variation of African spiritualism  that the editors are not sure how to correctly spell.

Pictured: the seminar room, post seminar.

The brawl was not broken up until both dogs and firehoses were turned on the rampaging attendees.  At which time it was ascertained that four were dead, seven concussed, one was bleeding out, three had lost the ability to walk, and two the ability to reproduce.  Other casualties include a missing eye, several knocked out teeth and, to date, one marriage.  After mopping up the entrails, the mob was deposited at the university’s Equal Opportunity office where the presenter, ashamed that she let the meeting get so out of hand, apologized but was fired anyway because in the future, “keeping track of these [censored slur] would clearly be a man’s job.”

After a strict talking to, the rest of us were sent home with copies of “Men are from Neptune, Women are from Saturn’s Sixth Moon, Titan.”

Rudeness Most Foul

“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
– Isaac Asimov

Definately human.

The interesting thing about working at a university is how much information, equipment, and expertise is available to you.  So when a plastic bag filled with large bones is found buried on the grounds, it’s the work of a moment to ask someone from Anthropology to come over and verify that they aren’t human.  Just in case.  Or, less professionally, when one is hungry, one can just scamper over to any of the cafes, food halls, or centers that provide sustenance for cheap prices.

Alternatively, using campus resources can often put one in an awkward situation.

In the library there is a very nice media lab where you can covert anything in any format to any other format you please.  Now I’m pretty technologically illiterate, but even I can appreciate that sort of thing.  And for the first time I got to use it yesterday when Lt. Citrus gave me a sack full of VHS tapes and told me to convert them to DVDs.  How neat, thought I, and off I trotted.

I got a crash course in using the towering masses of machinery and, after snatching a book to keep me company (another benefit of a university setting), I got to work.  There was a lot of loading/unloading tapes, keeping an eye on the screens, finalizing data, etc., but mostly it involved waiting for the tapes to run fully (which could last from a few minutes to a couple hours).  And I even watched a couple: guy holding an audience hostage because God told him he was supposed to be supreme dictator or Earth, rioting at football games, your average wierdos…you know, the usual.

However there was some pretty dark stuff too and when converting those I taped paper over the screens (because I am of the somewhat old fashion opinion that an individual’s personal tragedy is nobody else’s damn business).  During these tapes, I kicked back with my book until I was rudely disturbed but a gentleman marching up to me.

You've been recording investigation documents, vital to court proceedure, medical records, and department case archives, for entirely TOO LONG. You will now be punished!

“You’ve been here for a long time,” he accused.
“Yes, and I apologize, but I am working on something important on behalf of the University.  I’m nearly done.  Do you need the machines?”
“No,” he said snappishly .  “I just think you’re being inconsiderate taking up so much time.”
Not really prepared to handle this sort of time management vigilante-ism (side note – not one person had previously needed to use the machines or asked me when I would be done), I only blinked.
“You’re probably not even doing anything remotely important,” he continued, crossing his arms and turning up his nose.  “What are you working on?”
I felt an eyebrow climb at his tone but answered in a chipper voice, “Well I’m transferring a video taken from a homicide scene investigation.  Then I’ll have to transfer the autopsy tapes as well, care to watch?”

His eyes bugged for a moment and then he slunk off.

Like I said, the equipment and resources amassed here are fantastic, but the ability to see some people in all there snippy, self-important silliness might be my favorite part of my job after all.