Saturday, 13 October 2007

Someone trying to tell me something?

Let me tell you about Monday last week.

My supervisor has advised me to attend some undergraduate lectures and I'm not complaining. I need all the help I can get.

Enrolment at college the previous week had been fairly disastrous. Inopportune power cuts, awkward registrars, a MASSIVE queue to get library cards and a supervisor running late meant I had to go into London twice. On both days I ended up having to pelt hell-for-leather to catch a train home to collect the kids, only to be late anyway - even more insulting, on one of the days, I actually made it to Waterloo on time, only to find the trains had been delayed due to a security scare. The odds seemed stacked against me.

This week I was determined to get all done in good time with no panicky rush. The lecture was at 10am so I left home early. I was well prepared. I'd set up my bike chain so it didn't keep falling off as it had done the previous week (meaning that I'd arrived at the train station covered in bike grease and sweating profusely). I got to station in good time to find a train waiting on my platform and trotted over the footbridge to catch it.

That's about as far as my luck went though. The train was packed and loads of passengers were still waiting out on the platform. The train seemed in no hurry to move off and I was just debating whether to squeeze on this one or wait for the next when the tannoy told me that a passenger had been taken ill and they were waiting for an ambulance. I scanned my timetable. I could still get there in time, as long as the train went in the next 20 minutes.

We finally left 30 minutes later and proceeded at an agonisingly slow pace. Every watch-check I made, meant I had to recalculate how long I had got before things became really strained time-wise. And it was increasingly close - down to the wire again - so I ended up having to run like a maniac up and down escalators, between underground platforms and on and off tube trains.

By the time I got to King's Cross it was 2 minutes to 10. So I ran up the hill to the building where the lecture was, burst into the room only 1 minute late, bright red in the face and severely out of breath.

Anti-climactically, the room was completely empty. There was no notice or explanation; I checked my handout and I was in the right room. I was just about to embark on an internal rant about wasted train fares and pointless stress, when a young girl arrived looking for the same lecture.

Unphased and unhurried, she checked her email on the nearest available computer and found out that the lecture had been moved to another room, in another building - at least 15 minutes walk away. Thank God she was there - not only did she know where to go, but I had someone else to walk in with when we joined the lecture 30 minutes later.

The room was packed and I slunk to the back. With no chair to speak of and not wishing to disrupt the proceedings any further (let alone pay any attention to myself) I kneeled on the floor while I wrote my notes, my knee resting awkwardly on a plug socket. It had to get better than this, I thought.

Lecture over, I decided to sort out stuff in the library. In an unusual rush of efficiency I found two decent books to take out and started to register for online access when the fire alarm went off. I had to leave my books inside and abandon all hopes of getting much done.

I stood on the street amid a chaotic melee of students, a mixture of fellow fire escapees and strident protesters shouting about soldiers in Iraq. I wanted to laugh. So far, every time I'd gone to London, my efforts had been thwarted by a chain of unforeseen and random incidents. It just seemed ridiculous.

"You'll never guess what.... " I said, catching my husband on his mobile. He suggested that 'someone' might be trying to tell me something. Well, if they are, I'm not listening. I prefer to see it all as just a test of my resolve.

Now very briefly to fulfil my tag from Belle

No. of books I own: masses and masses - too many, must take some to charity shop.

Last book I read (non-academic) Zoo Station (cannot remember author, will fill in later) Quite good, simply written. but a bit bland considering the subject matter of ww2 intrique and spying.

Last book I bought: Women at the Center: life in a modern matriarchy by Peggy Reeves Sanday (academic...but on the people I studied for my PhD)

5 meaningful books: Dune by Frank Herbert (blew my young mind), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (first book I was really affected by), Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie (for the amazing prose which totally impressed me when I was writing up my PhD) and Northern Lights (which got me hooked on the trilogy).

Do I have to tag someone now? not sure whose done it already but at random: mother at large, omega mum and debio. Apologies if you've been tagged on this before.


Flowerpot said...

I am so glad I dont have to do that any more! Good for you though for being so courageous to go back to college. Hats off to you!

belle said...

Yay! Well done :o) Can I put in a request for a blog about your PhD? I'd be really interested. As for your output, with everything else you fit in I think you do remarkably well to post anything at all, ever!

debio said...

This brings back so many memories - the chaos of travelling and London...

When all is falling apart here I often hanker for the efficiency of a western country but I think I have selective memory - you have reminded me of the reality.

But - all power to you and hang on in there. There will be trips when all runs smoothly.

Thanks for the tag (!). Will work on that.

Tina said...

Just remember that day & know that if you can get through that, you can get through anything. This study malarkey will be a piece of cake now...

Motheratlarge said...

Congratulations on doing this at all. It's bound to get easier from here, isn't it? I started an MA at Birkbeck a couple of years ago, but gave up two terms later, something I still regret. So I really respect people studying as adults, because it takes a lot of determination. As Debio said, good luck and hang on in there. Will see what I can do about the book tagging.

Dee said...

'I prefer to see it all as just a test of my resolve.' That's such a great attitude to have!! I wish I could come up with that when I struggle.
It'll probably get easier, as you get used to it more. Travelling into London is stressful at the best of times unfortunately.
But we're all here to support you :)

Mid-lifer said...

Well thanks y'all, your support makes me feel all fuzzy!

Last Monday was for once uneventful - except for leaving my husband in a mad-house with nigh-on hysterical children (one having a bad hair day plus LIVID because I wasn't going to drive her and the other beside himself because I was leaving). Still, husband coped - and saw what I have to deal with sometimes too.

Right now, I'm really beginning to enjoy the studying (before the awful graft of re-writing).

Belle - will blog on what it's on later...promise you won't be bored stiff though?

Omega Mum said...

Your stamina must be quite exceptional, that's all I can say. And thanks for tag. Will do best to live up to high standards you've all set....

Around My Kitchen Table said...

At least it can only get better - that's the theory, anyway! I agree with the others - well done you for going back to college.

Mid-lifer said...

Omega mum - my stamina not that good as haven't got round to writing a blog for ages - would love to keep this up but need to find a slot to write it in....